fragrance of the found

“O God, what did find who lost you?
And what did he lose who found you?”
-Hussain ibn Ali (a)

I’ve heard whispered tales of a flower in a slumbering wood
Whose tears did fall when the world’s weight it understood
Drowning in the haze of fairytales, countless once upon a times
Of knights bright in shining armor, women with beauty refined

Too weakened by shadows, roots shaken by each passerby
So it learned to prick hands that either crushed, or at its beauty did sigh
Its strength tested, soon took its bent stem as a sign of defeat
Was told once its petals would fall, would turn man into beast

Lost and confused, turned for answers to a wise, olden oak
Who with weary eyes, understood, and of the world then it spoke

○ • ○

“You lament and wail that hearts of men, ancient flowers, are weak
Forgetting angels have knelt in wonder, humbled by the strength of its beat
You lay your head low in hopelessness that all you’re made for is decay
Forgetting the sun loved most the rose that stood two bow’s lengths away

You weep and mourn at your condition, sighing with every falling leaf
Forgetting your existence itself is a manifestation of belief
You find your guideposts in souls who of themselves are unsure,
You forget footsteps of lions by day, by night, keepers of the poor

Your roots have become weak for to this question you’ve become blind:

“What does he lose who finds God;
who loses God, what does he find?”

○ • ○

“You speak to me in wonder of men who could move mountains with a look
But I speak of men who lay eyes closed, yet still the mountains, they shook
You dream of titans in armor, strength displayed in the depth of their step
But I dream of lovers shielding beloved, strength beating in their chests

You have loved corpses of the earth who linger, yet soon from you do depart
But I have loved spirits, buried not in soil, but in budding roots of my heart
I am entranced by these dead who still live, over me they hold sway
Pain renders me breathless when their bodies in front of me lay

I am torn to pieces, but they say, soothing the wounds of my mind:

“What did he lose who found God;
who lost God, what did he find?”

○ • ○

“You hear a river tell of a body broken, see a youngest child’s grave
But I hear a sky praise a shining moon, see the oldest definition of brave
You see a mother kneeling down, grieving the loss of four of her sons,
I see a woman praising the womb that carried the protectors of one

You see chains and shackles and prisoners marching down city streets
But I see crushed flower fragrance revolutions, gently planting seeds
I know this story like old wounds wrapped around my soul
Of a son who gave his heart so his father’s might stay whole

A story I wish I’d lived, last breaths whispered with his hand in mine:

“What did he lose who found God;
who lost God, what did he find?”

○ • ○

When they tell you your life is naught but breath in the passing wind
That your history holds no beauty—show them from your end, you begin
Tell them your soil cradles seeds that when planted in blackened hearts
Are embraced by the sun’s touch, and at once from them darkness departs

That budded mouths that seem muted, blossom with sweet melodies
And hum heartbreaking tunes of a trampled garden’s tragedies
Tunes of beautiful flowers that once lived, looked on all with soft eyes
Gentle lions that in death are immortal, souls to heaven, they rise

But upon passing, broken petals have left a trail, a fluttering scent
Of minds empowered by love, of hearts that to the brim are content
There are gardens, but few roses, and the few that are found
Were long ago buried, abused, crushed deep into the ground

But called true Roses for having rose, risen after every demise
Lost everything but their God, so everything did they find

○ • ○

I’ve heard of a legion of flowers in an awakening wood
Who on this night blossomed, the world’s weight they understood
Not drowning, but embracing tales of a Mercy to mankind
Of Knights in shining arrows, Women with excellence of mind

They’re led by twelve Suns that erase shadows, roots to a heavenly tree
Who do not prick, but leave fragrances in hands of harsh enemies
Their strength tested but they take bent stems as lover’s prostrations
Know now that when petals will fall, will come man’s elevation

They call: “Let them test our strength, whether with bulldozer or hand
Slings and arrows aim to crush, blind hearts will never understand
That you can fall our petals, break our stems, pull our roots out high
But you’ll never be able to erase our fragrance, its path into the sky.”

6 thoughts on “fragrance of the found”

  1. بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم
    اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد

    I want to interact with this poem. If others read this and get something out of it, masha’Allah.

    “They’re led by twelve Suns that erase shadows”
    -The Imams, upon them peace, help us to understand our truest selves. The greatest shadow is cast by our selfishness (nafs). The Imams teach us to rise above the self, by service to them, which is service to all the Prophets (upon them peace), which is service to Allah, transcendent and exalted. Love is service, and the extent of our love for them is manifested in how well we serve them, most particularly our living Imam (Allah help us to be of better service to him, ameen). All around us the world is spinning out of control, and we cannot fix everything. But we struggle against our selfishness, and the social forces that amplify the shadows within, by being attentive to our responsibilities. Imam Mahdi is not meant to do everything himself, and so each of us has a limited set of responsibilities within our purview. Each of us has a role to play, but we can only discover that role if we overcome the ways in which selfishness obscures it. Abbas does not become Abbas on ‘Ashura – Abbas was already Abbas, and that is why he was the standard-bearer. So who are we? May the light of the Imams remove the shadows within, and draw us closer to al-Nur.

    “You weep and mourn at your condition, sighing with every falling leaf
    Forgetting your existence itself is a manifestation of belief”
    -Every human is a theophany of the Divine. Every human discloses something of the Divine Reality. To imagine the human as independent, as possessing something that Allah does not, is to set up a rival with Allah. Rather, the human is a locus for the manifestation of divine attributes, by Divine Generosity. To imagine a human being possessing knowledge that is outside the Knowledge of God is impossible. To imagine a human possessing a strength that is outside the Strength of God is impossible. But we are enamored of forms, of finite and transient repositories of Infinite Qualities upon which the world and all its wonders is fashioned. We let the human veil the divine, forgetting that the human is nothing but what the Divine provides. Is this regard the Rajab du’a that states “ya man yu’ti al-khatheer bi’l-qaleel (O one who gives much in exchange for little)” is so profound. We give Allah back a tiny proportion of what Allah gives us, and Allah promises more in return. The generosity of the exchange is unfathomable.

    “You have loved corpses of the earth who linger, yet soon from you do depart
    But I have loved spirits, buried not in soil, but in budding roots of my heart”
    -How can we love men and women we have never seen? We do not even know their forms, so how is it possible to love something disembodied? Well, perhaps this love is rooted in our truest self, in the spirit, in the locus of our individuality and the individuality of others. Is Husayn no longer Husayn when his head is separated from his body? No, he is still Husayn. He is Husayn in life and Husayn in death and will be resurrected again as Husayn. We do not even really know his form, but our spirits yearn for him nonetheless. We cry and wish we could have sacrificed our bodies to protect his – “A story I wish I’d lived, last breaths whispered with his hand in mine” – but we are ultimately not our bodies. One day soon we will shed this mortal coil, and we will have nothing left to offer. So better to offer up something now, while we still have the chance. Better to use that movement of spirit to move our bodies in this realm of accountability while we still have a chance:

    “Surely this world has turned its back and announced its departure while the next world has appeared forward and proclaimed its approach. Today is the day of preparation while tomorrow is the day of race. The place to proceed to is Paradise while the place of doom is Hell. Is there no one to offer repentance over his faults before his death? Or is there no one to perform virtuous acts before the day of trial?” (Nahj al-Balagha, Sermon 28)

    اللهم صل على محمد و آل محمد


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