sweet, sweet Samarra

by Aqeela Naqvi

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Entrance to the al-Askari shrine. Samarra, Iraq.

the feeling, of walking through these doors and into your loving arms. (the agonizing pain, of leaving these doors, not knowing when i might see you again.) i cannot attempt to put it into words. will not attempt. because the words for that feeling do not exist. there are no words for the ocean to describe how it feels, finally reaching the shore.

Grandfather – you saved me, in ways i never thought i could be saved.

when i first met you, there was so much i thought i knew of love. a chest heavy with grief, and eyes weighted by tears, i thought i knew what it meant to possess heart that longed for another. to live with a mind always occupied with the thoughts of another’s name.

but then, i met you.

one glance at your face, one broken whisper of your name, and i knew that until now, i had never really known… my heart had been heavy, but never before so full that it felt like any second i would die from its aching. my hands had held on, but never with such a trembling, each curve begging – please, don’t let me go. my eyes had shed tears, but my body had never been so wracked with grief, wishing my soul would depart from this flesh rather than face this separation, yearning to rest next to your fragrance forever.

in one moment, you scattered my thoughts like petals in the wildest storm and showed me how, not to think – but to know – what it means to love.

how can i ever thank you? for the invitation you sent? for the grace with with you received? for the swiftness with you captured my heart?

for the way, even now, to this unworthy soul, who cries out to you in the depths of the night – you respond in the early morning, secret messages hidden in the words of the ones you’ve embraced; whispers carried from Samarra’s dust across oceans on gently sighing winds…

Imam Ali al-Naqi (a), ya Hadi, how beautiful a guide you are. oh grandson of the Prophet, oh most beloved servant of my Lord, how gracious a teacher you are…

my heart is forever in your possession. please, ask Allah (swt) to make me strong in your absence. to make me worthy of your smile, of the smile of your grandson, the Imam of my time, when he returns. to make use of my time and do the work that needs to be done, so that when i see you next, i will not have spent my days in vain. please, invite me to visit you again – and soon. this separation is too much to bear, Jaddi, my namesake, my beloved.

i love you i love you i love you

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Inside the shrine of Imam Ali al-Naqi & Imam Hasan al-Askari (great grandsons of Prophet Muhammad), Bibi Narjis Khatoon (the wife of Imam al-Askari & the mother of Imam Mahdi), Sayeda Hakima Khatoon (sister of Imam al-Naqi), peace be upon them all.