the tenderness of your name

by Aqeela Naqvi

“why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?”

Asadullah. Haydar. Ali.

what i am most grateful to my parents for – after Allah the Most Merciful, and Muhammad the mercy to mankind, for teaching me the name: Ali ibn Abi Talib. for mixing wilayat with my flesh and blood.

i remember being embraced by the warm winds of Najaf, this prayer for them leaping from my chest – thank you, for being my first teachers of this love.

thank you, because without wilayat – without the gate of Ali – how would  i have reached the city of Muhammad? without the city of Muhammad, how would i have reached for the infinity of my Lord?

thank you – because without this name, how lost, how far would i have strayed? caught in tempestuous seas, without this light, how would i have made my way to the shore?

thank you – because this hard truth: if you hadn’t taught me this name, how long would it have been before i found it? how long would i have wandered deserts with a parched heart, searching for a river to quench my thirst?

and this even harder truth: having found that river, would i have been strong enough to submerge myself in its depths, to drown myself in its folds to find that utterly sweet, that unspeakably beautiful rebirth?

thank you to my gracious Lord who, after the Prophet, granted His servants such a perfect leader. and thank you to Him for parents who taught this young child that leader’s name.

thank you thank you thank you – because without you, i may have somehow remained blind to this; i may not have ever recognized my own heart…