read! and read some more!

Growing up, I was the kid who skipped lunch to curl up with a book in a hidden corner of the school library. It wasn’t that I didn’t like people—I just liked books more. My love of reading started early in childhood. Each morning in the summer, when there was little more to do than… Continue reading read! and read some more!

dawn

The fading gleam of a streetlight. The lingering scent of a night-flower’s bloom. Shadows against the pavement like petal-pressed pages, marking the way through the dark. Blues fade to purples as mist drapes hazily through the hills. Purples fade to pinks as morning breaks in silent fracture. Pinks fade to golds and golds to splendor… Continue reading dawn

there and back again

It is, indeed, a dangerous business, going out your door. And it's true, if you step onto the road without keeping your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to. Yet, the not-knowing-of-the-sweeping is a fate far preferable to the knowing-of-staying-still. Because rivers that move become oceans. And those that don't? Slowly… Continue reading there and back again

the shepherd

The shepherd has but gone over the hill,The setting sun has but few hours to rise—Yet with the dark has fled our pasture's will,Waking is left now only for the wise.Our withered flock now wanders to and fro,While on the path few track our herder's steps;We sit and wail, drawing the wolves below,While few seek… Continue reading the shepherd

always autumn

There is a moment at the end of summer when the light changes. It is a sliver of time so thin, that unless you’re looking for it, you’re sure to miss it. In this moment, the sunlit nets cast upon the waters of the world are reeled in. With them, the brightened hue, the flaxen… Continue reading always autumn

becoming human

There is a special bottle I keep, tucked away in the corner of a hidden drawer: Use in Case of Emergency. A deep shade of pink, three-quarters full, sparkling with a liquid more precious to me than most of my possessions -- not for the contents themselves, but for where they take me. Four years… Continue reading becoming human

orange peels

I still remember the first day I signed up for Facebook. I was in the ninth grade, and a friend had just spent a lazy spring afternoon at my house. We were hanging out in my room, discussing everything from the travails of high school to our most recent YA fiction read, when she decided… Continue reading orange peels

who am I?

"Who am I?" Three simple words. One weighty answer. The response to this question which rises, deep, visceral, immediate from our bones, reveals more about ourselves than anything else we could voluntarily disclose. The labels we choose to identify with and accept as being accurate descriptors for the beings that we are tell us how… Continue reading who am I?

this is not about you

When I think of the great artists of old, I lower my hat to them in respect. In their musings, sculptures, paintings, and art -- there was a craft. What made the Greats great was their desire to create at the upper threshold of their ability, despite knowing that such an endeavor would require time,… Continue reading this is not about you

there is a tale

there is a tale that aches the heart whose telling tears its seams apart a thousand years of flowing tears which call: ya Hussain there was a band of noble few who left behind all that they knew to fight the fight of dark and light their chief, al-Hussain of young and old their party… Continue reading there is a tale

everyone except us

Hugo writes, "Curiosity is a form of gluttony. To see is to devour." Few exist the cannibals of the flesh, but many the cannibals of the soul. Many, who spend their evenings by the fireside, slavering over the slabs of a fellow man's spirit, the blood of a fellow man's struggle dripping from their lips. Many,… Continue reading everyone except us

the smallest acts

there have been times an infant this has shown that age does not define how much you know the wisdom that we look for in the skies is oft found in the youngest child’s cries there have been times without having to speak servants of God managed the greatest deeds unrecognized by servants of this… Continue reading the smallest acts

sweeter than honey

the meeting of swords, the clashing of souls brought by dawn after silence of night thousands who fight for darkness to prevail— a small band, warriors of the light   the tenth of Muharram on Karbala’s sands a battle this morning has bloodily raged a few hours the length of centuries seems a grief by… Continue reading sweeter than honey

o eyes, shed your tears

O eyes shed your tears Muharram’s moon has turned in these days Hussain’s blood is spilled— the tents of Zaynab burned   O eyes shed your tears the caravan arrives soon will the sands redden with blood— the children’s gasping cries   O eyes shed your tears the bodies on the ground run upon by… Continue reading o eyes, shed your tears

some days

some days, I walk down the street like everyone else   bundling my coat close to my neck waiting for the stoplight to turn “some weather we’re having” “isn’t that right” “in my day, autumn was never this chilly”   some days, I go through the motions   scribbling my name hastily across a paper filling in bubbles, a… Continue reading some days

Exhibit: The Steps of Imam Hussain

It is the day of Ashura. After performing morning amaal with the Muharram in Manhattan community at NYU, I board a bus to New Jersey - to Bait-Wali-ul-Asr: the Islamic center of my childhood and the community closest to my heart, with whom over two decades of my Ashuras have been spent. As I journey,… Continue reading Exhibit: The Steps of Imam Hussain

the aftermath

your face haunts my every dream. I wake from the fragrance of your embrace to the scent of fire and weeping— to the wailing of flowing rivers, rivers of flowing blood. "And think not Allah to be heedless of what the unjust ones do. He only respites them to a day when their eyes shall be fixed… Continue reading the aftermath

Hurr, who chose to be free

light is breaking its way through gentle night with the reddened tones of a blood sunrise through the tents of Hussain on Ashura a morning breeze in deep sorrow sighs   those who've just spent the night in prayer prepare now to face the battle call bidding farewell to the ones they love their words, La… Continue reading Hurr, who chose to be free

yourself with older eyes

I have always wondered what people mean when they say, certain stories greet you differently every time you read them. That as your story changes, so does the story for you on the page. A while back I took up the task of revisiting those many mandatory high school classroom reads - both the ones I loved and the… Continue reading yourself with older eyes

choosing for your friend a person

Do not choose for your friend a person unless they wake you in the early hours of morning for prayer. Unless their company moves you to the book of God as they share with you a verse that moves them. Unless they silence your tongue if they catch it in vain speech, reminding you of more… Continue reading choosing for your friend a person

warriors + poets

once, there walked amongst us warriors.   we caught our breath when we witnessed the unyielding strength of their brows. we felt our hearts marked when we met the noble glint of their gaze. we fell to our knees as before our very eyes, the magnificence of lions stepped into the fray.   once, there breathed amongst… Continue reading warriors + poets

whispered lessons from the dust of Najaf

is there any heartache for which i can lay out my heart that you do not already know, my Lord? is there any grief for which i can weep that you do not already know, my Lord? is there any separation wrought wound for which i can cry out in pain that you do not already… Continue reading whispered lessons from the dust of Najaf

the clock is chiming

the clock is chiming, marking the hour of separation and i am caught in a slow moving apart, a heavy gaze, a drinking in with the thirst of one dying the angles of your face, the wrinkles of your eyes, holding your cloth, breathing in the remnants of scent of the only person i have… Continue reading the clock is chiming

one day

mountains may move from their position but you should not move from yours mountains may move from their position but you should not move from yours mountains may move from their position but you should not move from yours not losing the firmness of your conviction caught in the ash and smoke of war do… Continue reading one day

the Prophet of God

from the creation of the first man, Adam, God sent 124,000 Prophets to each place on earth to teach humanity about His religion; to guide them all to a single path - a path of morality, patience, justice, beauty, and submission to the will of an all-Merciful, all-Forgiving Lord. from Adam to Nuh (Noah) to Ibrahim (Abraham) to… Continue reading the Prophet of God

the sun always rises

There are questions to be asked (what, where, why) there are heart-knots to be unraveled (should I, can I, will I) there are puzzles to be deciphered (how will, who will, when will) - and there are answers to be given. But the truth - a truth I am still struggling to learn - is… Continue reading the sun always rises

learning to breathe

Imam Hassan (a): "He who seeks to please God at the expense of displeasing people, God suffices him in everything including his affairs with people. But the one who seeks to please people at the expense of God’s displeasure, God relegates him to those very people." if you’re ever made to feel like you’re not… Continue reading learning to breathe

such a woman

"...They feel that Hijab shall bring down the standard of their beauty. What a strange meaning of beauty! What is beauty? Where is its realm?...In your own environment, your own society, there are innumerable curtains, which have been drawn on the beauty of your being. Why don't you see these curtains? Who are you? In… Continue reading such a woman

our way through fire

millennia ago, when the world was a younger place in the heavens, a human being was created from clay a being of sinew and flesh and stardust and bone a being that would, in time, call this Earth its home.   the Lord said, ‘I will create a vicegerent on Earth.’ the angels replied, ‘what… Continue reading our way through fire

navigating grief

Between losing and loss, what pieces of ourselves do we discover? What pieces do we leave behind? It's a hard process, navigating this road. Mostly because no matter how much you read about it, no one can really teach you how to deal with grief. It is a solitary sea. And no one can show… Continue reading navigating grief

the ways i knew you (on the death of a great man)

When I was five, I found you in the smiling curve of numbers.   I sat in the pale morning sunlight of a Sunday School classroom painted the yellow of tender summer peaches. The wind from the fan caressed my face in rounds, the buzzing gape of its mouth first turning this way then that,… Continue reading the ways i knew you (on the death of a great man)

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… Continue reading fragrance of the found

guardians of the green

I lay beneath the cover of trees, the day warm against my skin...watching glimpses of sunlight make their way across the leaves, flecks striking branches as they dance together, swaying in the breeze. My hand finds a root splayed tenderly beneath my arm, and I’m struck suddenly with the strangeness of it all. That these… Continue reading guardians of the green

life, in stage directions

[Curtains. Open scene: a courtroom disguised in the drapery of a ballroom. Enter: stage right.] You turn to face the crowd. You put your hand on a book, and instead of swearing an oath of truth and honor, you find yourself slicing your heart with a quill and signing in blood a codex of rules:… Continue reading life, in stage directions

the believer’s lament

I stand at the edge of something vast. The push and the pull of centuries and the universe, a battle between light and dark rages across the fields of my soul.   “Steady your arms, men! Brace the line, men!” The clamor of shields, the cacophony of this vessel of steel marching forward into the… Continue reading the believer’s lament

snowverland

I don’t know what it is about snowfall that never fails to catch your heart. That fixes your gaze to the sky like some remnant of older, more primitive magic. It creeps in silently, thickens the air with a cold so bitter that not a single breath is taken without being reminded of winter’s arrival.… Continue reading snowverland

writing. write. wright. right.

Writing, more than any other form of expression, seems to me the ultimate way in which we bare our souls to the world. The process of getting your thoughts on paper, wrestling furiously with a keyboard or fountain pen until you get it just right, attempting to translate the maelstrom of brainwaves buzzing between the… Continue reading writing. write. wright. right.