March 11, Qom. I have just returned to the hotel. The others have gone out—the lights are off, the room is dim. My only company is the soft breeze drifting through the window. I have spent the better part of the morning grappling with the trellises of my soul. My brain is tired. My heart,… Continue reading drenched in light
The last time that I stood here, I was twenty-three years old. I can still smell the dusky heat of that auburn summer night. I can still hear the silky silence, punctuated by the frantic thudding of my heart. I can still taste the burn of farewell’s ash lodged inside my throat. I can still… Continue reading this time
In the sun’s rising is its setting. In the flower’s blooming is its withering. In the day’s coming is its going, never to be seen again. In each moment, the world shows us the nature of its impermanence. In each moment, it says to us, “There is nothing here that lasts. Not joy, not sorrow.… Continue reading the face of God
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!
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
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
It is the early hours of night. Dark clouds drift wearily across the horizon. The moon, wrested from her slumber, casts a forlorn glance across her shoulder before settling her face to the east. I sit in the darkness of a silent house, the glow of my screen reflecting pale shadows against my hands. I… Continue reading what the night holds
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
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
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?" 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?
John Steinbeck said, “Once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.” Oh, how right he was. I was lucky enough to call New York City home for the past few years, yet it feels as if those years lasted a lifetime. I truly believe… Continue reading 80th and 1st
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 surrender that happens at the peak of life, and another at the edge of death, and the two do not weigh the same. There is an abdication when the first glimmer of light is seen on the horizon, and another when the last glimmer is about to fade, and the day between… Continue reading what matters most
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
One of the most important lessons I have learned in the past few years is this: do not make yourself small for anyone else. Whether it is with friends, family, or acquaintances - anyone who asks you to fold yourself into a smaller version of you so that they feel more comfortable, is not someone… Continue reading burn the dead wood
i first met one of my closest childhood friends when we were twelve years old. i can distinctly remember the day we were introduced - two fresh-faced middle schoolers sitting a few seats away from each other in the warmth of a school library: exchanging small talk - hesitant at first, then with more excitement;… Continue reading fireflies
It is a warm summer's night in Qom. I sit on the floor in Masjid-e-Jamkaran and look up at the ceiling, admiring the beauty of the architecture, the interlacing weaving of the Arabic calligraphy - composed with such precision, but in its composition, somehow still as wild and free-flowing as foam rising on waves of… Continue reading kindred spirits
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
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
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
the task of a carefree summer's day: to watch the sunset over the city of Qom by climbing to the top of Mt. Khidhr... a task so adventure-y i didn't think twice about it until we were halfway to the top - when (of course) i decided to do the exact opposite of what every book/movie/story/piece… Continue reading ascent beckons
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, 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
21 ramadhan 1436 | najaf, iraq it is shortly after Fajr prayers, the early morning of the day you were killed. i am standing, leaning against blue tiles in an archway of your harram, head resting against cool marble, tears falling like drops of burning oil upon my skin. glancing across the courtyard, it is… Continue reading the dust of the king
whenever the wheel of everyday living begins to grate on the soul, whenever things start to get too difficult and tasks begin to seem insurmountable - all I have to do is think of the one man who taught me all I know of hard work and perseverance. who, whenever I would come to him… Continue reading baba jaan
alone, a traveler in a strange land, I found myself standing before you. like a small child, lost and confused I fell at your feet, stumbling upon the weight of my tears. the labyrinth of sorrows suffocated, twisting unbearable knots in my chest. I was bewildered, not knowing which way to turn. and then, I felt the tenderness… Continue reading mother
"before i met you, i was wishing to meet you.and after meeting you, i was wishing to never be separated from you.and after being separated from you, i lost the desire to wish forever." اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ
In this entire universe, in this vastly exploding conglomeration of planets and galaxies and stars, there is one - only one - you. How beautiful is that? You are a wonder that has never existed before and will never exist again. You are a masterpiece. Each one of us is our own masterpiece. ...So then,… Continue reading you.
our lives were made to be dynamic, not static. whether we realize it or not, every minute is constantly changing who we are. we are never the same people in the next moment as we were in the last. and this is perhaps one of the greatest graces of living: that we are not obligated… Continue reading changes
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
This past summer, I was honored with the blessing of being able to travel to the holy lands of Iraq and Iran to visit the resting places of the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family), a visitation that is often referred to as “ziyara,” or “ziyarat.” "The word ‘Ziyarat’ is… Continue reading journey to the stars
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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
it took Noah 200 years to build the ark. 200 years. 73,000 days. over 1,000,000 hours. of focus, dedication, persistence. from planting the tree to taking the axe to the bark to cutting and fitting and detailing -- all the while being mocked and jeered by the masses. but still, pushing on: seeing the grandeur… Continue reading soul work
there is a certain emptiness of the heart that is only filled by standing at the gate to your harram, ya Ali. would that i were of the lucky ones who are standing there now – stepping forward with heavy, yearning steps; hands on their aching, restless hearts; heads lowered in salute to you; eyes… Continue reading would that i were with you
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the time has come for me to part from the sands that whisper your names. the lands where your beautiful bodies lay. the dust whose sweet fragrance winds its way through my dreams. the time has come, but my feet have forgotten how to leave. and my tongue has forgotten how to speak. when I… Continue reading leaving you,
"Wouldn't you want to see the ones you love?" As I sit in my room packing my suitcase and checking things off scrambled lists, this question, articulated at many a dinner-table discussion by my dad, echoes through my brain. I will soon be leaving InshaAllah (God-willing) to visit for the first time the holy lands… Continue reading to see the ones i love
you, who are always saving me. from the maelstroms i create. from the drowning i choose. from the salt-laced taste of sinking i have made so familiar to my tongue. from the seaweed tangled snares i have made so comfortable to my skin. you, who are always reviving me. a pitier of the dead, but… Continue reading you, who are always saving me
Ya Hussain. A thousand years have passed, but your love still remains. The beauty being that, to each who loves you, you are something different. Each lover claims you proudly as their own. Each speaks your name with a different tenderness. Each cherishes your touch with a different gaze. Each whispers, ya Aba Abdillah, in… Continue reading the way i love you
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
It's hard to express what it means to have an older sister. To me, an older sister is: a haphazardly drawn chalk highway on the driveway after school; a bike ride and jump rope until the disappearance of the last glimmer of sunlight; a competition on the swings, breathing in the brisk autumn air; ice… Continue reading an older sister
Sometimes, I see the whole of my life as this giant, drawn-out timeline. And every time something big or important is about to happen, I imagine this giant Sharpie coming down, its bold, black lines marking the turn in the plot, the asterisked moment, the felt-tipped flashing light that life as I know it is… Continue reading what lies ahead
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
[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
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, 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.