Posts from the “Prose” Category

this is not about you

Posted on October 26, 2018

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, perseverance, discipline, and accuracy. Create exquisitely, or do not create at all, was the mantra. This art is not about you – it is about something bigger. These days, however, the desire to dedicate oneself to a single skill, to work on it in seclusion, day by day, slowly, precisely, carving, cutting – hammering away at marble from twilight to dusk until a visible form begins to emerge –…

what matters most

Posted on April 22, 2018

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 them is not the same. And how you spend the day matters. It is said, “To be pious in one’s youth is the style of prophets; in old age even the cruel wolf gives up his cruelty.” What matters most is what you choose to do when you have everything to lose. What you choose to give up when it means the most to do so. When you decide,…

everyone except us

Posted on March 12, 2018

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, for whom the call – “Will any of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother?” (49:12) is drowned out by the gnawing of their teeth – persistent, searching ever more and more, consuming with frenzy the appetite of who dids and what dids; eyes wild, mouth gaping, ingesting, feasting, destroying. What is it in us that is so drawn to the destruction of another human being?…

burn the dead wood

Posted on March 8, 2018

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 in a romantic relationship – anyone who asks you to fold yourself into a smaller version of you so that they feel more comfortable, is not someone who has your best interests in mind. Anyone who asks you to sacrifice pieces of yourself, your principles, or your values, is not someone who hopes for your success. Do not minimize your desire for growth to keep someone who feels threatened by that growth a part of your life. Each soul is made for greatness. Each human is linked at his or her core to…

kindred spirits

Posted on December 20, 2016

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 eastern seas. I follow the meditated pattern of their sweeping lines, marveling at their intricacy – musing on the intricacy of the path of my life that has been unfolding: a thousand hidden alleys, a thousand secret moments, a thousand twists of twine, a maze interwoven with the stars – all, to bring me… here. I think about how, in the span of a few weeks, the course of…

“the steps of Imam Hussain (a)”

Posted on October 25, 2016

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, i go through old text messages with my sisters, pausing as i come across one in particular: “the Karbala exhibition is amazing. you need to see it.” throughout the first nine days of Muharram, i have heard much about the towering replica of Baynol Harramain (“Between the Two Harrams”) being constructed on the grassy lawn beneath the branches of the center’s aged trees. i have been messaged pictures of…

from every mountain top

Posted on October 25, 2016

To think – of our names, on your tongue…when the sins that weigh on our backs, the shadows that whisper in our hearts, make us unworthy of even speaking yours. Of ever claiming you as ours. But to think, when we whisper, “Mawla Hussain, we are here,” standing next to your body… to think, that you respond? Knowing every curve of every letter of our names? The heart stops. It still baffles my mind that to this lost traveler, so far gone from the path, wandering in a thickening fog, you still extended your hand. You still invited to stand by your side. How can I ever thank you for saving me? How can I ever thank my Lord for attaching my heart to you – allowing…