A reflection piece and poem that I wrote recently and was published in the Newsletter of the Perennial Foundation after the July 2019 Retreat:
Movement and Remembrance: A Reflection on the Hadra
Swaying from left to right and chanting “La ilaha il Allah”, and bowing downward and rising again to the chant “La ilaha il Allah” – both are powerfully rejuvenating mediums of remembrance that will hardly allow the one remembering to finish without feeling energetically transformed – on all three levels of body, heart, and mind. The hadra is a compelling reminder of the impact that occurs when there is a beautiful integration of the three dimensions of religion: sound activity (body realm), sound beliefs/thinking (mind realm), and sound intentions (heart realm). The hadra helps me to focus (meditatively) on the Divine with all three faculties which culminates in a tremendously gratifying experience. In addition, the use of drumming and melodious singing impacts my heart directly: the drum as a solidifying form and the singing as an expansion of the heart. During the hadra I feel at complete ease, and have a greater understanding of what “stillness” means. All of the distracting emotions and thoughts that inundate my heart disperse during the hadra. The movement of my body also helps me to “physically” dispel my thoughts and emotions. The hadra was also one of the components of the Majlis program that immediately caught my heart’s attention when I visited the Baltimore Zawiyah for the first time. It was magical.
The directionality of the specific motions of the hadra are also an aid in increasing my presence and concentration. As I sway to the left (while saying ‘La ilaha’), I focus on negating all false thoughts, ideologies, experiences, and objects that distract me from the Real. When I sway to the right (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirming the existence of the Real, the Source. As I bow (while saying ‘la ilaha’), I aim to submit myself helplessly before His illuminating Presence and acknowledge that there is nothing comparable to Him. When I stand up and slightly bend my knees (while saying ‘il Allah’), I focus on affirmation again, and acknowledging His Holy Perfection. The entire process makes one feel like they have just had a “spiritual shower” in which all impurities and negative thoughts have been washed away. Imagine, then, the one whose heart is in a perennial state of ‘hadra’.
Freedom through Observation
My feeling is an object.
One among thousands
A fluctuating and transient
Coming and going
Piercing and fading
That which observes my feeling
Is the Subject.
Real and Permanent
Subsisting and Remaining
Discerning and Illuminating.
When I taste this realization
I will surely master
The art of knowing my emotion
Without being enslaved to it.
call me irrational
call me a fool
i am proud
to be unbound
by the superficial
created my men
try to submit
to the bounds of
the Uncreated One
I thought I had it all.
Then God came and swept it away.
At first I resisted, hung on tightly, and bargained with Him,
immensely afraid to lose His gifts.
Fear, anxiety, and turmoil
just a few among many emotions
Built up inside of me like a whirlwind within.
Time passed and I realized that I was bargaining with God-
the one that transforms the impossible to the possible.
I slowly released the gifts back to His will.
Smiles unfolding on my face.
Understanding, and accepting.
I figured – If God knows that there are greater gifts,
and furthermore that I am worthy of them,
then let His creativity and wisdom unroll!
Surely, to have something greater than what I have now,
is sparking my curiosity.
For God never takes something away…
Without replacing it with something better.
I hope you travel across many dimensions
As you dive deeper and deeper
Into your spiritual heart
And once you are back to your present world
I hope you remember the one
Who sang a poem to you
An ode to Ibn al Arabi
In a pseudo labyrinth
On a beautiful spring day
While the sun beamed down its rays
And the breezes of nature enveloped us both.
When the light of hope is dying
And the soul’s energy is bleak
And the eyelids heavy
Struggling to open
Amidst the weight of the heart’s
A small, hidden, and tiny voice,
From the core of my being whispers
‘I know You can make miracles happen.’
Nothing is difficult for Him who
Evolves and sustains the multitudes
Each traveling its own
specific course of mysteries unfolding
More than a trillion souls, traversing the worlds
Some on earth, and many in the barzakh
He is aware of all
Every inch of movement and thought
Is not He, who is capable
of feats so great and wondrous
and with magnitudes unable to be counted
able to create and sustain this miracle?
He, whose mercy is more vast
than the oceans of space between the galaxies
Whose power and wisdom so grand,
beyond our capacity to understand.
Whose nature of giving
Whose readiness of bestowing
Whose eagerness of providing
Is beyond human enumeration
I beg Thee, Thou who are so great
that my existence becomes a shadow
fading into non-existence.
I beg thee, Thou who are so capable
that places me at utter reliance
submission, and brokenness.
To grant this undeserving soul,
this wretched heart,
this struggling and rusted mirror,
I know You can make miracles happen.
What does it take
To penetrate that heart?
How do I unlock
To the secret core?
What must I do
To tap into
that mysterious well
of unending love?
How do I request
a meeting with that heart
Guarded in its fortress
Of steel walls
and knights in armor?
Oh God! I rely entirely on You.
To blanket the path ahead
With Your mercy,
Love and harmony.
For only You
Can pierce through
The walls of our hearts
And allow us to feel and taste
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Shaykh Rumi
I used to think the sun was
Out of obedience
To follow the Divine command
In awe of the majesty of its Creator
But now I understand
That it moves and radiates us all
Out of love.
For it is love that vividly entrances the heart
And pulls at its core
To care for, encourage, and give warmth
For all that it longs for
It is love that causes us
To dance, stand upside down,
And submerge others in our drunkenness
To provide light for others in our own lightheaded state
It is love that desires to provide,
To burn ourselves out of provision
Just to see the ecstatic state of the receiver
What care have I for things?
When I know these things make my beloved happy?
I will empty myself of my provisions
And empty myself of my own self
Out of love.
I will empty myself of my ego
And empty myself of my existence
Out of love.
There is no joy comparable
Than in seeing your Beloved rejoice.
I will empty myself of my own joy,
To see my Beloved rejoice.
I no longer know of my own being
When the Beloved is in joy.
I only know of the
And the Beloved
When we travel the path of Love,
When we connect on the level of the spirit,
Do our differences in fiqh really matter?
Let us look beyond our forms,
Beyound our physicalities
Beyond methodology of law
Beyond the realm of labels
And unite in the Ocean of Love.
There is so much unnecessary bloodshed and violence in the world; just to name a few: Burma, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, etc.
We all love the same Being, let us unite in this Love. When we look with the eye of Tawhid, we see Oneness, One Love, One God, One Spirit, One Universe. When we look with the eye of multiplicity, we see insignificant differences.
We should think before picking up the weapon, “Am I killing another lover of God?”
I stand trapped beneath the bars of illusion…
His blessed cloak is arriving close.
A sweeping moment of holy temptation
I frantically reach out one arm to grasp
My breaths fall faster until I can only gasp…
How I long to touch his blessed soul!
Our beloved Messenger, the Light of the Universe.
The key to my reaching my spiritual whole!
The guide to freedom from the world accursed!
What are these bars that have prevented me?
Why is my energy no longer roaming free?
How do I let go, and let myself be?
Doesn’t fate know, that I am in need?
I give up and smile at what is in front of me.
I appreciate him from the distance between.
I bow my head submissively to God’s regime.
I hold back my desire and on the floor I lean.
I look up again and kiss the air.
I dare not fight against my destined lair.
I admire the spectacle in front of me.
My heart frozen at such unreachable beauty.
I release you into His ocean of forgiveness.
To be raised again to heights unimagined.
So that purity may once again spring forth endless,
Re-emerged from your soul, a brightness rekindled.