Rafed English

Classical Islamic Poetry

Classical Islamic Poetry

Learn from Ali how to fight

without your ego participating.

God's lion did nothing

that didn't originate

from his deep center.

Once in battle he got the best of a certain knight

and quickly drew his sword. The man,

helpless on the ground, spat

in Ali's face, Ali dropped his sword,

relaxed, and helped the man to his feet.

"Why have you spared me?

How has lightning contracted back

into its cloud? Speak, my prince,

so that my soul can begin to stir

in me like an embryo."

Ali was quiet and then finally answered, "I am God's Lion, not the lion of passion ...

I have no longing

except for the One.

When a wind of personal reaction comes,

I do not go along with it.

There are many winds full of anger,

and lust and greed. They move the rubbish around,

but the solid mountain of our true nature stays where it's always been.

There's nothing now

except the divine qualities.

Come throught the opening into me.

Your impudence was better than any reverence,

because in this moment I am you and you are me.

I give you this opened heart as God gives gifts:

the poison of your spit has become

the honey of friendship."

by : Rumi

I don't need

a companion who is

nasty, sad, and sour

the one who is

like a grave

dark, depressing, and bitter

a sweetheart is a mirror,

a friend a delicious cake,

it isn't worth spending

an hour with anyone else

a companion who is

in love only with the self

has five distinct characteristics

stone hearted

unsure of every step


and disinterested,

keeping a poisonous face

the more this companion waits around

the more bitter everything will get

just like a vinegar

getting more sour with time

enough is said about

sour and bitter faces,

a heart filled with desire for

sweetness and tender souls

must not waste itself with unsavory matters"

by : Rumi - Diwan-i Shams-i Tabrizi

Heaven with these stars is clear, pleasing, beautiful;

Whatever is there above, has below it a form.

The form below if by the ladder of gnosis

Is trodden upward, becomes the same as its principle.

No outward apprehension can understand this saying,

Whether it be that of an Abu Nasr or of an Abu Ali Sina [Reference to

al-Farabi and Ibn Sina, the two early masters of mashsha'i {peripatetic}

philosophy in Islam] ...

Of the life of the universe, I say that if thou knowest the relation of

the soul and body,

In the heart of every particle, then life becomes both evident and hidden.

God has placed seven heavens above us,

And seven others on the other side of the world in the life to come.

Thou canst reach heaven by their means,

Be true and walk the straight path for there is no falsehood there

He who worships the world, the door of heaven will never open to him,

The doors will not open even if he stands before them.

He who is annihilated in Him finds eternal life;

He who is busy with himself, his affair is doubtless a failure.

The jewel is hidden in the mysteries of the ancient sages,

Only he who is wise can discover the meaning of these mysteries.

Pass beyond these words for they are forsaken by the people of the world;

Find the Truth and tread its path, if thou art righteous.

Whatever is outside thy essence will do thee no good,

Make thyself harmonious whether it be today or tomorrow.

The Being that is pure has no limit or description;

It is neither outside of us, nor with us, nor without us.

A beautiful thought is only beneficial when combined with virtuous deeds;

A thought with virtuous action is competent and beautiful.

To talk of goodness is not like doing good,

The name of sweetmeat on the tongue is not the sweetmeat itself ...

In this world and the next, with the world and without it,

We can say all of these things of Him, yet He is above all that.

The intellect is a ship, passion a whirlpool, and knowledge the mast,

God is the shore and the whole cosmos the sea.

The shore is reached with certainty; the sea of the possible has become

the necessary ...[The later Muslim authors following Ibn Sina divide

reality into the Necessary Being (wajib al-wujud), the possible being

(mumkin al-wujud) and the being that is impossible (mumtani al-wujud)]

How good it would be if the sages before us had said everything completely,

So that the opposition of those who are not complete would be removed

[All arguments begin because each side considers only one aspect of the

Truth. But those who are "complete", that is, have a vision of the

totality of the Truth, never enter into arguments].

Desire keeps the soul in bondage in this world;

While thou hast desire, thy feet are tied.

Each wish in this world is followed by another wish;

The wish must be sought beyond which there is no other."

by : Mir Findiriski (d.1050 A.H./1640 C.E - translated by : Seyyed Hossein Nasr)

O breeze of morning, take to Ali these words ...

Say: Husayn is fallen. Rise, then, go and see:

To Kerbala from Najaf, where you lie,

His body in a hundred places pierced by the lance, the dagger, the sword.

O'Ali! See who was once the light of your eyes,

Now the enemy around him like eyelashes around the eye;

And here you lie, in pleasant repose with Adam and Noah, at rest,

While Husayn has as his resting place the burning sands of Karbala!

Although you were made stranger to yourself by the stroke of the sword,

Around you were both stranger and kin, with refreshments and sweets;

While the body of your Husayn is rent the whole length with wounds.

And would you know the number of those wounds? They are as many as the stars!

Wherever you turned your gaze, there stood a friend to see,

While Husayn's eye falls only on the enemy.

Ali, when you gave your life, your family was there beside,

But there on a desert plain far from daughter or sister Husayn dies.

For you the faithful spirit, Gabriel, brought a shroud from heaven,

But Husayn fell there on the earth without ablution, without shroud!

Ali, since Husayn in the last hour took your head on his lap to lie,

As kindness in return, then, lay his head on your lap till he dies."

from : "Divan-i-Ansari", translated by "L. Clarke"

You are the artist of Islam, Husayn.

On the canvas of Islam

You drew with your blood,

Each mujahid of yours

A brilliant stroke of red

Against a canvas of black.

Habib spread the white of his

hair in that blood

Hur trod his footsteps from

one end to another

Qasim spread the pieces of his body

Ali Akbar brought his heart

Abbas adorned it with his arms

He cut them off lest they

interfere with Husayn's

great masterpiece

Ali Asgher - the small mujahid

gave his smile,

his innocence,

And, yes, his blood.

And Husayn you -

you orchestrated it -

Your hair turned white

Your steps were leaden

Each part of your body,

torn ...

Your heart pierced

Your arms cut off

Your smile taken away

this was what you faced ...

when you came to the canvas

To make your contribution

You gave yourself - but not quite,

You stood back and looked,

it wasn't enough.

You knew what

was missing ...

I ask you ... What was left?

You turned to the tents

you asked Sakina.

Sakina - she gave her father

her sacrifice,

And you asked for more ...

You said Zainab -

Zainab, I need your Chador!

After all this, O Imam,

We say we remember too much.

We look at the painting,

yet forget why the artist

painted it.

I say NO!

As long as we look

at the canvas

We will never forget -

Never forget why the artist

painted it!

For if we turn away

and in turning away

think we are progressing -

No ...

It is just that - we are

turning away."

by : Atiya Hussain

A heart cleft in two with hurtful sorrow,

A ragged wound in my thoughts, these memories painted in blood.

Yet what is this to Zainab's grief, the bruising pain

Which melts her core, the lamenting tears which flood

O'er the brim, and veil from her sight the bitter strains

And passing shadows of this world. It holds for her no charm, no desires.

Time's haze cannot obscure the crimson rain

Of innocent blood - sprinkled death at Kerbala.

O'Husayn, when her heart seeks you, where will she find you?

The cup of compassion, its tempered metal likes crumpled on the sands

And its pure red wine,

Streams from its body to be buried in mud.

And Zainab - her soul cries out for what is lost, she laments that the lines

Of truth must be written in tears; penned in blood."

by : Irshaad Hussain

Man 'arafa nafsahu faqad ' arafa rabbahu"

(Who truly knows himself knows his Lord)

Once, I paused and heard a whisper from my heart,

A murmur in my veins,

Which flowed in breathless silence,

Spoke with wordless calm,

Breathless hush in fevered brain.

It brought solace, a soothing balm

That quelled the jangle, loosed the reins,

And freed me from the fetters of self-inflicted pain.

Knots, with gentle fingers were undone

And a still breeze weeded dead letters,

And washed from my fractured forehead

The crippling mark of Cain.

Soft light was within me, a velvet sun,

A sweet glow, diffusing through the walls

Of divisions in my brain ...

A wordless voice that called

To unity my discordant parts,

Through subtle whispers

Woven in my heart.

by : Irshaad Hussain

Is it to be a path of ease -

No resistance,

Flowing with the breeze

To the Garden.

Is it to be an effortless way

From earth to Heaven,

No price to pay

For the Garden.

Is it right to cry

When I live easy

And others in arduous struggle die

To win the Garden.

Dignity of heart

They seek

In this quest I want a part

Though the path be steep, to the Garden.

Can any soul be truly at ease

In a shaken world

Drenched in bloody seas -

Crimson rivers flow

With blood of martyrs who will not bend their knees

And a storm over the world blows

Raised by the breath of upright men -

Men of struggle, not of ease,

For it is writ by Heaven's pen ...

On the steep path lies the Garden.

by : Irshaad Hussain

Quivering on a lash,

Balanced with imbalance, shakes a tear.

The universe in its curvature

Vibrates with tension, shivers in fear;

Till...blink...and in sudden dash

It streams, cascading and clear

Down trembling cheek,

The world dissolved in a tear.

by : Irshaad Hussain

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