The Gift of Faith

 

My grandmother passed away 23 days ago, at the age of 84, and left behind a handful of stories which will continue to shape my life forever.

My grandfather taught my grandmother our Dua, the set of prescribed prayers for Ismaili Muslims all around the world, in 1957 when Prince Karim Aga Khan became our 49th Imam.

Four years later, my grandmother was widowed at the age of 28, and left to raise 6 children on her own in a studio apartment in Karachi, Pakistan. She worked as a maid in 10 homes, earning a total of 20 rupees a month, with no days off.

Many people observed her difficult situation and offered financial support for a price: renouncing her faith and severing ties with the Ismaili community.

Her conviction was clear: “My faith is not for sale.”

She brought home other peopleʼs leftovers to feed her children and dressed them in used clothing, but never compromised her faith.

This is the narrative of our family: we face challenges head-on, we donʼt lose hope, and we never give up.

But where did she find her courage to persevere and the will to carry on? How did she not lose hope?

There was only one guiding light in her life: the Imam of the Time. And today, weʼre celebrating 60 years of his guidance.

For me, this is also celebration of my grandparentsʼ steadfast faith, and particularly my grandmotherʼs dedication to it – for as far back as I can remember, she woke up every morning at 4am to meditate for an entire hour.

This is greatest gift she could have passed down to our family. Through a few minutes of daily meditation, Iʼm able to connect with the source of true strength, even during the darkest moments in my life.

My grandmother will be dearly missed during this Jubilee. This is the first time we wonʼt have her as the “designated meeting spot” for my huge family in Chicago, looking after our shoes, jackets, purses, kids, etc.

This is also the first time that all of us will not be gathering in one city – my brother is in Seattle, my parents and family in Chicago, and I’m in London – truly becoming a family of global citizens and weaving together stories from all over the world. #onejamat #soblessed

Diamond Jubilee Mubarak from Sabrina.jpg

Goodnight Mama

7

My soul awakens
At all odd hours
Crying for food
Wanting to be held

Are we there yet?
She asks as she looks
out of the window

A sandbox of time

She sees herself
playing as a child
Then playing with
her own child

She builds up castles
And then whoosh!
With a bucket of water
Knocks it down herself

Tires herself out
Falling back into
deep slumber

Cycles of spurring activity
And then Brahma rests

Whispering goodnight mama
I’ll see you tonight.

Two Become One

6

Jame Mosque of Yazd

Two candles in the sky
Pointed to oneness

Like the two wings
of a butterfly

The sea-saw motion
Of love and hope

They are mirrored
In my own body

I have two eyes
But one vision

Two parents
But one life

Dual lights
of confluence

Both majestic
and merciful

In the here and now
And the before and after

Both, the palm upon which I walk
and the fire that burns beneath it

Both call me home

To this divine infinity
And beautiful unity

Of You
And Me.

Pond of Light

Somewhere, deep within us
Shadows encircle a pond of Light

Befriend them one by one
Offer them a listening ear

Put your hand on your heart
Speak softly and say Salaam

How quickly it sets them at ease
Say: I have heard your cry for help

What is it that has hurt you?

Do not worry my friend,
I’ve brought patience and love

Let me hold you a little while
Come, let your heart hear my heart

As I offer you the peace of my arms
A sacred space for your healing

Tell me your story and lighten your load
Let me be your caravanserai

You have a long journey ahead
Let’s fill these wounds with Light
So that even in your shadows,
you will find endless Light.

 

saadis-tomb

Saadi’s Tomb in Shiraz, Iran

 

 

 

Alamut Castle

O Alamut!

O sister of Al-Azhar and Dar al-Hikmah,
O beautiful nest of shooting stars,
I’ve come to pay homage to you.

O safe haven of intellectual vitality,
O gatherer of scholars and scientists,
I’ve come to bow my head in your honor.

“But I am ruined – can’t you see? I couldn’t save the libraries…” she responded.

O preserver of tradition,
O birther of new knowledge,
Mistake not the letters for the Light,
The Light is eternal and the legacy has continued!

Come, let’s dance in the Light and set everything ablaze – watch new academies form right before your eyes!

 

alamut-castle

Iran: The land of Persian mystics and Sufi poets (2)

Upon entering Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, I found myself in the city of my own heart. The hustling bazaar swiftly faded away behind me. Lit by the desert sun and contained by 4 colossal gates, the inner courtyard is a place for rest, refuge, recess, and reflection. My heart greeted me warmly, “Welcome, friend! What took you so long?”

2

 

The sun belongs to the universe,

But you, dear moon, you are my own!

You appear amidst darkness
Only visible to night seekers
Revealing the secret doctrine
Validating the truth of the day
Till the end of cycles of time…

4Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran