for the people of the land of the sun (just recompense)

a few words next to nothing for our brothers and sisters.

May Allah be with them and grant them steadfastness and relief from oppression.


I bled this lead poem

from a third eye

from the dark side of an eclipsed solar disc

knowing it would shine again because an eclipse cannot last

i bled this lead poem
and scribbled on the walls of the 69th cell in permanent red ink
like the author of the Algerian National Anthem before he escaped
and this was hurled and heard like mangled pieces of invisible shrapnel
but it ain’t just recompense

I don’t consider this just recompense
for brethren picking through mounds of rubble that used to be a home before missiles hit
in search of a baby sister
while the world watched did nothing for reasons that don’t make sense to me
hidden in plain view by
Mr. Sinister behind the podium standing at the center of his winter solstice
trying to steal the sun from its land
telling the world with the forked thing between his jaws that he is not the maestro of a crazed Coliseum
with the forked thing between his jaws with a taste of blood for his own people

oh people of the land of the sun
an eclipse don’t last forever

I don’t consider this just recompense
because stories were distorted by the headlines to help fit them on one line to speed across the bottom of television screens
in order to make room for some photoshopped face celebrity latest break-up story
to appease devastated attention spans and boost ratings
in order to feed hypnotic conditions

so by the time I caught ear of it

the victims were somehow the villains
and the sky wasn’t falling
and the one who’d sold the fangs to the fox in the first place was made to be the hero

What could be just recompense
for children missing for months
seized by shadows and
when they finally were sent home -the fingernails extracted from their fingers
came home wiser to the ways of the world than old men
came home with the lights in their eyes dimmed like
flashlights on the verge of burning out
and the worst of their wounds from
invisible shrapnel that hit them and they bled lead poems
that no one would ever see or hear

how could this bear witness
for one man from the land of the sun
that lay dying from shrapnel
who witnessed the event
of an unknown man in white– bright as the winter sun he had to squint
descending on him with glad tidings
that the eclipse would end
and the sun would shine again
and prophecy cannot be undone
enough to make that witness that lay dying smile

the witnesses of the witness testify he was squinting
like one staring into the eye of the sun
and he was smiling.

oh people of the land of the sun
an eclipse cannot last forever.

© askia nasir bilal 2012

For more pieces like this, check out Askia’s blog.

Why Does Evil Exist: Hardships and Struggle on the Path to Allah (with Sr. Yasmin Mogahed)

For your listening convenience, download the audio of this halaqa here:

NOTES from the Halaqa (Thanks to Sarah Abe!) 

Why Does Evil Exist?

–   Jannah is infinite

  • We are only on this Earth to worship Allah for a limited time, yet the payback is infinite
  • There is a price to get to Jannah, but it is not equivalent to what we’re getting
    • Imagine you found something normally $1000 on sale for only a penny – you’d think it’s a pretty good deal, right? And Jannah is INFINITE
    • The greatest reward of Jannah is seeing Allah
      • “After the people of the Garden have entered the Garden, He Who is Blessed and Exalted shall ask: “Do you wish Me to give you anything more?” And they will reply: “Have You not brightened our faces? Have You not made us enter the Garden and saved us from the Fire?” He will then remove the veil, and nothing they were ever given will have been dearer to them than the vision of their Lord, the High, the Majestic.” -Hadith
      • The most painful punishment of the Hellfire is the veil between you and Allah

–   “Do you think that you will enter the Garden without such trials as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried ‘When will come the help of Allah?’ Verily, the help of Allah is always near!” (Quran 2:214)

  • Take comfort: our hardships have happened to others before us
  • This ayah is reassurance – you are not alone. Those who came before us were shaken (this word in the Quran comes from the same root as earthquake) – so will we be, those around us, and others after us

–   “Be sure that We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss of goods, lives, and the fruits of your toil. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere (have sabr).” (Quran 2:155)

  • Who are these people? Next ayah: “Those who, when afflicted with calamity, say ‘to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.’” (2:156)
    • This is more than a statement – it’s an attitude
      • Begins with knowing Who you and everything you own really belong to
      • Everything here is a loan – so when Allah takes it back, am I in any position to complain?

–   Your health is not yours, nor your wealth, nor your limbs, etc.

–   Analogy: If your friend lets you borrow his car for years and then asks for it back, what should you do? You would only be upset if you have forgotten who the car really belongs to

–   Next ayah: “On them will descend blessings from Allah, and mercy, and they are those who will receive guidance.” (2:157)

  • These things are absolutely priceless
  • They will come with the proper response to mercy
    • This means the affliction itself is a mercy, a gift – anything that brings us closer to Allah is good for us, even if it hurts

–   Even ease is a test – you were given Islam. What are you going to do with it?

  • Ease can be a harder test – if you’re in ease, it is easier to forget Allah
    • Ex. One who is rich and thinks he deserves all he has

–   Why do “bad” things happen to “good” people? The definition is flawed – only good things happen to good people

–   “Life is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbeliever.” -Hadith

  • This doesn’t mean you should be miserable, and it doesn’t mean you have to suffer in this life. What is a prison? A prisoner does his time and goes home. And it being a paradise for the disbeliever means that this is the best it gets.

–   Given trials in order to learn “humility”

  • The word in this ayah is more than humility – it refers to a person who has lost everything and turns to Allah. Imagine someone in the middle of a storm, they’ve lost their lifeboat, life jacket, flares are gone…the only place they have left to turn is Allah.
    • Imagine the humility and the nearness of the servant to Allah at this point
    • The storm makes you return to Allah – these are the times when you feel nearest to Him.
      • Allah sends us hardship in order to return to Him

–   A lot of times, we run after things of this world for solutions – but Allah sends us hardship so that we run after HIM

  • “Do not lose heart nor fall into despair, for you will gain mastery if you are true believers.” (3:139)
    • If you follow the guidance of Allah, there will be no fear on you nor grief

–   If we have Allah, nothing can harm us

–   Ibn Taymiyyah: “What can they do to me? My Paradise is in my heart.”

  • Allah’s tests are not like those of a professor – He doesn’t give them to you and then just watch how you do. He doesn’t expect us to shoulder the tasks alone.
    • Dua of the Prophet: “Do not leave me to myself for the blink of an eye.”
    • If we think we’re strong and can do it on our own, we will fall – we can’t even stand without the help of Allah

–   The whole purpose of Allah’s test is for us to turn to HIM.

Gems of Islam

(This was a sisters only Halaqa that took place 2/17/2012)

–   Asiyah is set example in the Quran for all people, men and women, throughout time (66:11)

–   4 perfect women:

  • Asiyah – abused to the point of torture, married to Pharoah
  • Maryam – a single mother
  • Fatima
  • Khadeeja

–   Asiyah

  • Married to a man and tyrant who tortured and killed those who believed
  • Imagine the risk she took for her faith
  • As she was being tortured, she asked for a house in Paradise – and Allah showed it to her
    • She smiled at this as she was being tortured
    • If we keep jannah in our hearts, even the hardest situation can be made light – smile through hardship

–   Situations are not objectively difficult; how difficult something is depends on how much divine help you have

  • Patience is a gift from Allah – if He gives you patience in any situation, you can handle it
  • Don’t fear situations, fear that you’ll be in a situation without Allah
    • The problem is not the affliction, the problem is the lack of provision
      • When you get hungry, the issue is not hunger; the issue is not having food. When you get cold, the difficulty lies in not having a blanket.
      • Similarly, difficulty doesn’t lie in the situation – difficulty lies in not having the provision, which is Allah.
  • If you depend on something not meant to hold you up, you will fall
    • If you use a twig to pull you up and it breaks, nobody blames the twig – it was never created to hold you. Nothing of creation is meant to hold your weight. If you grasp something weak, it will break.
    • “One who has grasped a firm handhold” (2:256) refers to one who believes in Allah, who has grasped a handhold that will never break
  • Worldly things are just tools sent by Allah. Our problem is that we don’t see Allah.
    • “We see the gift, but we don’t see the Giver. We’re so lost in the reflection, we don’t see the light.” –Yasmin Mogahed
    • “Allah is the real source – everything else is a tool.” –Yasmin Mogahed

¨     If Allah wills medicine not to work, no amount of medicine will save you

  • “When we seek something that is itself weak, then we become weak.” –Yasmin Mogahed

¨     Make your happiness lie in something constant; the only constant is Allah.

–   Maryam

  • Had she depended on her own means to solve the problem, it wouldn’t have had any effect – Allah took care of her
    • Nothing she could have done would have been as effective as her child speaking from the cradle
    • Seek your provision, but count on Allah
      • Do the deeds because this is why we were created, but don’t think for a moment that we deserve jannah because of our deeds
      • Work with your limbs, but leave your heart facing Allah
        • Accept and be content with what those limbs are able to make

–   Hajar did not just sit – she trusted Allah, but she ran between Safa and Marwa seven times

  • She wasn’t trying different things – she tried the same thing, over and over and over again. She was doing her part, but in the end, no amount of running would make water spring from the middle of the desert – it was from the power of Allah
  • Another example: Musa striking the sea with his staff in order to part it. How many times have you slapped the sea with a stick and seen it rise up and split? This couldn’t have happened without the power of Allah
    • Similarly, Allah did not need Hajar’s running or Musa’s strike in order to bring water from the desert or split the sea
      • Take the means, perform the actions, but leave your hope in Allah

–   Role of mother, wife – these are means, not ends

  • Marriage is just another means to reach our destination
  • What completes you is your relationship with Allah – not your role as mother/wife
    • Marriage is just another provision
    • Use provisions as vehicles to take us to our purpose
      • Everything you have, every situation, is a vehicle to reach Allah
        • Often we act the opposite – we set a worldly goal and then ask Allah to get us there. But our final destination is Allah, and everything in this world is another means to get us to Him

–   Back when the polytheists would worship statues – “Why do you worship them? They cannot help or hurt you.”

  • Everything in creation is like a statue – only Allah can help or harm you
    • Everything in His hands is a tool
    • Allah can help you through using tools of His creation, whether those be objects or people

–   Sometimes, someone hurting us can be of benefit – forgive, and Allah will forgive you

  • Thank them for giving you another means to attain Allah’s forgiveness
  • Even psychologists recognize the power of forgiveness – it’s always the first step to healing. It’s essential to your well-being – you have to forgive in order to be able to heal yourself

–   Anger comes from a loss of control

  • Realize that you can’t actually control anything

–   Sometimes, we get so hasty to do the sunnah we forget the fard – do the fard. Those things that are obligatory are those most beloved to Allah.