Poem: To Houla

Poem by Askia Nasir Bilal

To Houla, 5/2012

Due to the graphic violence alluded to in this poem, readers should exercise discretion.

here’s to the hundred still

white shrouded Someones

 

First, in neat lines on the tiled floor

Like a picket fence made to fall for the offense of standing

 

White quiet neat lines on the tiled floor

stretching out like the skeletal remains

of an ugly Truth unearthed

stark naked unavoidable

 

such order in the aftermath of

point blank execution of

bloodying of depriving of trampling of heavy gun butting and combat boot caving in of paper thin things toting of dark foreboding omens of

gasoline dousing and casually tossing the match and closing one eye   Cyclops

and squeezing and releasing and squeezing and releasing and squeezing  and squeezing and squeezing and squeezing

until the last gasp is emptied out of

and stretching and stretching until the coming apart of the last thread and

the defiling of all things sacrosanct that make human beings stand on two legs and speak and dream and hope

 

such quiet order in neat white rows

as the aftermath of such things

escapes the senses.

 

Next, You all white shrouded hundred still,

filled the freshly dug grave

as one

You are a river of milk

moving          still

 

Blow a kiss to the shell You’ve shed

Rest assured

If the world didn’t want You

You didn’t die

but acquired the attire of Higher States

The author blogs at askianasirbilal.wordpress.com.

Overthrowing the Tyrants of our Hearts

As-salaamu ‘Alaykum

Beginning in the Name of our Lord, Allah, The Creator of all things, we testify to His Oneness and we seek proximity to Him. We pray that our Lord send peace and blessings upon our noble and beloved Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace. We pray that those peace and blessings extend to the Prophet’s noble and pure family as well as his companions in their entirety and unto you and I with them through God’s Gentleness and Mercy.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been approached by a few friends inquiring about the political developments around the globe. Some were wondering about how my family was doing, others were concerned about their families, and yet others were concerned for the global community of believers, our umma, and mankind more broadly. We pray that God’s sends tranquility upon the hearts of all of our loved ones here and abroad. We pray that God lifts the burden of the oppressed and those in need and that He gives us light to become the means through which His creation is aided and helped in Gentleness and ease.

The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is narrated to have said that if a man hears about someone being killed unjustly in another part of the globe and is not disapproving of that then he shares in the sin. He also, Allah bless him and grant him peace, reminded us that we are one community, one body, we aid one another as we can and we feel each other’s pain. The Qur’an describes the brotherhood of the companions and those who followed as being loving and caring to one another as being individuals who prayed for one another even in each other’s absence. In fact the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is narrated to have said that the individual who does not have concern for the community is not one of “us.” We pray the we are all included in that “us” with the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, because I could not think of a more wretched end than to be distant from the best of creation and ultimately his Creator and ours.

That all being said we are a community of values and priorities. Where you were born and what God has given you is not by coincidence. Similarly one cannot give that which one does not have. We often are moved and driven by ego rather than by principle. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is described as having never gotten angry for himself, and when he was angered he was angered for God and no one could quell that anger. We must be careful to differentiate between that which we are driven to by ego or simple nationalistic pride and that which we are driven to by real concern through God for humanity. A good barometer is to ask ourselves why we are only concerned for certain peoples and not others. If the estimates are true about our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity in the Congo then we have sat idly by as millions have been killed. What also needs to be asked is why we are driven to be concerned about conflicts abroad when individuals in towns adjacent to ours and sometimes down the street from us are gravely oppressed and in need.

Of course none of this is a zero sum game. In other words it is not either or. The point is not to get individuals to stop being involved in the helping and aid of their brothers and sisters abroad but rather to start seeing past just simple family or nationalistic affiliations and start seeing humanity in a more holistic fashion. Even more importantly we hope to be a community that sets its priorities. Does it make sense to send millions of dollars to organizations you are not sure will be using them properly or spend night and day working for organizations you are uncertain of their ultimate aim or is there a better means to use your wealth and effort? If we can use those same millions to help people in own own town go to sleep on a full stomach or help the homeless get off of the street or empower young men and women to fend for themselves all while we are there exerting our own energy to aid in that struggle, shouldn’t we take part in such blessing?

I challenge my brothers and sisters not to pick one or the other but rather to start seeing that if we really want to aid those in need we don’t need to look too far. Also to remind them and myself that we cannot begin to help unless we are committed to not just overthrow tyrants and oppressive systems from without but rather we are committed to overthrow the tyrants found deep within our own hearts. Our worst enemy the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) informed us is our own ego. The Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is narrated to have said that a man will be written as a tyrant and he has control over nothing apart from his own family. If our ultimate goal is knowledge of God, proximity to Him, the companionship of our Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, we need to ask if our actions are taking us along that path. There are many organizations, national government bodies, movements, ideologies, calling you to join their ranks… will you heed their call or will we heed the call of their Creator and yours?

What separates the belief structure we hold tightly to from good works attributed to any other meaning or deity? If our true aim is God then it should reflect in our intentions and actions. If the global community of Muslims returns to its rightful place as vanguards of transformative spiritual change who are committed to the care, concern, and service of humanity then perhaps God’s Mercy and Gentleness will descend upon our community to rid us of the evils from within. However if we maintain that our life is about tribe, nation, pride, ego, power then just as we have relied on ourselves and this world God will leave us to rely on our selves. Are we turning to our Lord or are we turning to our own weak selves? As the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is narrated to have said, those who are in the aid of others God will be in their aid and those who rely on Him, He will be their reliance and Victor.

Finally we are a community that should support and encourage diversity. Not everyone will be working on the same project. We aren’t seeking uniformity. We are however seeking the spiritual and emotional support of the group for one another. While some will be working hard in this field and that and others struggling for this cause and that we should all maintain that we see each other’s work as priceless and remain always supportive. Similarly we should be constantly gathering together in prayer for Divine acceptance of the little that we do and for those in need here and abroad. Nothing reminds us of our Creator like prayer since it is an ultimate form of the expression of poverty and weakness before The Powerful, The Merciful, The Generous.  I seek your forgiveness and remind you and myself to recommit to our Covenant with God.

I leave you in God’s care,

Mohammed Tayssir