Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Dream Within a Dream

One of the great paradoxes of life is that no matter how fully you live it, it will eventually run out of time. In that sense, it can be said to possess a dream like quality. Dreams may be vivid, seem magical  and real but the truth of the matter is that they occur in a state of slumber in our mind, ending abruptly upon being awakened. The great writer Edgar Allan Poe takes this concept and wonders if life may also be an illusion of our imagination, similar to a dream in his poem 'A Dream Within a Dream.' Ordinarily, I am not the biggest fan of Edgar Allan Poe's writings, since his work is a bit 'dark' for me. Nonetheless I admire how he has captured the irony of how time is always slipping away and yet there is nothing man can do about it. Life is finite, and that makes one question what is real, since whatever is real must be infinite. Maybe life really is an illusion and a dream. 

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem,
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away,
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amidst the roar,
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand,
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep,
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp,
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save,
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem,
But a dream within a dream?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Here I am

Muslims around the globe are celebrating the blessed month of Ramadan, in which the Holy Quran was revealed as a complete and thorough guide to life. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calender and is a month where fasting is observed by Muslims from dawn till dusk. Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal and also prayer.

I recently stumbled upon this beautiful poem by the great Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi. It reminded me of how many devout Muslims around the world spend their days and nights in prayer in remembrance of Allah. I am sure majority of them have strong faith but for those few who may wonder about the answer to their calls, this is a heart warming story.

'All night, a man called “Allah”,
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
How comes you’ve been calling all night?
And never once heard Allah say, “Here, I am”?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”

The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground.
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising Allah?”

The man said, “ I called and called,
But Allah never replied, “Here I am.”
Abraham explained, “Allah has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “Allah”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I am.”

- Rumi

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rumi and Ramadan

The blessed month of Ramadan is here. It is a special month for Muslims, in which the holy book of Islam, The Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran is said to be a complete and timeless guide to living for mankind. Muslims around the world observe Ramadan by fasting from dawn till dusk, praying and overall following the five pillars of Islam. It is a time of spiritual renewal and also a blessed month free from satan who is caged away in hell by God.

Here are some words of wisdom on Ramadan by the wise Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi:

O moon-faced Beloved,
The month of Ramadan has arrived.
Cover the table,
And open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody,
It’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah?
How long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker,
Has made you so sweet even honey says,
"I’ll put myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

Your chick frets within the egg,
With all your eating and choking.
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched,
From calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds,
Through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty: give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
Then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath,
That fills the reed.
Be like Mary – by that sweet breath,
A child grew within her.

- Rumi

I wish everyone a blessed month of Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem.