I tried (and failed!), to find a nice but rousing English poem to mark 13th Rajab for this blog! Over the weekend, I saw 2 interviews with 2 budding shia poets working in English, and it heightened my awareness for the real urgency with which this needs to take hold. As some one who can work across both the English and the Urdu mediums, I often forget about it, moreover, I actually prefer my religious poetry in Urdu; Muherram would not be complete without Urdu nohay, but in reality, our communities are changing; people are reverting, and they demand more and more by way of English mediums through which to express their emotions. Language is needed to help people unlock their tears during muherram, it is the only way that one can actually build relationships with the sacred souls we morn during this month. When language becomes tears, then tears become blood that pours from your heart, then your very pulse becomes remembrance of the Ahlulbayte (A.S). Something beautiful happened to me on Friday; there was an English youth programme showing on Hidayat TV, honouring the birth of Imam Ali (A.S), and they talked about how the mission of the father shaped his son’s strength to meet his destiny (Hussain’s fate in Karbala). At the very mention of Hussain, I began to weep uncontrollably, I don’t know if it is perhaps because my awareness is heightened given my forthcoming trip to Ziyarat, but I like to think it is because I’ve finally nurtured that connection with the ahlulbayte (A.S) that I crave so much. As I prepare for ziyarat and prepare to celebrate 13th Rajab, I am overcome with a real sense of how inadequate I am in reality. My prayers are never on time, often missed and not perfected, I work tirelessly on my career, but my Islamic education and spiritual growth leaves every thing to be desired. There are times, (muherram in particular, or the period following my ziyarat trip), here I felt immensely in tune with my creator; I would study, pray and meditate regularly. I had a routine, slept on time, ate enough to survive and had a good balance, but now, every thing is out of sink and I don’t really know how to get it back. I find myself incredibly stressed, about whether I deserve to go for ziyarat at all, whether or not I’ll make it there safely, and can I really make the changes the trip warrants on my return? Sometimes you know what you need to do, but can’t find a way to do it, and at other times, you just don’t know what to do, so just muddle through doing what you think to be right at the time in order to survive and progress.
On this, the 13th of Rajab, I ask forgiveness of my Imam and my Lord, and ask him to grant me, (and all those of you who are directionless), with the passion, drive, creativity, knowledge and self sacrifice that characterised the mission of Imam Ali (A.S). May we never lose sight of the blessings we have been given, simply by nature of the fact that we are his shia, and may we continue to raise the bar for ourselves so that we aspire to perfection in all that we do, so that our whole lives become instruments of elevation, charity and light.
13th Rajab mubarak!