Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poem in Longing and Craving by Imām Ālūsī :)

I just found this poem about Baghdad by Imam Alusi, author of the tafsir, Ruh al-Ma'ani, translated into English from the Arabic:

Shihab al-Din Abu al-Thana' Mahmud al-Alusi (1803-54)

[Longing and Craving: While staying in Istanbul, the poet longed for his children and yearned for his homeland.]

Suddenly, a great longing for al-Zawra' struck me;
what they told me about her is not simple.

If people of the City of Peace cannot stay there,
there is no longer a mountain or valley to shelter noblemen.

If the shadow offered by the city diminishes,
how can we find any shelter in the desert?!

If the pure water in her soil dwindles,
what drink in other places can be sweet for us?!

That was a place where I felt protected;
that was my home where roots and branches grew.

That was a place where I lived; my she-camel thrived on her fertile soil;
my he-camel was satisfied; my assets grew.

I wonder, will I live once again that
abode? Will I meet again those I love?

Will her gardens bloom again after they have withered?
Will drops of dew once again linger on leaves?

On Friday will I be on my way
to the al-Kaylani Mosque, to the assembly of loved ones.

Will I again hold the hand of my father,
Abu Mustafa, a man of endless ambitions?

Will men of letters from both banks meet me
in an assembly of blossoming culture?

Peace be upon those places and people;
wherever they stay, they are always in my heart.

I swear by God, I cannot find any substitute for her air and water;
my heart is there; how I can I find consolation?

Oh my loved ones, is there any chance to meet again?
The messengers between us became weary.

No distraction weakens my resolve to be with you;
if you so desire, our ties will be restored.

Even if you do wrong,
the bitterness of it is all sweet to me.

---Baghdad: The City in Verse, translated and edited by Reuven Snir, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013), pp. 171-2.

Monday, July 23, 2018

"A few minutes later, Dr. Lings,

well over ninety years of age, entered the room slowly yet gracefully, greeted us, and asked us to sit down. He sat on a small alcove that looked out upon a stunning English garden that I later learned was of his own tending and in which he is now buried. I spoke of how much his book had influenced me and told him that I had used it as a basis for my class. He thanked me and yet humbly protested that he had never intended to do something as presumptuous as write the Prophet’s biography - peace be upon him, but having been prevailed upon by others finally relented. When I told him of my father’s remark, he replied that of the four levels of English, he had written the work at the highest one - far from a boast it was uttered as simple statement of fact from a man who had a degree in medieval English from Oxford, taught Shakespeare at university for twenty years, and wrote poetry like John Donne!
-Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, "A Spiritual Giant in an Age of Dwarfed Terrestial Aspirations," (thanks to Wasim for this link!), Q-News, p. 54.