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Cairo


Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

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Nathela arrived in Cairo. She saw it as a densely populated city, a maze of streets bustling with life. Men with their long robes and turbans and women with their long dresses and headscarves consumed much of the space; all were hectic pursuing their own business. Itinerant vendors jammed both the narrow and wide streets, blocking public accesses through their wares with one or two cavilling at their customers’ haggles. The laughter and shouts of sweaty children running around small pitches and narrow streets were frequent. Though they were loud, the noises had little effect to disturb sleepy peasants who dozed off in verandahs, swamped in merry lethargy, or groups of men who squatted smoking a hookah. Flippant songs and jovial conversations coming from the balconies of high-rise and square-sized apartment buildings added to the picture of how the city was tussling with torpor.

But more than a city with tall apartment buildings and well-paved roads and beautiful gardens, Cairo was distinctive for its exotic religious ambience. Mosques of various sizes with their slim cylindrical minarets rising to the sky lined up along the city’s streets. The mosques and public buildings had beautiful calligraphy ornaments. The elaborate inscriptional system was interspersed with holy verses, written in various sizes and colours.

Mawlana Jalaluddin


Image: Wikipedia
Image: Wikipedia

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After having a rest in the morning, Nathela went for an afternoon stroll. It was then that she saw a crowd full of men and women of any age, circling a storyteller. Nathela missed the beginning of the story but joined the crowd nevertheless.

“He is not an ordinary Mufti,” the storyteller said fervently. “Other Muftis teach you religion, but he does more than that. He speaks with wisdom and composes poetry.

“His poems are diamonds. They say with his poems he brings humility to the kings’ heart and dignity to the hearts of the peasants.”

Nathela was listening attentively. From the storyteller she learned that the Mufti’s teachings centered on spiritual love. One who is drunk with love, the storyteller quoting the Mufti, enters a world where their soul could dance ecstatically under the moonlight. It is a world where one’s heart plunges joyfully into a state of pure love. The storyteller then recited a poem that once he heard from the Mufti,

“For the lovers, He alone is all their joy and sorrow;

He alone is their wages and hire for service.

If there be any spectacle except The Beloved,

’tis not love; ’tis an idle passion.

Love is that flame which, when it blazes up, 

consumes everything else but The Beloved.”

 

Dirham and dinar were thrown to the storyteller and people were clapping; the storyteller was smiling triumphantly.

Soon after the clamour receded, Nathela who knew that the Mufti referred to in the story was the one she was looking for, felt the necessity to confirm it, “Were you just talking about Jalaluddin of Konya?”

“Yes, you’re right,” the storyteller replied. “But no one there calls him Jalaluddin. They refer to him as ‘Mawlana, our Master. Mawlana Jalaluddin, or Mawlana Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi, if you prefer.”

Drunk in Love


Image: danasanctuary.wordpress.com
Image: danasanctuary.wordpress.com

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A lover walks a thousand miles

and confuses West for East, but keeps whirling.

That’s what love gives

to real lovers: drunkenness.

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Being in love is drunkenness.

Being sober is not love.

Not until you are drunk in love

can you truly feel what it means to be ‘alive’.

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Love is the wine for the soul.

Come, don’t just take a sip.

Gulp some more.

Go and get drunk!

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The Most Tragic Experience of Life


Image Source: templedarkmoon.blogspot.com

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You think the day he gives you his terrifying smile

is the day of parting with the world.

But it is actually the day of gathering with the angels.

You think the day he knocks on the door to your soul is the end of life,

But it is actually the beginning of another life.

You think he is the greatest enemy of life,

But he is merely a reliable messenger of Life

Who wants to remind you that you are no one

but a wayfarer on the road of life.

In a sacred communion,

he shakes your hand and introduces himself as ‘Death’.

At once you think that your acquaintance with death

is the most tragic experience of life.

But death is not the most tragic experience of life

For the most tragic experience of life is

what is dying inside us while we remain living.

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A Wondrous Nightingale


Image Source: thepoetsgaret.com

One whose heart is aflame with love is a wondrous nightingale that opens its beak to chew roses and swallow thorns.

The roses taste sweet in its beak but the thorns are excruciating its chest.

That is the destiny of everyone who dares to set the fire of love in their heart,

For the clouds have painted it in the sky and the foam has sculpted it in water.

It has been written by The Invisible Hand.

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Now you realize that love is a disease without remedy, but you also need to realize that your beloved is a treasure without end.

To refute this is to deny the glare of the sun in a bright day.

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Thus, seek love even if it breaks your heart and aches your soul.

Drink from the cup of love even if it tastes bitter,

For every drop drunk from the cup of love brings you closer to enlightenment

And a drop drunk wholeheartedly brings you closer to eternity.

 

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War and Small Nations


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Once, high above a pasture, where a sheep and a lamb were grazing, an eagle was circling and gazing hungrily down upon the lamb. And as he was about to descend and seize his prey, another eagle appeared and hovered above the sheep and her young with the same hungry intent. Then the two rivals began to fight filling the sky with their fierce cries.

The sheep looked up and was much astonished. She turned to the lamb and said, “How strange, my child, that these two noble birds should attack one another. Is not the vast sky large enough for both of them?

“Pray, my little one, pray in your heart that God may make peace between your winged brothers.”

And the lamb prayed in his heart.

Taken from The Forerunner by Kahlil Gibran

A Prayer for My Country


Today, 17 August 2012, Indonesia celebrates the Independence Day, so I wrote a poem, “A Prayer for My Country”.

Merdeka! 🙂

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O my Lord,

My prayer is simple.

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Let the water and the soil, the air, and the fruit of
 
my country be sweet, my Lord.
 
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Let the homeless find sanctuary not only for their body
 
but also their soul, my Lord.
 
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Let the ignorance find their ways to enlightenment
 
and be content with humility, my Lord.
 
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Let promises be fulfilled and
 
prayers be answered, my Lord.
 
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Let compassion become the garment of the people
 
and love become their only way of life, my Lord.
 
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