Imaan: Perfection of Man

The poem presented hereunder was ranked third at the International Poetry Awards Contest (May 2008) conducted by the US-based Islamic Writers Alliance. The theme of the competition was Imaan, with participants invited to compose poetry on this subject from an original perspective.

Mankind in turmoil,

From ages immemorial.

For what, then, this memory undying?

What, indeed, is its lesson unyielding?

 

The battle for the Soul of Man –

Has it not raged off and on?

How often, indeed, has history seen it wax and wane!

Between the forces two: of Divine Spirit and the Demon’s Mane!

 

What then the battle-cry of the One in his Mane of Vanity?

“For that Thou hast cursed me this day, this hour of calamity,

‘tis for me to misguide Adam unto his last struggling seed;

Away from Thee; away from Thine; away from the Path that’s his need!”

 

What, then, the Promise Divine, the countering cry?

God’s Word that none of Adam shall the Demon, with success, try

Except for the ones of Adam whom no remorse sets aright,

For their sins – against their souls – of every day, every night!

 

This, then, is the hope, this is still the way

With which the believer may yet hold sway:

The Shield of Faith held above his head;

From right, from left, and on the Path he has to tread.

 

What of this Faith – this Imaan, you say: how is to be really had?

In this age far away from the Prophets’ own, in these times not unchanged a tad;

Past a history beyond repair, all but cast within layers of deepening gloom,

Where the heirs of the Prophets walk blinded; where, thus, no hope there is to bloom!

 

Imaan then is no cheap commodity;

For which there is no price in its crudity.

To profess belief, therefore, is to profess nothing,

If with belief there is no practice, no sacrifice scathing!

 

Muhammad’s Imaan did change the world;

But what of his followers today: if all into one were together rolled?

Would their Imaan suffice to direct

History’s course in positing Islam anew, erect?

 

Alas, dear reader, while one yearns for an ‘Aye!’

The truth, dear reader, is but ‘Nay!’

Recall the Messenger on the morrow: ‘My followers, in their numbers – a multitude in sequence,

But, as froth on ocean waves, of little, or no, consequence!’

 

How has this happened, this plight insecure?

Whence has the ‘Best of Communities’ become all but obscure?

Is it not clear, the reason, to see?

The Imaan of the ‘Best’ has been for free!

 

That the price of true Imaan may not be belittled,

God has placed a requirement on the believers, well-considered!

For this is only in the possession of a heart open,

And a firmness in the knowledge of things unseen.

 

A knowledge unlike that of a worldly science,

Whose only motive is the discovery of manifest, and visible, rules and signs:

The Imaan of the Prophets called forth of the Believers

A discovery of signs hidden; of those of the heart, the redeemers.

 

That these facts unseen form the true – and eternal – Reality

Of the Hereafter, which to the Believer is no mere formality,

Was but ingrained in the lives of the Messengers

As the only truth worth living for against all harangues.

 

So great a truth was it to the Messengers Divine

That, to them, all done in forgetfulness of the Hereafter combine

To beget nothing in deeds but what the Qur’an calls:

‘Mere ornaments of their lives,’ which befools their doers in the Demon’s very Halls!

 

Imaan is then, firstly, to believe in the Creator of all

As the One, the Only, the Source of Life, Goodness, the Wherewithal.

And Ihsaan is, therefore, that belief in perfection,

Where the believer lives in the Creator’s light, His benediction.

 

The struggle, relentless, for the cause of Imaan – if that be Jihad,

What then the holy study of possibilities in its way today but Ijtihad.

The Believer then is the warrior serene, not only of Imaan, but also of Ihsaan,

Not only in Jihad but Ijtihad too: all in the making of the Perfection of Man!