Have You Ever Found Soul, Heart & Mind Scattered?

Under the Lemon Tree

Have you ever found your soul’s song scattered about?

There you are

Seeking…

Searching…

Finding it…

Between bulky boulders and rocks

In quaint dessert cafés that barely sleep, no matter the clock

Among thorny plants and at the sight of a cactus

Under thick soft blankets that melt your coldness into bliss

During a simple olive-picking activity

Or when standing beneath the shade of a lemon tree —

Have you ever found your soul’s song scattered about?

Have you ever found your heart beats scattered about?

There you are

Seeking…

Searching…

Finding it…

In a yellow taxi cab playing classical Fayrouz

During a road trip car playing Oumayma Khalil tunes

In a stab of nostalgia, hearing Rihanna in a Hebron shopping mall

At the sight of a man proudly galloping in traffic, on a horse so tall

Against the backdrop of scents, spices and music in the open marketplace

With the rhythm of footsteps walking distances in the lit-up night space —

Have you ever found your heart’s beats scattered about?

Have you ever found your mind’s thoughts scattered about?

There you are

Seeking…

Searching…

Finding it…

In the eyes of kind, compassionate, down-to-earth people

As you acknowledge this land was walked on by prophets without equal

In the bubbling words of an enlightened, engaging conversation

Upon entering any shop that is casually playing Quranic recitation

In the sanctity of being in the Ibrahimi Mosque, or Cave of Patriarchs

In the old stone buildings, colourful fall vines, and structural archs — 

Have you ever found your mind’s thoughts scattered about?

Have you ever found your soul’s song, heart and mind

All

Debating, wondering, arguing,

persuading, agreeing, disagreeing,

musing, guessing, being certain,

being uncertain, pondering, reflecting —-

On what home means?

                          On where home is?

                                                    Who home is?

                                                                           Why home is?

Alas.

Have you ever found your soul’s song, heart and mind scattered about?

Pinecones Galore

And Allah knows Best.

-A.S.

-Written November 11, 2017

 

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Wandering Through Jerusalem

Jerusalem (al-Quds) is breathtaking.

There was no way that the photos of both masajid al-Alqsa’s (the old and new buildings), and the golden Dome of the Rock, could fit into one album. This is simply Part 1 of 3 photography taken in Jerusalem a couple of months ago.

These in particular were taken simply while walking and wandering around.

Center of Gold

Center of Gold

Glint of a Sight

Glint of a Sight

On the Way to Jerusalem

On the Way to Jerusalem

Palm Tree

Palm Tree

The Dome, Afar

The Dome, Afar

A White Sky with Blue

A White Sky with Blue

Sky High

Sky High

Art of a Mother’s Love

Art of a Mother's Love

Beige Umbrellas

Beige Umbrellas

Shops in Jerusalem

Shops in Jerusalem

Beige, Blue & Green

Beige, Blue & Green

Symmetry in Architecture

Symmetry in Architecture

Exploring

Exploring

Spray-Paintings of Holy Sites

Spray-Paintings of Holy Sites

Naming After History

Naming After History

Star Light, Star Bright

Star Light, Star Bright

Outside Markets

Outside Markets

Where Archs Are the Norm

Where Archs Are the Norm

Colors, Sights & Sound

Colors, Sights & Sound

Delicious Ka’k Qudsi

Delicious Ka'k Qudsi

Bird in Hiding

Bird in Hiding

Art for Tea

Art for Tea

el Zaatar

el Zaatar

School Established 784 H

School Established 784 H

Fading Color

Fading Color

Hustle & Bustle

Hustle & Bustle

In Old Jerusalem

In Old Jerusalem

Kuffiyahs Everywhere

Kuffiyahs Everywhere

Nets to Catch All that Garbage… (thrown by settlers onto Palestinians)

Nets To Catch All That Garbage...

Rectangular Spaces

Rectangular Spaces

Garbage Thrown by Israeli Settlers onto the Palestinians

Garbage Thrown by Israeli Settlers onto the Palestinians

Freedom Graffiti (الحرية = freedom)

Freedom Graffiti

Sisters

Sisters

Light Despite Dark

Light Despite Dark

 

Photographic Resistance with Kuffiyahs

~

The Palestinian spirit not only lives in every Palestinian, but also in every human being’s heart that believes in the power of justice, respect, dignity, peace, and resistance against oppression. The true noble spirit is found in s/he who can uphold those values with beauty and grace.

Resistance can take form in protests, petitions, speech, visual arts, music, poetry, political levels.. and, in my particular case, through photography as well.

~

انني العاشق والارض الحبيبة

انني العاشق والارض الحبيبة

Burst of Color

Burst of Color

Resilience

Resilience

Yellow Roses

Yellow Roses

Prevails

Prevails

The Bouquet

The Bouquet

Pensive

Pensive

علي الكفية

علي الكفية

لنبني سماءٌ لنا

لنبني سماءٌ لنا

Crisp Memory

Crisp Memory

Spirit

Spirit

The Scarf

The Scarf

Kuffiyah & Roses

Kuffiyah & Roses

Sun Glare

Sun Glare

Passionate Souls

Passionate Souls

Black & White Patterns

Black & White Patterns

Uplift

Uplift

Sunset

Sunset

Dabka in the Woods

Dabka In the Woods

Kindness

Kindness

“Flowers grew where you stood,

sprung from the soles of you,

strong despite the shade

from the shadow you left.

You leave gardens

every time

you walk away.” (Tyler K. Gregson)

All praise is due to God.

A.S.

The Type of Curiosity That Killed The Cat

Cat

It wasn’t mere curiosity that killed the cat

No matter how many people you’ve heard constantly quote that.

We’re told curiosity is good, the key,

I’m sure you must see

To the world of knowledge & facts,

Not to mention unleashing inner wisdom, to be tact

So why would it kill the cat?

Well.

Curiosity just for curiosity’s sake

Could more than you think be put on stake.

For example,

Do you want to study because you want to know the world

Or do you want to study so they’d call you a man who’s learned?

And do you want to know the world because you want to know God

Or do you want to know the world to be reason they are awed?

Curiosity killed the cat, they say

But I say curiosity without noble purpose ended its day.

For example,

Do you want to learn the secrets of her heart

Because of her life you wish to be a part

Or are you curious just to see

What’s really going on in her mind internally

With no intention of putting that knowledge to use

But simply to entertain your boredom, a temporary muse…

Oh,

My friend.

This could be the end.

Know that the type of curiosity that killed the cat

Was the kind that had no means but itself

And that

.

is the end

.

of that.

~

–A.S.

Leash For My Heart

Staircase Break

I found myself musing this week over the state of my heart when it wanders off.

Sometimes I’m on something I can only liken to a spiritual high. Not the highest, surely… but it is close to what I imagine bliss to feel like. There’s simply nothing that is able to shake me away from this tranquility, happiness and love.

But sometimes it’s not that magical. You wake up and all you can think about is the one topic, the one subject, that you know you shouldn’t even be stressing about… because it’s not in your control. You’ve done all you can do, and what’s left on your part is tawakkul. (Oh, that powerful one word: tawakkul… you’d think it would be as easy to carry out as it is to write.)

The heart is a wondrous thing, it can be pulled in such extremely opposite directions that I often wish I had some sort of mystical leash that I can wrap around it.

(Here, little hearty… come back here! You’ll hurt yourself.)

But sadly, these useful leashes do not exist.

Or do they?

Rope of God

I love metaphors because it gives me an opportunity to reflect deeply on them as my imagination runs wild. Since what popped out instantly to me in this verse is the idea of rope of God, I allowed my thoughts to leap across mountains & fly through the clouds, until something settled and made a little sense in my consciousness.

(Please be aware I am representing no opinions here but my own. And I am not a scholar of any sort.)

What if we were all people stuck at the bottom of a pitt, needing to be rescued? The presence of the rope alone will not benefit you – you must take action, grab the rope and climb it.

Good grip? Still not enough; you have to hold firmly with conviction. You must hold on to it with certainty, without ignorance or blind faith. You may not see what is at the other end of the rope, but you are confident it’s a way out. To do it half-heartedly and without passion is very dangerous; slipping off the rope is always there as a risk, if you don’t believe with all your might that holding on is worth it.

The rope of God”.  

Could the rope be the combination of the Qur’an & the Sunnah? Islam is inward and outward. If you don’t act while knowing something is the truth, you simply won’t benefit and will continue to wallow in your own self-pity. You’ll be stuck at the bottom of the pitt with the rope dangling down to you, but if you don’t have faith that what you have leads you to the Light, to tranquility & bliss, why would you bother holding onto the rope and climbing it to possible disappointment, gaining nothing more than blisters along the way?

Islam is not something you can have blind faith in. Sure, there are certain metaphysical matters you may need to take a leap of faith – with the understanding that humans are souls that are trapped in physical bodies, and thus, we do not and cannot perceive all. Yet we are given enough to see, to observe, and to contemplate whether Islam’s final Prophet (peace & blessings be upon him) is truly a sign from God, and is truly a mercy to mankind. It turns out, for me at least, he is. Grabbing onto that rope is suddenly a means to an end, and not the end goal itself.

Now suppose you are at the bottom of a pitt of hopelessness, but your dilemma is not faith-related. Rather, it is something worldly… your career is going downhill. You are overwhelmed with a million things you have committed to with very little time on your hands. Relationship problems. Health declining. Self-esteem. And much more…

The heart may wander off far away from you seeking reassurance to these things, and the biggest problem is, without control over your heart, you know it’s getting even more lost and in despair. All you can think is how useful it would be to have a rope around it… and drag it back where it should be… Where heart agrees with mind…

That rope. The rope of tawakkul. Are you finding it? Look for it, but remember that it may not only be dangling before your eyes, but it might even be inside of you.

Inward and outward. Hope also comes from within yourself.

Bouquet

And Allah knows Best.

A.S.

Dear Diary: My Writing Has Died

I have no desire to write anymore.

Actually, that is a little extreme, so allow me to rephrase that: I have lots of desire to write, but I simply seem to have nothing worthy to write about. There are tons of things I’m learning everyday but I am lacking the elegant ways of expressing them. Besides creating fragmented poetry pieces here & there, I think this is the longest writer’s block I have experienced in quite a while.

“there are days

where i feel infertile

like no more poems will come

like all the words there were

to be weaved by me

have been weaved

and i am unable

to create anything.”

(Rupi Kaur)

Isn’t it interesting that the younger & less knowledgeable me had an ocean of things to say, and keen enough to make the time to share it with the whole virtual world? Yet now, when I actually have the time to write, it’s no longer an option; I toss the pen aside, thinking Who am I, anyways, to write on these things, and what do I REALLY have to say that is both of value & which I’m actively applying to myself simultaneously?

You see, my criteria for what I can, would and should share with hearts external to my own has changed over time, becoming more constricted. In person, I might speak spontaneously sometimes, so I try to measure & weigh my words prior as much as possible when I can (such as in writing).The fact is, as human beings, we do more talking than walking… more preaching than acting… more judging than understanding… and I am no different. I am trying to rise above that.

I suppose the older I get and with the “more wisdom” I acquire, the more I realize that life is a strict teacher with the ultimate lesson to not have too many assumptions about the way the world works, and especially on the way people are. When a shareable idea flickers across my mind, I hesitate; I’m probably wrong, I think; the inclination to write decreases; and eventually I decide my words are of very little necessity or use to anyone.

Sketching pad

But I’ve come to realize something lately. There is a void in me. I take on new hobbies & interests and still I feel incomplete. This feeling is only absent when I… wait for it… express myself through writing.

Writing academic essays & educational blog posts for professional development purposes is not the same as sorting through jumbled thoughts & trying to understand myself. They are both useful and beneficial, yes, but in different ways and for different purposes.

When I say my writing has flattened, I am talking about the kind that involves heart-felt sentences I put out there, allowing myself to be vulnerable to the scrutiny of strangers (and most frighteningly, people I know) while experiencing a sheer bliss feeling of realizing how many others are experiencing the same thing through the feedback. Sharing one’s writing is a bold act, an act of community, and I have allowed myself to stumble away from it.

When my writing habit died, so did a little part of myself.

It’s like suddenly losing a bunch of teeth and much of what passes through your lips becomes pronounced wrong – likewise, without the exercise of writing, my thoughts remain constricted in my mind & create tension in my heart, muddling my concentration, because I’m not quite sure what is going on inside of me.

“i write because

i don’t know

how i feel

until i read it.” 

(Rupi Kaur)

Out of the many Ramadan goals I have set for myself this blessed month, one of them is to write again… regularly. I will reflect on certain Quranic passages as sources of inspiration to get started. (InshaAllah… stay tuned!)

For all future posts, I intend to weigh my words beforehand, but nonetheless that does not guarantee that every post will provide unique insights to every reader; and that’s perfectly okay. I will not pretend to believe that I am your golden chest of treasured words.

But they are my words, which tell my story… and they are coming back to life. Fasting is reviving my soul, and writing shall revive my spirit.

revival

And Allah (God) knows best.
-A.S.

A Time of Polar Opposites

~

It is a time of things old,

A time of things new;

It is a time of grey skies,

And a time of skies blue.

~

It is a time of gradual beginnings,

A time of abrupt endings;

It is a time of knowing to be bold

And a time of self-surrendering.

~

It is a time of dreams come true,

A time of hopes and lives destroyed;

It is a time of scientific admiration,

And a time of environment annoyed.

~

It is a time of spontaneous bursts of love,

A time of inexplicable impulsive hate;

It is a time of refusing to submit to reality,

And a time of embracing what brings fate.

f19 funky tree

It is a time of promising failures,

A time of unfortunate successes;

It is a time of lack of resources,

And a time of cruel excesses.

~

It is a time of needless luxuries,

A time of great need;

It is a time of loving charity,

And a time of ruthless greed.

~

It is a time of deep fulfillment,

A time of endless longing;

It is a time of painful alienation,

And a time of finally belonging.

~

It is a time of times light,

A time of times dark;

It is a time of deadened hearts,

And a time of souls sparked.

~

It is, alas,

A time of polar opposites;

And we must strive to grow, love and flourish,

Somehow, inside of it.

And God knows Best.

-A.S.

Water Is Patient

f27

~ “Water does not resist. Water flows.

When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress.

Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it.

Water is patient.

Dripping water can wear away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water.”

(Margaret Atwood)

Life’s Plot Twists

f15 f16

I read an amusing quote this morning that made the writer in me smile:

“When something goes wrong in your life, just yell, “Plot twist!” and move on.”

I really liked it. As I had just completed reading Pride and Prejudice this morning, it all rang more in my mind. Upon editing some photographs I took over the weekend, it occurred to me that the combination above of the two photos can visually summarize the ‘life is full of plot twists’ notion…

Sometimes you think you’re at the top of the world – internal Superman – with your facts, smugness, and attitude; only for some concealed points to be revealed. Suddenly your situation is flipped upside down on its head so abruptly in a dramatic “plot twist”. Somehow you’re still standing, but you’re confused where you now stand and it all seems a bit absurd. Your prejudices are made apparent to you, and maybe even your pride.

Your life story is a plot, and whenever your expectations or assumptions are shunned, a plot twist of some sort occurs. Good or bad, they are worth living. And besides – they were always meant to live. Ali Ibn Abi Talib said,

“Oh God, when I lose my hopes and plans, help me remember that Your love is greater than my disappointments, and Your plans for my life are better than my dreams.”

I await to see what the next chapter of my life holds.

And God knows Best.

🙂

-A.S.

Noticing The Details – Photography

Old Port entrancePrayerTilted TextureGreenClose-UpThe Fountain
White in GreenDistant FountainWinterDoveFriendsIntense Blue
Little Beige Riding HoodTexturesAutumnDark SkyCloudsPortrait
Symmetrical ColorsAnother WorldPink BurstA Slice of SkyTranquilityAnother Slice of Sky

Old Port – Montreal, a set on Flickr.

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.”

There are so many more eloquent and beautiful ways of expressing photography, but I think Dorothea Lange’s words above sum it up short and sweetly for me.

I’ve held a camera plenty of times in my life to capture an eventful moment… but not really just for the purpose of refining my own vision. I took over 100 pictures in my first “real photography” outing and these were the 47 photos I thought were worth sharing.

Enjoy! 🙂

A.S.