The Islam I know

What drove me to Musandam, that fateful day?
That heaven’s charm! Or some pious toll to pay!
Was it mystic passion, that rushed my car’s pace?
Or sublime urge of soul, seeking divine embrace

Musandam, there it was, I lost in her lavish lures
What lay in store for me, what destiny obscures?
Next moment, me in shambles, in a wrecked car
Would end be swift? I presumed! Not a soul, near or far!

From nowhere, I saw, an old man, running beyond his means
Skull-capped, kandura-clad, bare feet, steadfast, beating ravines
In a while, I heard his heaves; a spent man ready, with pulled-up sleeves
For me, he was hope, his weathered face God! He smiled and swore, “Allah relieves!”

He fanned and wiped, my lesions with his holy cap
A wounded soul cradled, in a mother’s tender lap
I read his withered façade! All smiles and Allah’s name
Like a garden in autumn, abloom that now became

He lifted me and sighed, “Bismillah! Two souls on a pilgrimage!
Let Allah be your savior”, as we headed to a fishermen’s village
As we neared his hut, yelled a man,” Ali! Why blood-stained your new dress?
Be ready for the Hajj; bus coming; Allah awaits you, to bless!

Your money, your chance, so many times, you gave away
If you miss this Hajj, I am afraid, you won’t live, to see that day!”
Ali smiled and said, “Let Allah try me, my virtue, as he wills
Won’t leave a bleeding, dying soul, for my yearning soul’s fills!”

I was all tears, when I heard, that poor old man’s soul
How huge a heart this Muslim has, for me, he pays this toll
“If you fail to do Hajj this time, your birth, your life will be vain!”
“If I leave you here to die today, shall Allah’s heart not pain?”

I kissed his hand, and forehead too, as he burst into smiles
Which creed, followed this beautiful man, miles away from guiles?
As he dressed, my mortal wounds, a soul too began to heal
I cherished the day; what it brought to me and the timely ordeal!

How splendid was his reed shack, which opened to heaven’s gates
On august heart, he served me, humble camel milk and dates
Panacea, his magic touch, the soul of his meagre cares
He mended me, enduringly, with Allah’s five prayers

The Hajj bus honked aloud, a man shouted, “Come! Hajj’s near”
Ali looked at me, smiled and waved, “Insha Allah! Next year!”
Over the days, two men, two souls, basked in bliss, as though
He remedied me, a notion amiss, to know the Islam I know

© 2015 Vikas Chandra


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