Posted by: Ismaili Gnostic | July 11, 2013

Imamat Day Poem: “The Day of All Days” by Khayal ‘Aly

“The Day of all Days”

By: Khayal ‘Aly 


Originally Composed on Imamat Day, July 11, 2004

Inspired by:
“Ya Ali Khub Majalas”

ImamThronement

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,[i]

we begin this munajat[ii] for our Sahib.[iii]

 

We prostrate to Thee in recognition of Thy glory,

having reflected upon the lesson in Hazrat Adam’s story.[iv]

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Heavenly Throne;[v]

only to a blessed few is this Divine Reality known.

 

O ‘Ali, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

 

 

 

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

we pledge allegiance to our Sahib.

 

Our forefathers gave their hands to Nabi; [vi]

God accepted and led their hands to ‘Ali.

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Baytullah;[vii]

Raised by the command of Sultan Muhammad Shah.[viii]

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days… 

 

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

we have come for the didar[ix] of our Sahib.

 

We sacrifice our lives for a glimpse of Thy Face;[x]

in humble supplication do we ask for Thy Grace.

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Spirit of Perfection;[xi]

breathing life into our souls with love and affection.[xii]

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days… 

 

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

We do the dhikr[xiii] given by our Sahib.

 

When the angels in Heaven learnt Thy Name,

they fell to the earth blushing with shame.[xiv]

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the “Hidden Treasure”;[xv]

recognition of which, is the Supreme Pleasure.

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

  

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

We recite Salawaat[xvi] upon our Sahib.

 

In 1957 on the eleventh of July,

we didn’t know whether to sing or cry.[xvii]

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Imamim Mubeen;[xviii]

shower us with Thy blessings Ya Rahmatan lil-‘alameen.[xix]

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

 

 

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

We shed tears of love for our Sahib.

 

You are the beloved of Fatimataz-Zorah;[xx]

the Living Qur’an, Injil, Zabur and Torah.[xxi]

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Prophet’s kin;[xxii]

He who loves us more than we can ever love him.

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

  

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

We attend the majlis [xxiii] held for our Sahib.

 

We perform ‘ibadat as we were created to do,[xxiv]

man ‘arafa nafsahu faqad ‘arafa rabbahu.[xxv]

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Supreme Name,[xxvi]

to reach the asal makaan[xxvii] is every murid’s [xxviii] aim.

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing Thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

Ya ‘Aly, Ya Mazhar al-Ajaib,

We end this munajat for our Sahib.

 

The Jamat has gathered on this Imamat Day;

brothers and sisters with one heart do we pray.

 

Our Lord Shah Karim is himself the Dar as-Salam;[xxix]

enter by His Farman, and obey the Mawla’s Kalam.[xxx]

 

O ‘Aly, our hearts desire is to sing thy praise;

Blessed be today, the Day of all days…

ImamThroneGJ


[i] The phrase Mazhar al-Ajaib translates: “The locus of Manifestation of Marvels”; it is found in the Shi‘i supplication “Nadi ‘Aly” (Call ‘Ali).

[ii] The term munajat which translates: “intimate communion”, is the verbal noun of the verb naja, which means “to hold a secret conversation with someone, to whisper something to someone, or to confide in someone.” The Qur’an uses derivatives of naja several times. Thus, 58:12 states: “O ye who believe! When ye consult the Messenger in private, offer something in charity before your private consultation. That will be best for you, and most conducive to purity (of conduct). But if ye find not (the wherewithal), Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Verse 19:22 speaks of a munajat between Moses and God Who says: “We called him from the right side of Mount Sinai, and drew him close in private conversation.” As a literary genre, the term munajat denotes compositions which speak of communion with God or supplication (du‘a’), and have been used as private liturgy in popular Muslim devotional practice. Shi‘i Muslims often use the term munajat to include poetry in direct address, composed to commune with Allah, the Prophet and the Imam.

[iii] The term Sahib translates “Master or Owner”, often used in Shi‘i Islam to refer to the Prophet, the Imam, or Allah.

[iv] Reference to Qur’an 2:31-34. It is to be noted that God commanded the angels to prostrate to Adam only after having taught the “Names of all things” to Adam, who then revealed the Names to the angels. It is also interesting that the only one who decided it would be inappropriate to prostrate to Adam, thereby explicitly defying God’s command to recognize the status of Adam, as well as displaying his own arrogance, ended up as the devil, who promised to attack the faith of those who will walk along the “straight path” (see Qur’an 7:17-18).

[v] The Qur’an describes God as the ‘Lord of the Throne’ (17:42, etc.), on which ‘He sat himself’ (10:3, etc.) and which is described as being ‘upon the waters’ (11:7) or ‘born by angels’ (69:17, etc.) The concept was an object of debate among theologians. While al-Ash‘ari (d. 935) maintained the literal interpretation, the Mu‘taziliyya interpreted it allegorically to avoid an anthropomorphic reading. In Isma‘ili cosmology, the Qur’anic ‘throne’ is typically equated to the philosophical concept of Universal Intellect (Aql-i Kull), itself said to correspond in the created world (alam al-khalq) to either the Prophet or the Imam, depending on which particular Isma‘ili thinker, period or indeed level of articulation, is referenced.

[vi] The term Nabi translates: “Prophet.” These lines of the poem make reference to Qur’an: 48:10: “(O Prophet) Indeed those who give you their allegiance, they give it but to Allah, Allah’s hand is upon their hands…”

[vii]Bayullah: House of God.

[viii] Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III (1877-1957), the 48th hereditary Imam of the Shi‘a Isma‘ilis, appointed his grandson Shah Karim as the 49th Imam.

[ix] Didar: vision. As a technical term amongst the Nizari Isma‘ilis it refers to having a glimpse of the Imam and the Light of Imamate, either in a zahir (outward, manifest) form, or in a batin (inward, hidden) form.

[x] In Isma‘ili ta’wil (esoteric interpretation), whereas God Himself is free from having any limbs or physical and even spiritual attributes, being as He is beyond description, verses which mention physical limbs of God, for example God’s Hand or God’s Face, are interpreted as referring to God’s Vicegerent or Khalif mentioned in the Qur’an (see 2:30, 38:26). The Qur’an often mentions the Face of God or the Lord. For example, 6:52 mentions: “those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face”; 28:88 proclaims: “Everything is perishing except His Face. His is the command and unto Him you will be brought back”; 92:19-20 states: “there is no one (who has) with him any blessing as a reward, excepting only for seeking the Face of his Lord the Most-High.”

[xi] The idea that God’s Spirit (Ruhullah) can be made manifest in the form of a Perfect Man is articulated in the Qur’an which states: “…then We sent unto her Our Spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man” (19:17). Further, the Qur’an refers to the human Messenger, Jesus, as God’s Word and a “Spirit from Him” (4:171).

[xii] The idea that a soul, often thought to be “alive” in itself, can gain greater or more “life” is alluded to in Qur’an 8:24: “O you who believe! answer (the call of) Allah and His Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life; and know that Allah intervenes between man and his heart, and that to Him you shall be gathered.”

[xiii] Dhikr: ‘the act of remembrance’. The Qur’an exhorts individuals to remember God: ‘Oh ye who believe! Remember God with much remembrance” (33:41). Dhikr designates a kind of prayer, which consists in the constant repetition of a Divine Name or formula. It is performed either in solitude or collectively. For the mystic al-Hallaj (d. 922), it is a method that helps the soul to live in God’s presence. The Isma‘ili Imam may bestow upon a murid who has come foreword, a special word to be recited as a dhikr, for the elevation of their soul.

[xiv] In one of his poems, the Isma‘ili Hujjat, Mu’ayyad fi al-din al-Shirazi, proclaims that even the angels are the Imam’s legions and servants and that they, as well as “The Age” (al-zaman) and “Fate” (al-dahr) prostrate themselves before him. The world renowned Sufi poet, Mawlana Jalal al-Din Rumi, when speaking about his own Shaykh, Shams-i Tabrizi, has this to say: “The moon-faced beauties of heaven have seen the reflection of his face – ashamed at his beauty, they scratch their heads in wonder.” Rumi, quoted in William C. Chittick, Sufi Path of Love: The Spiritual Teachings of Rumi (NY: SUNY Press, 1983), 141.

[xv] In an oft-quoted Hadith Qudsi (Sacred Hadith), God reveals: “I was a Hidden Treasure and I loved to be known. So I created the creatures that I may become known.”

[xvi] Salwaat: “Blessings”

[xvii] The current, or Hazar, Imam, ascended to the throne of Imamat on July 11th 1957 upon the death of his grandfather. Immediately upon the passing of one Imam, his chosen successor becomes the next Imam of the time (Imam al-Zaman). These lines of the poem attempt to capture the unique sentiment where one’s breath of sadness is immediately met with a breath of happiness, for the uninterrupted ascension to the throne of Imamat is a source of great joy and comfort to the murids who have continued to recognize and love the Prophet’s appointed successor, who shall continue to remain in this world, by way of progeny, for the sake of Divine Guidance and Illumination.

[xviii] Imamim Mubeen: Manifest Imam. Reference to Qur’an 36:12: “And We have encompassed every thing in the (light of the) manifest Imam.”

[xix] Rahmatan lil-‘alameen: Mercy to the worlds. Reference to Qur’an: 21:107: “And We sent you (O Muhammad) not save as a Mercy to the worlds.” Imam Jafar as-Sadiq has explained that ‘Alameen also signifies “people”, for each individual is himself or herself a personal world onto themselves.

[xx] Daughter of the Prophet Muhammad and Khadija bint Khuwaylid. Also wife of Imam ‘Ali and mother of al-Hasan and al-Husayn. The honorific title az-Zohra translates: The Radiant.

[xxi] The Shi‘i Imam is often referred to as the Living or Speaking Qur’an, as he is the Light or Living Soul of the Book (see Qur’an, 5:15). In this way, the Imam is also to be considered the spirit of previous revealed Books, such as the Injil or Gospels (of Jesus), the Zabur or Psalms (of David), or the Torah (of Moses).

[xxii] Reference to Qur’an: 42:23: “Say (O Muhammad): I do not ask of you any reward for it but love for my near relatives (or kin)…”

[xxiii] The term majlis, which translates: “session”, has a technical significance in Isma‘ilism, where it may refer to the historically held majalas al-hikma (sessions of wisdom), typically conducted in private, where an Isma‘ili da‘i (religio-political missionary), with the guidance and approval of the Imam of the time, would present Isma‘ili doctrines and esoteric interpretation (ta’wil) of the Qu’ran and the shariah (law). In contemporary usage, the term majlis is applied to occasions where Isma‘ilis come together to perform supererogatory (additional or optional) supplications, recite ginans and/or other types of Isma‘ili hymns of wisdom and listen to the guidance of the Imam.

[xxiv] Reference to Qur’an 51:56: “I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.”

[xxv] According to this hadith, attributed to both the Prophet and Imam ‘Ali, “he who knows his soul (or self) knows his Lord.” The use of the word ‘arafa (to know) has made this a favorite hadith in the discussion of ma’rifat (gnosis) in Islam.

[xxvi] Qur’an 7:180 states: “The most beautiful Names belong to Allah, so call on Him by them…” It is believed that Allah also has a special, personal Name, known as the Ism-e ‘Azam, the Supreme Name, which grants much spiritual pleasure and enlightenemnt to the one who attains recognition of it.

[xxvii] Asal Makaan: Original Abode

[xxviii] Murid: one who seeks. Sufi tariqas developed around the relationship between the murids and a spiritual master (called murshid, pir, shaykh, or qutb,). The first Nizari Isma‘ili Imams after the Mongols’ conquest of Alamut lived as clandestine Sufi masters, while their followers adopted the designation of murids, which is still in use today.

[xxix] Dar as-Salam: “The Abode of Peace”. Reference to Qur’an 6:127: “For them is the abode of peace with their Lord. He will be their Protecting Friend because of what they practiced,” and 10:25: “And Allah invites to the abode of peace and guides whom He pleases into the right path.” Salam literally means soundness of body and soul and intellect, and technically it means ta’yid which is the spiritual and luminous help given to the Prophets, Imams, and the mu’mins of the highest rank, in the form of a miraculous kind of knowledge and wisdom. All these realities and attributes are comprised by “as-Salam”, which is also one of the Beautiful Names of God.

[xxx] The term farman literally means “command” or “royal decree,” and as a technical term amongst the Nizari Isma‘ilis, refers to any pronouncement, order or ruling made by the Imam. Typically delivered orally, the farmans are also sometimes refer to as the Mawla’s Kalam (Master’s Words or Discourse).

About the Author

Khayal ‘Aly (Adil Dhanidina) holds an MA in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University where his research focuses on Isma’ili thought, Qur’anic exegesis and the concept of tawhid and khayal (imagination) in the metaphysics of Ibn al-‘Arabi.  Khayal ‘Aly is a contemporary Isma’ili thinker and poet whose recent works include Light upon Light, Meditations on the Holy Du’a, and The Realities of the Salwaat.  He can be contacted at: khayalalyATgmail.com.


Responses

  1. This contribution to the faith of Islam is crucial and must widely be understood for Peace and Unity of brotherhood, no matter what group in whatever part of the world.


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