Poems by Nousheen Lalani: “Under the Luminous Lamp,” and “Die Before Death”

Under the Luminous Lamp

O Lord of the Worlds, from you emanated the light
illuminating the world up to the Seventh’s flight

The force that guides back to the origin and the source
is attained through the Imam’s recourse

Recognize the Gate to the Holy City before it shuts
Gather the wise pearls when the Speaking Book instructs

A worship without greed or fear entails paradise to be brought here
Closer He is than the jugular vein to those who curb the nafs’ free reign

By the heavens and the earth and the one who spread it
Your Lord resides not in a stone home, but within

Look around, how can the one with such majestic providence
leave your soul without guidance?

Drown out the noise of the herd, and you’ll hear
your inner compass: Intellect – the hidden messenger of God

Transcend the sensory, feed the rational soul
Like Yusuf, with the rope of knowledge, climb out of the hole

Enlighten under the shade of the Luminous Lamp
The Ark navigating the flood of distortion and scam

All the signs get clear, as the eye of the heart opens
and the Custodian of Truth manifests near

The garden of the soul blossoms with a fragrance sweet
as the beloved enters through intellect and faith’s reach

‘Are those who know equal to those who know not?’[1]
Who see a bed of roses, when trapped in a prison of sorts?

Stewardship given over other creatures
for you to recognize the hidden treasure

Created in His image, so look in the mirror
Polish it and you’ll see him reflect clear

When severed from his light, days eclipse into dark nights
This life is but a sojourn on a long journey towards home

Make provision for the road
Devotion and righteousness are your only gold

In you battle the Sinner and the Saint
Who you espouse, will decide your fate

Secrets are disclosed to those who seek
The select few who summit the peak

Hikmati realities cannot be captured by speech
So restrain the tongue, however eloquent it may preach

Insincere speech can make you further fall
And deliver you unto a fate like father Adam’s, if you recall

Don’t squander all your wherewithal
To exist like cattle, you didn’t take the human form

Human love is but love in its transient stage
A shard of the whole, that merely offers a taste

And when your heart by another breaks and aches
Don’t sigh, in affliction wisdom lies
Tis but a call to go higher and experience the range

Real life is with the beloved, your higher self
The antidote to your ailing spiritual health
Separation is but an illusion,
where there’s no multiplicity, only union

Once the Supreme Name takes its course
The languished soul resurrects reinforced with the realization of having always been one with its source.

[1]Quran 39:9

Image: The Institute of Ismaili Studies

Die Before Death

Dear Heart,

The world you live in is shallow,
the world you live in is not yours to follow.

For your path stretches back
beyond the beginning of time,
Ascending towards the pure,
the hidden, the exalted Light.

Wake up to your reality,
to your virtuosity, your inner luminosity.
A treadmill running on merriment and sleep,
like a lion among a cattle of sheep.

How can you claim to be
spiritual without appeasing the divine,
Expect to taste of that nectar and sacred wine,
without withdrawing into your private shrine?

Less uttering that Name profound,
that involves no tongue, no sound,
Many names that signify the One
the Subsistence, the Sun,
The Ever-Living none can overcome,
losing against whom means you’ve already won,

And yet your soul gravitates
to this wretched place,
This purgatory of malice and false praise,
exchanging an eternal treasure for momentary pleasure,

A slipping life, hedonism
as happiness disguised.
This living may be sweet,
for some perchance a dream,
But it’s none that pleases me,
my beloved is my only ecstasy,

And if I were ruined in that quest
so it may be, so may it be.

And when I cry, let me cry,
let me purge and purify,
Shed the layers and refine,
emerge from the cocoon, a butterfly,
Dispel goodness through this rhyme,
my lower-carnal-self abandon

Shun ego, envy, greed, pride,
restrain vices of this clay mansion,
Kill the animal, give birth to the angel,
aim towards salvation,
Liberate through contemplation,
foretaste that sweet union,
With my redeemer, the Shah,
a love-filled communion.

About the Author
Nousheen Lalani is a double postgraduate: in English Literature and an MA in Muslim Cultures from the the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations. A writer and educator by profession, and a poet by passion, she has been writing poetry for about a decade now and is in the process of publishing a collection of 90 poems titled Letters to the Beloved – an anthology about love, loss, recovery, and resilience, that traverse the different forms and stages of love from romantic and passionate to friendly, self-oriented and mystical, encompassing both its worldly and spiritual facets.

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

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