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Finding One’s Path

April 22, 2012


Rumi says that every person is born for ‘some particular work’ and I think that this is true; it’s all too evident in the way some people do certain things with an unconscious fluidity and naturalness that other people can only seek to imitate.  For some it is the instinctual ability to nurture – whether it’s their own children or friends they take under their wing, providing them with warmth and comfort, a present heart and a listening ear.  For others it is an uncanny brilliance in learning, for whom conversation is less about sharing experiences and instinctively a means of sharpening their ideas against another mind.  Some have a gift of the eye and can make anything visually pleasing.  In a cursory glance they see what is visually discordant in a setting, and in moving a lamp or choosing a different shade of clothing can immediately find the most beautiful aesthetic in a way that is almost subconscious.  There are those who are naturally disposed towards the spirit, for whom the company of other people is naturally abrasive, and for whom comfort is found only in mention of the Divine and divinely related matters.

There are some who don’t even realize the special gift they are given, or seem to be forcing themselves into another mold, but for an observer it is an evident reality as clear as the rising sun.  They were meant for a certain work, a certain path.  Perhaps it is easier to see in others than in ourselves.

I’ve always had a special relationship with words.  I could never seem to acquire or read fast enough through books, especially in my adolescence. A particular turn of phrase, a new word, an especially eloquent passage would be as delicious as some sumptuous sweet, to be savored and appreciated slowly.  I would write feverishly at night, in bursts in the day, in class, on the margins of my notes, feel, think and dream about writing.

The closest description I have found to these feelings is in the words of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, describing when he wrote his first lines of poetry.  He says,


I did not know what to say, my mouth

had no way

with names,

my eyes were blind,

and something started in my soul,

fever or forgotten wings,

and I made my own way,


that fire,

and I wrote the first faint line,

faint, without substance, pure


pure wisdom

of someone who knows nothing,

and suddenly I saw

the heavens


and open,


palpitating plantations,

shadow perforated,


with arrows, fire and flowers,

the winding night, the universe.


Even as I have matured and often find it more difficult now to bare honest parts of myself to others through words, I still want to write, try to write, and dream about writing.  Even when I find difficulty in it, staring at a blank screen and a blinking cursor or a blank page, there is a sweetness and comfort in trying to bring together an order to the words swimming through my mind.  There are times still when the words course so strongly through me that they seem almost physically palpable, times when if I were cut I feel that I would surely bleed ink before blood.  This is why I think sometimes that this path was meant for me.

In my time abroad I have visited many places of historical and spiritual significance (alhamdulillah) – but two of the most poignant, intense and deeply personal of these experiences have been visiting the maqams of people who had deep relationships with words.  These are the authors of the Hikam (Ibn Ata’illah) and the Burda (Imam al-Busiri), respectively.

These writers produced works difficult to describe in their depth, eloquence and brilliance, works clearly manifest from an illumined inner state and a heart connected with God Most High.

It is something incredibly moving to consider how blessed such people were, who were granted a special gift, used it for His purpose, and were honored with His favor. They used the abilities they were granted to produce something of remarkable spiritual beauty.  I can’t think of a better life for anyone who has been moved to put words to paper.

I struggle on many levels with writing, but when I contemplate on such people I am at turns tremendously inspired and anxious.  My mind turns, by and by, to hope and to fear:  Is this a gift?  Is this an opportunity?  Is this a passing fancy or a self-seeking inclination? Or is this nothing at all?

I can think of no better way to live one’s life than to do what one was meant to do and be blessed in it.  May God help us find our path, our ‘particular work’ and reach its ultimate, noble objective, which is a deeper knowing of our Lord and gaining His nearness. Ameen.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2012 3:26 pm

    Wow amazing words may Allah grant you more blessings and wisdome

  2. April 22, 2012 4:03 pm

    I consider reaching your blog a real blessing and I’m so happy you’re in Cairo now, I am currently enjoying a career as an English instructor for adults, but the dream of writing pokes me from time to time, I hope that’s what I’m born for. I am proud that a lady like myself enjoys such depth. May Allah bless you a your whole family :)and welcome to your and my country Egypt

  3. April 22, 2012 5:24 pm

    A sign of great writers is that they write down the words so many have felt but never expressed. Reading their words is relief, and inspiration.

    Beautiful writing masha’allah.

    • April 23, 2012 10:07 am

      Jazaki Allahu khayran Sr. Maha for your kind words. When they’re coming from someone you know is a great writer, it makes the words all the more meaningful.

  4. Umm Haajar permalink
    April 23, 2012 1:18 pm

    Thank you, dear sister 🙂 May ALlah increase you with this blessing. Ameen. Make dua for me, please, that I also find my path.

    • April 26, 2012 4:16 pm

      Ameen & May Allah help you and all of us find our path and walk it with istaqama, towards Him. Miss you 🙂

  5. Rayan permalink
    May 6, 2012 5:23 pm

    Subhanallah I love reading your words and I only wish that you would write mire on your blog!

    I am a teenager and inshallah after my exams this month (please make dua for me!) I’m going to have a lot of catching up on my reading. Can you recommend poetry, both in Arabic and English, for an interested person to read?


    • Rayan permalink
      May 6, 2012 5:27 pm

      Oops, sorry, I meant “more” not “mire”.

      • June 2, 2012 12:28 pm

        Thank you for your kind words Rayan! I always mean to write more on my blog but it takes me a lot of time – first to write the words and then re-word until it’s to my liking. I always have so many ideas about posts. InshaAllah, I will try to write more — I think one of my next posts will be with some poetry recommendations like you mentioned iA!

  6. Razan permalink
    December 21, 2012 9:55 pm

    Alhamdulillah I’ve been exploring my passion for writing much more this year, and I am just beginning to learn about the vast world of words, and coming to realizations about them. I would absolutely love if you could write the poetry recommendations, particularly in Arabic – I simply don’t know where to start, I just keep finding snippets of amazing stuff but I don’t know where I can actually read.


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