the house of god

the house of god is closed
for the day
the seeker is turned away
his needs in discord
with the custodian’s timings

why is it that taverns
have longer opening hours
where men find
more comfort together
in a strange watering hole
than they do
in an unfamiliar mosque
or a temple in a distant land

restrained welcome
are we to be limited
to the one familiar house

the worshippers of each abode
shout their superiority
lay claim to god
like they own him

do the keepers of the key
imagine they can lock him inside
bound till the morning call

do they not know
that speaking to god
is not restricted by time
nor by ritual

that we do not listen to him
through perpetual preaching
that seeing the light
can happen in a flash
or stealthily through a lifetime

hearing the truth
surpasses murmurs
of repetitive prayers

seeking him in
the rhythm
gentle swaying
voices sing steady
alone or in unison
dances of passion
rhyming and depth
of poetry
where god’s beauty
is expressed openly

so unlock your doors
allow a true seeker
to enter when he wants
without the pretext
of your prejudiced piety

**

For those of you who visit places of worship, do you stick your own? Do you feel at home when you visit different places? Have you ever felt the urge to just be in god’s house at a random time but knew you couldn’t? I believe god resides in our hearts, but there is a unique feeling when you attend a place of worship and prayer. Shouldn’t they be more accessible?

16 thoughts on “the house of god

  1. I read your response to omershafee’s post and soo glad you could relate with Ghalib. He is a genius. The couplet I quoted can loosely be translated as:
    It is neither a temple, nor mosque, neither a doorway nor a sanctuary.
    I am sitting on a thoroughfare, why would anyone come to help me up.
    — the places of worship are much more than that and their doors being shut symbolises despair.
    My two cents..

  2. The poem is quite astute and courageous. The thoughts interplay quite well to create some mindful reflections. Would like to share my thoughts about the praying areas, I believe that in the Islamic tradition The House of God ( the praying place) is actually not place of God, it is a place for MEN, where the intent is that whoever comes is equal in the eyes of God. The further intention is psychic, when people gather they create a psychic energy that uplifts the human spirits. It is quite absurd to find God, the creator, the omnipotent and the omnipresent. Actually he finds us! we are lost, He is not.

    1. Thank you Akhtar Sahib. I admit I took about 6 months before i had the courage to publish it.

      As for what I feel is the essence of a place of worship, please do read my response to Robert’s comments above. I absolutely agree that there is a certain energy found in places of worship and it is that which attracts me strongly. If only we could revert to the original purpose of such places.

      Beautifully put! We are lost and he finds us. Grateful for your words, which always leave me in deep thought.

  3. Amazing, powerful thoughts.. Reminds me of my fav poet Mirza Ghalib’s
    ‘Dayr nahi, harum nahi, dar nahi, aastaan nahi
    Baithey hain rah-guzer pe hum, koi haemin uthaanye kyun…..

    1. Warm welcome to my blog Ali. Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback.

      I am not so familiar with urdu, although I do somehow grasp the basics. As for Mirza Ghalib, what a co-incidence that you mentioned him. I have not read too much of his work, but from what I did see, I identified with his thoughts immediately. Soon as I read his words, I felt right at home. See my comment on this post:
      http://omershafee.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/an-amusing-poetic-conversation-between-ghalib-iqbal-faraz/

      Look forward to your company :-)

  4. If the Beloved resides in the heart, then isnt it the heart that should be followed?

    Your poem reminds me of the verse “wheresoever you turn there is the face of God”

    And also an urdu couplet,

    Aql ao dil ao nigah ka murshide awaleen hay ishq
    Ishq na haothao shara’ ao deen butkada tasawaraat

    Love is the perceptor of the intellect, heart and vision
    Without love, religion and its methods are but an idol house of vain imaginings.

    Trans not very poetical – but its a start!

    1. True we should follow our hearts. However places of worship need not be made redundant. They play an important role in communal bonding as well as individual contentment. But, what we see today is that they have diverted from their original purpose.

      1. Thats true. I was alluding to the title of your blog. Shadow dynamics can be a nasty thing to get involved in. Have you ever evoked a collective shadow?

        Ive had the good fortune of sitting in the tombs of hazrat Nizam uddin Awliya ra in Delhi and hazrat Ali Hujwiri ra in lahore. These places are open 247. Its simply undescribable.

        As to mosques. What do you mean by the term mosque? Yes, i agree, many have lost their purpose – especially when women and children are not made welcome or a strict rigidity and dogma becomes the dominant culture. I spent three days in a mosque during ramadan and made many friends. However, ive got to say, unless one finds the inner mosque, threshold of the heart, the external is nothing but external. Rumi says it beautifully

        Man az Quran bargazeedam maghzra
        Astakhawaan peshe sugaan andaaktham

        I have taken the kernel (lubb) of the Quran
        And thrown the bones before the dogs.

        Mosques. Saints and shadow dynamics – all fit together… Ibn Arabi, the great heretic or Shiekh al Akbar, killed when entering a mosque and proclaiming “your god is beneath my feet” .. as was hallaj … And of course Shams of tabriz.

  5. Greetings again,

    This is a wonderful post. I admire your honesty.

    There can be (or not) something special about certain places of worship. These places, of course, do not need to be human-made. So coming to them might place one in auspicious circumstances to commune in a special way.

    And yet, as you say, the locus of the divine is not in brick or mortar. We need not, then, ever think that he waits there for us.

    Should places of worship be more accessible? I’d say…perhaps. But not if that means purchasing, along with this accessibility, the belief of the preacher, imam, rabbi, or priest that places fetters on heart and soul.

    All good wishes,

    robert

    1. Thank you for your appreciation and your invaluable thoughts, Robert. I agree with your reasoning. There is a Sikh temple here which is open at all times to travelers of all faiths for rest and meal at no cost. Another mosque built along the highway is also frequently visited by travelers of all faiths. Both these are simple, unostentatious and welcoming. I believe this is the essence of houses of worship. But sadly, we have made them exclusive and restricted…and frightening even.

      Many thanks and good wishes also to you.

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