There dwells within each heart a beckoning, a calling, to live from the wisdom of the Poet of the World: to live from the wisdom of Allah.
This calling is not simply an abstraction we entertain in our minds. It is the baraka of Allah: the blessing and the presence of the divine Poet asking us to become co-poets and help create a world of beauty. Of course, Islam is not the only religion in which the calling is heard. Baraka is within each human being as an invitation to become a vessel of divine poetry on earth. The best kinds of poetry we can create -- the ones most pleasing to Allah -- are wisdom and compassion, justice and beauty.
Sometimes this beckoning is hidden from us, like a reed hidden within a bed of reeds. It is hidden by our anger, our jealousies, our selfishness; and it can also be hidden by cultural and historical circumstances that shape our lives. Even our religions can hide it from us. Sometimes our religions help us to become vice-poets on earth and sometimes they hinder us.
Still, with help from or despite our religions, the beckoning can be heard if we listen closely, with ears of the heart. This is because, as the Qur'an explains, the beckoning is closer to us than our own breathing. Moment by moment, breath by breath, the beckoning is our initial calling, our initial aim. It precedes our existence, coming from the distant source.
Toward what are we beckoned? We are beckoned to love one another and to live lightly on the earth. We are beckoned to be good parents, good friends, good neighbors, good people. We are beckoned to love all living beings, animals included. And we are beckoned to live from the wisdom of the Poet, rather than from the whims of the moment or the vicissitudes of personal preference. Only when we leave the center of our lives open, so that the spirit can enter, can we love others without making idols of them. When we make idols of things, we don't really love them. We just love our attachments to them. This is why it is so important to love the Poet.
Beckoned to Remember
In leaving the center open, we simultaneously remember a quiet voice we may have forgotten. After all, the beckoning has been in us and with us from our very birth. Our remembrance is not the acquisition of new information or new knowledge, but rather a remembering of what we may have forgotten. It is a homecoming.
How to remember? Perhaps we can learn from the prophets and their ways. Prophet Abraham and prophet Moses, prophet Jesus and prophet Muhammad -- peace be unto them all -- offer invitations to remember. Every culture, every people, has its prophets. None of these prophets are perfect people; but all, in their prophetic moments, are invitations to the remembering.
Encouraged by the wisdom of the Prophets, we are encouraged to become prophets ourselves. This does not mean all have the same calling or that we are called to be the same. To the contrary, the Poet beckons all into differences -- different identities, different cultures, different personalities, different ways of loving -- so that we might know each other. In the very knowing there is the joy of being alive. This joy delights Allah, too.