Meem is for Mercy
my slogan. my revolution.
“Intellectually and emotionally, ‘Meem is for Mercy’ belongs to the finest life-enhancing genre material that sidesteps the boundaries of conventional poetry. Jaihoon has already carved his own niche with his remarkable poetic jugglery and ‘Meem’, with its explosion of mystical imagery, will surely hypnotize even the most hostile non-poetry fans. You may occasionally stretch and struggle to keep up with his Slogans of Mercy, but you surely wouldn’t want to abandon his Revolution of Meem.”
The world has witnessed several revolutions for both sane and insane reasons. Rage and rancour were essential ingredients of these revolts which further fragmented humankind based on sectarian or political isms or economic classes.
‘Meem’ too is a revolution. But for mercy and love. For forgiveness and unity.
I pray these verses would be of help in establishing a Nation for Humanity with Compassion as its Capital.
I have come to learn that often times the most unassuming books are the most interesting. For in the end, it is these books that hold greater treasures inside than their loftier counterparts somehow promise. Meem is for Mercy, My Slogan My Revolution is a collection of 29 inspired poems that needed to be born and bound together into this little book. I hope that it receives a wide audience. For, it is through the words of this modern day poet that the reader may again be brought face to face with the essence of dhikr (or ‘remembrance’), the eternal focus and daily practice carried out by the Sufi mystics of yore. A concept that many appear to have forgotten all about in the frenetic hum of today’s modern – world.
Certainly, it can be no easy task to walk along the same tear-stained path that great mystics such as: Jalaluddin Rumi, al-Hallaj, Ghazali, Rabia and others once trod –especially in this era. For the world in which I recall — their world– was filled with the miraculous. There were the rose-scented gardens of Tabriz, the red-stained tulips that appeared in the desert under a glorious sun at midnight, and where the cry of the lone Nightingale searching for his beloved, could always be heard. It was also a world where all of nature could be poetically viewed as being innately busy with the act of prostration, remembrance and celebration. And where every creature was viewed as yearning (to the best of its capabilities), to return to the Divine. This world, the one in which they practiced their dhikr, now seems so very far away. However, through this collection of poetry and its themes of Medina and recollections of the joy and pain that an absolute love of the Divine engenders, it becomes possible to be apart of the modern day world and still integrate, at least in some way, the practice of dhikr into daily life.
Through the poems found in Meem is for Mercy, we witness additional examples of how the pen is mightier than the sword, a point which only further underscores the central importance of the written word in Islam. This concept, along with the mystery of what are called the ‘abjad’ letters and numbers, appears in different forms across time, but begins in Islamic culture with the Qur’an (as it is a sacred written text), is reinforced by various Hadiths, and later books such as The Tales of the Prophets. The central importance of the written word was interpreted over and over again by the Sufis in not only highly poetic ways, but in ways that lyrically reinforced both the supremacy of the Divine and humankind’s ultimate dependency and humility before its Creator. One of the most beautiful examples of this may be found in a story in the Hadith in which it says: ‘GOD holds man’s heart between two of His fingers.’ This saying was later interpreted by Rumi and others to mean that man’s heart in fact resembled a pen with which GOD could write what He wills: ‘My heart became like a pen that’s in the Beloved’s fingers…’ thus wrote Rumi. Certainly, this idea of the closeness of the Divine to all of creation (along with their signs) appears in numerous Surahs and is very well known throughout the Islamic world.
Meem is for Mercy is as much a journey as it is a destination. It is a place where each poem is both treasure and witness to the act of dhikr. But as the reader moves across these pages he or she will also be reminded of the mysteriously beautiful Arabic letter for ‘M’ or ‘Meem’ and will come to recognize why this letter is an apt title for this book and how some of its special qualities may work in English too. Many who are reading this are already familiar with some of the special attributes that surround this letter in the Arabic language, a letter which has a numerical value of forty and appears in ways that are both mysterious and significant in the Qur’an and in other ancient texts. However, there is another interesting aspect to this letter that is worth considering which has to do with how it is laid out on the page. Whether it is in initial, medial or final form —alone or combined in a word with others letters — ‘meem’ is also the only letter that appears to visually represent the motions of prostration in the Islamic faith.
The poet inspires the reader to look inward. And in this sense makes it possible for the reader to become both seeker and traveller, an active participant in the poetic experience, an experience inspired by the discovery of the poet’s own spiritual space. While at the same time, through the act of dhikr (and in this case, the dhikr of others), we are reminded of our own fleeting immortality… of ashes to ashes and dust-to-dust. In this book the power of words is recalled as it is words that are ultimately turned into poems with a message and have both meter and rhythm. Poems that are strung together as though stones on a Subha, with each one invisibly connected to the next by a commonality of spiritual thought. And through this very real movement from poem to poem, we are also reminded of the solitude of the soul, which is not unlike a caravan travelling across the desert dunes in darkness and in light. Sometimes slow, sometimes faster, nonetheless the caravan always keeps moving towards the horizon because it is compelled to do so:
You are the rain in my Sahara
You are the sun in my dark ocean
O love of my soul
O soul of my soul
I have begun to love you again
Relieved I am of all my pain again
And it is here, in the poetry of Jaihoon, that we find an interior spiritual space that at once captures the essential architecture of the thirsty mystic heart: love, longing, separation and finally, union with the Beloved. ‘Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a wayfarer‘, the Prophet once said. And it is through this journey that a reflection finally emerges.
– Katherine Schimmel
Director of Global Partnerships
Curator of the Mystic Pen Series
Wild River Review
Publisher: Adam Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi
Year : 2013