The Orphan’s Song For The Kaaba By Novid Shaid

This narrative poem is based on famous Sufi tales about amazing acts of sacrifice and journeys on the way to Hajj.

The Orphan’s Song For The Kaaba

By Novid Shaid

When I was fresh, new, swaddling babe
My mother’s poor spirit flew away
And my father died of a deep malaise
My life was shaping for a terrible fate
But by a stroke of eternal grace
I was taken in by a travelling maid
Nourished with her milk, settled by her face
I remember her clear soothing refrains:

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!

As I grew in strength and the years ran by
I lived with my mother through some terrible times
Trekking through the deserts, perilous and dry
Begging in the cities just to get by
Slaving, watched by cunning, covetous eyes
Searching for a bed under the cold sky
And while we roamed, struggling to survive
Still my mother sang, tears filling her eyes:

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!

Then my life caved in when I was a youth
When my mother one day revealed the truth
She had been like a solid, comforting roof
But now I was lonely orphan in sooth
She said, “Listen my son, I made an oath
To the Lord of the Kaaba and angels’ hosts
That I would visit God’s Almighty house
Where the whole of the world gathers round and round
So I was heading for Makkah nearly out of town
When I heard your shaking, adorable growl
Wriggling on the ground, wrapped in a towel
My heart wept to hear your miserable howl!
There I choose to raise you as my own little babe
Though I yearned to bow in the Kaaba’s shade
Then I called on the Lord, don’t abandon me!
All my wealth I will give to thee
I’ll spend on this poor lonely baby,
But one day grant me the opportunity
To look upon Your House and sing with glee:

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!”

I wiped my tears and I kissed her feet
Saying: “I will take you there on my own two feet!”
Down the winding roads, through the heaving streets
Mother on my back, in the blinding heat
We pushed through the lands in gradual degrees
And hid in ships along the pounding seas
Never were we harmed by men or disease
As we said these words like a whispering breeze

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!”

After days and months, or even years!
Upon the horizon loomed Arabia
My poor old mother began to suffer
Our epic journey had exhausted her
But her eyes lit up with sheer wonder
“Take me my son to the Holy Kaaba!”
So we joined a group of dervish travellers
Pilgrims wrapped in white like glowing spectres
Reading tearful prayers to their Saviour
Treading down the path, chanting with fervour:

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!”

The road dragged on but we marched with cheer
Until we approached the epicentre of our prayer
Past the thronging mass of devotees
Swelling and flowing like a human sea!
Mother grabbed my shoulder with a grip so tight
Then she told me that she had lost her sight
“My dear own son, my orphan boy!
Wipe away your tears! You can’t feel my joy!
I know my state doesn’t make any sense
But alas life is a test of our patience,
My heart is filled with serenity
The lights of My Lord have set me free,
Though the Kaaba’s veiled for me to see
Now instead I see the Lord is truly close to me,
But if you would like a smile to brighten my face,
Tell me what you see, describe the Kaaba’s grace.”

“Dear Mother it’s like the Sun heating up all space
And the people, the planets, orbiting with haste
It’s like the sky on a darkened night
And the pilgrim stars shining around it so bright
It’s like a magnet that our Lord has fixed
And humanity crowds and encircles it
It’s like the heart beating silently
And the blood flows around it eternally
It’s like mighty Saturn, darkened, flattened into a cube
And the ring of pilgrims beautify the view.
It’s the House of God, and He loves His guests,
And He answers all who make sincere requests,
How I wish dear mother, you could see it now,
For the sake of your honest, sincere vow.”

Though her eyes were blind, she looked into me
Saying: “My dear son, it is Allah’s decree,
My soul has drunk a cup which is forever filled
With the wine of love of our Lord’s pure Will.”
Her breaths gave up, she began to fade,
She would end her life in the Kaaba’s shade,
But before my mother’s spirit departed
She sang out those words, free and enchanted:

Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
Labbayk Labbayk!
Allahumma Labbayk!
La Ilaha Illalah!

Dhul Hijja, 1432/2011

www.novid.co.uk

Notes

Labbayk Allahumma Labbayk La Ilaha Illalah- Arabic, Islamic prayers and formulas, meaning, I am at Your service, O Lord, There is no God but Allah.
These prayers are part of a longer prayer that Muslims say when they embarking on the pilgrimage and wearing their ihrams, white sheets which signify purity, repentance and rebirth.

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