Ali, I went and I asked this world, it told me that test after test at you it hurled. It tried to drown you in its frothing flood, and never did it stop until with poison it had filled your blood.
I have asked everyone about you.
I have asked the Earth and I have asked the skies.
I have asked the truth and I have asked the lies.
I asked life, I asked death, and I asked sacrifice.
I asked contentment, I asked justice – and bravery, I asked it twice.
I asked place, and I even asked time,
But it lowered its head, as if guilty for some crime.
I went and asked each and every one,
They told me that you were like the sun,
That left only shadows behind,
While you, yourself, you could only leave them blind.
I went and I asked the skies,
That waited eagerly for you to rise,
There I asked the angels, the thunder, the bolts of light,
They told me in your mention is their delight,
I asked the skies that held your heart,
While the earth clung stubbornly to every other part.
I asked the sky that had to hold back its might,
Even on your most lonely night,
The sky that wanted always, as it did once,
To destroy those who denied you because of greed and pride,
The sky that screamed with anger,
And shook with grief when you died.
The sky that watched the pillars of guidance fall,
I can hear it, repeating still its desperate call.
I went and I asked the pure earth,
It told me it had waited so long for your birth,
It remembered every whisper, every cry, every tear drop,
That would fall from your tired eyes and on its soil would stop,
Only it felt the heavy weight of purpose in your every stride,
Only it felt the shudders you sent through those who the truth denied,
But after a while, it turned and looked away from me with guilty eyes,
Because after the very last stride, it had to hold you when you died.
Ali, I asked the secrets of the hidden and the seen,
They told me in your heart, for so long, they had been,
Desperate for an audience with hearts fit for sharing,
“Ask me, before you miss me,” they would hear you declaring,
Behind veils of sin they were hidden for so long,
Until you rescued them, after you, they never found a bearer so strong.
I went and asked the veils of rust that cover the inner senses,
They told me your brother spoke secrets into your ear,
Secrets that opened all the doors, and smashed all the fences,
It told me that Gabriel’s presence you could smell,
and the moan of Satan you could hear,
It told me that you saw and watched the aura of revelation,
It told me that you walked the paths of heaven, without any reservation.
Then, I went and I asked truth, because I saw it always with your name
It told me that you and it were partners, inseparable, quite the same,
You were the sign that marked its road,
You were the friend that bore its heavy load,
With your words, with your sword, with your life,
You stood guard at its open door,
Keeping out falsehood, hypocrisy and lies,
Letting in only truth, nothing less and nothing more.
But truth, Ali, truth cannot cry and rue,
Because now it must return the favor and lead everyone back to you.
That is all it would say, and now in need,
To the enemy, it said, I must proceed.
So I left truth and went to ask falsehood,
Its devils, its men and its women all before me stood.
They all remember their wounds and their pain.
Each and every one, by you, was slain.
Falsehood remembers the battles, the sieges, it remembers every war,
But it remembers most that only you saw through every disguise it wore.
It remembers your words that drowned its impersonations,
It remembers your wisdom that crushed its innovations,
It cannot forget the brave patience,
That saved the world from the malice,
Of the sickly-sweet drink, served in its poisoned chalice.
Ali, falsehood killed you with its poisoned sword,
But you kill it every day, every minute,
Every second, with your every word.
Ali, I went and asked life and death,
An hour-glass of two parts, tilted in perfect harmony,
Counting every single breath.
It told me that only for you life had fought,
Only for you, more time it sought,
Yet it was only you who faced death with such a bold face,
Only you longed so much, for the true life that came after its embrace,
Until death, even death, that cruel debtor,
Wished it could ignore you forever.
Ali, I went and I asked this world,
It told me that test after test at you it hurled,
It tried to drown you in its frothing flood,
And never did it stop until with poison it had filled your blood.
Always ignored, thrice divorced,
It came back, time and again to see if this time
Maybe this time, to temptation you might be forced.
Hunger, pain, betrayal, war, love, nothing made you weak,
Lies, truth, pride, power- how else to you could it speak?
Then, when you cried with victory,
It froze, defeated, in agony.
Then, without you, the world was an empty house,
A barren desert, a desperate lonely night,
Waiting for a dawn so far away from sight.
Ali, about you, I asked contentment,
Only in you, for luxury, it saw such resentment,
Two coarse garments, old and worn,
Patched and sewed, whenever torn,
Your tongue knew only the taste of salt and bread,
The roughness of the earth was ever your bed.
All while the finest silk and purest honey,
Nations spread out, and all their money,
Were only a lie or a compromise away,
But cravings and greed never led you astray,
Your limit of wealth was the poorest of the poor,
Even contentment learnt from you, to never ask for more.
Ali, I asked all this, but bravery I asked last,
For I did not know who and what to ask.
Bravery of war when the hearts had reached the throats,
Bravery of justice, when oppression had covered it with so many coats.
Bravery of restrain when there were thorns in the eyes,
Bravery of truth, when falsehood was wearing the perfect disguise,
Bravery of loyalty, whenever asked by heaven to rise.
Ali, which bravery should I ask?
Still, I went forward slowly, and I asked,
It told me that cowardice, no matter how well concealed, is easily unmasked,
It told me that whenever fear appeared, and demanded deathly silence
Only you stood up, and asked for fighting, a licence,
It told me that at least once, all men stood between and heaven and hell,
But that you stood there almost every day,
But never, ever from the scent of heaven did you stray.
I asked again and it told me that bravery came in portions
Separate, different, incomplete distortions
But that you, with your truth, your justice, your sword,
You were bravery itself, you were the lion of your Lord.
You are the complete sign,
You are the brightest jewel in this universe of design.
You are all of faith, that crushed all of disbelief,
You are the mark that separates hypocrisy from belief.
Today, there is no one to stand at guard at truth’s door,
Today, even patience can fallen to the floor,
Today, oppression stands before us all, strong and proud,
Today, the tyrants declare their arrogance aloud.
Now, there is no one to beat the wings of hypocrisy into submission,
Now, there is no one to give for truth any definition,
Now, in a time even as treacherous as yours,
Indignity, like an angry rain, on our head pours.
Today, to your memory every hope soars,
Today, with pretenses of bravery, every young heart roars,
But we are chained by the heavy burden of everything false,
The false within, the false without,
And cowardly doubt that burns all else.
All while the locks of blind opinion and the cuffs of desire,
Together stifle the call for an awaited messiah.
Today, we must fight your wars on the battlefield of here and now
Today, with your truth and your justice, we must make a vow,
Today, we must scratch the rust from upon our hearts,
And pull that veil, till from before eyes it parts,
Today, we must pierce the curtains of place and time,
Until our hearts to you begin to climb,
Today, we must join the same struggle,
and hear the call of victory,
Today, we must, with our own pens,
Write the pages of history.