Shamas Nanji: Fana and Baqa

Fana and Baqa

The first one’s hot
The other mellow
Where one goes
The other’ll follow
The first is intense
The other’s afterglow

They’re the vocabulary
Of a tradition
Diagnosing a heart’s
And little to do
With fuel and ignition

Yet the rubric of fire
Works well
To speak of worlds
In which they dwell
And the stories
To us, they tell

They comprise
A circle of friends
With a language
Clear transcends
This world of
Black-&-white trends

A familiar name
Will suffice
Hidden treasures
To entice
Like some hi-tech
Acoustic device

Ali and Fatimah
Rumi and Baqli
Rabiah, Ayn al-Qudah
Basri, Ibn al-Arabi
Attar and Junayd
Both the Ghazzali

Fana and baqa are
Radii of adventure
Where each one
Of them is a mentor
In a circle of love
Flying to the centre

Hallaj, Suhrawardi
Fatimah of Cordoba
Shams, Sadardin
Lalla, Mulla Sadra
Bistami and Jili
Kubra, Ibn Ata Allah

Fana and baqa are
Abandoning sleep
When the quarterback
Says, Make your leap
For the sake of love
Dive in real deep

Abdul Latif, Jilani
Abu Dharr, Chishti
Dhun Nun, Hujwiri
Mir Dard, Simnani
Dara Shikoh, Ansari
Lal Qalandar, Sanai

Fana and baqa are
Oceans without shore
Waters that allow
Soul-full rapport
Yet, with each stroke
Self turns to door

Yunus and Kabir
Bulleh Shah, Iraqi
Khusraw, Qunawi
Hafiz and Saadi
Ibn al-Farid, Ghalib
Jami and Tustari

They’re the milestones
In prophetic space
Created by Abraham and
Others come in grace
Moses, Jesus, Muhammad
In our hearts we embrace

Listen to these names
Some sound like diwan
Homes of the mentors
Herat, Hira, Khurasan
Basra, Konya, Kufa
Kandahar, Isfahan

Fana and baqa are
A time for recall
The moment, Alastu
Universe yet to install
Each life promises
I’ll give my all

Special places too
Najaf and Medina
Bethlehem, Karbala
Mashhad, Samarra
And Abraham built
The house called Kaba

The places may be lost
In all the construction
With markets and capital
As counter seduction
Together with the lure
Of ever price reduction

But, the mentors
Are pilots apart
They’ll fly straight
Without any chart
To the highs and lows
Of your beloved heart

Them you must read
Then with care, listen
When comes a time
Your heart is smitten
To the stomach says
You’ve over-eaten

The heart’s fire
Is hard to contain
Higher worlds
It strives to attain
Yet, in this world
Must remain

Thus is the fire
The heart contains
Universe immense
Which for the head
Makes no sense


Fana and Baqa

These two terms are common to the vocabulary of the esoteric traditions of Islam. Fana and Baqa are short for fana fi’llah (often translated as annihilation or extinction in God) and baqa bi’llah (often translated as subsistence or dwelling in God).

The poem introduces the readers to numerous men and some women who are the lights of this enlightened/enlightening tradition dating back to the Prophet and Ali, the first Imam. Also included are places famous in the same tradition. Rhyme has been the sole criterion for ordering the names and places recounted in the poem.

“Fana and Baqa are, A time for recall, The moment, Alastu…” refers to the Qur’an al-Araf (7:172-173) – When your Lord drew forth from the children of Adam, from their loins, their descendants and made them testify concerning themselves, Am I not [= Alastu] your Lord? They replied,  Yes, we do testify.

“As the heart contains, Universe immense” in the final verse refers to the hadith qudsi of the Prophet, Heaven and Earth contain Me not yet the heart of my faithful servant contains Me. The first person pronoun Me refers to God speaking through the Prophet.


Other works of Shamas Nanji published in this website:
Shamas Nanji: “Abraham” and “Abraham’s Land” (includes profile)
Shamas Nanji: Light-Speed Web

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