Other Worlds Await You

Other Worlds Await You

These days I find myself more and more drawn to how things fall apart. Individual lives given to loneliness. Families coming undone at the seams. Communities on the brink. Entire blocks of humanity demonized and banished.

Drawn to love, I am. But if we want a love that is raw and real, we have to be willing to sit with suffering. Unless we hold this thorny crown of suffering in our embrace, stare it deep in the eyes, probe it and open it, and explore the structures that produce it, there is little moving forward.

Maybe it’s because I am a teacher. Perhaps it’s because I am a parent. Or that I aspire to be a friend. I often sit with those whose dreams have been dashed, crashed on the shores of a cruel reality. Putting my arms around those whose world has ended — or so it seems.

Here were a few words that came to me when I think of these friends:

Wipe your tears
It’s not the end of the world.

It’s the end of a world.

Beyond this world,
many worlds there are

It’s not the end of the world.
It’s the end of the world
you’ve known.

Other worlds await you.

Worlds you’ll inhabit
Worlds you’ll create.

Mourn now,
my child.
Mourn this world
coming to an end.

Grieve the dreams
That will never come to be

Wipe your tears,
And dream again.

There are more worlds to come.

After every apocalypse
You will rise again,
my child.

One world ends,
Another begins.

The Jesus of your soul
Now on the cross
Buried under
Will rise again

After this year of sadness
There’ll be an ascension

The joy tomorrow
Is already inside
The grief today

Inna ma’a ‘l-usri yusra
Fa inna ma’a ‘l-usri yusra.

It’s not the end of the world
Many worlds there are
Other worlds
Worlds that you’ll make
With your hands

Dreams of seeds
Watered with the now tears.

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is a columnist for On Being. His column appears every Thursday.

He is Director of Duke University’s Islamic Studies Center. He is the past Chair for the Study of Islam, and the current Chair for Islamic Mysticism Group at the American Academy of Religion. In 2009, he was recognized by the University of North Carolina for mentoring minority students in 2009, and won the Sitterson Teaching Award for Professor of the Year in April of 2010.

Omid is the editor of the volume Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism, which offered an understanding of Islam rooted in social justice, gender equality, and religious and ethnic pluralism. His works Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, and Voices of Islam: Voices of Change were published 2006. His last book, Memories of Muhammad, deals with the biography and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad. He has forthcoming volumes on the famed mystic Rumi, contemporary Islamic debates in Iran, and American Islam.

Omid has been among the most frequently sought speakers on Islam in popular media, appearing in The New York TimesNewsweekWashington Post, PBS, NPR, NBC, CNN and other international media. He leads educational tours every year to Turkey, Morocco, or other countries, to study the rich multiple religious traditions there. The trips are open to everyone, from every country. More information at Illuminated Tours.

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