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ON THE WINGS OF YES by Noor-Malika Chishti

After a near-death experience in my early 20s I began to think about “how to die consciously.”
 And of course, I had no idea what that even meant. Over the years, my training in the Sufi tradition introduced me to a teaching from the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him: “Die before you die” (mutu qabl an tamutu). 
He is reminding us of the death of our limited states of awareness, until, insh’allah, we realize this verse from the Qur’an, “But unto the righteous God will say, "O thou human being that hast attained to inner peace.” [Qur’an 89:27]
When my children were little I wanted to plant a seed of death that wasn’t unpleasant. The kids knew I loved lipstick so I said when I die I want them to send me on my way with a brand new tube of lipstick. We would then laugh as we imagined tubes of lipstick piling up on me as people came to say good-bye. I intentionally think about death every day for when it comes, I want to be ready.
Photography by Catherine Ghosh
On the Wings of Yes


          As a young woman I had a near-death journey
from which the doctors brought me back.
                              The memory of this experience
has a certain instant-recall of how,   while there was curiosity
                                                  about what they were doing to my body,
                              there is no experience of fear to recall…
               after all these years
an enveloping peace remains the hallmark of that experience.
                         Since that time an awareness grew of wanting to understand
                                                  what it means to die consciously.
             Later on I learned about the ancient wisdom
of dying-before death
                              and it has been my experience
there are many opportunities to work on this lesson,
                              while awake, in sacred practice or when dreaming.
               Like the time I was flying in formation at great speed,
          an angel just slightly behind on both sides of me.
     We came to a point where we hovered before the Sun
and I was willingly drawn into the flame,
                              knowing I would no long exist.
                   In meditation, I saw myself, then a middle-aged woman,
          at the end of my days, long gray hair flowing across my Death Bed,
                   my son and daughter mid-wifing a peaceful State of yes, yes, yes.
          Another night, Azrael, the Angel of Death, came to fetch me;
     there was only gratitude when I looked up to see his beautiful form.
               I was humbled he came for me himself
                                             instead of sending one of his legions.
The lessons of dying while in states other than revery,
                                                                      have proven to be most difficult.
               Dying to what others told me I was
as well as what I have identified was me,
     dying to all the wantings the unpolished self desires, sometimes demands,
          of indulging just one more time in behaviors known to be other
     than what I want to lay at the feet of the One who knows me best.
Whenever the cage door opens from this life into the next
          I pray to soar on the wings of Yes
                                                            and look for that Circle of Guidance
          that Witnessed those little death experiences life gave me
                    so I can orient myself toward the One
                                        when it is time to navigate the Silver-thread.
©Noor-Malika Chishti


Noor-Malika Chishti has been a student in the Sufi tradition since 1972; she serves as an authorized representative of Pir Zia Inayat Khan. She began writing poetry when she was in grammar school; it now serves her in processing the lessons life brings. NMC is very involved in interfaith and is a Founding member of the Southern California Committee for the Parliament of World Religions; she now serves on the Advisory Board.  Noor-Malika presented workshops at the 2009 Melbourne Parliament of World Religions on "Listening with a Heart of Mercy, "Listening to the Other: Building a House of Prayer for Christians, Jews and Muslims,” and “Spiritual Intimacy: Taking Interfaith Engagement to the Next Level.” She has two children that were born at home with a midwife and has three grandchildren.

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~

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