The Truth of Silence, Chapter 40, The Search for Beauty in Islam: A Conference of the Books

Every night my heart splinters like the dissipation of thought. Every night melts the heart that has become frozen by the indifferent cold. I stand before You burning in the inferno of my soul, confronting what my delusions have allowed me to ignore.


I stand humbled by the silence, a mere beggar at Your door. In the silence, I am banished by reproach, I am rehabilitated by hope, and I confront the turbulence of my soul.


What do I say to the One Who knows the sigh before it leaves the heart? What do I say to the One Who can see the glimmer of light in the midst of the darkness in my mind? What do I say to the One Who indulges the pretenses of my intellect but rekindles the truth in my heart? What do I say to the One Who observes my ostentatious pretext take me to heights of self-deception, but every single time receives me when I fall apart. What do I say to the One Who knows the end before the start?


If I say I love You, I fear that my notion of love is terribly flawed. If I say, forgive me, I fear that my presumptuousness will set us apart. If I say, take me, I know that Your hands only touch the purified. My God, I am in fear of my fear. The filth on my hands yearns to be purified, and before I seek to touch You, have I cleansed the impurities clinging to my heart?


No, I do not say or talk. I sit here stubbornly clinging to this singular spot. Adorned by the silence of this night, I listen to the reproaches of my soul.


God, we are but a luscious cover of skin punctured by holes. We covet to intake and emit through enthralled skin punctures until we eventually rot our very core. Mesmerized by the pandemonium of senseless noise in life, we are oblivious to the corruption of our mind and soul.


In silence I know. I know that I am tired of the discord in my thoughts. I know that I am tired of the clamor of my breath, and the racket of my heart. I am sickened by the clangor of my teeth, and the bedlam gushing from my mouth. I am tired of the bawling of tears and the dissonance of dreams. I know, so I strive to ignore the moaning of my body and its lecherous holes. I strive to escape every single distraction of noise or sound, and in the truth of silence I know what cannot be ignored.


There comes a moment in time when all the voices will fall silent before the Lord. The silence of humility is broken only by the whispers of self-reproach (20:108). I must live this moment now, for he who does not rehearse the inevitable is most certainly a fool.


My God, I live drowned in the noise of words and thoughts. I live drowned in the endless humming of distractions and sounds. Presentations, performances, speeches, and arguments saturate the fibers of life. And, this life is but a harangue of incoherence masking the embarrassments of vice. Even the pretensions of beauty are but a boisterous shroud cast upon our pain and strife. God, I realize that I use every being that emits a voice, I use every distraction of desire or thought, I use every pain or pleasure, I use every bit of disappointment or hope, I use every single moment of noise to avoid listening to my soul.


You swear by the self-reproaching soul (75:2), and I swear by You as to the agonies of the reproaches of the soul. But it is only when I shut off all the noise, close the books, and rein in my thoughts, do I hear the resilient chiding of my soul. Such is the virtue of silence—in silence we are confronted, splintered, and, ultimately, restored.


Our inner prophet speaks and we mute the voice. We emit and inhale odious fumes of talk. We talk in conferences, we talk in programs, we talk in gatherings, we talk in meetings. For every moment of delusion, doubt, or ignorance, we give a talk. We emit and inhale fumes of talk. We talk to cover the anxiety of guilt and torment of fear. We talk because there is so much to conceal. We talk so that the self may not speak.


Between the boisterousness of acts and words, we drown the silent dignity of our being. The noise of frivolity becomes our distorted sense of meaning. If only we would embrace the silence, we would find the Divine voice. We use the pedantry of legalism, the pomposity of activism, the sophistry of scholasticism, and the unmitigated hypocrisy of formalism to mute the voice. We hide in robes and scarves, we hide in beards and miswaks, we hide in pamphlets and tapes, we hide in an endless stream of chat groups and oratories from one true fact. The day will come when there will be only the silence, the soul and a Lord Who knows the sigh before it leaves the heart.