Deep TafsirsPoetic Prose

A Letter’s Weight

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Craft your words carefully.
They reify to what you intend,
          daggers
or
medicine.

So write, and reflect on the effects of every letter-—the present, the absent.
So speak, and realize that you are weaving feelings into other beings-—their hearts, their minds.
your words are daggers
or medicine.

And to our Prophet , Qur`ān was his medicine. The revelation that descended onto him spoke exquisitely to his situation. Nothing, not even an elided letter, was accidental in the Qur`ān that came down. Take a verse from surat an-Naḥl: with the battle of Uḥud just moments behind him, fresh wounds, martyred friends and their mutilated limbs constricting his heart, our Prophet needed a medicine. So our Rabb spoke to him from seven heavens above, with the linguistic precision unknown to modern rhetoricians. Pay close attention: “And be patient [O Muammad], and your patience is for none but Allah. And do grieve over them, and do not dare feel constrained because of what they plot.”

واصبر وما صبرك إلا بالله ولا تحزن عليهم ولا تك في ضيق مما يمكرون

I said earlier, reflect on the effects of every letter and question, why does Allah remove the nun to say “taku” instead of “takun?” I’ll tell you. Allah elides the letter to add emphasis, transforming the command from a casual “takun / do not feel constrained” into something more pressing and suitable for the situation: “taku / and do not dare feel constrained.” Do not dare feel constrained, oh Muammad, when you bury your beloved uncle; when you hear the widowed and the orphaned mourning their dead; when you extend your eyes on the horizon and see crimson shades staining the soil, wondering, “Is this really from my own people?”

          Do not dare feel constrained.

So our Rabb crafts the Qur`ān to reify that intention. His words became his   medicine, and our words can do the same. Our social media updates, our love notes, our text messages and our apologies. You’ll feel how your beloved’s “I love you” text hangs heavier than a friend’s casual “love ya.” Unlike the latter, bound to be forgotten, the first persists. Its weight becomes an imprint in your emotional archive, all because of a few letters. So when you lend an ear to a grieving friend, become tuned to the darkness trembling inside them. Listen well and dispense sympathy with carefully crafted words, for in doing so, you are manifesting a divine attribute.

          daggers
or
medicine /
c
ultivate your word bank
wield it well
for listeners
it can be a medicine
and a healing.

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