A Season of Abundance: RAMADAAN INSPIRATIONS. An anthology by Yacoob Manjoo. Published by the author. Cape Town (2023) 75pp.
The writing voice will appeal to you because it is engaging and approachable, with a pleasant flow of appropriate language. It’s a marvellously inspiring anthology of Ramadaan poetry in which the poet captures the spirit of Ramadaan in order to achieve Allah-consciousness (Taqwa), and as you read, you’ll be infected with the same joyous enthusiasm he expresses in Capturing the ephemeral.
The anthology walks you through the stages of Ramadaan, emphasizing the importance of preparation and exhorting us to realign our lives to live within the limits and thresholds of that resolve from beginning to end. Even underachievers are praised: ‘…the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant, even if it were little’, (Sahih al-Bukhari 6464), the poet quotes.
In the poet’s most powerful words, ‘We soak in its majesty over the 29 or 30 days’ exhorting us to immerse ourselves into the river of Ramadaan and get wrapped up in a mantle of contentment for this is a month in which there is reward beyond measure.
The poet’s overmastering desire to express his wildfire passion for Ramadaan for the pleasure of Allah is clearly manifested as he lavishes the inexhaustible resources of his art upon these lines. His heart was full of enterprise for it was certainly no mean feat to translate his emotions into words and add to it a delicious throng of sensations.
He also strings the most modest words together to create imagery that goes to one’s heart:
pouring our hearts out
to the only One Who can give us all we want…
all we need.
The elegance in the simplicity of these words will melt your heartstrings. His whole heart is in these lines and it brings to one’s mind the solemn supplication of Nabi Adam (AS)
On one end, the poet takes us through accounts of poverty and struggle, as well as the consequences of dangerous excesses; on the other, he introduces us to the catalysing influence of Mufti Ismail Menk, whose captivating eloquence never ceases to enchant his audience.
The poet cleverly uses the literary device known as ‘apostrophe,’ which enables him to personify the month of Ramadaan in ‘Dear Ramadaan’, allowing him to address and elevate its importance. In this manner, the poet is able to share his innermost emotions and thoughts about this wonderful month of Ramadaan.
However, the campaign is far from over. The 15th Ramadaan is a time for pause, a time for reflection and a time to consolidate one’s newfound energy in preparation for the final push:
Go forward into these remaining days and nights and push
yourself just a little harder.
Throughout the adventure, the poet’s tone remains congenial. Missing, are the attributes of Hell; their absence is conventionally appropriate for the month. Instead, positive characteristics of hopefulness, cheerfulness, expectancy, exhortation and enthusiasm are portrayed.
Then the final push to the end:
The final push is upon us.
Don’t get left behind…
If the pleasurable excitement had not yet spread through the whole house, it should do so now.
Without cease, he ratchets up the ante:
So, while the gates of Divine Mercy are so much more open,
and the chains of evil are restrained, we do what we can to
build, build, and build some more – for a future that resets come
the day of Eid.
The crescendo in ‘build’ is almost audible in a part of speech called anabasis.
And onward we march to the final crescendo, Then the final push, the night of power, Laylatul Qadr, the greatest incentive of all:
For we all want
to catch the barakah
of a thousand months
rolled into one night
But let it not end there, the poet implores. There are three more nights in which rewards are still available. Will we then forget our Allah? The most we can do for Allah in this holy month is give it everything we have and hope that is enough.
Then true to type:
A slip is all it takes
to pull us back in
to the spiral of sin
However, the poet is also aware that the locomotives uncouple at the end, but Allah understands.
…and Allah will bless
deeds that are consistent,
even if they be less.
Shawwaal is here.
- The text is available from the author for R120. He may be contacted at email@example.com or +27 72 364 8743.
Review by OMAR AMEER