Ramadan Notes, Late Night, Day 25

Kazim Ali
September 16, 2009
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My name, Kazim, means “patience.”

Only it doesn’t quite mean “patience” as much as it means a certain quality of “restraint.”

A person with restraint means someone who is not overly affected by a series of bad events, also someone whose essential qualities are not really changes by a series of good fortunes either.

In other words, to me, a Kazim is someone who might recognize his own essential and abiding nature as something that is beyond the momentary happenings of the immediate world, something beyond the fluctuations and agitations of the mind’s consciousness.

A fasting Kazim might not be that different than a Kazim under any circumstances.

I’ve always loved my name because while it is a very Shi’a name, it’s not a very common Shi’a name.

The most famous Kazim in the world is an Iraqi pop star who, because he is Arabic speaking (and not Urdu speaking like my family) spells his name differently: Kadem.

I’ve met a few other Kazims in my life but not very many. To my joy I met a Pakistani painter named Ali Kazim.

I have a cousin named Kazim.

Once a friend was visiting Pittsburgh and was standing in a line at a grocery store and overheard the women in front of him talking about a Kazim. The strange name in a strange place–he had to ask. And yes it turned out, oddly, to be me these mutual friends were discussing.

The name Kazim as applied to me though is only an arrow, an icon like the ones on the altar upstairs, just an indicator for something I am reaching for.

My father was renamed because his mother thought she had not given him his true name properly.

A name is a gift to a person who exists beyond names.

Sometimes we rename ourselves.

“Kazim” or “I,” if you prefer, does exist constantly though the mind must respond to all the things that happen around it. This is not a limitation but a human opportunity to actually know and understand the world.

By understanding the world I might just have a shot at understanding myself.

You might best know the name Kazim because the shrine of the man I was named after is in Baghdad, in a neighborhood called Kazimain.

The bridge to the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazim collapsed a few years ago with hundreds of pilgrims on it. This may have been related to poor crowd control.

At least the shrine still stands unlike the shrine of Imam Hasan Al-Askari, Imam Kazim’s great-great-grandson, which was destroyed in the conflict several years ago.

Our own names and the names of others around us are own shrines we ought to make pilgrimage to.

No bridge will collapse.

We might find ourselves in the strangest of places.

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