Vinita Agrawal in Frontline:
The twin books of Egyptian poet Yahia Lababidi— Learning to Pray: A Book of Longing and Desert Songs, published in 2021 and 2022, respectively—uphold the Sufi tradition that was critical in shaping the imagery, symbolism, metaphors, tropes, and indeed the world view, of classical Sufi poetry and portray mercy with a pluralistic vision by upholding an expression of love above all divides. Lababidi does this by the clean magic of his language, relatable imagery and fine craft.
In Lababidi’s poetry, one is brought face to face with the knowledge that it is love and love alone which can address all discord, whether spiritual or material, and help us find peace. This peace is beyond the fabric of political peace or peace between nations as we know it—it is the sublime bliss of becoming one with God, the cessation of inner turmoil and the sweet melding of the heart with the divine. And is that not the fundamental teaching of all religions?