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The Power of Words and the Bracelets of Kisra

by in Soul on 23rd February, 2024

“A bank in the sky 

Or a ministry of words  

Will determine our lives” 

 ~ All the Birds were Invited to a Feast in the Sky, Soukeyna O. 

Speaking Our Way to Paradise 

My father under the dappled sunlight of an afternoon sun recently shared something that stuck with me, “Souk, I’ll tell you what the Ansar – helpers of the Prophet Muhammad () said, ‘There is war in these words’, be careful about what you write because there is war in a word. If a man can pick up a sword and fight another man because of words that were spoken, then there is nothing mightier than it.” 

“A word is a powerful thing.” “In 1975, Bob Dylan wrote ‘Hurricane’, a song that caused significant commotion and ultimately led to the retrial of the man he was advocating for in the lyrics. He didn’t win the case but his words led to a trial…imagine that.”

The lucid nature of words is particularly profound for Muslims. Words have the power to rouse, illuminate, inspire and like the sanguine smile of a loving grandparent – console.

As writer Maria Popova eloquently puts it, “they can steer entire ideologies and even spark the extinction of species.” (1) In the case of Dylan’s lyrics, words often embody the defiance to resist and the potential to exonerate.

I begin with the power of words because I have observed the ways in which the tensions of words – both the good and the bad – make the world go around.  

Throughout my life, I have waded through lexicons that have touched me deeply – whether they are reminders of Allah, the suggestions of help from a loved one, or the profound writing of a novelist I chanced upon. These words have consistently brought me out of the stupor of senseless darknesses that are a natural byproduct of being on this side of living, guiding me towards the stillness of serenity. Moreover, I have also found that soundbites of guidance threaded throughout the tapestry of my life, have provided me the departure points that have shaped my path, furnished me with taxonomies to classify the world and given me the direction to become who I was all along.  

Reflecting on the power of words, I am led to contemplate a hadith about the first creation of Allah.

Ubadah ibn al-Samit reported, The Prophet ﷺ said, “Verily, the first to be created by Allah was the pen. Allah told it to write, so it wrote all that will exist until forever.” (Tirmidhi)

Both you, the reader, and I once had ink as our genesis. Words served as the powerful progenitors of our existence, before we were even created in the realm of the souls, before the time of Adam (AS) and preceding our birth into our short time here. 

Moving beyond this train of thought and more pressingly for you and I, there is an intrinsic connection between words and the attainment of Jannah. In our tradition, the importance of the tongue’s polarising power to create a beautiful future or threaten the promise of one is emphasised throughout the Qur’an and Hadith.

“Kind words are better than charity followed by injury.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:263)

Hence, speaking our way to paradise, word by word, and seeking the pleasure of Allah, is the only migration that will define us and ultimately determine our stories.

I often reflect on how the du’as of our ancestors may partly be the reason why you and I are elevated to Jannah. From the time of Adam (AS), the deep time that we find impossible to fathom, to an inevitable eschatological reality – the end of our chapter here on earth, the skies are overflowing with their words, as well as ours. Humanity will one day cease, but our words with Allah spoken long ago while we were human will remain. A ministry of desperate or sincere or grateful voices directed to Allah that will ultimately determine the condition of our eternal living. 

Linking back to my father’s anecdote, it is clear that words hold the power to be vessels of change. Oceans will dry out and new waters will flow, city lights will coalesce to the surging and acquiescing of the sun, but Allah has promised us that all this will cease. What will remain is His face, what we did and the words we spoke. Our supplications and our pleas will one day transport us to a new reality, a home away from here that is devoid of the heaviness that this one brings. A new home that is filled with every divine promise that was made to us, the trilling abode of peace.

Words for Struggling Women: The Bracelets of Kisra 

In addition to the power of words to transport us to a new world, from first hand experience, words can also offer profound consolation. 

Sheikh Moutasem Al-Hameedy once said “Reality is unfinished business, we choose how to finish it.” This is because words and our perceived reality are symbiotic. They are like the reaching fingers of climbing vines, naturally interlinked, fighting for space to forge a new direction and new paths. 

While many of us are living liberated realities forged by the nurturing words that uplifted us to this path, many of us are also living in a silo, despite having transcended circumstances and words that restricted our perception of ourselves. For those of us that are experiencing the latter, repeating optimistic words which are in the fitrah, the primordial nature of humans, is a consolation for us to nurture hope in what seems to be a hopeless situation. 

The story of Suraqa bin Malik below, provides us all with words spoken to him by the Prophet which we can use as a light in the moments when the night won’t cease. 

Kisra, the formidable ruler of one of the greatest empires in history, held riches beyond imagination. Among his treasures were the legendary “Bracelets of Kisra,” renowned for their splendor, crafted intricately with breathtaking beauty. At the height of the Persian empire’s power and opulence, while it overshadowed the world, Muslims were mere nomadic shepherds in the barren deserts of Arabia, scarcely noticed by the rest of the world.

“How will it be, O Suraqa, when you are wearing the bracelets of Kisra?” (Persian ruler Kisra) (2).

These were the words spoken by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to Suraqa bin Malik, a Bedouin man who had come to assassinate the Prophet ﷺ for a bounty of 100 camels. This was during a time when the Prophet’s (ﷺ) companion Abu Bakr (RA) and the Prophet (ﷺ) were fleeing the chase of the Quraysh and making hijrah from Makkah to Madinah, in order to escape persecution because of their faith. 

These words were unbelievable to Suraqa and far from being realised. How could the Muslims possibly conquer the Persion empire given its might and given the oppressed state of the ummah? How could Suraqa bin Malik ever wear the jewellery, the world famous, baroque golden bracelets of the Persian ruler Kisra, who was presiding over the hegemonic and most formidable superpower of the times?

After three attempts of advancing his horse, which on the first and second attempt buckled into the sand causing Suraqa to fall off and on the third attempt caused Suraqa to miraculously see a wall of dust, Suraqa abandoned his assassination attempt and came in fright instead to beg for the protection of the Prophet (ﷺ) which he (ﷺ) gave.  

This is the same protection that saved Suraqa’s life when the Muslims became victorious during the conquest of Makkah in the years that followed. Suraqa later became a Muslim after the Prophet’s death during the time of the Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (RA). After he fought in the army of believers that conquered Persia, he was summoned by Umar (RA) who finally manifested the prophecy of the Prophet (ﷺ), telling Suraqa to wear the bracelets of Kisra and share the story amongst the Muslims. 

“How will it be, O Suraqa, when you are wearing the bracelets of Kisra?” 

These powerful words carry immense weight. Through them, the Prophet is asking Suraqa how he will feel when, despite his wrongdoing, he will receive the trophies of an unlikely victory. Through this, the Prophet is also asking him to reflect on what will happen when the seemingly impossible is realised. When Allah – Al Wahhab, the Giver of gifts – honours him with a gift in place of retribution for his assassination attempt.

So, what about the day when you will wear the bracelets of Kisra? 

In asking yourself this, you are pondering on the moment when your trust in Allah is rewarded. When you emerge victorious in this life and the next, against all odds and logic, after being  submerged in a sea of dilapidating fear, sadness or uncertainty. These words offer a light and lesson for all of us to reflect upon. 

Our minds are fertile plains. Allowing repeated hopeful words such as the words above to germinate in a place where the ground is arable, cultivates agency and the mental toughness necessary to not take a circumstance too personal. It also empowers us to perceive in the rubble, the foundations of an optimistic future, and to withstand the troughs of this world unperturbed by distress, without fear and without grief.

“Indeed, those who believe, do good, establish prayer, and pay alms-tax will receive their reward from their Lord, and there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.” (Surah Al- Baqarah 2:277).

In conclusion, echoing my father’s wisdom, “a word is a powerful thing”. Just as Dylan’s lyrics held the power to speak his truth, speaking our own truth is our path to paradise. It is a deed that will bring us relentless joy as well as honour us with a life of integrity. Similarly, speaking words of consolation to ourselves is what will keep us afloat when problems inevitably occur on our long journey there. 

Unlike the operations of all monarchies across this earthly life, a home with the True King, Allah (SWT), is merely a few words away. And here’s a beautiful truth: everyone, pious or prisoner, has equal access to forging a new reality with Him, whether through finding a consoling reality within the mind or a physiological reality in paradise. 

Why? Because everyone here on earth who is awake and alive, regardless of social or religious status, has equal access to words, supplication and consequently the Lord of them.  


(1) Popova, Maria, On Words, The Margilanian 

(2) Suleiman, Omar, Suraqa ibn Malik (ra): The Bounty Hunter | The Firsts ,Yaqeen Insitute

Soukeyna Osei-Bonsu

Soukeyna Osei-Bonsu

Soukeyna Osei-Bonsu is a student, SOAS graduate, writer and author of a debut poetry collection published with Lote Tree Press. She is involved in black activism and also runs an online magazine exploring adventure, culture and spirituality ( Soukeyna has also recently founded a women’s dawah initiative Farasha ( to help Muslim women transform and reform themselves as well as to assist women who may be disillusioned with Islam/ the Muslim community for differening reasons. You can follow Soukeyna’s writing on Instagram @soukeynaoseibonsu and Farasha on @farasha_co_uk