Madinat al-Muslimeen CommunityBeyond City LifeThe Silk RoadIslamic PoetryTopic: Muslims and Poetry (and other things too!)
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Nature
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« on: Dec 13, 2013 08:23 AM »


Assalamu alaykum!

So some of you may know that I head a Writing Club at my school, which has really been going fantastically well this past year, alhamdulillah. The raw emotion and talent and power that one sees with people whom Allah SWT has blessed with being able to develop their expressive talent is simply fantastic, and has taught me so much.

For example, today I had the opportunity to go to a fantastic poetry reading event, hosted by a group similar to ours (but much more famous - a former poet laureate amongst them). I was just blown away, and whilst I was listening, I was thinking - look at how much raw ideological power there is in the literature of people! It is something that really shapes how society defines and understands itself, and just how much power can be channeled through language - and I think that this is something that Muslims need to reclaim.

I have been told things to the effect of 'don't go into the liberal arts, it's dangerous for your iman, you become an atheist and doubt Islam'. I think that this is very unfortunate - many of the Islamic arguments that I see, despite their best efforts and underlying truths, are very poorly worded or not in the best logic, and this makes it easy for outsiders to undermine. If this could be overcome by Muslims understanding and studying social issues and philosophies, with a strong base in an Islam that they are intellectually convinced of, and once Muslims realize that we have the power to shape our own eloquent frames of reference, we could become an even bigger force for good in this world, inshallah!

So I think that it would be wonderful to encourage a growth in Muslims reclaiming the poetry scene, as this would be a very vocal and eloquent pathway for Islam to be seen by many, many more people, and understood in a less 'in-your-face' manner.

Thoughts?
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« Reply #1 on: Dec 13, 2013 11:19 AM »

There is a lamentable dearth of Muslim writers, have you ever tried finding a fun and interesting children's book written by a Muslim Author with an Islamic angle, they're all booooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrring.


So I agree.

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #2 on: Dec 13, 2013 05:56 PM »

I don't know much about this, but saying that you shouldn't do something because it'll take away your imaan is stupid. If you read Ibn Taymiyyah's works on theology, there is so much refutation of various strands of philosophy. How could he have written all of that if he hadn't gotten neck deep into it?

But of course, you need to be well grounded in our creed before getting into philosophy. Otherwise there certainly is a chance that you might lose your imaan.
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« Reply #3 on: Dec 13, 2013 08:21 PM »

The only decent writers for above the age of ten seem to be Leila Aboulela and Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore. The first writes very nostalgic stories about living in Sudan, and gently dealing with life through an Islamic eye, and the second is the only Muslim adult poet that I've seen writing beautiful poetry - not just little rhymes.

I think it's even more crucial because the only people on these poetry scenes tend to be 'secularized' Muslims, and this shapes how Muslims are seen  in society, when the only literature about Islam is shaped through the eyes of Non-religiousity, apostasy, oppression. People gain SO much respect for points of view that are eloquently and sensibly argued, and if Muslims could learn to do that, I think that it would make people take Islam much more seriously, especially on an academic level.
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« Reply #4 on: Dec 19, 2013 01:19 PM »

People gain SO much respect for points of view that are eloquently and sensibly argued, and if Muslims could learn to do that, I think that it would make people take Islam much more seriously, especially on an academic level.

So so true.  I think there is a revival of poetic forms of expression in contemporary times.  Last semester I did a slam poetry unit with my ninth graders.  Before teaching the unit, I tried to do quite a bit of research on Muslim spoken word poets and clean spoken word poetry in general, and was overwhelmed by the amount of material on youtube.  People are being inspired by each other and poetry and the art of word play is being appreciated and supported by the unlikely.


While, my students still have a long way to go in terms of developing their level of eloquence, the course did open up their eyes to the possibilities of alternative forms of expression.  At the end of every lesson, we watched a poetry performance of a spoken word poet, sometimes Muslim sometimes not and the students discussed the content and presentation of each performance.  Inshaallah, they will at least have come away with the appreciation of poetry.  By the way, their final assessment was to give a performance of an original poem that they had written and most of the students wrote on Islamic themes.  A couple were even very good.  It's a start.... and it starts with baby steps. 

But the only way to get quality is by studying the art forms carefully first.  Like any great piece of art, the foundation skills are essential.  Without the basics, you just have a mess. 

Language is power and the more young Muslims equip themselves with words and the skill to play with them, the more equipped will they be to take charge of change. 


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