Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1                Spring 1420/ 2000

Feature

IFNA

page 4


"During the golden age of Islam, the Muslim world was confident"

"There is room 
for enjoyment 
in Islam."

-Blessed Prophet

     Look, in so many places in the world where these extremists have achieved control, instead of reforming Muslim society through education, righteous preaching and wisdom, all they do is get out sticks and beat everybody. Is it any wonder that none of us would ever dream of moving to these so called Islamic states. The only Islam they practice is an Islam of their own invention.  
     The Blessed Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the world and his life was an exemplar of mercy but one of the characteristics of extremists is that all they know is pain and punishment without regard to justice or
mercy. 
     As one brother once told me, those "Anti-everything" Muslims make the worst neighbors because they are never happy with you and are always complaining. Yes, the psychology of the first Muslims in the Prophet's time and in the time of the first four Khalifas was oftentimes one of feeling under constant threat of attack. This was their reality, and it shaped their thinking patterns for many years. When the danger of attacks diminish, do you still live like someone is going to put a knife in your throat at any moment? In seeking to recreate the psychological trauma faced by the first Muslims, these "Reformers" are trying to make us feel like hunted animals who always have to be in conflict at every moment with everyone and everything around us. 
This is not the goal of Islam, to be paranoid and argumentative all the time. Consider that in Medina, when the dangers of imminent attack from the Meccans subsided, you find that the Blessed Prophet and the Sahaba were able to concentrate on community building and other aspects of social development. 
     Haven't you ever heard about the major difference between Meccan and Medinan Surahs? The first revelations were concerned about urgency in confronting evil, the later revelations were about how to live together in peace, justice and brotherhood. 
     During the golden age of Islam, the Muslim world was confident and had a secure identity and, thus, was able to make great strides in the arts, sciences and humanities.   
 
     That is what we must regain in our process of reawakening, not some psychotic need for conflict, intolerance and paranoia.  This third area of difficulty is in how we are reawakening. 
     The struggle for the soul of Islam is being waged everyday in every Masjid, in every MSA and in every Islamic organization in the world. 
     These extremists, who deceptively clothe themselves in the garb of the Sunnah, want to crush the legacy of Muslim civilization and resurrect a kind of never ending Battle of Uhud. 

 

They want nothing more than a rejection of whatever seems stable and they will stop at nothing to keep you away from the fruit of our collective heritage. For them, art and culture are haram, the equal participation of women is haram, differences of opinion are haram and mutual respect and tolerance are a sign of weakness.  Take note of that and support the well-balanced Muslims who want to build a healthy and self-perpetuating Muslim community wherever they live, especially here in America. I didn't become a Muslim so that my children after me could be lured by the vibrancy of non-Muslim culture and thus join them in their way of life. That's what will happen to all of us if we don't establish Islam in all aspects, including culture and the arts, in this land.  We as Muslims are cut off from appreciation for art and all it entails because of a stagnation in our minds, a lack of basic Islamic knowledge, and a skewed revival effort that pits us against our own heritage. 


"The only Islam they practice is an Islam of their own invention."

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"Knowledge is waiting for the seeker..."

     Listen! Our collective Islamic heritage beckons us to rediscover who we once were and how we can become great once again. Knowledge is waiting for the seeker who would only open a book of literature, poetry or inspiration. If we read the Qur'an and ahadith, we find that singing is allowed under certain conditions. Children are especially encouraged to sing, but who is writing the halal songs for them? Everyday we see them singing songs written by non-Muslims that encourage bad deeds.  We clamor and complain against it but then look, we don't support the growth of good Muslim artists by purchasing their productions. Rather we sometimes make ourselves into hypocrites by forbidding our children from listening to any type of music but then we turn on Hindu singers, Christian Arab singers or even Western singers for our moments of listening pleasure. Why?  We ourselves hunger for light song once in a while even as the Blessed Prophet allowed singing in his presence occasionally.   In the Qur'an and ahadith we find that visual arts such as painting and sculpture are allowed as long as we don't represent people or animals. So Muslims created the wonderful art styles of Arabesque, geometric design, floral patterns and calligraphy.  Who among us today, however, knows how to do this kind of art anymore?  Very few Muslims engage in it or teach it now because they can't make a living doing it if nobody patronizes their art. Some Muslims have said that literature, poetry, singing and other arts are haram, even a lot of sincere Muslims have been fooled by these false statements, but they are proven wrong by the words of Allah's messenger. 
     In his book entitled, Diversion and the Arts in Islam, Yusuf al Qaradawi explains that the Blessed Prophet himself approved of poetry and song and embroidered designs in cloth.  It was during the time of the first four Khalifas that floral design, finely crafted ceramics and calligraphy began to flower in their embryonic forms. 
 
     These three factors have turned our minds off to the simple beauties and pleasures of halal art.  If we reflect, all halal art is another gift to us from Allah in this world of beauty that He made. Until we rectify these problems within ourselves, we will always be considered by our own children to be a people without talent.  
     If you read the Qur'an and ahadith, you find that poetry is not only allowed in Islam, but is encouraged. Allah said that there are righteous poets and the Blessed Prophet said that there is wisdom in poetry and many Sahaba composed poetry. Even the Khalifa, Umar ibn al Khattab, encouraged the spread of poetry as a tool to help non-Arabs to learn Arabic. 
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