Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday's Poetry: The Islamic Poets

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator 

Terry Jones is a minister (of sorts) at a radical fundamentalist church in Florida.  On March 20th he pulled a publicity stunt for his own glory that resulted in the deaths of twelve innocent people in Afghanistan.  Mr. Jones and his church put the Quran, the Muslim holy book, on trial for crimes against God, found it guilty, and sentenced it to a good Christian burning.  The United States  media recognized the affair for what it was - a mean-spirited piece of gimmickry - and declined to give Mr. Jones and his believers any publicity, but one French news agency did promote the event, and the result was angry mob violence and death in the Middle East.

Mr. Jones is a man with eyes who cannot see, a man with ears who will not listen, and man with a heart who has no compassion, and a man with a nose who smells to High Heaven!

Terry Jones and his pack of pious hate-mongers would have us believe that all Muslims are evil people  bent on the destruction of Christianity and civilization - when, in fact, Muslims are responsible for many of the wonders of civilization that we enjoy today.  The Golden Age of Islam lasted from the mid-eighth century through the thirteenth century - a period of time that paralleled much of the "dark ages" in Europe.   The Muslims of that time were instrumental in developing the fields of mathematics, astronomy, physics, architecture, economics, and literature.

What follows is a selection of five poems by Islamic poets.   Please note the beauty and hope contained in these verses.  It would seem that they reflect anything but hate and evil.

by Muhyiddin Ibn "Arabi
(written in the 12th century)

O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Ka'bah,
and the tables of the Torah and the book of the Qur'an.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.

by Jalaluddin Rumi
(written nearly a thousand years ago)

 I tried to find Him on the Christian cross, but He
was not there; I went to the Temple of the
Hindus and to the old pagodas, but I could not
find a trace of Him anywhere.
I searched on the mountains and in the valleys
but neither in the heights nor in the depths was I
able to find Him. I went to the Ka'bah in Mecca,
but He was not there either.
I questioned the scholars and philosophers but
He was beyond their understanding.
I then looked into my heart and it was there
where He dwelled that I saw Him; He was
nowhere else to be found.

O My Generous Master!
by Sheik Muzzafer Ozak

You created this servant of Yours and
brought him into being from a drop of water.
I do not even have the right to say I love You,
and yet I do love You. I always remember You.
I know that even my being able to remember You
is also due to Your guidance. My mentioning Your
Name of Majesty left me dizzy, bewildered, and
Is it possible to imagine anyone in this world
loving the Divinity and not becoming intoxicated with
such affection? So great a blessing is affection that
even if its possessor should stray into the wilderness,
the fire of his love would not allow him to feel the heat of
the desert.
Should the lover fall into the fire, the heat of his
love would extinguish that fire. The fire of love would cause
the poles and glaciers to melt. If mountains and boulders were
piled upon the back of the lover, the fire of his love would
prevent his feeling the weight of the load. Affection makes a
person forget about hunger and thirst, and keeps him on the
road of love.

Desert Rose
by Lena Winfrey Seder
(Contemporary Sudanese Poet)

I began my journey the day I was born.
My name told my destiny.
Yet, it remained hidden for me to discover.
I traveled a long time to get to this moment.
So many cactuses I stumbled over in the dark.
No star lighted my path-- I was not yet awake.
Naivety guided me into sandstorms that made wounds in my soul.
Ignorance blinded me as the cactus' thorns scratched me.
However, these wounds propelled me forward and kept me on
a certain path.
One day, when I looked ahead, I saw an oasis.
A mirage, I thought, so I slowly walked towards it-- expecting
to be fooled again.
When I reached the mirage, I found a rose.
I touched it and found it was no dream.
Entranced by this rose, I placed it in the vase of my heart.
As it took root, it became a part of me.
My blindness lifted, for I could see the true Light.
Faith rested in my heart.
My desert rose led me to this destiny.
When I stray-- its paper thorns remind me to come back to
the straight path.
Each day it continues growing, it strengthens my heart and
my soul.
I water it with my prayers, my charity, my fasting.
This rose is here to stay--
It guides me to an eternal Garden.
My thoughts, my goals, my actions are preparing my place in
that Garden.
That is where I will rest my roots--
As long as this rose remains in my heart.

Society's Disease
by Lena Winfrey Seder

Racism, the great crime of humanity.
Why does one's race always claim superiority?
We are all the same; there is no inferiority.
When we look at each other we see a resembling face.

As individuals, we do have differences.
Some of us may take risks and chances.
Others of us may be shy and give few glances.
We should find common ground and make peace.
The hatred and killing should desist and cease.
We are all the children of Adam and in life have a lease.
We should lend a helping hand to each other.
We should remember that Eve is our common mother.
We should love our human sisters and brothers.

It would help Terry Jones and other promoters of intolerance if they took a little time to study that which they seem determined to hate.  Clearly the words of these poets speak to the beauty they see in the world - or in the case of the final poem - to the beauty that should reside within all of God's children.   We need to respond to the goodness that surrounds us in our daily lives, and not to the stunts of false prophets.

1 comment:

Lena Winfrey Seder said...

I am honored that you included my poems in this post; and I like the message of your post. If only Jones and people like him would learn tolerance and how to cooperate (as well as communicate). Communication between cultures is one of the worst problems we have today! I did want to make a correction; I'm not Sudanese. I am an American who lived for a few years in Sudan as well as in West Africa and other parts of the world before returning back home to the US. I am a convert (or revert to Islam) and recently I published a book that I hope many will read about my spiritual quest called, "The Metamorphosis of a Muslim" by Lena Winfrey Seder. It can be purchased through Amazon and other places but the best place is through my publisher at Again, thanks for the inclusion, and good luck in your work, too.