Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poetry of the Muslim World'm teaching a "Muslim World" unit at the moment and have come across some beautiful poems. One of our goals in the unit is to step outside of our preconceived notions about Islam and its fundamental philosophy. The history shows that the religion was born out of military strength in Muhammad's taking of Mecca with 10,000 troops behind him. However, the history also shows an empire that was, considering the era, extremely tolerant of other religions, even giving special consideration to Christians and Jews living under the Empire's umbrella, referring to them in reverence as "people of the book".
Then, of course, there are the Sufis who, though they only make up a tiny sliver of the Muslim population, carry themselves in an austere and reflective way of life that inspires observers the world over. Speaking of Sufis, many of us are familiar of the work of Rumi, especially in today's world of info graphic and Internet memes, so I thought I'd skip Rumi this time and share the poetry of a few other greats. Let me know what you think. Can you see this poetry having the potential to cross cultures and open up dialogue between peoples of conflicting cultures? Comment below or via social networking to let me know.

Optimistic Man
as a child he never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were done to him
I was at his bedside when he died
he said read me a poem
about the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about greatness of humanity
by Nazim Hikmet
The Strange Tale
We laughed at the past.
Tomorrow the future will be laughing
at us.
This is the world, a tale spun
by some great magician.
The living perform the marvelous play
as if they were already dead.
The stage is sad
with its curtain of mist.
And beyond the curtain,
the audience of the future watches us, laughing.
They don't see how the scripts
is falling into their own hands.
by Abu-L-Qasim al-Shabbi

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