The Good Islamic Literature Brings, the Violence it Rejects

Sadly, no more than 2 days after I introduce an addition to my blog, International Literature, do we face yet another domestic terrorist act.  It serves as a reminder that awareness of other cultures is more important than ever.

We’re living in a scary world where no race or culture feels safe, and thoughtless people threaten not just the lives of the citizens of the West, but blacks, whites, hispanics, and Muslims everywhere too.  I profess the Muslim faith and can contend that no one claiming terrorism in the name of Islam, is someone who shares Islam with me.  It says so in the literature of the Arabs.

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It’s important to note that this was never meant to be a religious blog, however, like many readers’ devotion to the Bible, a lot of my love for literature came from classical Islamic literature. As I said in an earlier post, Holocaust and WWII literature begs the question is there ever a time when killing an entire group people simply because the color of their skin or religion is justified? In this case, we must ask, is killing justified because of a person’s sexual orientation? Or is it pure unadulterated evil? I would definitely say this massacre was a form of “evil” in the modern world.  In light of these happenings, I thought there was no better time than now to discuss with you some Arabic Islamic literature against violence.

I generally divide Arabic literature into four categories:

  • contemporary,
  • Golden era,
  • poetry,
  • and Islamic.

There are probably more genres, but unfortunately I am not currently well-versed in them.  I see Islamic Arabic literature as categorized into:

  • Quran (primary text),
  • hadith (secondary texts),
  • scholarship (law, theology),
  • and commentary (cultural or contemporary perspectives).

All over Arabic texts you will find literature rejecting acts of violence on the innocent. Today I will share with you just a few of those texts.

Let’s visit some oft-repeated controversial statements of the Quran:
The first being:

O you who believe (in Allah’s Oneness and in His Messenger (Muhammad SAW)! ….Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger …And the Jews say: ‘Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth! 9:27-30

These verses are often used to promote the propaganda that Islam is violent.  First, Islam is not a person, it is a philosophy of life. Second, the claim that Islam promotes violence? This is untrue. These verses specifically speak about the Battle of Tabuq in 9 AH / 630 AD.  It was not Muslims who pursued a Holy Battle, it was Muslims uniting to defend themselves from the armies of a powerful Rome. It was the Roman Empire who started this war.  These verses do not promote a modern war with the West. You can find more on the history of these verses at www.discover-the-truth.com.

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Further, the text of The Quran says:

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors….And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. 2:190-191

When Islamophobes cite these verses, they claim this is a direct order to kill people.  They fail to note the verse right before it: Fight people, if they pick a fight with you.  This verse only promotes raising a fist or a gun or sword if the other person first picks one against you.  It is a verse promoting self-defense, not mass killings of civilians who choose a gay lifestyle you disagree with.  Also, a verse quoted often today, but not often enough by the Mainstream Media is the verse in the Quran which says: “ whoever kills a soul… it is as if he had slain mankind entirely.” 5:32. To kill one person in Islam, it is as if you have killed all of humanity.

 

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One of Al-Jazari’s candle clocks

Also, here are a few statements compiled in the books of hadith (narrations):

Allah helps those who help others.  Whoever alleviates the the lot of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his  lot in this world  (Muslim)

Oppression is forbidden (Muslim)

There should be no harming others nor reciprocating harm.  (Ibn Majah)

Do not get angry.  (Bukhari)

Behave well.  If you do fall into a minor sin,  follow up a bad deed with a good deed and behave well towards people (Tirmidhi)

As you can see, there are endless statements in the books of Arabic Islamic texts that promote the welfare, and well-being of humans.  Whoever decides they’re killing innocents in the name Islam, are only acting in their own self-interest and hurting many others by way of their warped theology.  One-point-six billion Muslims around the world don’t agree with your militant ideology.  True strength lies in living with people, understanding the global world we live in, and serving others, not carrying out a juvenile dream of personal glory.

I hope that this exposed you to some Islamic Arabic texts and that you enjoyed this post.  Please pray for the families of the victims and donate blood if you can.  Thanks for reading and I will see you later this week for some book reviews.

International Literary Books Are Here

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Reading and writing has always been a part of my life.  This blog has particularly been an enriching journey.  While my Dead/Live journals were a great place for me in school to express my feelings about my student life, this blog, M&M Mariam Books, has been a place where I can share my thoughts while at the same time produce content my adult self can be proud of.  This blog is still in its youth, but it’s quickly growing.  I’ve seen great success with this blog, more than I could have expected. I think there is no time better than now to introduce the next great thing I will be doing with this blog.

INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE FOR EVERYONE

The world of English literature will not be exhausted by me anytime soon, but in my quest to read the best of all literature I don’t want to limit myself.  I would like to add new types of written works into my reading repertoire.  I will be focusing on Spanish and Arabic literature, along with English/American Literature.

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Those who have been reading this blog for some time now know I have an Asian background.  I have a profound love for classical Arabic literature.  The Arab civilization is large, with a long history, and a rich language.  I think the best works are from antiquity (aka The Golden Age) 750AD-1250AD, however many modern Arab or MENA writers like Tariq Ramadan, Umm Zakiyyah, Maryam Mahmoodian have added diversity to the genre.

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In addition to Arabic, lots of my neighbors are from various Latin countries, like Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic.  I’ve had Spanish friends and also attended school with Columbians, Ecuadorians, and Brazilians.  One of my favorite writing inspirations is Andrea Balt, a young lady from Spain who runs the WriteYourselfAlive write-a-thon.  Spanish writing hails way back from 14th century Andalusia to the Latin American countries: from  Miguel Cervantes’ Don Quiote to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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THE ENGLISH BOOKS ARE HERE TO STAY

I have a great love for English books as I dedicated 4 years of college to study it, so those videos on my YouTube channel and posts on this blog will not go away and I will continue commentating on English books. However you will be seeing more posts and videos on Spanish and Arabic literature.    I hope that you are as excited as I am for this addition to my blog.  I am not limiting my blog to English, Spanish, and Arabic literature, however I would like to do justice to each of these first before moving onto others.   All cultures have something positive to contribute to our own and I’m honored to be bringing those cultures to my blog.

Five (5) Great Post-9/11 Books – M&M Mariam

I really enjoy World War II and Holocaust literature because it gives me an empathy for the suffering soldiers and Jews went through. They risked their lives to end Hitler’s horribly oppressive, genocidal regime. Books like that should always make us wonder, is there ever time when killing an entire group of people simply because of the color of their skin justified? Or is it just pure, unadulterated evil? I’d go with the latter. Today, the events of 9/11 are a striking reminder of another evil ideology.

See the books below that help paint the remembrance of the horror on 9/11 and hope for our future.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2007)

a thousand splendid suns

A story about Mariam, an illegitimate child who grew up in a mud hut on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, is forced to marry Rashid, a polygamist man, in civil-war torn Afghanistan. This is a human story of the real people who live in a land terrorized by Al-Qaida, and reading it, I think really allows us to recognize that the Middle East, specially Afghanistan, has lots of innocent people struggling to make an honest living just like us.

I Am Malala by Malala YousefZai (2013)

malal bio book

This nonfictional account of the 16-year-old girl shot by the Taliban is an extraordinary story of Malala and her family — what they sacrificed to oppose the terrorist group’s ban on female education. Malala is the winner of the Noble Peace Prize, and her family, are true heroes of our times.

Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling (2002)

harry potter and the order of the phoenix

Harry suffered a great deal of psychological terror by Voldemort in this book. Voldemort invaded his mind, to the point where Harry himself was carrying out a bloody murder in Voldemort’s body. Voldemort, and his army, the Death Eaters used fear to coerce people to submitting to them. Voldemort himself reminded me in books 5, and 7 much of Adolf Hilter, and today’s terrorist groups.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (2010)

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The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, found Katniss working with the underground group District 13 to overthrow President Snow and his oppressive regime. Their form of control, unlike modern day terrorists, was to keep food from people and use a select group of unfortunate humans as Roman gladiators — their goal: fight to the death for food and water, the most basic necessities of life. If the Capitol isn’t a tyrannical government at its most oppressive level, I can’t think of a better definition.

Selection by Kiera Cass (2012)

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The Selection is a romance story set in a dystopian society, however, I think the story is profound in that it shows how monarchy today, with its caste system, limits humans opportunities to pursue their own life of work, and happiness. The rebels who uprise against the throne, are a set of desperate people who want a different world to live in. It’s an entertaining story, a bit on the lighter side, but no less shows the harms of an oppressive society, and how it can breed terrorism.

I think it’s important to note that there’s a difference between someone who lives in the middle east and Arab world, and the one who’s simply from there. My youngest students, mostly Muslims born in America, were 4 when 9/11 happened. I can only imagine what kind of world they feel like they’re growing up in.

The only thing I remember as a child in Ohio is my white teachers treating me, a brown girl, as if I was their own daughter — they remembered me long after I left their class for the next grade, gave me books (1st grade), helped me publish my first short story and illustrate it (2nd grade), and take me with their own kids to the school carnival because my mom could not drive (4th grade). Until 9/11 all I ever knew was love from my white family. I’ve never in my life experienced so much fear, apprehension, reluctance from some of the white community as today.

You see, I lived all my adult life in a post 9/11 world, imagine the kids growing up in a world where all they’ve ever known is the unjustifiable deaths of the innocent people in the Twin towers, and a racially divide world? What are we going to do for them to ensure they feel like they belong in this world? They are loved and wanted? That’s all I ask for you to think about today.

I hope everyone today remembers the innocents who lost their lives on 9/11 and comforts their families as the best way they know how.

As far as the books go, there are lots more great, 9/11 and post-9/11 books, they’ll have to be left for another blog post. Enjoy and leave me your thoughts and other book suggestions below!