Just this past week my husband introduced me to “The Prophet’s Song” by Brian May of Queen.
…And now I’m a little obsessed with it.
It so happens that the next surah I’ll be reviewing in my Quran series is called “The Prophets.” As I’m digesting and organizing my thoughts on that surah, this song resonated deep with my experience reading the Quran. The music and lyric content are so on point with the tone and themes, it’s just blowing my mind right now.
Look at those lyrics! Phrases like “cold night will fall…summoned by your own hand,” “these kings of beasts,” “married his own, his precious gain…and death all around will be your dowry,” “hopes of the young in troubled graves,” “So grey is the face of every mortal,” scream loud to me. The prophet condemns the world for having lost its grasp of love and charity in its love for material things. There is a call to purge in order to reap a fortune of peace. The rejectors who rely on their treasure are guaranteed destruction and a destination in hell.
And yet, while this song fits the Quran to a T, it clearly is derived from Genesis imagery. Then again, its vision of prophethood doesn’t derive from Genesis at all. This song comes from an understanding of apocalyptic prophethood, and it is very interesting to pause for a moment and recognize how ingeniously Brian May writes his own apocalypse in much the same way as biblical prophets. Continue reading →
Most of the time, I write about the Quran, not Muslims. Today, I want to highlight someone who presents on Muslims. On Slate’s Youtube channel, an American born Muslim named Aymann Ismail created a series of videos recording the perspectives and experiences of Muslims who are living and transitioning/growing up in the western world. Though I have no real authority to designate anyone’s perspective as “normative Islamic belief,” I think it’s safe to categorize Ismail as a liberal outlier. Given the season, and the freshness of Maryam in our minds, I thought it would be nice to share Ismail’s video on the inclusion of Muslims in Christmas, and the inclusion of Christmas in Muslim households.
Here we are, a third of the way through the Quran’s body of text, and the presence of polemic and violent attentions against the enemies of Muhammad has been near-constant. This dismays me, I must admit. In approaching the Quran I had hoped to find more contemplative or instructive materials for its believers. A believer can still pull instruction and contemplative material for themselves through the judging of others, but that is a problematic lens to look through. It attaches cynical assumptions about unbelievers into the moral derived. With all these passages, it can be tempting for us who are outsiders to denounce that Islam is a hostile and violent religion, but I want to argue that we should not do that, for various reasons…
I’m not going to be ready in time to post about the Quran this week. It’s just been a weird week. I’m traveling and haven’t devoted the right amount of attention to my blog to get a good surah post done. I thought I’d write about something less intense for today. Last night I’d been talking with my husband about a social interaction that day within a group of men. A good social interaction, in which I felt extremely comfortable and enjoyed myself as “one of the guys.” My husband asked me what that felt like, and I found myself struggling to encapsulate how I quantify that phrase. I’d like to ramble a bit and process it, going back into my childhood to figure out where this feeling comes from in me.
When I first entered college in 2008, I came fresh-faced from the world of homeschooling. I had no experience with the high school dramatics, the dating scene, or cultural fads. The world that I found was suffering a new trend, one that shook all those things. It seemed that the female population had withdrawn their affections. The men could be seen despondently wandering the halls, playing games without joy, and eating food that did not fill their appetites. They’d murmur their complaints to each other in low voices, until the gathering would dissolve with the disaffected shrug, “Who is Edward Cullen?”
The conversation usually runs like the last thirty seconds of this video:
To identify a feminist, the person in question is usually asked, “Do you think women should have the same rights as men? Yes? Then you’re a feminist!” Another variation is “Do you believe women are lesser beings than men? No? Then you’re a feminist!” By both those counts, I am a feminist.
The subject of Christmas–it’s hypocrisies, contradictions, virtues, meanings–is well hashed out. While I was tempted over the season to write a little piece about holiday practices and festivities, it failed to catch enough passion in me to inspire thoughts worth even two cents. But then I had a conversation with a friend, and she dropped reference to the traumatic childhood disappointment of learning that Santa Claus wasn’t real. This dusted off some old thoughts in my mind, and the more I examine them the more upset I get. Continue reading →