When Islam Meant Love (a preview)

IslamLoveI grew up a globe trekker. As the son, and grandson, of employees at the American Embassy in India, I was afforded the privilege to see much of Asia and the Middle East before I understood the significance of those journeys, and my time spent on Pan Am flights and in foreign airports throughout the late ’70s and the following decades helped instill a habit of international travel that continues to itch inside me even today. In all my wayfaring, there is one place that stands above all others as a source of peace that I find myself drawn to like a moth to a flame, and in the light of this space, I am extinguished like the proverbial insect, only to emerge reborn like a phoenix, full of love. Atop the Iranian plateau, surrounded by arid deserts, there is an ancient city named Mashhad centered around a holy shrine, the Haram of Imam Reza. For the past two decades, ever since I learned of this sacred temple, I’ve become addicted to the feeling of empowerment from my delicate prayers in this hallowed space. Invocations for healing, clarity, and fortune—all have been answered. So during this visit, when I entered the holy shrine with a deeply spiritual state of mind, my body consumed in its green glow, whispering my supplication while I grasped at the silver chain surrounding it, I was unsurprised, as I slowly turned away from it, to meet the eye-line of one of the shrine’s caretakers, who gestured to me to come and then led me directly to the shrine’s ancient library and introduced me to the director, a direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad. The director, in turn, guided me to the English section, introduced me to a translator who would be at my service, and asked me to write about the significance of this shrine and share its compelling story with Western audiences, so that others could also experience the transcendent peace I found there. I was unsurprised by this sequence of events since my last whispered prayer before I met the caretaker’s gaze, was to be of service to the person I came to see—the person to whom this temple is dedicated, and who is buried below its glorious golden dome, the person who remains a catalyst for the tens of millions of pilgrims worldwide, who flock annually to this sacred space: Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha.

Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha is colloquially referred to as Imam Ali Reza or Imam Reza by most of the local population and the many pilgrims who swarm to offer their prayers at his shrine. He is also known lovingly by Persians as the richest person in Iran, due to the fact that over the years since he was martyred and buried in the city of Mashhad, his followers have willed their fortunes over to the shrine, and as a result, expanded it, allowing it to grow in size and stature so that it is presently the largest shrine in Islam dedicated to the legacy of Fatima az-Zahra, the daughter and sole heir to the Prophet Muhammad. The golden dome that covers his grave is iconic and the sanctified halls that lead to it are legendary for its verdant marble floors that glow from the light which reflects readily off of the shrine’s mirrored ceilings. In addition, the inner shrine, the holiest of holies, which is surrounded by a heavy silver chain, is itself often obscured by rainbow-colored mounds comprised of banknotes from all over the world: dinars, riyals, rupees, euros, and my own measly dollars slipped through the silver grating blanket the iridescent jade atop Imam Ali Reza’s grave. To me, there is no place in the world like it, and in spite of the challenge presented of traveling to Iran as an American, I continue to do so, even in years like this one, where global analysts are indicating there may be a war between our two nations. Yet in spite of this looming conflict or the machinations of ever-depraved warmongers, pilgrims like me continue undaunted to migrate to Imam Ali Reza, because he is the antithesis of the violence we abhor, and a cure for the hatred that grows in the systems that choke and oppress us and our planet; he is simply love personified—a virtue that tragically made him a target for murder.

***

This was an introduction to my new book “When Islam Meant Love: The Tragic Story of Imam Ali Reza,” which I have been working on for the past year (this is why I have not been blogging), and plan on releasing it mid-way through the year. If you would like to be one of my advanced readers, please leave a comment below.

 

Wakanda: Black Asgard

BlackAsgard

Wakanda: Black Asgard by Professor A.L.I.

I am a fanboy. I am also an Afro-centric historian, and therein lies the disconnect I experience when watching Black Panther. I bought my tickets, action figures and other paraphernalia well in advance, and even tried 3D printing a Kilmonger Mask to no avail before I watched the film on opening night. As an owner of every single issue of the character, from his Fantastic Four debut, the Jungle Action run, through his involvement as a key Avenger, and the now-iconic runs by Priest and Hundlin, I’ve been a Black Panther stan. Therefore, I was prepared to channel my Frantz Fanon and engage in cognitive dissonance as I knew the film would be unable to escape the one critique that my inner-historian had, because the source material is born of ignorance to Africa, and what it entails.

Africa is not a country. It is a continent so large that it encompasses one of the longest stretches human beings can travel by land traversing two hemispheres. It is also the most linguistically diverse places on the planet. Nigeria, a single country, a little larger than Texas boasts over 520 languages spoken and thousands of dialects in addition. This is the story throughout Africa, and with linguistic diversity comes cultural, religious, political and social diversity as well. Africa is so much, and as such, it is too much for simple minds to comprehend, and therefore it is reduced to the size and persona of a singular nation, in order to diminish it for the intellectual palatability of ignoramuses. This is homogenous Africa present in the source material that gives birth to Wakanda and the Black Panther.

My dear ustad, Edward Said should be turning in his grave-since Wakanda represents as Orientalist a depiction as the classical paintings of Gerome. Wakanda is the other, as envisioned by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and as the other, it helps to elucidate what the West is in opposition. It was a tribal space, constructed with savage norms, like battles for succession, the mythology that depicted numerous deities, which wove Orishas (from West Africa) with Kemetic (Egyptian) beings in a new-pantheon. Its heroes and villains were bestial-invoking animalistic qualities, and the worst of these was literally named Man-Ape. This setting was created only 20 years after phrenologists and Aryan supremacists argued the racist, fallacious notions of the intellectual inferiority of Africans.

This was the source material, and over the years other writers and artists would revise the depictions. In particular Black authors tried to re-envision what the Black Panther represented and used the writer for social critique. Christopher Priest and Reginald Hundlin did so in relative obscurity, while Ta-Nehisi Coates has built his exposition in the era of the marketing around the film and around his own following and has tried to dig into some of the constructions of this character. The challenge for them is that T’Challa, was originally constructed as a b-list character; and if we used the metric that heroes are defined by their villains, then the Jungle Action series, which introduced Black Panther, gives us a spectrum of villainy from the Man-Ape on one side to the actual Ku Klux Klan (KKK) on the other! T’Challa never had an A-list villain in his early run, with only the Klaw being significant, but even he was an after-thought for the great heroes that Lee and Kirby had constructed.

T’Challa has in recent years fought Dr. Doom, Namor, and Morlun, but these characters, despite being significant in their gravitas, are not the Black Panther’s villains. The one reoccurring character and foil of significance for Panther was Kilmonger, and for avid readers of the Black Panther, it was always frustrating that this character could defeat T’Challa over and over again. The film brilliantly retcons (reconstructs) Kilmonger, in such a way and in such opposition that it elevates T’Challa in the process. The film also helps reduce some of the bestial elements of M’Baku, aka Man-Ape, but retains the animalistic totems that the source material is based on.

Yet, the film draws a line in the sand between east and west. T’Challa and Kilmonger represent two polarized black experiences. T’Challa represents a bloodline that has never been colonized, and Kilmonger is raised in the diaspora. This adds an element of social critique and draws from the best Black Marvel writers, who have used the character to critique the social fabric in which we live.

While all this was good, the cognitive dissonance had to be employed while the film took me to Wakanda. A place that wove Hausa with Swahili and disparate cultural traditions, and the aforementioned bestial depictions. Mythology compounded, and an exotified landscape which draws the best of all of modern Africa, and its numerous biomes into one mythic place. This was the one things I hated. It reaffirmed homogenous Africa that the source material spoke to-but then, my inner fanboy began a debate with the historian within. The debate took me from Wakanda to Asgard, and questioned why, as a historian and one who has taught Viking history in detail that I did not have the same issue with how the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) dealt with European (Germanic, Nordic, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, etc.) narratives in the same manner? I think I did, but to me, it did not matter in the same way this is when the third voice from within spoke.

Wakanda may be a Black Asgard, but, I was a man of color, a global Black man, a part of a larger diaspora, and so much of me was in the film. M’Baku’s quote “praise be to Hanuman,” to the East African garb, the ancestral worship, the mythology, the ritual-too much of who I am was woven into the film. The Jabari clan (the Arabic) the rescue from Boko Haram earlier in the film-all were touching on my faith as well. These were the complex layers I was navigating, even as and parts of me were in conflict with Kilmonger’s methods, while others championed his goals. C. Everett Ross as a hero figure despite being a CIA agent, and the dubious depiction that is, in light of the involvement of this organization in the destabilization of Africa, was not lost upon me either-nor was it that Kilmonger was constructed in a Malcolmesque way, while T’Challa was like MLK or Mandelan in his depiction.

In the end, the film is a must see-an all-Black cast, a Black director who shows love to the Town (Oakland) and Black Executive in Marvel who has championed this project since the very beginning. Analyze it, discuss it, and understand its critique of our world. Know that the source material is problematic but that the film tries to rise above, and at worst, it depicts a mythological space that is no more than a Black Asgard.

***

As always, I find the best way to deconstruct homogeneity and broach the bridge of Africa with the Diaspora is through music.  Enjoy this limited release EP entitled Black Seed that dovetails nicely with Black Panther and touches on these very themes:

blackseed

 

 

Pomegranate: The Moors and Black History Month

Pomegranate is an allusion for Granada, the last vestige of Moorish rule in Europe.  This piece examines the influence of the Moors in Europe and the influence the Moors would continue to have in the so called ‘New World’ and even explores the mythology and legend around the story of Black Steven, the first Moor acknowledged as having traversed the Americas.

This EP, also contains two other songs that explore Moorish influence, examining the Beloved, which inspired them, which is the Qur’an and finally, Pistola a remix of Soledad Brothers, which picks up the narrative of the Moorish seed in the Americas today.

The Moors and their influence is not heavily covered in history, at least not commensurate to their impact on the modern world, but even less so is the mention of the Moorish genetic impact and the legacy of the Moorish seed into modern time.

This album is the beginning of this, and released fresh for Black History Month.

Pomegranate

Animal Farm

Animal Farm

Animal Farm by Professor A.L.I.

George Orwell’s seminal text, is an allegory that remains as pertinent to our status quo, as it was in the time he penned it.  Orwell intended his eponymous farm to be symbolic, and in interviews, spoke to his intention to speak to the Russian Revolution through his novel.  The story explores the tensions of the worker through the lens of animals, and the role of the ruling class through a farmer’s tyranny.  Sadly, this very dialectic and tension is exacerbated now, and the past ten years have seen movements from Occupy Wallstreet, to economic tensions leading to extreme polarization that brought about the elections of Trump, Brexit and nearly wrought France under the leadership of Le Pen.  Those on the bottom, exemplified by the domesticated beasts in the text, are the people, and it is to this population I wanted to speak to, and address the very realistic tensions that we face in this day and age.

For this reason, I remixed and re-released Animal Farm, to pay homage to this text, and to the tensions we face currently—and combined with the beautiful cover art by Adam Hunter Peck, hope to draw attention to the core message—that change is needed.

Early in the song, I state: “The battle of righteous souls, versus those sick, like a war in Benghazi, the blood of Qaddafi…” referring to a tension I notice daily on my social media timeline, which seems to between principled people and a polarizing media programming.  Global events are spun to be about one thing, when in truth, they are motivated by the same base desires as the farmer in the Orwellian framing, which is an insatiable desire for profit, or greed.

Later, I talk about how this tension, leads to coalition building by those who are divested, and are seeking change.  This group has symbolic leadership, which I speak to with the lines, “I carry Malcolm’s martyrdom, like Yuri Kochiyama,” and further emphasize this with the lines “I’m Caeser with Montablan, Conquest, part five,” which invokes the classic Planet of the Apes film where the Apes rebel and takeover. The idea of a revolution, is change, and when one is seemingly imprisoned by economics, or by politics, breaking free is a part of that change.  This is why I say, “like an ambulance Assata used to escape from prison, I seek a vehicle like Hagar’s quest for a vision.”

Escape from a practical system of economic servitude that the masses participate in is the whole, point, which brings us to the hook: “this world we live upon, is an animal farm; choose to be livestock, or choose to be armed; raise the alarm, like these Beasts of England; because their feast’s beginning, with our children.”

That chorus needs no explanation, as it invokes Animal Farm, the text, specifically—even referencing the song “Beasts of England,” which is the revolutionary song the animals in the book sing as they takeover.  I further elaborate the point, about oppression and tyranny with the lines, “we are the Injuns that feed their engine, brown spots in their field of vision; like colors in prisms, light division, sufficient, yet white imprisons; in missions, hacienda’s, (migrant) farms and plantations; globalization, this life is leased to own by corporations.”

It is truly a tension between corporations and people, where the people are beasts of burden, and in this framing, they are destined to come together as a result, since they are all being victimized.  Thus, the lines, “red; yellow, brown and black, given cancer and heart attacks; alcohol & cigarette packs, secret police, infrared tags; on minarets, prayer halls, even ten Gurus on the walls; doesn’t matter as long, as beard is long, silent prayer calls; whether in turban or veiled by curtain, were just beasts of burden.”

I hope this piece, helps spark that coalition building of all oppressed people, so we cease to be beasts of burden, and help usher in a better world together.

Peace.

How To Kill A Troll

HowToKillATroll

Dissecting the Troll

J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien have taught me one undeniable truth about trolls; that the lack intellectual capacity.  Furthermore, in childhood I learned from simple legends and lore, that trolls lurk under bridges.  Therefore, I should be unsurprised that as an educator, artist, and human being, in the habit of building bridges, and combatting ignorance, that I would attract the attention of these dimwitted beasts.

Most recently, in pieces dedicated to eradicating Islamoracism/Islamophobia or satire critiquing colonial constructions that remain a part of the framework of our status quo, I’ve attracted these trolls.  They lurk on social media, where I share these articles, and songs, and share their ineloquent hatred of me under the bridges I lay with these public posts.  The most common phrase is “go back to where you came from,” which is ironic, in that I am a product of the colonial monster that was set into motion by the wicked wizards that also created these trolls—I would gladly go back to the royalty of my ancestral roots, if they too would recede into the coal-lined-caves from where toxic DNA emerged.

Name-calling doesn’t work on trolls—since words usually go over their heads.   They understand our world only in black and white terms, in which they see what they are as purely good, and whatever is “other” as existing to serve them.  Ignoring these trolls does not sit well with the educator in me either.  I recognize that beneath their grotesque form, mutated by bad magic, and a long-standing legacy of hatred, that they are simplistic beings, who are merely frightened.  To this end, Wordsmyths was born—to educate, annihilate ignorance, and unify that strand of humanity within all of us, my acknowledging the divinity in us all—and by extension our connection to the universe.

WordsmythsWhat does Wordsmyths mean?

A wordsmith is a colloquialism for an individual with deep diction and proficiency with language.  I spell it, purposefully with “myth” replacing “-mith” in order to convey a different meaning.  Specifically, I was speaking to the “mythology” that created trolls in the first place.  Myths, created by “Wordsmyths” to help control ignorant, blind followers, and distract them from the reality of our connection.  The refrain in the song about “One God” is about the “one reality” that binds us all—that the notion of separation is not real, but truly a construction of simplistic minds.

This song is not a critique on religion, or any dogma, but a critique on ignorance.  It is also critique on patriarchy and colonialism (which are also based on and supported by falsified social construction).  The lines “Like the sun and moon, swimming in their own orbits,” refer to the Quranic verses about theses celestial bodies in a chapter, that has an oft-repeated refrain, “which of the favors of your Lord do you deny.”  It’s a chapter that reveals to the reader, in depth of reflection, that the entire universe is one reality and that we are all connected to the many miraculous things in it.  I follow the lines with “our suns and moons, left upon strange doorsteps, African origins…”  These lines are a clear critique of the social construction of race, of colonial realities and chattel slavery—it posits the notion that we are all truly African, coming from one place of origin as homo sapiens.

The lines “phantom opera mask, covers our Moorish features…” refers to the idea that those constructed as “others,” must don masks in order to be relevant in a farcically socially constructed society, such as ours.  Death is referenced, as is life, in creating a sense of liminality throughout this piece.  The lines “Last days, face east, it’s gorgeous, sunset, earth flipped, cats are sorted” refers to the scientific phenomena of pole shift (where magnetic poles shift their positivity and negativity) ostensibly shifting what we consider North and South, as well as lines in Abrahamic faith based traditions about the last days.  The lines “On horizon, I see a cubed Borg ship.” is a nod to Gene Roddenberry and my inner fanboy, while at the same time, envisioning a cube, or Kaaba, as a vehicle for cosmic travel.

Later I say, “religion constructed; pay the doorman, life distorted, rather be a free man like Morgan; yet forging our own chains on purpose; burn bill of rights and habeas corpus, freedom forfeit…”  These lines specifically call out the idea of religion as a construction, and the idea of the promise of freedom of religion, something that chains us to the idea that this is a reality, furthering our separation from the idea of the oneness of the divine and hence our reality, and therefore ourselves.  The verse takes a political turn, when I speak to the truth of what this can mean to a subsection of a population, victimized by Islamoracism, by saying, “unsupported, innocent souls are deported, to an island (Guantanamo), tortured and water boarded, truth serum injected, falsehoods recorded, justifying barrels, oil barons have hoarded, this America, hegemons have exported…”

These lines specifically call out the trolls to respond to a reality that is a clear violation of that document they choose to hold dear, as they champion this land—it is this egregious hypocrisy that not only leads to Guantanamo but to “Muslim Bans” and the dignity of those racialized as “Muslims” in ignorant minds in a hate filled society.

The song finally ends with the argument that our unity, is not an extrapolation from any text, but something manifest in our minds, and the acceptance of the logic of this argument, that we are all connected, leads to peace, in soul and body: “Don’t dismiss it as, ‘Oh yeah, it’s from a core text.’ Process this; in your cerebral cortex. My body says PEACE, my Ka* says hotep.** Who will you worship? One God or wordsmiths?”

PEACE

Professor A.L.I.

*spirit in Kemetic/**peace in Kemetic

p.s. So how do you kill a Troll?  By making them bob their head to knowledge manifest on the mic.

Chandni and the Clothing Factory and Other Stories by Cold Dal

ColdDal.jpg

Chandni and the Clothing Factory and Other Stories by Cold Dal:

A Critique of Roald Dahl

Racism can slap you across the face when you least expect it.  Sometimes, when you are struck, it’s with such force that it sends you back into your own childhood and makes you wonder how severe the impact of hatred truly was in your life.  My exchange this morning with my colleague and good friend Tarecq Amer, led me down this path as we reflected on the words of a person, who I’d considered one of my favorite childhood authors, and one who we both had been introducing to our own children, with fond memories of giant peaches, chocolate waterfalls, talking animals, and magical children: Roald Dahl.

To call Roald Dahl and active racist would be unfair—but his writing belies a systemic framing of post-colonial narratives that clearly couches non-Western nations as subservient, savage and uncivilized.  His references to these places, and symbolic representations like the wild rhinoceros that kills James parents, the Oompa Loompas working in the chocolate factory or the monkeys tortured by the Twits all draw on the familiar tropes of the era and distill in the mind of the reader the themes of danger and ignorance inextricably related to these places through his writing.

Tarecq and I lamented this—since, we both champion reading, and love the idea of connecting books we read in our youth with our own kids; this led me on an interesting departure from our conversation to a thought—what if I re-wrote Roald Dahl?  What if I were to re-imagine his themes and plots from the perspective of a person of color?  What if it flipped the Orientalist dialectic and introduced an Occidental critique instead?  And what if I did this while flipping the patriarchal binary, so the protagonists went from being white males to brilliant women of color?  Tarecq laughed hysterically as I imagined writing the following 10 books, with the culturally appropriate pseudonym of Cold Dal (lentil soup):

  1. Chandni and the Clothing Factory
    • The story of an Indian girl who labors on end in a Western clothing factory for little to no pay. The clothes she makes are worn by trendy hipsters in the West, whose daily routine consists of gentrifying neighborhoods, lamenting the latest outrage of the other political party and the occasional convenient protest.
  2. Jin and the Giant Persimmon
    • Jin travels in a magic persimmon across the Pacific to escape the inevitable illegal incarceration of her fellow Japanese-Americans as a result of the racist Executive Order 5066 signed by F.D.R.
  3. BFC: Bastardizing French Cyclops
    • The story of a singular vision-ed French behemoth, which sees no other way to conquer, unless it is to create “brown Frenchmen.”  This myopic beast lurks everywhere on the planet, and while its cowardice amongst its own kind is legendary, it uses cunning and canons to subjugate masses of peace loving creatures in encounters in its planetary predations.
  4. Chandni and the Glass Ceiling (the sequel to #1)
    • It continues where the last story left off, where Chandni realizes that as a young woman, there is only so far that she could go in the factory—and deals with the realities that she is a prime target for human traffickers who profit off of Western predation of young women like her.
  5. Hyperbolic Ms. Hyena
    • An exaggerated story that imagines a word, in which the savage animals of Africa, sitting around a table, with a map, and carve up Europe into spheres of influence. In this imagined imperialist episode, Ms. Hyena, takes control areas occupied by the tribes of the Angles and Saxons, and laughs hysterically as she does so!
  6. Darya the Champion of the Dunya (world in Persian)
    • Darya, a Persian girl from Rey, champions her ancient and direct ancestor Darius, and creates a new empire, which grows and using her marvelous stratagems is able to conquer the West, thereby restoring the honor of her forbearers by avenging the Persian losses to the Greeks and fulfilling the promise of the Ancient Persians. She ushers in an age of peace and freedom of being (faith, expression and politics), much like her great ancestor Cyrus.
  7. Meera Tilda
    • The story of a little Punjabi girl, whose “magic” power is the ability to drown out the colonial narrative that chokes all those around her, making it appear that she is magical. Her story is one of deconstruction and of her pointing out the absurd behaviors that have become a part of South Asian society due to colonialism.
  8. King George’s ‘Targetted’ Sedative
    • This story looks at King George and the sedative he peddles to placate the populations he oppresses throughout the world. It is ultimately an examination of low-intensity-warfare, a strategy expertly used by the British to divide and conquer the populations it would take over throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  9. The Brits
    • A story set in colonial times, that tells the tale of the most disgusting sort of human being imaginable.
  10. Girl: Tales of Patriarchy
    • This story recounts the “true” story of Cold Dahl, a child who grows up in a colonized state. She has to educate herself secretly, while she works for meager wages in a sweatshop.  A shrewd child she is able to tell the stories of her youth, as well as imagined victories for her people against those that stacked all the chips against her.

What if? 

What if, I lived in a world in which I could pick any book off the shelf and not wonder if it would subtly send the message of self-hate towards me or my children?  What if all voices, not just those of white men, were the narrators of what we deem as our cannon, history and memoir?  What if we could strip away every racist, sexist, ‘phobic references in stories and reimagine them with the themes we love and without the hate imbued within? What if Cold Dal really existed?

Peace,

Kalyan Balaven aka Professor A.L.I. aka Cold Dal

A Shallow Grave

ShallowGrave

A Shallow Grave by Professor A.L.I.

He digs a shallow grave.

With a blade blunted by battle.

A child, so young;

That should’ve been playing with rattles

But now a corpse, a dehydrated husk, a shell,

His spirit lingers and divine musk’s the smell.

His mother places her recent newborn into the hole,

This six month old, was born of Yemeni Cloak.

His little lips cracked, dryer than Karbala’s sand.

And his throat lacerated by Hurmila’s hand.

Parents take turns, with palmfuls of earth

To bury the son, who they’d just given birth.

The tears rain on the grave, there is no marker.

As the mother grieves, the father is martyred.

Then the demons descend, upon women in tents.

Fight or flight, torches alight, fire intense.

Wretches reach for spoils, ears bleed as if sliced

And in these fleeting moments for life,

She rushes towards the corpse of another.

The martyred shell of her son’s elder step-brother.

She calls to him, “Ya Akbar! The protector, the brave!”

Now guard the sanctity of your young brother’s grave.

Dragging his frame; weighted so heavy with armor.

All she had left in the world, was this grave’s marker.

She places his cold hand over small earthly mound.

Yet next morning; the wicked army would count:

Seventy-one bodies, and sever seventy-one heads.

As a sign of victory; impale them on spearheads.

Then the malevolent general, recalls the recent tragedy,

And asks where the fruit that fell off this family’s tree?

Where’s the child, the three-pronged arrow extinguished?

Where is its body?  Where is the grave? Who bears its witness?

And they torture the survivors bound, to reveal its location.

Then this dreadful devil, had a satanic revelation.

That if there was a grave, its corpse would bloody a sword and–

This was the same general, who was once an orphan.

Raised by this holy family, so the infant was like his brother.

Now on his order, they stab ground, brutalizing the mother.

Amidst the ashes of tents, lays a headless corpse over mound.

The swords cut into earth, dripping blood, Ali Asghar was found.

They dug this child out of his shallow grave, his family cries.

A smiling cadaver, they cut off his head; as their humanity dies.

A Lamb Slaughtered

 

Prologue

In the 660’s CE, the wicked caliph, Muawiyya, a usurper and despot, would gift lambs to the children in Damascus, the capitol he controlled, and once these innocent youth had developed attachment to their pets, he had their lambs slaughtered by his soldiers at night, so that these children awoke to the horrific sight, and in despair.  He had town criers announce the lie that these lambs had been slaughtered by Ali, who was the legitimate leader of these lands. The sorrow, turned to rage and these children would grow brainwashed to hate Ali and his family, and they would eventually make up the army that would systematically slaughter the family of Ali… including children and infants. This poem is dedicated to this true story:

ALambSlaughteredA Lamb Slaughtered by Professor A.L.I.

The child whose pet lamb was slaughtered in Damascus,

Grows to be a man steeling himself towards thirsty infants,

Loyalty based on lies, allegiance to despots; his soul burns.

When the veil is torn and death approaches; he mourns.

These are crocodile tears, since the veil was pierced before,

The moment he saw an old man place his child on desert floor.

When his own canteen was sloshing, full of life giving liquid.

He could have undid strap, and his own damaged spirit, lifted–

The flask to the lips of this innocent being; instead he’d see.

The horror brought upon, be an arrow-pronged-three.

In that moment, a mirage caused by his teary, blurred vision:

Of his own lamb, gifted to him; the false caliph’s wicked wisdom.

To have him name his pet, become attached, and then awaken,

To find his beloved friend, murdered by the caliph’s agents.

And town criers announce it as a plot by a man known as Ali.

A shrewd lie, constructed by a usurper, to acquire loyalty.

Political brainwashing so thorough, that this man would believe,

That his lamb was slaughtered, by the Prophet’s family.

Brainwashed thoroughly, he severs limbs of this family’s tree.

A soldier for Yazeed, Muawiyya’s seed, the most sinister breed.

So when the baby was placed before him, he took not a step,

No water for the 6-month old infant gasping its last breath,

He watches this tragedy, and unfolds towards his own death.

He sees the truth; and now bears the burden of great debt.

And yet, when the old man asked him, “If no one was left to help him–

If no one was there to give him aid?” He still grasped his weapons.

And instead of helping, destroys, and lays claims a destination.

An eternal conflagration, burning amidst a hellish congregation.

And he sees himself in this place, wielding the same blade.

That was used by a lie, to cultivate this boy’s rage.

His hands and face are covered in blood, just like Husayn’s–

The blood of his own lamb, that he slaughtered that same day.

Children of Karbala

ChildrenofKarbala.jpg

The story of three children brutally killed at Karbala. They were grandchildren of Fatima and great grandchildren of the Prophet Muhammad. The young teen, Qasim ibn Hasan, was stomped to death by horses. Ali Akbar was stabbed in the back and Ali Asghar, known as Abdullah, who was only 6 months old had his throat lacerated. All three corpses were beheaded. These heinous acts were carried out by those who called themselves Muslims, even as they slaughtered the family of their Prophet. These were the predecessors of the Taliban, ISIS, and other hateful groups today.

Islam Today: Husayn’s Legacy

The story of what happened on Ashura, in Karbala, so long ago, reverberates today, not because it is singularly unique.  Mass murder is a common occurrence and so too is the disenfranchisement of women and children is a part of our global status quo—so why is what happened to Husayn ibn Ali so unique and important that millions continue to commemorate what happened to the children of Fatima in the sands of Karbala.

Truth be told, what happened to Husayn, the son of Fatima and Ali, and the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, his family, sisters, daughters, sons, and loved ones, was a precedent for the violence that would be done in the name of Islam, for eons after, and into this modern day.  Islam was hijacked when Husayn was killed, and it was one of three tragedies visited upon the faith by the evil Caliph Yazeed, alongside the mass rape of the women of Medina (the Prophet Muhammad’s city) and the destruction of a portion of the Kaaba in a failed raid.

We remember Husayn so that we don’t forget the rest of the story.  We remember Husayn to remember his family, his parents, and his legacy.

Our lamentation comes in various languages and in different media.  The song above is one such example and it is comprised of four M.C.’s (Yusuf Abdul-Mateen of Blak Madeen, Young Skitz, Professor A.L.I. and Left, in order of appearance) coming together to create a piece of art about Husayn ibn Ali and the authenticity of real Islam; as such, it stands in sharp contrast in the light of what passes as Islamic practice in our modern day.

In addition, here is one more example by Professor A.L.I. featuring Shareef Nasir, about  the love people have for Husayn and what he represents.  Please share these songs and let us all pray for a world of peace, where oppression has no place and no excuse to justify its existence.

PEACE

Professor A.L.I.

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HusaynsLegacy