Archive for Arts

“THE 99”: Muslim Superheroes

there is nothing fundamentally different between Islam and any other belief on Earth or any other way of being human… For me, in the end, the 99 attributes of Allah are attributes that not only all Muslims value, but humanity values. Things like generosity, strength, wisdom, foresight, mercy… So my point of what I was trying to do was try to bring us together, versus pull us apart.

when i first heard about this muslim comic book called The 99, i thought it was a cheesy attempt by some apologetic opportunist. but after looking into it and the writer’s background, i think it’s kinda cool. an animated version of the comic book is in the making…i’d write more about it but i’m busy at work and i just finished explaining it to a friend…so i’m just going to copy and paste our convo, links and all… you’d probably enjoy the convo more anyway…it includes munchkins…and bacon…

c: man i just want to go home but i have to go to the other place after this
c: and work till midnight
a: think of munchkins plotting to bring down humanity
a: evil little munchkins
a: with superpowers
a: the ability to sweat cheese
a: so they can stink up any room they’re in
a: and cause others to pass out
c: does this world include hallucinogens?
a: of course
c: fun world
a: a friend of mine is a teacher
a: so he asks his students on the first day of class
a: if you could have any super power what would it be
a: this guy raises his hand and says the ability to sweat cheese
a: my friend thought it was the greatest thing he ever heard
c: i would have so many questions for that dude
c: what would your power be?
a: read minds
c: hmm that is risky business
a: theres a new islamic comic book
a: with 99 superheroes
a: 99 representing the 99 attributes of God
a: which Muslims believe in
c: really
a: so each superhero personifies an attribute
a: so this one character, Noor
a: possesses the attribute of Light
a: and she can strike light and holograms anywhere but the downside to her power is
a: she can see the bad in people as well, so she develops a cynical view of the world
c: wow
a: http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/kuwait605/index.html
c: sounds interesting
a: theyre screening a documentary about the making of the comic book
a: but the film is also a look at how the comic book has caused controversy in the muslim world
a: religious conservatives hate it
a: one criticism is that its idolizing these superbeings, and only God is to be idolized
c: religious conservatives hate everything except god
a: they hate god too
a: i think its funny that many of these same imams
a: praise suicide bombers and yet believe chidren shouldn’t read about muslim superheroes
a: like if he blows his limbs off and takes out others with him, hes a hero
a: and it’s ok when muslim kids look at this and see it as a positive thing
a: but they cant read a comic book that promotes God’s attributes through his creation
a: it’s like shutup and go away
c: well put
a: i went to get a halal bacon sandwich
a: and the guy forgot the bacon
a: thats the only reason why i went to get it
c: so its just a halal sandwich…
c: i love turkey bacon
a: supposedly its really good at this place
c: go back and throw it in his face like you are a rockstar
a: word
a: wheres my bacon bitch
c: exactly
—————————————————————————–
WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! is the story of Naif Al-Mutawa and THE 99- the first comic book rooted in Islamic history and culture. Since its launch in 2006, THE 99 has been both an international media sensation and a lightening rod for controversy. An intimate look at an entrepreneur and his daring venture to build a new pop-culture for young Muslims, WHAM! BAM! ISLAM! examines the shifting definitions of the sacred and the secular across the Islamic world at the dawn of the 21st century.

For more info about Wham! Bam! Islam!
http://www.endeavorfilms.com

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Children’s Drawings

Rod Cox has initiated a cultural and educational exchange of children’s pictures between Gazan schoolchildren and schoolchildren in the U.K. Health authorities in Gaza say it is really important for children’s mental health that they maintain positive contact with the rest of the world and that this project will help them.

For more info: http://rodcoxandgaza.blogspot.com/

Leave a Comment

WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR THE STRUGGLE?

 

 

Victor Jara was an outspoken supporter of Salvador Allende’s populist politics and helped to get him elected president in 1970. Upon the coup of 1973 and General Augusto Pinochet’s grasp of power, Victor Jara was arrested, brought to the national stadium with thousands of others, and over three days was electrocuted, his hands broken, and finally shot to death on September 15, 1973. According to his wife, with broken hands he wrote his last poem on scraps of paper that were smuggled out of the stadium by survivors. The final words of which include:

“Silence and screams are the end of my song.”

Which begs the question: What would you do for the struggle of your people?

oj

 

P.S. “El Derecho de Vivir en Paz” means “The Right to Live in Peace”

Leave a Comment

Daydream

 

Art by Ben Heine

Art by Ben Heine

 

 DAYDREAM

Some say I’m only dreaming, putting meaning in peace meetings

That I believe in all these things that no one else is seeing.

and I feel my heart beating when I hear the voices pleading

scream in bitter agony like a two year old who’s teething

 

All these fantasies unhealthy like eating empty calories

And it’s hard to see possibilities when planes bomb factories,

Destroy economies and all the hopes inside of me.

All this shit is killing me like clogged pulmonary arteries

 

And I can’t separate myself from it, see this struggle’s a part of me.

So that explains the pain I’m feeling, why it’s so hard to breathe

And as I step in puddles of blood, my eyes grow watery

Subtly wipe the tears away, and request you to pardon me

 

‘Cause these constant calamities have made me complicit and compliant

Find myself falling to my knees when I used to stand defiant

It might be a thousand years before all these guns become silent

So I’ll stick to these dreams as a means to free me from the violence

 

It started before they reported disorder in 1948

Before they cornered three quarters of my people and forced’em to evacuate.

It’s evil.

How one people promised the land of a second people to a third people,

Spurned people to give birth to an absurd people,

a preferred people who transfer people.

Rape and murder people,

ignore world consensus and commit human rights offenses

then hide the evidence, building security fences

claiming self defense while massacring the defenseless.

 

So I’m patiently waiting for the creation of a sovereign nation

cuz a two-state negotiations is useless if it won’t end the occupation,

So I’m basically wasting my breath on deaf and dumb populations

the situation mishandled, so dismantled like Russian space stations

 

And I see them change the information to control the debate.

Say my peace is a dream, but it seems I’m the only one who’s awake.

I’m sorry if I’m mistaken, though this situation’s got my knees shakin

I can’t accept the feeling that this whole fuckin’ time.

I was only dreaming. 

 

oj

Comments (1)

Seamus Darwish?

belfast11

It’s amazing how closely the Irish struggle and the Palestinian struggle parallel each other. Occupying force, internal disputes, and a tie to the land that spans generations. The pen/gun image is so prominent in both uprisings – the poem below brings out the likeness so vividly. Replace “potato” with “fig” or “olive” and this poem could easily be about Palestine.  It’s strange how the similarity has come to the forefront only recently do to George Mitchell’s  appointment and that we haven’t seen more Irish flags at Palestinian protests. 

 oj

Digging Seamus Heaney

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

 

Under my window, a clean rasping sound

When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:

My father, digging.  I look down

 

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds

Bends low, comes up twenty years away

Stooping in rhythm through potato drills

Where he was digging.

 

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft

Against the inside knee was levered firmly.

He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,

Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

 

By God, the old man could handle a spade.

Just like his old man.

 

My grandfather cut more turf in a day

Than any other man on Toner’s bog.

Once I carried him milk in a bottle

Corked sloppily with paper.  He straightened up

To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods

Over his shoulder, going down and down

For the good turf.  Digging.

 

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap

Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge

Through living roots awaken in my head.

But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

 

Between my finger and my thumb

The squat pen rests.

I’ll dig with it.

Comments (1)

Random Encounters

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. –Albert Einstein

I’ve been working for a small law office in Brooklyn for about 3 weeks now and have come across some interesting people. This morning a man (Caucasian, probably in his 40s) came in who had come in once before during my week of training. The first time he came in, he asked if he could have a poster that was up on our office window. He was really taken by the artwork and knew nothing else of the subject matter, neither did he especially care for it at the time. The poster is an advertisement for the National Popular Conference for Palestinians in the U.S.

The guy came by today just to let me know he actually looked up the artist and he was very impressed by what he found. He then picked up another poster for an upcoming event that had a photo of a little girl from Gaza with rubble in the background, and asked how can people not be moved by such an image? I said well, apparently the world doesn’t find it that moving based on the state of events. He replied how people just don’t care and it’s sad.

As disappointed as I am in people sometimes, I also find it hard to believe that most people simply don’t care, and we began to talk about the impact of the media on the public mind and how I’d rather give the world the benefit of doubt because people are probably just ignorant and unaware of the full story. He looked at me and chuckled and said “God bless you kiddo, but as you get older you become more and more cynical. The world is just selfish.” He then talked about his grandson and how he’s trying to keep him on the right track and prevent him from becoming one of those selfish types.

Despite his jaded views, talking to this man was incredibly reaffirming and just refreshing. I mean the man didn’t know much about the issue before and he did some research on his own based on a poster he happened to pass by that really spoke to him– and now he’s trying to cultivate the same beautiful spirit in his grandson. For me that’s all the reassurance I need, despite his contrary view, that there is hope for humanity yet in this troubled world.

This experience definitely makes up for another encounter I had with some crazy Daily News photojournalist, also white and in his 40s or so, who went on and on about the evil nature of Jews. He also praised Saddam Hussein and kept calling him a hero, and said how unlike the American government, the man never killed women and children. Umm, really??! He also let me in on a “secret” about how we would spiral into a deep depression and Obama would be assassinated for the purpose of inciting a race war that would distract people from the economic collapse and keep them from blaming the real culprits, who are naturally, the Jews.

What hurt me about this encounter was that he acted, and even mentioned, that he was letting me in on his thoughts because he trusted me and knew I would understand. In other words, because I am Arab, I would naturally agree with his views and what he apparently perceives to be the typical views of Arabs and Muslims. I don’t know what disturbs me more though, his views, or the possibility that he’s right in his assumptions?

Comments (2)

INSOMNIAC

INSOMNIAC

Buried under steel skyscrapers in Tel Aviv
Deep beneath city streets built by Zionist thieves,
Lies the land of my people, concealed by unspeakable evil,
Demolished mosque minarets and broken church steeples.

Lost in dreams of distant memories
of what could have been, but will never be.

Jealous of Americans’ contented ignorance,
Their inherent unawareness mixed with indifference
An innocence that causes him to explicitly abhor them
his words dwarfed by all those who wrote before him.

Tukan, Barghouti, Darwish, Jayyusi
What will he say that these poets did not?
Brave wordsmiths who stepped towards the gunshots,
Put pens in slingshots and flung verbs instead of rocks.

How differently will his text reflect the madness?
What hasn’t previously been expressed by those faithful Arab accents?

A wish that his words weren’t wasted ink,
but carried enough weight to sink in,
Absorbed
Not chewed and spewed,
Regurgitated like too much cake,
And left on Facebook and MySpace pages.
Like quotations from so many Arab sages

He despises how they’ve taken inspiring lines
and placed them on coffee cups of corporate franchises

Words are only powerful if they are heard.
So he urges you
To listen.

How they changed 15 days of refuge into 60 years
Circulated false claims that no one lived there
Replaced old Arab names with new Hebrew seals
Arranged elaborate Mandates and enforced biased deals

Insomniac.
How can he sleep
knowing
somewhere,
beneath exploding skies,
these children do not?

-oj

Comments (1)

Older Posts »