Imam Tahir Anwar
Poetic expression has been a hallmark of Islamic tradition since the birth of the faith. In the days of the Prophet's, Allah bless him and bring him peace, earthly life, Hassan bin Thabit, Allah bless him and bring him peace, recited poetry to the Prophet, Allah bless him and bring him peace, himself. For centuries, the lilting sound of the Burda of Imam Busiri has captivated the hearts of the believers. There is something to be said for the melodious lilting tunes of poetry that moves the human heart. Students of rhetoric will appreciate the metre and rhyme of verses arranged with skillful play on words; to the average listener or reader, poetry simply touches the heart.
In recent times, we have seen a decline in this art form that moved the hearts of the faithful. Some choose to call these forms of expression forbidden, but that which is written within the confines of the Sacred Law cannot be rejected. While we are under constant vilification from external forces that wish to demonize our faith and our beloved Prophet Allah bless him and bring him peace. We need to return to the means of our predecessors who made the expression of their love for the beloved of Allah a constant act of worship. Allah Almighty himself says that he has "exalted the praise" of the Prophet (Allah bless him and bring him peace). (Al Qur'an 94:4)
The Praise the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, Poetry Competition is an important forum in these trying times. It is about time that we define ourselves and not allow others to define us with their scurrilous statements. I encourage each and everyone in the community to participate. The competition is not about winning, but about demonstrating that our love for the Prophet, Allah bless him and bring him peace, has stood the test of time and will be as eternal as the love Almighty Allah has for him.
*Imam Tahir Anwar*
Imam and Director of Religious Services
South Bay Islamic Association, California
Imam Zaid Shakir
The Praise of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, Poetry Competition is an excellent opportunity for Muslims, young and old, to strengthen our bond with the beloved Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace. Reflection can bring about great inspiration for one who ponders. However, when we take time to record our reflections, they can serve as a source of inspiration for others, especially when they are phrased in beautiful poetic measure and rhyme. This contest provides an excellent opportunity for supporting and articulating the beautiful and inspirational message of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, in a most beautiful fashion.
*Imam Zaid Shakir*
Zaytuna Institute, California
Br. Khalid Latif
We have become a people that speak not to be listened to, but only to be heard. Whereas our prophet, Allah bless him and bring him peace, spoke concisely by his words and strengthened those words by his actions, we have become a people that speak to critique but do not actively follow up with any solution. We seek to intimidate rather than educate, our words become apologetic rather then empowering. To counter this we need to recognize the importance of communication and our ability to express ourselves effectively to all peoples, and one such way to do so is through The Praise the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, Poetry Competition. It presents an opportunity for many of us to express our innermost thoughts in a manner that does not always get discussed. I myself plan on participating in this contest and hope that all those who read this will do so as well. Insha Allah it will be a means by which all of us will gain awareness that our words carry, and it will be a stepping stone by which our words will become something that are listened to and not only heard.
*Br. Khalid Latif*
Islamic Center at NYU
New York University
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
An Islamic poetry indigenous to the English language wherever it is spoken, in the American continent, including Canada, the United Kingdom and English speaking former colonies, etc. is becoming more and more viable as English seems to be more and more recognized as the global lingua franca . Western Muslims should make use of the huge treasure trove of literary traditions in their own cultures, to perfect the poetry they write. I have always been insisting on the free and deep use of our traditions in British and American poetics, including Shakespeare and Whitman, and even modern day influences, but also widening our international sensitivities to include French and Spanish and Italian and German poetries, among so many, of the great poets in those languages. We live now in the Global Era of Sayyedina Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Worldwide! So it should now be up to us to not simply write minor poems putting into verse simple things we already know about the prayer or hijab or “being Muslim” in a non-Muslim environment, or even about the Prophet and his blessedness in all its dimensions, peace be upon him, but get down to the heart and marrow of being Muslim, alive as poets in a sensual world even when eager for transcendence, with all our world experiences, and now write directly from our hearts and souls, with our intellects never far away! The great classical Muslim poets like Rumi, Hafez, ibn Farid, show us the heights and breadths possible and some of the epic narratives or lyrical effusions that got them there… and they should be our models of what is possible and has “gone before,” but not necessarily our only formal influences. Oh, it's vast what we can do, but we should deepen our inspirations as much as we can, though the hearkening to the subtle meanings of the Qur'an and Hadith as well as our daily lives infused with dhikr of Allah. Then if we take on rhyme and meter, rap and performance, or ecstatic meditative works in open form or free verse, or whatever most moves us, opening ourselves to all the varieties with devotional intention, we will, God willing, usher in a new age of Islamic Poetry in English worthy to endure through the ages. This forum of Islamic Poetry and the Praise the Prophet (peace be upon him) poetry contest is hopefully simply a magnet that will draw out of the soul of us the very best and most true and exhilarating poetry of which we are capable, as stewards and interpreters not only of God's revelation to mankind until the end of time, but also as compassionate healers of high sensibility to the world around us. We must all go back to "alastu bi rabbikum" ("who is your Lord?") and answer it with skill and inspiration.
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
"The Praise the Prophet International Poetry Contest is a truly Islamic way to respond to ideas that we disagree with in a dignified, positive and inviting way!"
Muslim Poet Brother Dash