Islam Needs a Martin Luther
By Marvin X
The Islamic world needs a Martin Luther, someone to usher in an Age of Reform that will radically alter some of the fundamental values of Islam that are retrograde, archaic, primitive and must be discarded into the dustbin of Muslim history so that Islam can regain its position as a culture of enlightenment rather than darkness.
At an Islamic Art Conference I attended this past weekend in Oakland, California, along with Muslims from around the world, there was discussion of how Islam has suppressed artists, calling Muslim art haram (religiously proscribed), shirk (associating partners with God) and other negative terms that essentially condemn Islamic art as evil. When I addressed the audience, I noted that I am the “father of Islamic literature in America” by default because other Muslim writers were told to give up the art of writing, creative anyway, but I ignored the ban and thus my work is all that remains, aside from poet Sam Hamad and a few others who’ve written during the last forty years that may surface with proper research. Not only writers, but painters, musicians, dancers, singers and others were suppressed. Even minister Farrakhan, a musician and singer, was made to give up his art.
But we know it is artists who give people visions and prophecy, thus when they are suppressed, the people are likely to walk in darkness as we see at the present moment.
In my remarks at the conference, I challenged the Muslim artists to be revolutionary and yes, disobedient—to hell with those who desire to suppress Muslim art, they are the backward ones, they are the evil ones and must be opposed by, yes, any means necessary.
So much that goes for Islam is ancient and primitive, really, not worthy of discussion in the modern world among people of intelligence. Elijah Muhammad used to say the wisdom of this world is exhausted, and this includes Islam. It must be revolutionized or thrown into the dustbin of ancient thought.
The Islamic revolution must, will and shall be led by Muslim artists with vision for a day when Islamic culture will be the vanguard of world culture, projecting the most positive and scientific aspects of the new millennium.
Islamic culture must come from behind the veil, or if anything, put the veil on men and let the women march forth as harbingers of the new world order. Contrary to what men think, women have been found to be the most advanced sector of society, intellectually and spiritually, so we would do well to listen to them for answers to the right path. Clearly, Muslim men are not on sirat al-mustaqim (“the straight path”). Over a billion people of Islamic faith are currently steeped in poverty, ignorance and disease, wallowing in political oppression of the most backward, Stalinist variety. And when the politicians are not oppressing, the mullahs and Imams do the same work, even to the point of following the Christians in the sexual exploitation of boys and girls.
Let a Muslim Martin Luther step to the front of the line and represent the way of truth, freedom, justice and equality. Muslim collaborators with imperialism, colonialism, and all manner of retrograde religiosity and political oppression must be condemned. Islamic scholars whose theology is based on primitive laws, edicts, fatwas must be ostracized because their actions only add to the utter confusion and ignorance pervading the Muslim world.
Surely, the destruction the Tsunami brought to South Asia is a sign of Allah’s displeasure with the Muslim people, along with Christians, Hindus and others. If we continue down the path of primitive worship of myths and rituals, surely Allah has even greater destruction planned for those without eyes, ears, the deaf, dumb and blind. After Allah has blessed us with light, how can we yet walk in darkness? How can we possess “supreme wisdom” yet have nothing, behave as spiritual slaves to any storefront imam with a rote memory of Al-Qur’an?
Let a Martin Luther Muslim arise to destroy idols of ignorance and suppression of creativity. Yes, let everything praise Allah, from the flute to the lute, from the dancer to the poet.
Marvin X is a distinguished poet, playwright and essayist of the Black Arts Movement (BAM). He is the founder and director of Recovery Theatre in San Francisco. He also co-founded the Black Arts/West Theatre and Black House, which served briefly as the headquarters for the Black Panther Party and as a center for performance, theatre, poetry and music in the Bay Area. Marvin X continues to work as a lecturer, teacher and producer.