FOREWORD, REVIEWS & SPECIAL COMMENTS

FOREWORD, REVIEWS & SPECIAL COMMENTS

FOREWORD: PROF. DATO’ DR. BAHARUDDIN AHMED, MALAYSIA

The tradition of writing poetry has been a significant part of Islamic culture and heritage. Since the time of Saidina Ali, the fourth caliph, to Hassan al Basri and Rabiah until the recent time with the appearance of Sir Muhammad Iqbal in Pakistan, Amir Hamzah in the Malay World and Yunus Emre in Turkey, this tradition continues to survive and flow like the rivers of faith flowing into the sea of tawhid (oneness of God), the destination of Muslims’ inquiries of what constitutes reality? In any case, in the contemporary Muslim world, the number of poets and thinkers are not as many as they used to be. There are new issues of thought and fields of inquiries that are becoming dominant which involve the world of sciences and modern technologies. These in a way have acted as many challenges to religious doctrines and the intellectual traditions of Islam itself. Regarding this, the poems of Aadil Farook should be welcomed. His poetic expressions deal with the many intellectual aspects and issues that challenge the modern contemporary Muslim mind especially those who were exposed to the Western ways of understanding nature, God, mankind, human capacity and capability of knowing themselves. Even though Muslims in general and Muslim youth in particular are involved with various challenges which are facing the contemporary world and society, the inner

yearning for truth and reality will always pose as the major challenge of life. They have to know who they are and who they should be, being men of religion as well as modern and post- modern men. Aadil Farook has shown the great talent as a poet. He reminds me of the great Pakistani poet Muhammad Iqbal who posted the various challenges to the modern minds of fellow Muslims of his time. Aadil travels from God to creation, to the questions of facing the world today and the final salvation of the human souls in the Spirit of Muhammad (Ruhul Muhammad) which has been discussed by poets throughout the Muslim world in the past and remain to be popular until recently. Contemporary writers like Hossein Nasr, Annmarie Schimmel, Naquib al-Attas and many more have made lengthy discussions on this cosmological and the spiritual reality of the Prophet of Islam. Aadil has managed to bring this doctrine in his poems which were beautifully written. I strongly believe that the major spiritual doctrines, the intellectual aspects of religion and the doctrine of human salvation should continue to occupy the central intellectual exploration so that the modern Muslim mind may not stick to the mundane and trivial aspects of life. Throughout the history of Islamic intellectual tradition, culture and heritage, all schools of thought whether legal, theological, philosophical or mystical have flourished in abundance. The writings of Aadil Farook have brought back glimpses of what the Muslim intellectuals have been discussing before. Looking from this aspect I should say that his poetic works have brought the tradition of Islamic intellectualism into the contemporary debates and discussions. I should congratulate him for his effort and talents.

Review of 3rd book by Diane Donovan, Editor, MidWest Book Review, USA

Inspired Discourses presents reflections on God and greatness in a collection filled with references to Islam, tributes to caliphs, and insights on Islamic perspectives of life’s tragedies and events, and is an especially recommended, inspirational pick for followers of Islam already well versed in its foundation concepts.

The first thing to note about these reflections is their special admonitions to Muslims to better understand not only the spiritual foundations of Islam, but the historical, social and political impact of its presence in their modern lives. Readers should thus expect discourses that offer insights, enlightenment, and much food for thought about a range of events and issues which create new understandings of Islam’s active presence in the world (i.e.: “The appointment of Abu Bakar as caliph wasn’t through elections/but was simply taking a pledge or an oath of allegiance/To consider it as a modern voting process/is ignorance to Islam’s original sources/Were the first four rightly guided caliphs politicians?/ If yes, they wouldn’t have earned such reverence/They were men of the highest standard of excellence/who never desired societal status or prominence …”).

This is not to say that spirituality isn’t a key component of these discourses: the faith-based survey incorporates this at a basic level (“A Muslim should believe in goodness’s eventual victory/Although it’s in contradiction with the present history/God lives in both serial time and eternity/The glorious Quran affirms its possibility…”). It is a tribute to AadilFarook’s approach that these insights take on wider applications and meaning as they trace the history and impact of Muhammad and his followers in the world, providing verses rooted in historical facts, spiritual evolutionary processes, and individual pursuits of God: “Many companions were enlightened by Muhammad’s radiant aura/Yet none was granted as much supervision as Ali Al-Murtaza/At 10, he was mature enough to accept Islam/Who knew what wonders lied in his palm/He grew into a man of innumerable shining traits…

By now, through just these few examples, it should be evident that Inspired Discourses cannot lay claim to being a ‘poetry collection’ per say, but is a series of lyrical discussions and tributes that outline some of the most deeply-held tenants of Islam, showing how different people reflected and fostered the growth of Islam in the world. These tributes don’t limit themselves to ancient history, but include reflections on modern individuals, as in the poem ‘JunaidJamshed: 1964-2016,’ about a famous Pakistani pop star who devoted his life to Islam. Written after his death, it reveals the icon’s impact, through his music and presence in the world, as a reflection of Islamic faith: “The world may remember you as a musical icon/But preachers will mention you as Iqbal’s falcon...”

But, why write such a treatise? What motivates the heart and mind of the author to produce these reflections? Appropriately, this question is answered in ‘My Autobiography’, a personal reflection that remarks on those who have “stabbed in my heart” without motivation, who have made fun of his poetry, and who have attempted to thwart an artistic and spiritual journey. This piece should ideally be at the opening of this collection because it powerfully and succinctly captures the drive behind producing both this and a prior gathering: “For me, there is no art for art’s sake/But a higher purpose I won’t forsake/How many English Poets have chosen Islam as the aim of expression?/How many people write for years without a word of appreciation?/The laymen consider me firing empty guns in the dark/But scholars claim my works possess a special spark.”

If all poetry collections – particularly those which held deeper reflections about life and spirit – were to include such an opener, they would be more clearly understood and appreciated by their audiences right from the start.

The purpose is clearly crafted in this revealing introduction: “My contributions to Islamic Thought aren’t for the masses at all/But for thinkers who crave for Muslims to rise after their fall/For some people, religion does turn them into celebrities/But for me, it’s a thankless job with no support or ease…”

Even more revealing is the inclusion of a Q&A interview with the poet/author, which hopefully will conclude the effort and which also sums up the many perceptions and contentions of Islam which were outlined throughout the collection:

Q. If there would have been any prophet after Muhammad, who would it be?

  1. Umar
  2. What is the most absurd error?
  3. Understanding Quran without reference to Sunnah.
  4. What is the biggest delusion?
  5. The aspiration of bringing a revolution in the society without bringing a change within one’s own self.”

The result is a commanding, authoritative collection which is ‘neither fish nor fowl’ – not strictly a literary poetry collection; but incorporating the best strategies and powerful language of free verse into a wider-ranging celebration of and tribute to Islam and those who have walked its path to change the world as well as their own hearts and minds.

Very highly recommended for those with prior background in the faith who seek a blend of inspiration, history, admonition, and explanation all packaged into a lyrical tribute that virtually sings of human efforts to embrace God.

Review of 2nd book by Diane Donovan, Editor, MidWest Book Review, USA

Enthused Verses: A Lyrical Catalog of Religion, Philosophy & Spirituality offers Western readers a rare combination of poetry and reflections on Islamic spiritual and Muslim social concepts using a range of precise, intricate topics. These range from what it takes to become a Rumi to the paradoxes, uncertainties, and meanings of enlightenment.

If this sounds like a weighty read, it should be advised that Enthused Verses, while thought-provoking, is anything but dense. The poems challenge readers to pay attention and think, but they are not inaccessible and use free verse poetry to bridge disparate worlds.

One good example of this process is ‘Enlightenment’, which moves from the paradox of science and the various scientific disciplines which have attempted to define mankind’s pursuits to the real meaning of awakening as it moves from science to broader human endeavors: “Science devoid of emotions ends in relentlessness/inviting nothing but lack of human finesse/In the waves of its times, Philosophy drowns/leaving serious thinkers looking like clowns/Psychology mocks man’s dignity/ascribing acts to ego’s affinity/Art’s reliance on only feelings/is a medicine without healing…”

The message and strength of poems provide much food for thought into various aspects of Islamic religious and social thinking: “It is said that one should submit to a Shaykh for inner purification/Yet there’s not a single verse in the Qur’an stating it as an obligation.”

By pairing these concepts with a free verse delivery system, Aadil Farook succeeds in capturing the subtler nuances of Islam and sentiments of much of the Muslim world, offering Westerners many contemplative passages that are enlightening.

SPECIAL COMMENTS BY SCHOLARS, PROFESSORS & RENOWNED PEOPLE

Mr. Aadil Farook has many mystical and philosophical approaches and dimensions of understanding Islam. In the footsteps of Iqbal, he possesses a revolutionary zeal and a clear yearning for renaissance of Islamic heritage and way of life. He feels pain when confronted with the atrocities and cruelties in the social life and depicts them beautifully in his verses. His talent to compose verses so fluently is highly enjoyable for readers, students and academicians of all genres.

Professor Dr. Muhammad Ahram Chaudhary, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of South Asia, Lahore

His poems are so amazing, powerful and beautiful. I see in him Muhammad Iqbal is being born.

Professor Mulyadhi Kartanegara, SOAS Centre of Islamic Studies, UBD (University Brunei Darussalaam)

His poetry is charismatic in all senses: aesthetically, emotionally, linguistically and above all spiritually. I appreciate his sublime thoughts reflected through most suitably linguistic items.

Dr. Ansa Hameed, Assistant Professor, Department of English Language & Literature, International Islamic University Islamabad

Since many years, I have been searching for someone young who can become the future leader of this Ummah but I was hopeless. However, now, finally I have hope.

Prof. Fateh Muhammad Malik, Former Rector, IIUI

Undoubtedly he possess a poetic mind complemented with a good sense of rhythm. In his poetry, I sense a commitment to an ideal which he preaches using symbols and metaphors. I share his wishes and am happy that he is pursuing his talent. 

Professor Dr. Amir H. Zekrgoo, ISTAC (Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilization), Malaysia

“I am not a poet but I developed a taste of poetic language after reading Iqbal, Rumi, Hafiz Shirazi and some of the Western poets. Aadil Farook contacted and invited me to just read his poem “The Ummah’s Cry”. However I have gone through the entire section, “A bard from the East”. As a result I am surprised not because a young Pakistani of 29 could have such feelings for his country and people but because the education system in Pakistan is so hopeless. I could never imagine to emerge from this soil a talent like him. This young man has changed my desperation into hopefulness. His following verses have touched my heart;

Let He await your return

Whether you yearn for it or not

Let Him embrace your being

Whether you earned it or not

I noticed that my eyes were wet when I ended the last verse of this poem. Aadil seems to have been inspired by Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of the East. Aadil’s book is a marvelous piece of literature rather an addition to English Poetics. For Pakistan, this boy is an asset. I am proud of him. I may add that the book is wonderful and worth reading particularly for the younger generation, so that some of them may be able to catch the right path after getting inspired from some of the insights of Aadil Farook and are able to dive into the ocean of the Self to be able one day to serve humanity”.

Ghulam Sabir (2012), Chairman, Iqbal Academy Scandinavia, Denmark 

“Transcendental, taking us to the level of Imagination that only fakirs and Sufis can aspire to. Encapsulates the essential beauty of the Quran and the nobility of the Prophet without any semblance of hectoring or preachiness”.

Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Leader of Opposition of Malaysia (Pakatan Rakyat)

“I am so deeply impressed by what he has written, more so after hearing that he had surprisingly not undergone any formal or intense study of the holy Qura’n. He has been fully inspired. That is a special gift from Allah swt. On the whole his work is so commendable. I congratulate him on using his genius for the right cause”. 

Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, retired four-star admiral who was the 10th Chief of Naval Staff of Pakistan Navy  

“Beautifully written and thought about” – Junaid Jamshed, Former member of Vital Signs 

“Wow! extremely powerful i really enjoyed reading it and felt the passion ……great writing” – Dr. Samina Ahmed (Wife of Salman Ahmed, Junoon)

“A though-provoking book that is a good addition to english literature” – Zaid Hamid, Defense Analyst and Strategist

“I am proud of you” – Saleem Kashmiri, former headmaster of Aitchison College Lahore 

“Your poetry is Excellent” – Orya Maqbool, Writer & Poet

“I have benefited a lot from reading your poetry” – Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, eminent Islamic Scholar

“Excellent poetry” – Dr. Khalid Zaheer, Al-Mawrid Insitute of Islamic Sciences 

“Just Superb” – Prof. Arif Iqbal Rana, LUMS

“Excellent work” – Dr. Benaouda Bensaid, International Islamic University Malaysia

“Fantastic. I am blown away by the treasured selection of your words”- Mohammed Ibrahim Qazi, Director Foreign Relations, UMT, Lahore

“Its very impressive” – Dr. Hasan Sohaib Murad, President, UMT, Lahore