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MPV Review
January 2009 | Volume 1, Issue 2
In This Issue
Thoughts on Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
Muslims for Progressive Values Organizes 'God Loves Beauty' Arts Festival
Interview with Reem Hammad: Reflections of a Muslim Artist
International Petition to End Domestsic Violence in the Muslim World
Book Review: Heavy Metal Islam
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
Thoughts on Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement
- By Sara A. Farooqi -
mlk"Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children." - Martin Luther King Jr.

Forty-six years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. uttered these powerful words in his iconic "I Have a Dream Speech". These words that resounded in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans in 1963 are no less relevant today. No one can deny the beauty and significance of King's genius or the impact of the revolutionary social change made possible by his poignant leadership. King's call to action moved millions and changed the fate of our nation.
I remember learning about King as a child and being drawn in by the beautiful cadence of his voice and the simplicity of his message: we are all created equal, and thus must be treated as such. As a young adult, I learned of his more controversial ideals, the ones often unmentioned in textbooks. King vehemently opposed the war in Vietnam and was a strong proponent of workers' rights and economic justice, all the while maintaining his call for the empowerment of African-Americans across the nation. "We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers." (Martin Luther King, "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break The Silence; 1967).
His words seemed to reflect, in many ways, the message I was receiving through my own religious education. I felt strongly that my faith, Islam, was rooted in action, taking a stance in the world and committing myself to the betterment of others. More than fifteen hundred years ago the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon him) had stressed to his followers, "The most excellent struggle [jihad] is to speak the truth in the presence of an unjust ruler." The Qur'an also tells us that  "Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West," and that the "truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers and beggars, and to liberate those in bondage (2:177)." For many Muslims, this call to social justice forms the backbone of our spiritual heritage. Thus, our spiritual growth, while a personal, internal process, is intimately connected with our work in the world. Read more

Muslims for Progressive Values Organizes 'God Loves Beauty' Arts Festival
- By Sara A. Farooqi and Ani Zonneveld -
God Loves Beauty celebrated its fourth run in November of last year.glb2The interfaith arts festival, drawing over 400 people of diverse background from across the Southern California region, included  artwork from more than twenty-four artists and musical, dance and theatrical performances such as "Muslima Monologue" by Mehnaz Afridi, which featured the first-person reflections of several Muslim women characters who are on very different paths, and Leaps of Faith, a performance piece presented by artists of various faiths. In her lecture on Venice and the Islamic World, Trinita Kennedy, former curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, spoke about the unique confluence of Islamic arts and crafts in Italian religious and non-religious life. Read More

Interview with Reem Hammad: Reflections on being a Muslim Artist
- By Ani Zonneveld -
Reem Hammad, God Loves Beauty participant and co-organizer, shares some reflections on being a Muslim artist.
"[Art is a] form of self-expression. It is the truest voice born out of one's soul and is a gift from Allah (SWT) that should be nurtured and explored to its fullest potential." -- Reem
Reem was raised in a traditional Muslim family in Lebanon and has been painting and drawing since she was a teenager. Below is an abridged version of our interview with Reem.
In what ways do your art and spirituality nourish each other?
For me, art and spirituality are intertwined. As I search and explore the endless possibilities to express myself, I am constantly reminded of the blessings that surround me and am brought to a state of awe and surrender. In the process of creating art there is a conscious desire to step into the work as well as an unconscious drive to surrender one's will and simply create and trust the outcome. In the same way, faith in Allah requires one to trust and to surrender to His will and the journey of life will reveal itself. Read more
International Petition to End Domestic Violence in the Muslim World
MPV is calling for action against domestic violence, acid attacks, honor killing, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. 1500 years ago the Qur'an revealed specific verses condemning violence against women. Yet in many Islamic countries and communities around the world, domestic violence continues to be perpetuated. Punishment for these crimes is often weak, if enforced at all. We find this unacceptable and are calling for a change. Please read our petition and help us mobilize a grassroots campaign to end violence against women. Click here to read and sign the full petition.
Book Review: Heavy Metal Islam
- by Vanessa Karam -
heavy metal
Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam. Mark LeVine, Three Rivers Press, 2008. 296 pages. Reviewed by Vanessa Karam.
"Follow the musicians, not just the mullahs." (p. 3)

This is, literally, what Mark LeVine has done in this fascinating study of the rock, metal and hip hop cultures of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In 2002, the author set out to examine one of the rarely reported mediums through which Muslim youth explore their identities, critique their societies, and give voice to their hopes. In this book, LeVine, professor of Middle Eastern history at U.C. Irvine and an accomplished rock guitarist in his own right, retraces his footsteps, chapter by chapter, through the rock and hip hop scenes of Morocco, Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Iran, and Pakistan. Along the way, he elaborates the socio-political contexts that shape the music of groups like Hoba Hoba Spirit, the Kordz, Dam, and Junoon. It is clear from his writing that LeVine 'has a good ear'. He listens to his subjects, often letting them speak for themselves, and also looks beyond the jam sessions (which he sometimes takes part in), introducing the reader, for example, to a religious scholar in Lebanon who defends heavy metal-not because he likes it (he doesn't) -but because "culture is something owned by everyone, and not something that a few persons should decide upon" (p.159).

LeVine adeptly explains why the music of Western groups and artists such as Led Zeppelin or Tupac Shakur resonates strongly with the youth of the MENA, and how Middle Eastern musicians in turn are melding the Western sounds with their indigenous musical traditions to create an expression all their own. The result, according to LeVine, is "extreme music as the antidote to extreme religious and political systems" (p.7). The author pays attention not only to the music and lyrics but also to the very often prohibitive--if not downright dangerous-- conditions under which these musicians work and play, and the particular challenges that female artists have to navigate.

All told, in Heavy Metal Islam, LeVine combines astute cultural and political analysis with a passion for the music and palpable empathy for the people of a part of the world that is too often painted with the monochromatic brush of religious fanaticism, traditionalism, and cultural stagnation. His well-researched book shows a much more complex, textured and, in the final analysis, hopeful reality. Oh, and did I mention? It's a really fun read. Rock on!
 Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
MPV condemns the bombardment of the Gaza Strip and the targeting of both Palestinian and Israeli civilians. We call on compassionate people of all stripes to support aid organizations and  establishments committed to resolving the conflict through non-violent means:

Kinder USA

American Near East Refugee Aid

Jerusalem Peacemakers

Just Vision

Hope Flower School

Seeds of Peace

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Our President Ani Zonneveld is featured on LinkTV's "One Nation Many Voices" on-line film contest. Please view here!

MPV in the News
MPV has joined various civil society and Muslim American organizations in publishing an open letter to President Obama regarding the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. The letter will be featured in The New York Times on January 21st, 2009. MPV urges the new administration to act as a fair negotiator in the Middle East and hold Israel accountable for its violations of international law. Click here to read more.
Advisory Board Member, Pamela Taylor, featured on Newsweek's On Faith

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