People like singing and dancing and making music. Whether or not it is part of the human DNA I do not know.
But I am sure there are people in this world – those who specialize in research into the human genome – who may have some relevant insights in the matter.
What is also clear is that some people, in some parts of the world at least, are more deeply into these things than some others. People of some parts of South America, Africa and the Caribbean, for example, come to mind.
Drive through Europe and you cannot miss all the dances, music, feasts and festivities. And all the colorful costumes, and all the pageantry, that greet you at every turn.
Nor is China or India immune.
Throw in alcohol and sex into the mix and things very quickly get out of hand, as they do when the annual Carnival hits Brazil in South America or Trinidad in the West Indies.
So, those who say they are working for Allah cannot go through life saying “No! No! No!” all the time and to everything. They may need to start thinking in terms of alternatives.
They need to practice saying “Yes!” a few times.
They need to ask: What can we provide to people that will somehow touch their inner craving – if there indeed is such a craving deep down in people’s hearts and minds – for some rhythm and movement and joy – and, quite possibly, some exuberant abandon from time to time?
Post Second- and Third-Generation Muslims addressed those issues in all sorts of creative ways. They made music. They wrote devotional songs that sent people into ecstatic raptures and sent some, like Jelaluddin Rumi, literally dancing and prancing into the streets.
They drew and painted. And they created Calligraphy that dazzles beholders to this day.
Who do you think is making all those spectacular “Persian Carpets” all over the world to this day, with their explosive color combinations and breathtaking patterns?
Muslims of yore generated priceless and matchless colors and designs. All you need to do is to look at what is left of their marvelous color sense and creativity inside what the Christians will call the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Grand Mosque in Cordoba.
By the way, why doesn’t anyone call the Millennial Mosque in Cordoba the Grand Mosque? Muslims have no shortage of this and that “Grand” stuff – such as, for example, a Grand Mufti, just for starters.
But the point is this: Those who claim they are working for Allah, how are they going to approach this issue? The issue of people wanting a bit more excitement out of life than they are generally doled out by Card-Carrying Muslim preachers?
They should of course be careful not to do what the Christian Church has been doing fairly consistently: Trying to humor and accommodate people’s increasingly wilding and wandering tastes by diluting their own core beliefs, behavior and teachings.
Whether or not those teachings could withstand the test of changing times is a very different matter altogether. But their rush to mould the church and its teachings to fit the kaleidoscope of people’s rapidly changing demands – and at times aberrations and deviations – actually helped neither the people nor the Church.
So, Muslim preachers of God’s word – those who say they are working for Allah – must beware of these road hazards and they must learn to negotiate them very, very carefully.
I know how people like the Jama’at Islami, especially in a place like India, have forever dismissed the role of emotions in human life. To this day, if you listen carefully, you may be able to catch their leaders and would-be leaders muttering, with a knowing smile, things like: “Come, come, let us not be emotional now!”
And things to that effect.
But it is neither science nor Islam, to dismiss the world of human emotions in that summary and cavalier manner. We are not rabid behaviorists to whom “emotions and feelings” may be dirty words.
Ask any Advertising Executive – or just keep your eyes and ears open – and you would know what important role feelings and emotions play in human life. And in human decision making in general.
While I am still a believer in some kind of a modified Rational Man Theory, to me it is sheer madness to turn our back on the world of human emotions. It is, if you ask me, idiocy, not Islam.
It cannot be Islam, for, Islam fits human nature – every aspect of it – like a glove fits a hand.
And, from that point of view, emotions have no role in human life? What planet do you live on? And what human beings are you talking about?
Besides, Allah did not dismiss human cravings for beauty and joy in life as pathways to perdition. Instead, he reprimanded those who would want to impose that kind of dry and dead life on anyone.
Zeenatallah, the Glorious Qur’an calls it: Allah’s beauty.
So, my common call to all concerned is this: Without compromising your principles and practices, and without turning Haram into Halal, go find ways of providing people opportunities and avenues for fun, relaxation, entertainment – and just a tad bit of excitement.
And for experiencing and expressing joy and beauty.
I told Muslims of the Caribbean to claim Calypso – a highly creative and pungent form of local music, song and poetry – as their own and use it for Halal purposes.
I even discovered a very talented man once – on the road to Maracas Bay – and got him to demonstrate how that could be done.
No one took me up on that.
So, Muslims! Have some good, clean Halal fun and let your fellow-Muslims have some good, clean, Halal fun too.
For, that is what Islam is all about. It is about having good, clean Halal fun, right here in this world, and then thereafter, in the next world.
To me, it is all part of Fiddunya Hasanatan wa Fil-Aakhirati Hasanatan.
Fun in this world and fun in the next world.
Go check out the expression in the Most Glorious Qur’an: Wa Saqwaahum Rabbuhum Sharaaban Twahoora!
So, Twahoor is the critical element, people, not fun or “Sharab.”
So, go find some Twahoor, people, and dance to its tune.