Introduction

Welcome to my blog! My name is Aly Abdel Khalik and I am a student in the class AESTHINT 54: For the Love of God and His Prophet: Religion, Literature, and the Arts in Muslim Cultures at Harvard College. This was a wonderful course in which we explored Islam and the devotional life of Muslim communities around the world from an artistic and literary point of view. As we live in a time where Islam is usually associated with negative stereotypes in the West, I figured this class was the perfect opportunity to dig beyond the surface and gain a much deeper understanding of the religion. In response to the lectures, readings, and discussion sections, I wrote six blog posts throughout the semester each of which focused on a different dimension of the course’s material and was accompanied with one of my own artistic creations. In this introduction, I am going to delve into and explain two of the major themes of the course and my blog, sound and diversity within Islam, so that you are aware of what you should keep in mind when reading my blog.

The first major theme of the course and my blog is Sound and its relationship to Islam. Do you ever wonder why music affects us so deeply? Or even just hearing the voice of a loved one? There may not be an obvious answer as to why this is the case, but it is undeniable that sound has a special effect on all of us human beings whether we acknowledge it or not. This is something I like to call the “power of sound”. In the beginning of the course, we looked at the origins of the Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad. During this time, in 7th century Arabia, poetry was the most highly developed and most prized art form. One of the reasons for this was because most of the population was illiterate (including Prophet Muhammad himself) and poetry didn’t require literacy since its creation and transmission could be done completely orally. And so to grasp a better understanding of how Islam and sound are interrelated, it is essential to understand the basics about the Quran and its origins. For this reason, I will give you a brief explanation of the origins and development of the Quran.

The Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel during the year 610 CE. Prophet Muhammad would then memorize the verses revealed to him exactly as they were recited. Over the span of the next 23 years until his death, Prophet Muhammad received many more revelations, and cumulatively they make up what we know today as the Quran. I just want to stress the fact that the Quran wasn’t written down and compiled until approximately 15 years after the Prophet’s death, so the spreading of the message was done completely orally throughout the Prophet’s lifetime and the subsequent years. With that said, it should start to become clear why the recitation and memorization of the Quran are held so highly in Muslim societies around the world.

The memorization and recitation of the Quran are two skills that are highly respected in many Muslim societies around the world. As I mentioned, the Prophet Muhammad recited all the Quranic verses exactly how they were revealed to him, and in turn all his companions recited it exactly how he recited it to them, and so on. Thus we can see how the oral transmission and memorization of the Quran played a key role in maintaining the authenticity of the Quran before it was compiled in a book. This is the reason why the Quran is seen as an aural tradition more so than a written one. Today, millions of children and adults around the world dedicate their lives to the memorization of the Quran. And unsurprisingly, this requires them to know exactly how to recite every single word of the Quran. Today, there are recitation rules known as tajweed and tarteel which ensure the reciter recites the Quran exactly how it was recited by Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. Something interesting is that it is very common for people to weep when listening to the Quran, even if they don’t understand it, merely because of the beauty of the sound. This brings me back to this idea of  “the power of sound”. It is also strongly recommended that even when Muslims are reading the Quran or praying in private, that they at least whisper the words they’re reading because the element of sound is essential for the experience. This brings me to the last topic we discussed which fell under the theme of sound: Sufism/Mysticism

Sound is undoubtedly the backbone for Sufis and their spiritual experiences. Sufism is a mystical and Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God (1). And just to clarify, Sufism is not viewed as another “sect” of Islam because Muslims can for example be Sunni and Sufi or Shia and Sufi. In Sufism and mystic practices, sound plays a very major role. The ultimate goal of a Sufi is to directly experience God, and there are two common ways as to which this is achieved both of which are a form of “dhikr” or “the remembrance of God”. The first is the rhythmic repetition of sacred phrases aloud for a long period of time while moving their body in sync with the the rhythm. This is usually done with the guidance of a “pir” or “sheikh” (an older mentor who has mastered this practice). The second Sufi practice in which sound plays a key role in is known as “Whirling” which is a form of physically active meditation where the Sufi whirls around in circles for a long period of time while listening to music. This is also known as a form of “Sama” or”listening”. If both these practices are done correctly, the Sufi will reach a state of ecstasy known as “wajd” in which they have experienced the divine.

So as you can see, Sound plays a key role in the Islamic experience, ranging from the Quranic tradition to mystic practices. So when reading my blog posts, I want you to keep in mind the element of sound, especially in my first (Recitation of the Quran) and third (The Light Verse) blog posts. In my opinion, the “power of sound” in my video creation in my third blog post depicting The Light Verse is very strong because it combines the beautiful recitation of the Quran with beautiful imagery (but if you think differently, let me know in the comments!).

This brings me to the second major theme of the course and my blog: Diversity within Islam. In the world today there seems to be a very stereotypical understanding of a “Muslim”. If you were to stop a random person on the street in the United States and ask them to describe a Muslim they would probably say something like, “a middle eastern guy with black hair and a beard” or, “a woman wearing a black veil with only her face exposed.” But in reality, there are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today living on every habitable continent. For example, did you know that the most widely practiced religion in Southeast Asia is Islam (240 million, approx. 40% of the entire population)?! With that said, there are unsurprisingly vast differences in cultural practices between the Middle East and Southeast Asia, yet they are both regions that are heavily populated by Muslims. And the truth is that the Islam practiced in, for example, West Africa is much different than that practiced in South Asia merely because of these cultural differences. Therefore you can already start to see how generalizations about Islam based on the practices in certain regions are misrepresentative of the practices as a whole. To make this more clear, I will give you some examples of these cultural and theological differences and show how they affect the practice of Islam.

As I already touched upon, the Islam practiced by Muslims around the world is heavily influenced by the cultural practices of the certain region/country and time they live in. An example of this would be the practices in West Africa versus those elsewhere. In West Africa, there is the tradition of the “Marabout”. The Marabout is a Muslim religious teacher and scholar who is perceived by the general West African Muslim population as someone with a divine presence and spiritual powers. As he goes around from village to village, the residents get excited because he is believed to bring them divine blessings. He will then recite to them some Quran and they will follow, and then once his visit is over, a lot of them will convert to Islam despite the fact that they don’t really know much historically and theologically about the religion. Nevertheless, they identify as Muslims. That is an extremely brief overview of this tradition but my point is that if you were to ask a Muslim outside of West Africa if they have heard of the Marabout, chances are they would answer with a firm no. This alone speaks to the diversity of the religion and the impact of culture on religious practices.

Moreover, as you will see, my second blog post “Communities of Interpretation” highlights the fact that there are theological differences between the different “schools of thought” within Islam, but that at the end of the day, regardless of which school of thought someone follows, he or she will still identify as a Muslim. And so at this point, I just want to bring light to one of these issues that you will find commonly debated among Muslim scholars (or “ulama”) today: Music. Many conservative scholars will argue that music is prohibited in Islam because of certain hadith from Prophet Muhammad. On the other hand, other more liberal scholars will argue that it is not prohibited and they will also base their argument on certain hadith from the Prophet Muhammad. That begs the question, what does the Quran itself say about music? The answer is that Music is not mentioned in the Quran, and this is exactly why there is this conflict of beliefs. After I gave this more thought, several more questions came to mind such as: What even is defined as “music”? Does the intention of the musician matter? From a Western perspective, couldn’t Quranic recitation be classified as music? Today in the West there are many Muslim youth who use music (hip hop, Sufi rock, etc.) to spread a message of positivity about Islam, and while they do receive a lot of support, they also get a lot of criticism because their acts are seen as prohibited by some people. This is just one example out of many others (including: homosexuality, women, etc.) where you will find an array of different beliefs across the different Muslim schools of thought. Therefore it should now be even more clear how much diversity there is not only culturally across Muslim societies, but also theologically.

As you can see, there is a lot of diversity within Islam, making this is the second major theme in my blog. My blog post titled “The Self: Khudi vs. Nafs” touches upon another example where you see spiritual diversity among Muslims when it comes to the perception of “the self”. Muhammad Iqbal, an early-20th century Pakistani poet, supports a more outward understanding of the self whereas Sufis have a more inward one. Furthermore, in my blog post “The Mathnawi” I write a poem in the form of a Mathnawi. A Mathnawi is a Persian form of poetry in which there are rhyming couplets and lessons taught. And so although mathnawis teach Islamic messages, the poetic form itself is rooted in Persian culture dating back to the 10th century. For this reason, the most famous mathnawis are written in Persian and reflect Persian culture to a certain degree, the most notable being “Masnavi-I Ma’navi” by Rumi (which I elaborate upon in my blog).

Now that you have a deeper understanding of the two major themes of my blog, Sound and Diversity, and their relationships to Islam, you are ready to join me as we explore Islam through the arts!

Islam in the West: Using Hip Hop to Spread a Message

In Week 13 we looked at Islam in the West and, more specifically, at how Muslim youth use Hip Hop and Punk Rock to spread messages about Islam. Since we live in a time where Islamophobia is very prevalent in the West, many of these artists attempt to refute these negative stereotypes by spreading Islam and its positive message in their songs. A few of these people/groups include: Aki Nawaz and his group Fun-Da-Mental (England, 1990s), Transglobal Underground (United States, 1990s), and Akhenaton and his group IAM (France, 1990s). But although some artists are openly Muslim with their music, some artists use a different approach which is to spread positive messages in their mainstream music without throwing their Muslim identity directly in the face of the listeners. This allows the listeners to dissociate any negative stereotypes about the artist so that their music is perceived with a clean slate relative to other non-Muslim artists. Lupe Fiasco is the perfect example of an artist who uses the latter approach (Watch this interview if you want to hear more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnt4GlQG…).

In response to this topic I decided to write my own hip hop/rap song about this course. At first I tried to write a rap about the misconceptions of Islam in light of the recent world events (Paris, Brussels, etc.) but I found that very challenging to do because of the sensitivity of the topic. So instead I decided to write something more fun and, in my opinion, more enjoyable for the listener (especially if they have taken AI 54). The main message of my rap is to show how AI 54 is a great class for anyone interested not only because it teaches you a lot about Islam, but it also allows you to explore a creative side of yourself that you may have never known existed, in addition to learning about yourself and the world around you. In the rap I talked about a lot of the material we covered throughout the course while trying to keep a certain flow and rhyming. A lot of what I mentioned in the rap I have also discussed in previous blog posts so I won’t go into detail about the lyrics (posted below). After listening to some Islamic hip hop in class, I was inspired to test my own hip hop abilities. This isn’t a lyrical masterpiece or anything but I still hope you enjoy it! Here it is!

Best,

Aly

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Lyrics:

 

11 am gotta hop out of bed, you know why,

Tuesday, Thursday got class in the yard, you know why,

Sever 2-1-3 at 11:30, until 1 that’s where you’ll find me,

Learn about Islam from an arts point of view,

I call that AI 54 that’s true,

If you wanna take a class that’s fun,

And opens your mind no doubt this is the one,

We talked about Quran, we talked about Muhammad (pbuh),

We talked about poetry, Mathnawis to Ghazals,

Oh man what a blast it was,

Film screenings, Wednesday nights, at Jefferson,

Sufism, you haven’t heard of it?

Mysticism? You haven’t heard of it?

Learn about yourself and the world you,

Hidden meanings and the nafs, man that’s new,

I designed a mosque, and a calligram,

Wrote a ghazal about love oh man,

Muhammad Iqbal the Pakistani poet,

Develop your khudi that’s yourself ya you know it,

Muslims in America, man that’s diversity,

30% African-American community,

Using hip hop to spread a message,

Thank you teaching staff for this class what a blessing,

it was!

 

 

The Self: Khudi vs. Nafs

Picture of my math equation: http://imgur.com/RHZAHvR

In this post I wanted to bring light to a concept that I found very interesting in the Week 11 readings and that was the idea of “the self”. More specifically, the khudi and the nafs. Before I begin explaining my creation, I will briefly describe the difference between the khudi and the nafs just in case some of you have never heard of them (If so you’re not alone, I hadn’t before taking this course).

The khudi is defined in the reading Iqbal and His Message by Ralph Russell as “our full potentialities for positive action”. Thus it is a more outwardly understanding of the self in contrast to more common understandings. The khudi was first defined by the early-20th century pakistani poet Muhammad Iqbal in his poem Asrar e Khudi (Secrets of the Self). Iqbal’s notion of the khudi was motivated by a couple of verses from the Quran, the main one being chapter 23, verse 14 in which God is described as ahsan ul Khaliqin – ‘the best of creators’. Although most scholars have interpreted the word “best” as simply meaning “supremely good”, Iqbal concluded from the use of the word “best” that there must be other creators besides God Himself (since He isn’t described as ‘the Creator’). And from this, Iqbal believes that God’s most important co-creator is Man (mankind). So in his poetry, Iqbal emphasizes this idea that we all need to discover our full potentialities for positive action and make full use of them, because only then will we be developing our khudi.

Moreover, another understanding of the “self” is the nafs. In contrast to the khudi, the nafs is a more inward spiritual perception of the self. It is commonly defined as the “psyche”, “ego”, or the “soul”. In Sufism, it is believed that there are three principle “stages of the nafs” which describe the process of development, refinement and mastery of the nafs. The ultimate goal for Sufis is to completely let go of their egos to the point where they become one with the divine and only experience love with all of God’s creations, and so the “three stages of nafs” reflect this journey. The first stage is known as “the inciting nafs (an-nafs al-ʾammārah)” which is the most primitive stage describing someone who is egotistical and as a result commits evil actions. The second stage is “the self-accusing nafs (an-nafs al-luwwāmah)” and this is where “the conscience is awakened and the self accuses one for listening to one’s ego. One repents and asks for forgiveness.”(1). Lastly, the final stage and the goal for all Sufis is “the nafs at peace (an-nafs al-muṭmaʾinnah)” in which the soul reaches a state of tranquility. At this point, Sufis are able to let go of all worldly problems and are satisfied with the will of God. Therefore we can see that the nafs is a much more inwardly understanding of the self in contrast to Iqbal’s notion of the khudi.

In my opinion, both the khudi and the nafs are essential for maintaining our well-beings on this earth because they both provide us with purpose and inner peace respectively. Therefore I believe that they are both equally important to all of us. So for my creation, I decided to highlight the importance of these two ideas through a math equation (see picture above). As a Statistics concentrator this came naturally. In my math equation x represents the khudi, y represents the nafs, and z represents the distance away from maximum well-being on this earth. So the objective is to have z be as close to zero as possible. X and y can only take on the values of 0 or 1 indicating whether or not the individual is striving to develop their khudi or to attain a nafs at peace. In addition, both x and y cannot be 0 simultaneously because we will assume that everyone who’s reading this blog post is either striving for x or y. And so as shown in my equation, the objective is satisfied when x and y are both equal to 1 (z=0) suggesting that a person who strives to develop their khudi AND attain a nafs at peace will maximize their well-being on this earth. When someone strives for either one or the other, they will either lose sight of God (in the case of khudi) or lose sight of the earth/worldly matters (in the case of nafs). And just to make it clear, this is merely a reflection of what I personally believe. Nevertheless, I thought this was a simple and creative way of combining and highlighting the importance of both Iqbal’s khudi and Sufism’s nafs.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned something new!

 

Best,

Aly

 

(1) Al-Haqqani, Shaykh Adil; Kabbani, Shaykh Hisham (2004). The Path to Spiritual    Excellence. Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA). pp. 102–103.

The Mathnawi

In Weeks 9 and 10 of the course we discussed Sufi poetry by looking at the Ghazal and the Mathnawi. For this blog post I will focus on the Mathnawi. I will briefly introduce the Mathnawi for you just in case you’ve never heard of it. The Mathnawi is a poetic form which consists of rhyming couplets and is usually intended to teach a certain moral lesson(s). The most famous Mathnawi is the narrative epic written by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic (among many other titles), titled “Masnavi-I Ma’navi” which translates to “Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning”. Rumi’s Mathnawi is sometimes referred to as “The Quran in Persian” because of its deep and lasting impact on the Persian culture and identity over the past several centuries. If you’re ever interested in Sufi poetry, i.e. spiritual/mystic poetry, I strongly recommend reading some of Rumi’s works because they will make you reflect and think about the world around you in a way you have never thought about before!

So in response to the readings on the Mathnawi, and more specifically the reading by Farid al-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds, I decided to write my own Mathnawi titled “The Countdown” (I have posted it below). The main moral/lesson I try to convey in my Mathnawi is: Make use of every second you have in this life wisely because time will never stop for you. This is also a lesson taught in the Quran in Surat Al-Asr (The Declining Day, Chapter 103) which reads: “By time, Indeed Mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.”

Thus to convey this lesson I wrote “The Countdown”, which is about a young boy who has this dream that one day he’s going to bring the world change and joy. Of course, this isn’t an easy task and requires a lot of perseverance and focus. As the poem goes on, you find that as this boy grows older he always seems to be “distracted”, which I intend to be interpreted as him losing focus of his goals and wasting his time in pursuing worldly matters i.e. chasing money, girls, unrighteous actions, etc.. The Mathnawi ends with him on his deathbed giving his grandchildren exactly the aforementioned advice/moral lesson. But not only is he giving this advice to his grandchildren, but also to the readers.

I hope you enjoy my Mathnawi below! And again, I strongly recommend reading some of Rumi’s works!

 

Best,

Aly

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The Countdown

Once upon a time there was a young boy,

His dream was to bring the world change and joy,

 

He knew he needed to make good use of his time,

Because before he knew it he’d be passed his prime,

 

As he grew older he wanted to take action,

But somehow there always was a distraction,

 

“Today is the day I bring change to this world” he told himself every morning,

But little did he realize this phrase became a warning,

 

A warning that time will never stop for you,

Regardless of how desperately you want it to,

 

Before he knew it he was laying on his deathbed,

As he stared at at his grandchildren he said,

 

“Make sure you wisely use every second passed by,

Because your life will go by in a blink of an eye,

 

Chase your goals and chase your passions,

Just please make sure there are no distractions”

The Light Verse [24:35]

In Week 4 we read about ‘Isra and Mi’raj which refers to Prophet Muhammad’s Night Journey and Ascension. This is believed to have been a physical and/or spiritual experience (depending on the interpreter) by the Prophet Muhammad in which he travels from Mecca to Jerusalem on Buraq, a big horse with wings and a human head, and then ascends through the heavens where he meets past prophets (such as Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Adam, etc.) and ends up in the presence of God. It is believed that he didn’t directly see God but was in His presence. It was narrated that Abu Dharr said: “I asked the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), ‘Did you see your Lord?’ He said, ‘ He is veiled by Light, how could I see Him.’” (Narrated by Muslim, al-Eeman, 261).

From several artistic illustrations of the Mi’raj (Ascension) we looked at in class in addition to the narration by Abu Dharr above, we can see that there is an association between God and Light in Islam. For example, in one of the artistic depictions we looked at in class of Prophet Muhammad’s ascension (Mi’raj), Prophet Muhammad is in prostration in the presence of light, and this light is meant to symbolize the presence of God. The foundation of this connection between God and divine light is emphasized in what is known as “The Light Verse” which refers to verse 35 in Surat An-Nur (Chapter 24). This verse is understood to be an allegorical verse since it’s very difficult to try to interpret it literally.

For this reason, I decided to visually represent this beautiful verse in a video. In the video I used lots of symbolism for a couple of reasons. First, in Islam, human beings cannot try to depict God because He is beyond our imagination. Second, the meaning of the verse itself is ambiguous thus leaving it open for interpretation by the reader/listener. For example, when God refers to His Light, is He referring to light as we perceive it or is His Light a metaphor for something else? This is just one of the many questions one may ask themselves when listening to this verse.

Some examples of my uses of symbolism are: the Sun to represent God’s Light, the light bulb to represent “the lamp within a glass”, and the road to represent God’s guidance to His Light. I also tried to leave some clips up for the interpretation by the viewer because at the end of the day, everyone may look at the video and see something different. Hope you enjoy the video!

Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7lwQ42k…

I hope you enjoyed it!

 

Best,

Aly

Communities of Interpretation

Link to my drawing (rotate counter-clockwise): https://imgur.com/fZlCHXB

In Week 5 we read about the different communities of interpretation within Islam. This was explained in detail in the reading Diversity in Islam: Communities of Interpretation by F. Daftary. To explain briefly, in Islam there are two major “sects”: Sunni and Shia. Daftary refers to them as “communities of interpretation” rather than “sects” because they agree with each other fundamentally on the message of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad  (i.e. salat, zakat, shahada, etc.), but their differences arise in different interpretations of the same scripture (Quran) and hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings). The division between the Sunnis and Shias occurred after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD when the Muslims were deciding who should be the first caliph (or successor to the Prophet). Sunnis believed that Abu Bakr should be the first caliph as he was one of Prophet Muhammad’s closest companions and was a older than the other companions being considered. On the other hand, the Shias believed that the future caliphs should only be people from Ahl al-Bayt (“Family of the House”), meaning that they must be related by blood to the Prophet. For this reason, they believed Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, should be the first caliph and not Abu-Bakr. In fact, the term Shia is short for “Shiat Ali” which translates to “followers of Ali”.

Over time, there were more divisions within the Sunni and Shia traditions, which are commonly referred to as “schools of thought”. There were also other sects in the late 7th century, such as the Khawarij (which initially supported Ali then rejected him), but these sects have disappeared over time. In addition, there are the Sufis who focus on the mystical side of Islam (Sunnis and Shias can also be Sufis). For this creative assignment I chose to focus primarily on the division between Sunnis and Shias and the different schools of thought within them since almost the entire Muslim population will fall into one of these two groups.

I decided to depict the different communities of interpretation in a “Treasure Map” in which the treasure is God/Paradise. Starting from the top of the page we see that there is only one path. This symbolizes the idea that prior to the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 AD, all Muslims were on the same “path” in terms of their beliefs/rituals/practices since they would simply follow the guidance of the Prophet. But as we follow this single path, we soon notice that the path diverges into two separate paths. This divergence symbolizes the split between the Sunnis and Shias which as explained above, was due to the disagreements regarding who the first Caliph (or “successor”) should be to the Prophet Muhammad.

Now if we follow the path on the left, the Sunni path, we see that this path eventually diverges into four more different paths which are meant to symbolize the four different Sunni schools of thought (Shafi, Maliki, Hanafi, Hanbali). In addition, on the right path, the Shia path, we also notice that it diverges into three paths which represent the three different schools of thought within the Shia tradition (Zaidi, Ismaili, Ithna Ashari).

At this point when we follow each of the different paths through the forest, we notice that they all converge again into one path which leads to the treasure. This is supposed to symbolize the idea that although each of these different divisions or sects of Islam disagree on certain theological or historical beliefs, they are all still a part of Islam and hence will still lead the believer or follower to God/Paradise regardless of the path taken.

Thanks for reading!

 

Best,

Aly

Recitation of the Quran

My first creative response is in response to our Week 3 readings and movie screening of Koran by Heart regarding “Quran Recitations”. I decided to create an audio file of Surah Al-Fatihah (the first chapter in the Quran which translates to “The Opening”) but instead of it being recited by a single individual, I edited it so that each ayah, or “verse”, is recited by a different individual (listed at the end of this post). I did this to try to represent or symbolize the emphasis on the Quran as an oral text/tradition, and the diversity amongst reciters in Islam.

The first idea which is portrayed in this audio file is the emphasis on the orality of the Quran in Islam. As Kristina Nelson explains in The Sound of the Divine in Daily Life, “For the Quran must be heard, not merely read. As the word of God transmitted to the Prophet Muhammad, it is considered to be the actual sound of the Divine, the model of perfect beauty, and a testimony to the miracle of human and divine interaction.”  From this quote it is evident that the Quran is viewed as an oral text before a written one, and it is for this reason that I decided to leave the recitation of Surah Al Fatihah as an audio file rather than a video with subtitles of the English translation. Furthermore, this idea was also made very clear in the film Koran by Heart where we saw children and their parents from all around the world, who didn’t necessarily speak or understand Arabic, dedicate their entire lives to the memorization and recitation of the Quran with their ultimate goals of becoming huffaz (plural of hafiz – someone who has memorized the entire Quran).

Moreover, in the film Koran by Heart and in the reading The Quran in Indonesian Daily Life the diversity in Islam amongst reciters is made very clear. In Koran by Heart we see children from Uzbekistan, Maldives, Egypt, Senegal, and many more countries. In the reading The Quran in Indonesian Daily Life we see how women are highly regarded in Indonesia today because of their abilities of reciting the Quran. Therefore to symbolize this diversity I included Mohammed Al Barak (recites the second verse) and Jennifer Grout (recites the sixth verse) to represent all the children and women in the world who are practicing to become huffaz.

Below is the order of the reciters and information about them:
1) Fahad Al-Kandari – More information about him: http://en.islamzoom.com/Kuwait/fahd-al-k…
2) Mohammed Al Barak – No information found
3) Abdullah Awad Al-Juhani – More information about him: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdullah_A…
4) Yasser Al Failekawe – More of his work: http://www.assabile.com/yasser-al-faylak…
5) Jennifer Grout – American singer who converted to Islam. Here’s an article with more information about her: http://gulfnews.com/life-style/music/jen…
6) Yasser Al-Dosari – More information about him: https://www.facebook.com/notes/makkah-ma…

 

Best,

Aly