Sunday, August 6, 2017

American Editor's Review of My 3rd Book

Alhamdulillah, my first 2 books were earlier reviewed by internationally recognized individuals and they were full of praise for my work. Here is the review of my 3rd book (unpublished yet).

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 Aadil Farook'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 'Junaid Jamshed: 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?
A. Umar
Q. What is the most absurd error?
A. Understanding Quran without reference to Sunnah.
Q. What is the biggest delusion?
A. 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.