Islam Needs a Martin Luther By Marvin X

Islam Needs a Martin Luther By Marvin X


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



  So much that goes for Islam is ancient and primitive, really, not worthy of discussion

in the modern world among people of intelligence. Elijah Muhammad used to say

the wisdom of this world is exhausted, and this includes Islam. It must be

revolutionized or thrown into the dustbin of ancient thought.



Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America / Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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Islam Needs a Martin LutherBy Marvin X, project director The University of Poetry


A Project of the Black Arts Movement


The Islamic world needs a Martin Luther, someone to usher in an Age of Reform that will radically alter some of the fundamental values of Islam that are retrograde, archaic, primitive and must be discarded into the dustbin of Muslim history so that Islam can regain its position as a culture of enlightenment rather than darkness. At an Islamic Art Conference I attended this past weekend in Oakland, California, along with Muslims from around the world, there was discussion of how Islam has suppressed artists, calling Muslim art haram (religiously proscribed), shirk (associating partners with God) and other negative terms that essentially condemn Islamic art as evil.

 When I addressed the audience, I noted that I am the “father of Islamic literature in America” by default because other Muslim writers were told to give up the art of writing, creative anyway, but I ignored the ban and thus my work is all that remains, aside from poet Sam Hamad and a few others who’ve written during the last forty years that may surface with proper research. Not only writers, but painters, musicians, dancers, singers and others were suppressed. Even minister Farrakhan, a musician and singer, was made to give up his art. But we know it is artists who give people visions and prophecy, thus when they are suppressed, the people are likely to walk in darkness as we see at the present moment. In my remarks at the conference, I challenged the Muslim artists to be revolutionary and yes, disobedient — to hell with those who desire to suppress Muslim art, they are the backward ones, they are the evil ones and must be opposed by, yes, any means necessary. So much that goes for Islam is ancient and primitive, really, not worthy of discussion in the modern world among people of intelligence. Elijah Muhammad used to say the wisdom of this world is exhausted, and this includes Islam. It must be revolutionized or thrown into the dustbin of ancient thought. The Islamic revolution must, will and shall be led by Muslim artists with vision for a day when Islamic culture will be the vanguard of world culture, projecting the most positive and scientific aspects of the new millennium. Islamic culture must come from behind the veil, or if anything, put the veil on men and let the women march forth as harbingers of the new world order. Contrary to what men think, women have been found to be the most advanced sector of society, intellectually and spiritually, so we would do well to listen to them for answers to the right path. 

Clearly, Muslim men are not on sirat al-mustaqim (“the straight path”). Over a billion people of Islamic faith are currently steeped in poverty, ignorance and disease, wallowing in political oppression of the most backward, Stalinist variety. And when the politicians are not oppressing, the mullahs and Imams do the same work, even to the point of following the Christians in the sexual exploitation of boys and girls. Let a Muslim Martin Luther step to the front of the line and represent the way of truth, freedom, justice and equality. Muslim collaborators with imperialism, colonialism, and all manner of retrograde religiosity and political oppression must be condemned. Islamic scholars whose theology is based on primitive laws, edicts, fatwas must be ostracized because their actions only add to the utter confusion and ignorance pervading the Muslim world. Surely, the destruction the Tsunami brought to South Asia is a sign of Allah’s displeasure with the Muslim people, along with Christians, Hindus and others. If we continue down the path of primitive worship of myths and rituals, surely Allah has even greater destruction planned for those without eyes, ears, the deaf, dumb and blind. After Allah has blessed us with light, how can we yet walk in darkness? How can we possess “supreme wisdom” yet have nothing, behave as spiritual slaves to any storefront imam with a rote memory of Al-Quran? Let a Martin Luther Muslim arise to destroy idols of ignorance and suppression of creativity. Yes, let everything praise Allah, from the flute to the lute, from the dancer to the poet.

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Marvin X is a distinguished poet, playwright and essayist of the Black Arts Movement (BAM). He is the founder and director of Recovery Theatre in San Francisco. He also co-founded the Black Arts/West Theatre and Black House, which served briefly as the headquarters for the Black Panther Party and as a center for performance, theatre, poetry and music in the Bay Area. He  works  as a lecturer, teacher and producer. 

This essay will be published in the forthcoming Wish I Could Tell You The Truth (2005) / © 2003-2005 Muslim WakeUp! Inc.  The World’s Most Popular Muslim Online Magazine

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“Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.” Napoleon Bonaparte

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Marvin X and His Parables

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Eldridge Cleaver: My Friend the Devil

A Memoir by Marvin X

Marvin X on YouTube   Marvin X Table  

Books by Marvin X

Love and War: Poems  / In the Crazy House Called America

 Woman: Man’s Best Friend Beyond Religion Toward Spirituality

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Pray the Devil Back to Hell

A film directed by Gini Reticker

Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a captivating new film by director Gini Reticker. It exposes a different story angle for the largely forgotten recent events of the women of Liberia uniting to bring the end to their nation’s civil war. This film is amazing in the way it captivates your attention from the earliest frames. It doesn’t shy away from showing footage of the violent events that took place during the Liberian civil war. But the main story of the film is that of Leymah Gbowee and the other women uniting, despite their religious differences, to force action on the stalled peace talks in their country. Using entirely nonviolent methods, not only are the peace talks successful, but Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia, is forced into exile leading to the first election of a female head of state in Africa. The women of this film are truly an inspiration and no one can fail to be moved by the message of hope that comes through clearly in this film.

These are heroes that deserve to be remembered and with Pray the Devil we are able to do that, gaining both a knowledge of the history we are ignorant of through archival footage and an understanding of the leaders of this movement through close-up interviews with the many women who lead it. The film also offers a great soundtrack & inspirational song- “Djoyigbe” by Angelique Kidjo & Blake Leyh.—Amazon Reviewer

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Book of Sins

By Nidaa Khoury

Khoury’s poetry is fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when many of us feel unreal and often spiritually hollow.—Yair Huri, Ben-Gurion University 

Written in water and ink, in between the shed blood. Nidaa Khoury’s poems take us to the bosom of an ancient woman  . . . an archetype revived. The secret she whispers is ‘smaller than words.’—Karin Karakasli, author, Turkey

Nidaa Khoury was born in Fassouta, Upper Galilee, in 1959. Khoury is the author of seven books published in Arabic and several other languages, including The Barefoot River, which appeared in Arabic and Hebrew and The Bitter Crown, censored in Jordan. The Palestinian poet is studied in Israeli universities and widely reviewed by the Arab press. The founder of the Association of Survival, an NGO for minorities in Israel, Khoury has participated in over 30 international literary and human rights conferences and festivals.

Khoury is the subject of the award-winning film, Nidaa Through Silence. Currently a senior lecturer at Ben-Gurion University, Khoury’s poem Portal to the Orient is being produced by Sarab for Dance for performance in Palestine. Book of Sins introduces this important Middle Eastern poet to the Caribbean and the Americas.

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Mighty Be Our Powers

How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War

By Leymah Gbowee

As a young woman, Leymah Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike.

With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of a better world.—Beast Books  / Pray the Devil Back to Hell

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 2 October 2012




Home  Marvin X Table  Marvin X Bio Another look at Israel Table

Related files: 

The Complexity of Iraq    

Islam Needs a Martin Luther 

London Bridges Falling Down  (Responses)  

Open Letter to Dr. Hussein Shahristani 

My Son The Fanatic


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