Future of Islam
The Power of Storytelling: Creating a New Future for American Muslims
Humor and personal stories are used by comedians Preacher Moss, an African American convert to Islam, and Azhar Usman, a thick-bearded, South Asian American Muslim, to defang racism and Islamaphobia in their "Allah Made Me Funny" tour. Meanwhile, Altmuslim.com and Illume Magazine are influential, American online magazines employing Muslim writers to finesse content for an international audience on a variety of topical issues intersecting both Islam and the West.
My own play, The Domestic Crusaders, draws on the "kitchen drama" traditions of American theater, as seen in A Long Day's Journey into Night and A Raisin in the Sun, to tell a universal story through a culturally specific lens of a Muslim Pakistani American family living in a post-9/11 world. Strip away the family's cultural idiosyncrasies, replace their Urdu with English, substitute their chicken biryani with meatloaf, change their multisyllabic last names, and their struggles and aspirations should resemble those of your neighbors and community members.
And, of course, we cannot forget to mention America's best-selling poet, Rumi, a Muslim Sufi and scholar who lived 800 years ago in Konya, Turkey and whose intense love for the Divine fueled his ecstatic poetry that continues to inspire hearts, of all religions and colors, to this day.
The Muslim American storytellers of the 21st century need to simultaneously mine our rich Islamic and American identity and history to discover our own Rumis, whose stories will bestow endless rewards that can only benefit and add to the ever-growing multicultural mosaic that is America.
It seems that the only happy ending for the future of Islam is a story in which it coincides and coexists peacefully with the future of America.
Wajahat Ali is a playwright, journalist, attorney, humorist and consultant. His play, "The Domestic Crusaders," is one of the first major plays about the American Muslim experience, making its New York premiere on 9-11-09 at the world-famous Nuyorican Theater. Ali is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post, The Guardian, Salon, Slate, Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Huffington Post, McSweeney's, Counterpunch, and Chowk. His blog, Goatmilk: An Intellectual Playground, is ranked in the top 7 percent of all political blogs by blogged.com. He is an Associate Editor of Altmuslim.com, the leading American Muslim online magazine, and is Contributing Editor to Illume Magazine. Mr. Ali practices law in the Bay Area, California.