|January 17, 2001, 03:20 PM
- Jordanian writer and poet Ibrahim
Nasrallah is the latest personality to face the wrath of Islamists,
only this time from the Syrian Brotherhood over allegations of
collection is dedicated to my mother and her story when she
was expelled, along with my father, from Palestine more than
50 years ago'
Trouble started when the Syrian brothers vilified Nasrallah for
his collection of poems "Bism Al Um Wal Ibn" (In the Name of the
Mother and Son) published in Arabic by the Arab Establishment for
Studies and Publications a year and a half ago.
Syrian religious figure Dr Mohammed Al Bouti was reported as
saying "it's banned from a religious aspect to use on an arbitrary
basis, verses of the Holy Quran." Bouti pointed out the writer used
one of the verses in the volume's title. The Quran's verse begins
with, "In the name of God....". Bouti suggests that Nasrallah is a
Christian but at the same time has no right to assail Islam or the
language of the Quran.
But Nasrallah, a Jordanian of the Islamic faith, was surprised
with what he called as the unjustified attack and rejected all means
to impose "intellectual terrorism" and attempts to assassinate the
character of intellectuals in the Arab world. Nasrallah received one
of the Arab world's most reputable literary awards for his works,
the Sulaiman Oweiss Award last year.
"The collection is dedicated to my mother and her story when she
was expelled, along with my father, from Palestine more than 50
years ago." Nasrallah told The Star the accusations were
based on a misinterpretation of the poems and in particular the two
verses of one particular poem.
Most of the poems, Nasrallah maintained, narrate real events
through real characters who lived the tragedy of the Israeli
occupation. The poet said he felt very close to the collection since
for him, they are a real incarnation of the relationship between him
and his mother.
"I believe this is a fabricated battle where those who attacked
my volume intended to invent new texts and reformulate my words to
fulfill their sick purposes," Nasrallah added.
Meanwhile, many writers called on the enlightened Islamic
movements in the Arab world in particular to combat all attempts to
charge anyone of apostatism or blasphemy. "These attempts deform the
image of Islam and show Muslims as narrow-minded," Nasrallah said.
However, the timing of the aggressive campaign was related to the
publishing of part of Nasrallah's collection of novels titled Malhat
Filistenyya (A Palestinian Comedy). Nasrallah said the censors in
Jordan waited a long while before authorizing its publications.
Nasrallah spent more than 16 years writing these novels that
chronicle the history of the Palestinian cause. "This project
presents the real narration of events that are much different and
against the official version of the Palestinian story," Nasrallah
Nasrallah continues to receive letters and phone calls of support
from intellectuals and readers from all around the Arab world.
"It seems the Arab nation has nothing else but to bash its
writers." Nasrallah is in the midst of a media campaign to clarify
his position against such accusations.
Jordanian writers are disappointed. They say such accusations of
blasphemy, which have occurred over the last couple of years, have
turned the lives of such writers into nightmares and kept them busy
in refuting such accusations instead of investing their time and
effort in creative, inspiring work.
"I believe Nasrallah's volume is worth reading and very
inspiring," Jordanian writer and poet Musa Hawamdeh told The
Hawamdeh himself continues to face the same charges at court.
"Poets can't help but be affected by the language of the Holy Quran
since it's a very classic one," he said.
Hawamdeh was accused of blasphemy for publishing a poem seen by
Islamists as violating the Quran.
Titled "Joseph", the poem is part of a volume called "Shajari
A'la" (My Trees Are Higher) and was published in 1999. Jordanian
Islamists considered this poem as a violation to Surat Yussef (Story
of Joseph) as told in the Quran.
Hawamdeh is currently defending himself before the courts. The
religious Court issued its verdict that acquitted him from the
charges. Yet, an appeal was submitted and another trial convened.
"To be declared an infidel means to be threatened by maniacs who
might turn the intellectual's life into a living hell," Hawamdeh
pointed out, adding that he, his wife and children received threats.
Many Jordanian poets called on all intellectuals to take action
to prevent attempts to expose Arab writers and poets to an
atmosphere of cultural terrorism.
This article was published in The Star weekly.
|© 2000 Arabia Online