That’s not a chip on my shoulder. That’s your foot on my neck.  – Malcolm X

"We must never, ever give up. We must be brave. We must be courageous." John Lewis, activist, congressman. 1940-2020 

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. ~ Dalai Lama

"Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public."  Professor Cornel West.

"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat."  Audre Lorde

"The serious function of racism is distraction". 1995, Toni Morrison; Portland lecture, Playing in The Dark

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.” Nora Ephron

"Freeing yourself was one thing; claiming ownership of that freed self was another." author Toni Morrison (1931- 2019)

“If I tell the story, I control the version. Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me”; Nora Ephron, author/comedian

"Make your story count". Michelle Obama

"Social pain is understood through the lens of racial animus". Researcher/author Sean McElwee writing in Salon, 2016

"We are citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear."  Chelsea Manning; activist/whisleblower

“My father was a slave and my people died to build this country, and I’m going to stay right here and have a part of it, just like you, And no fascist minded people, like you, will drive me from it. Is that clear?” Paul Robeson; activist/singer

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent”. from civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Frederick Douglass, WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS 4TH JULY? 07.05.1852 (full text in blog)

Senator Elizabeth Warren "We're a country that is built on our differences; that is our strength, not our weakness"

"We are more alike than we are different" ~ Maya Angelou

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singe


It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain


You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore


 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:


"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.


HipHop Muslim youths speak words our leaders are afraid to utter


by Barbara Nimri Aziz

The Muslim Student’s Association at a New York City university is sponsoring a rousing event today. Imams listen up!

Here on Tahrir, we’ve heard the response from our public.

These young poets possess more courage and they often speak for and about Islam better than the ‘experts’. No wonder that the young are drawn to these Muslim men and women who have embraced and advanced the dissent of this Black-originating genre. They pick up the beat, and move it into their culture with their own owerful messages. The phenomenon is worldwide.

Our young producers at RadioTahrir introduced us to MosDef, DAM, Outlandish, Boona Mohammed, Shadia Mansour, Kamal Imani, Gaith Adhami. Before these artists came to our studios at WBAI, we heard their precursor’s in the poems of  Dasham Brookins, Lisa Mohammed, Suheir Hammad and Mohja Kahf. They teach the fundamentals of Islam in their poetry. They also speak with a confidence and realism that the Muslim community, and the world, badly needs. They are not afraid of their own anger. Unapologetic, they also boldly challenge the establishment, Muslim and American, that has held captive their religion and their young dreams.

A few days ago, the poet and singer known as the godfather of Rap, Gil Scott Heron announced the cancellation of a Tel Aviv concert. (He) won’t play in Israel “until everyone is welcome there”, asserted the revolutionary artist. That action is indicative of the genre.

HipHop and spoken word accompanied by a rap beat, emerged and flourished among US Black youth. It has now swept the world. The style has proved remarkably versatile. Youths in China, Iran, Algeria and elsewhere readily adapt it to their own language with great creativity, retaining the smack that its originators imbedded their angry, bold poems.

The world’s youth have taken up Rap not as if overwhelmed by waves of western influence. Not at all. Rap applies to their experience, challenging authority, saying it like it is, pushing the message in the face of their adversaries.

I’m particularly struck by the poetry of Muslim men and women who employ  Hiphop beat to carry their messages. They need not shout their anger. They do not want sentimentality. No nostalgia here. They guide their anger and truth into a creative, courageous thing. Their contemporaries are listening carefully.

Much of their message is anger. It’s so welcome today when the Muslim voice has all but shriveled into an acquiescent blather of assurances of our harmlessness and innocence, ready to comply to almost any demand.

Listen to what our poets are saying and you may feel Muslims are finally finding our voice.   

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