Islam now

21 Mar

“Everything is different now. There’s hope.” Nabil, a towel boy with a university degree, is optimistic as we speak on the phone, cows mooing in the background. His boss sent him on an extended leave, as the tourists have not yet found their way back to the beaches. Not so long ago, when we met last December, my Egyptian friend was convinced the Tunisian revolution would not reach his country. Now, things have changed. “We are voting for a new constitution, the voice of the people is finally being heard.”

Indeed, “the change that took place within the minds of many Egyptians has passed the point of no return”, as Petra Stienen wrote in her insightful article for The Broker. And the fire that was started by Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia last December keeps spreading. Men and women are fighting to be heard in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrein, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco.
“I really dream of an Islamic but secular country” says 30 year old Mariam from Jordan in a portrait of the so-called Facebook generation by the New York Times.

Speaking about secularism: De Nieuwe Kerk, one of the biggest and oldest churches of Amsterdam, is currently showing one of the biggest private collections of Islamic art, assembled by Jewish-Iranian collector Nasser Khalili. Passion for Perfection, as the exhibition is called, includes 500 treasures including richly illuminated Qur’ans and manuscripts, paintings, jewels, textiles, ceramics, and gold from all over the Islamic world: from China and India to Iran and Iraq, from Egypt and Tunisia to Turkey and Spain.

Building a bridge between the historical context of the exhibition and present day Dutch society, we asked four opinion shapers to answer the following question: what is Islam here and now?

The result is Islam NU (Islam now), a series of 8 events in De Nieuwe Kerk and accross the Netherlands. Between now and April 14, author Naema Tahir will explore the Dilemma of the Oriental Bride, actress Funda Mujde will look for the outsider in each of us, while director Bright O. Richards interweaves personal stories of migration with the stories of Jesus, Abraham, Moses and Mohamed.

Last Thursday, creative director Tarik Yousif kicked off with his “Circumcised Monologues”, a performance recounting the experience of circumcised men. An intimate Q&A ensued, where men in the audience shared their stories of religious or medical circumcision. Some called it traumatic, some called it a rite of passage. When asked whether they would have their own sons circumcised, most men still said yes. Though they preferred to wait untill their sons were old enough to decide for themselves.

So what is Islam now? A lot more than the burqa bans and head scarf hypes of some short-sighted politicians.

My friend was right. There is hope. Viva la revolucion!

ps: want to join our journey? Fan us on Facebook, share your stories and watch what Dutch people answered when film maker Kitchell Samuel and intern Sanne Dijkstra asked them: what is Islam now?

2 Responses to “Islam now”

  1. Tombstone April 16, 2011 at 8:25 am #


    This is a nice blog, shares a lots of useful information


  2. Bianka Pagan November 22, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    This is amazing, Im showing it to My teacher!

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