A Discourse of Beauty

In a bitter world submerged in ignorance and violence, calls to hate and injustice echo and echo. Oh how we need a flicker of light to illuminate this darkness, a glimpse of beauty to expunge the ugliness, and a bout of love to dispel the hate.

We are in desperate need for a religious discourse that does not rely on logical debates, or political concepts and ideologies. Oh how we need a discourse that surpasses logic and reason, one that shoots right to our hearts and souls. Oh how desperate we are for language that touches our deepest consciousness; oh how we need the discourse of beauty.

God first created mankind, then he earned their love by unleashing his blessings on them, and he stole their hearts with the beauty of his Quraanic verses. He delivered his message by proxy of a beautiful, creative Holy Book that is both eloquent and poetic. He created handsome, good-natured, and honorable prophets, blessed with beautiful voices. They were prophets of love and beauty, employed by God to win over people's hearts.

And God almighty described himself as being beautiful, and loving of beauty. He said that he rewards beauty and benevolence in appearance, speech, and behavior. Further, he said that he loves doers of good.

Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, if it is time for prayer, may he with the most beautiful voice perform the adhan. He also instructed us to recite the Quraan beautifully. And he ensured that poetry and poets were key to his message.

The Prophet sang with his companions as they built his mosque, and he received the Ansar with songs. He asked his companions to smile, and to become role models in society. If you flip through the hadiths in Shama'il Muhammadiyyah (The Appearance of Mohammed), you would discover the details of the Prophet's impeccable appearance and manners. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) said, "God made every prophet among his people beautiful, with the best voice, and your prophet is the most beautiful, and has the best voice."

I cannot possibly report all the discourse on beauty in Islam and the Prophet's message; history books are brimming with evidence. But Muslims have entirely overlooked this beauty. Hardships have unfurled following the end of the caliphate, and those who rule with tyranny took over. Muslims became preoccupied with preserving the religion itself, but they have not exerted much effort in establishing and feeding the field of beauty and love in Islam. Some contemporary thinkers have started to dabble in this field, but all we can see so far are blueprints.

Oh how much we need that discourse of beauty, beautiful education, and a beautiful generation to spread beauty among the people. Thinkers in the fields of education and aesthetics are now lightly tackling these concepts.

If sound minds respond to the discourse of truth when addressed with it, then it is even more likely to respond to a discourse of beauty. Beauty has a strong hold on your consciousness, and it is directly and effortlessly perceived by hearts. Ideas cannot win hearts without beauty, and domination cannot persist without beauty.

In Jalal al-Din Rumi's Masnavi, he wrote a story about a girl who converted to Islam. Her parents tried everything they could to derail her, but they failed. On one of his trade tours in the land of the Arabs, her father heard a man performing the adhan in one of its mosques, in an extremely hideous voice. The father asked the moazen to accompany him back home, and to perform the call to prayer for his daughter to announce every prayer. He gave him so much money that he could not refuse the offer. He traveled with him, and indeed became the daughter's moazen. The girl, a recent convert to Islam, tolerated his horrible voice for a while. One day, she asked him: is this how calls to prayer are performed in Islam? He answered, yes. One day, she said: A religion that is broadcast in such a hideous voice, cannot possibly be a beautiful religion. She converted back to her previous religion.

Rumi's takeaway from this story is that God's message cannot be communicated except with love and beauty.

"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious."

This post first appeared on HuffPost Arabi and was translated into English.