Thursday, December 27, 2007

o son of being / the spark

I honestly don't remember what chain of links first brought me here, but these days I've been intrigued by this new Bahai hip-hop group called the Dawnbreakers Collective and their catchy new single, O Son of Being.

The refrain:
"O SON OF BEING! Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven I may remember thee." comes from a Bahai text called "The Hidden Words", which some Bahais identify with a Book of Fatima which the prophet Muhammad's daughter is said (according to some Shiis) to have received from the angel Jibreel after the Prophet's death.

Personally I find the Hidden Words to be very reminiscent of the Hadith Qudsi (The intensely heart-softening subset of Islamic hadith where Allah/God speaks in the first person).

The above 'hidden word' is particularly reminiscent of the following hadith:

On the authority of Abu Harayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Allah the Almighty said:

I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assembley better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.

I would argue that there is much in the Bahai faith which is derivative of Islamic sources (including later Sufis, poets and philosophers along with obvious sources like the Quran and hadith). To show this carefully would take more time than I'm able to spend at the moment, but some of those links are pretty evident, even from a cursory analysis.

While we are on the subject of the spiritual inspiration behind hip-hop music, the other example which was on my mind as I was writing this is The Roots' song "The Spark". (I wouldn't consider The Roots an "Islamic" hip-hop group per se. From what I gather, one of their members is a Five Percenter and another past member is Sunni, and both perspectives come out in their lyrics). For example, in "The Spark", the hadith qudsi:

"My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks."

becomes the somewhat more irreverent lyrical chorus:

"Yo, the feet that I walk with
The ears that I hear with, the eyes that I see with
The mouth that I talk with, the terror that I stalk with
Now it's time to spark shit"
I wish I could find the video online, but instead I could only find the lyrics (included below). In spite of the vulgarity, the song actually does come off successfully as the sincere prayerful voice of a flawed Muslim.

Original Hip-Hop Lyrics: The Spark
Hip-Hop Linguistics: Dawnbreaker Collective creates Baha’i album

Other hadith qudsi:
last man to enter paradise
and so it was said

Grenada's Bahai past:
since when was blindness a good thing?
bahai thought police

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