Medina Tenour Whiteman is a writer, poet, translator and musician. She is the author of a collection of poetry, Love is a Traveller and We Are its Path, and Huma's Travel Guide to Islamic Spain. She lives near Granada, Spain, with her husband and three children. To jump straight to the Launchgood pre-order page, click here.
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa barakatuh! My name is Medina Tenour Whiteman, I hope you're reading this in the best of health and iman.
I was recently invited to take part in a Book Club meeting via Zoom, hosted by Ibrahim Tahir of Wardah Books, to present the life and work of one of the Ummah’s most original writers, the American poet Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore (1940-2016).
Beginning his career in the heady atmosphere of 1960s Californian Counterculture, in 1970 Daniel came across Rumi and was deeply touched by the mystic’s words. Meeting a representative of traditional Moroccan Sufism soon after, he accepted the invitation to embrace Islam. His life and writing would be transformed.
Abdal-Hayy took a hiatus from poetry for ten years, during which time he concentrated on studying his new faith, spending time in prayer and dhikr, making Hajj in 1972, and working on projects such as editing a new translation of Quran into English. But when he finally returned to writing around 1980, “the floodgates opened” as his wife Malika so aptly puts it!
In a career that spanned five decades and more than sixty manuscripts, Abdal-Hayy would come to craft an extraordinary and unique poetic practice that infuses American free verse with Sufi influences and more. It is a deeply authentic prayer, filled with profound love of Allah and His Messenger ﷺ.
“Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore is really at the vanguard of a cultural movement within our ranks, of creating an indigenous Muslim art form that reflects the best of our culture.” – Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna Institute
Now, as Muslims around the world revive poetry as a means of self-expression and to explore their faith in their own languages, we wish to raise awareness about Abdal-Hayy’s trailblazing oeuvre.
His poems bridge cultures and invite the reader to look at seemingly minor details of our lives as signs of Allah swt, to ponder the galaxy and the electron, marvel at the miraculous origins of human life, and imagine ourselves walking beside saints and prophets. There are dashes of surrealism and his keen wit, too, that had us laughing out loud at the Book Club meeting!
However, the sheer abundance of his poems – he wrote a poem a day on average, numbering thousands in total – can make it hard for a newcomer to know where to start.
We end where we began, in the middle of the world,
in the center of our universe of love and pain,
we never venture far from the center of our being
but its center is only Allah.
This is why we have decided to make a Selected Poems collection, bringing together his best-known poems as well as some gems that have never been published before. Abdal-Hayy was also a generous mentor, and sincerely wished to see other Muslims take up the mantle of spiritual poetry; insh’Allah his writing will stir the hearts of poets around the world to continue his fine work of reminding us forgetful souls of Allah.
Please visit www.launchgood.com/ecstatic-exchange to watch the video - narrated by none other than Sidi Haroon, Michael Sugich - make a donation, and share our campaign with your friends and family! We pray that this project is of benefit to many poetry lovers yearning for a path to God that speaks their language.
With love, gratitude, and best wishes,
Medina & the Ecstatic Exchange team
To support his legacy, pre-order a copy (or many!) on Launchgood.