Other Arab bronzes with inscriptions in Arabic and Latin conjure memories of places where East and West met.
A ewer from Arab Spain in the shape of a peacock carries an Arabic signature identifying it as “the work of the Christian King’s slave.” Underneath, an inscription in Roman capitals proclaims “Opus Salomonis Erat” naming the artist, probably called Sulayman, the Arabic form of the biblical name.
Now the museum is again risking the public’s wrath as it introduces the most radical architectural intervention since the pyramid in 1989. Designed to house new galleries for Islamic art, it consists of ground- and lower-ground-level interior spaces topped by a golden, undulating roof that seems to float within the neo-Classical Visconti Courtyard in the middle of the Louvre’s south wing, right below the museum’s most popular galleries, where the Mona Lisa and Veronese’s “Wedding Feast of Cana” are hung.
The combination of Yoon's voice and the electronic components helped create a bridge between the trappings of the modern and sense of spirituality as being ancient. The stories were inverted, and technology was ancient, with spirituality being modern. Perhaps that is the state of affairs we are entering. Twitter and the writing stick are both technology, and we are coming to grips with our own spiritualities now. And when I think about the prayer of the monks, with nothing but their voices, it makes me wonder if we can only understand a mediated spirituality.
"There's no longer a sense of Muslim and American, but Muslims as Americans," said Rashid, "and I think that's a really important part of that political engagement. And I think, looking at France, you still see this isolation, this difference. You're either French, or you're Muslim."
How to take the timeless language of classical Islamic mysticism, and express in it 21st century American English is something that takes heart and soul, intellect and craft, and Alexis York Lumbard’s beautiful Conference of the Birds is indeed rich with all these qualities. Lumbard's work is beautifully illustrated by the incomparable Demi. The result is a stunning work of art that speaks to all who are spiritually seeking, no matter what their age.
While the filmmakers behind the anti-Islam film, 'Innocence of Muslims,' may not have intended to cause protests and violence across the Muslim World, they did clearly intend to perpetuate Islamophobia. And while their film may not have succeeded in directly doing so, it seems as if the subsequent violent protests may be helping them achieve their aim.
So as protests in the Muslim world continue, more Americans may become disillusioned with our involvement in the region. But what does that mean for Muslim Americans, here in the United States?
Answering that question is Hussein Rashid, professor of religion at Hofstra University.