It’s time for us to alter your preconceived perception of the Islamic world. No doubt, vast majority of modern people consider Muslim women to be shy, obedient and mute due to patriarchal rules of their existing – but not their nature. It’s obvious that one can make a terrible mistake by judging people for their descent. But nowadays, unfortunately, this fallacy is widely spread, especially when people are discussing Islamic world. Women don’t differ in their hearts even being born under different skies. Lust for freedom of emotions, freedom of expression and love has always been common. Muslim women firstly got their loud voice approximately in the 7th century and it’s resonating greatly our contemporary reality even now. This voice was embodied with passionate verses by women poets who had a lot to tell about love, lust and broken shackles. Irish actress Róisín O’ Loughlin encountered some of these poems which has inspired her to hold a revolutionary art show Radical Love: Female Lust. To visualize long-loving thoughts is everything this show is about.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

A flashback

Bless those wonderful nights,

and best of all,

Saturdays

If you had been there

You’d have seen us locked together

Under the chaperone’s sleepful eyes

Like the sun in the arms of the moon

Or a panting gazelle in the clasp of a lion.

These lyrics by Nazhun Al-Garnatiya bint Al-Qulai’iya were written in 11th century in Granada, Spain.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

“I am made for higher goals and by Allah

I am going my way with pride.

I allow my lover to touch my cheek

And bestow my kiss to him who craves it.”

Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, an Andalusian poet, 11th-century, Spain.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

“I urge you to come faster than the wind to mount my breast and firmly dig and plough my body, and don’t let go until you’ve flushed me thrice.”

11th-century poet Itimad al-Rumaykiyya.

They seemed not to be afraid of self-expression, and despite all restrictions and bans of that time, they did their best to show strong spirit. Not that shy and submissive, right? Their verses comprise motives of pleasures both carnal and divine, while being imbued with impressing fearless breath.

For sure, fearlessness was a distinctive feature of these women. Fearlessness and notable eccentricity. Let’s take Wallada bint al-Mustakfi as an example. The daughter of a caliph, she inherited her father’s palace and transformed it into a literary hall where she’d mentor young women of all backgrounds in poetry and the arts. Wallada didn’t steer clear of either harsh expressions about ones who insulted her love, or bold mixtures of spiritual worship and erotic yearning.

Such an unapologetic disposition seems to be very familiar to us nowadays. That’s what made O’ Loughlin truly interested and astounded.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

‘Fuck you to fascism’

Radical Love was founded in December 2015 as a platform to promote love through art. It was a response to what followed the Paris attacks; the intensified bombing of Syria and the associate vitriol directed at refugees fleeing the crisis and Muslims across the world. I felt like such anger and fear was dangerous, not only for the innocent who were targeted, but also for anyone who wanted to retain a sense of humanity”, O’ Loughlin told DAZED recently.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

The last straw was Trump’s migration ban for Muslims from seven countries.

«Everything about the show is a fuck you to fascism. The poems were chosen free of any agenda, just because they were so good – short and sweet in their intense defiance, desire, and lovesick longing. But they were all written by Arab women, mostly Muslim, ranging from slaves to wits and princesses and they all revel in a female vitality and sexuality that is the nightmare of anyone with tiny hands”.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

 

Let’s give it a face

The show will take place at the Crypt Gallery in London, a former burial ground located beneath a church. According to O’Loughlin, “Here the words of these poets who have been silenced are given voice again, and in doing so the desire for life that is present in the female rises in the work of the modern artist.”

48 emerging and acclaimed female artists from different countries and cultures (Peru, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Ireland etc.) have presented their artworks to accompany Arabian poems. The results are astonishing and breath-taking while being truly bold. It’s a testament to all kinds of lust in an age of divide. Despite their different descent, artists merge into a common voice of women.

Radical Love: Female Lust. Róisín O' Loughlin

«We should see and hear more about women from the past, and just as importantly, women from other cultures. It’s not just about art though – more than ever I think it’s important to celebrate the ordinary women and men who have faced unknown horror, seen their children suffer, not knowing what’s coming next, and who continue to live on without hate. We should not only help them, but thank them. They show us what humanity is capable of”, O’Loughlin confessed.

She collected 24 poems by Arabic women poets ― most are Muslim, but one is Jewish and one predates Islam.

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