Sunday, March 9, 2008

Satan Music in the Heart of Islam

Muslamics shared with you the story of Punk Rockers who were Muslim. It was an article in Newsweek, and for me the Muslims had some serious issues when it came to understanding what Islam is and is not. Like prayering in the bathroom after getting stoned and drunk at a Punk concert. Not exactly Islamic. You can read the original post here.

What I want to share is this Metal rock band from Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. Most people can not stomach metal rock. Its an acquired taste. In fact, I am still trying to "acquire" it. Now before you stuff your panties and start huffing and puffing at me- you must understand, I am not a "music is haram" advocate. So inherently there is a huge world of difference on this issue and leaving comments condeming me to hell or telling me why music is haram, is not going to deter me from my position. I believe that this has come to me after much research and soul searching.

What I admit is that yes, we should be able to live without music. But I guess its like living without happiness, we have to have others to share our happiness. Music really is a "shared" experience, one that is human. I am in awe to those who can and do live without it. I work tiresly to limit my intake of music. Limiting it to when I drive long distances, or while I am cleaning the house, running several miles.

Now, metal band in Suadi Arabia- here is the link- it amazes me that this is taking root in the Middle East. I always thought gansta rap would go well with the bling bling, but I guess the psychological extremes of the Gulf just seem to create this enviornment for ruminating, psychadelic, screaming and yelling to get out one's frustration music.

I also think this is a response to the strictures of a moral code that can not be imposed. It has to be invested in and accepted by each generation. The sad thing is when you have such imposition, everyone looks for a way out. There is always a way out.

To say that "globalization"- the forces of media, internet, easy travel, influx of capital and development- has "created" this "obsinity" is really taking the responsibility of social cohesion and throwing it out with the baby in the bath tub.

No matter how hard social conservatives and moral authoritorians spin it, these sorts of underground movements continue to exist. I think we can agree that they won't get one-hundred percent conformity. To mitigate would be the best possible way to sustain the type of moral code and structure one wants in society. Yet, we know historically, that is not possible.

One of the reasons given for the demise of the Muslim caliphate was that "western influences" and Muslims desire to assimilate and incorporate those influences as there own, in opposition to Islam lead to the downfall of the Muslims. I agrue contrary to this. Islamic civilization is at the place it is becuase it stopped being relevent to Muslims.

We need to make Islam relevent and we need to do this by understanding that social imposition is not a process that is sustainable. We need to elevate the level of education in Islam from ritual and mere copycatism to that of intellectual engagment and social relevency.

These punk, rap, and metal rock alternatives exist not because Islam was not offered to them. No they exist in response to the loss of relevence. Music becomes an alternative life style with its own culture becuase the dominate cultural norm has ceased to show relevence to the younger generation. There will always be opposition and rebellion, but these social changes occur when strong undercurrent of opposition builds up to the social norms that have stopped to explain the changing society we live in.


Anonymous said...

Assalaamu Alaikum,

I'm sorry but I really don't get the reference to women panties in your article. What purpose does it serve other than to promote a certain lack of haya?
I really do expect more from Muslamics. Jazakum Allahu Khairan.

Affad Shaikh said...

Its not a matter of "lack of haya". For some it might just be that.

Its funny how people expect more from something, yet get caught up with some very narrow things.

Your concern is duly noted and stored away in my memory. I am happy that the comment was more about an expression rather then the substance. At least I get the sense that people concur with that.

Anonymous said...

Einsteins a genius, though not a Muslim, however he says something very pertinent to the comments posted:

"laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population"

unfortunatly it seems Muslims still lack significantly in the "tolerance" department.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how belittling someone's opinion is appropriate. Whether or not they walked away with the "substance" of the article is not the point.

I know that when I saw that quote, I felt that it wasn't the best thing to say... From my perspective, it's lacking respect. Muslims should always speak the best of speech and not use commonly used phrases to prove a point.

I don't care to persuade you of what I think or what the previous poster thinks but you should at least do more than just "duly" note it. I'd hope that we all respect each other's opinions and emotions. I'm not asking for an apology; I'm just asking that anyone/everyone's opinion is respected on a Muslim blog.

... Allah A`lam what's right but I'm definitely offended more by the response than the comment itself.

Anonymous said...

turns out I COMPLETELY took the response to the comment out of context. please delete that previous post and this one as well. I thought it said "dully" instead of "duly."

forgive me for my shortcomings..

Zahra Billoo said...

Moderator's Note:

Though there was a misreading of "duly" vs. "dully" there were still critical points raised that deserve to be read, shared and discussed.

So the comments are staying.

We look forward to hearing from all of you regarding both the "phrases" used and the actual substance discussed.

Affad Shaikh said...

Salaam, I sincerely appreciate anonymous desire to carry on a discussion. I am not sure if you thought I was belittle you due to the mis-reading of "duly" and "dully".

It is not my intetion to belittle or ridicule. I respect the shared opinion, and found a way that would compromise your stated concerns as well as keep my personal ability to experess myself as I please intact.

I understand that "panties" might not serve to further any purpose. But it does vividly express a sentiment as it is a descriptive term used in the english language, the coloquial of which is far more interesting to use then to say "before people will get uptight and rush to judgement and not bother to look at the context or the substance of this post".

But either way, my point is served well. I do believe that as Muslims we are so caught up with being the "thought police" or the "word police" or the "action police" or the "moral police". While it is our duty to cultivate a moral and just society, I find it reprehensible to focus on such minute details when literally the world around us is falling apart.

I doubt me not using one term over another will really create a world that we all want. Yet I am afraid of the world that some people want, and its partly fed by statements of like anonymous.

Anonymous rightly stated that we should have a forum where everyone should be respected, and another anonymous posted that tolerence is a good way to protect freedom of speech. That we all tolerate freedom of speech is not a one way stream.

I am willing and able to respect and apply self censorship, when and where appropriate and especially when given nasiha by my fellow Muslims. However, I would challenge you to respect my ability to utilize langauge and expression, that you might find "lacking haya". The idea being to read further/beyond what might initially and immediately offend you and look at the rest of the work.

I think in reading my comment you might have felt that I was patronizing you. Again that is not my intention. This whole thing is not about being a child and doing what i want to do- in me using the words I want, in you wanting me not to offend you.

Its not about that, I believe as Muslims we really need to look beyond that. In secular, American law they have this thing where you look at freedom of speech as something that "permits the a 'marketplace of ideas' in which different versions of truth and good contend for the greater number of supporters".

For us, we all share one truth- as Muslims- what we are trying to do here is discuss the problems, the triumphs and the issues we as American Muslims are faced with. Our sole purpose is that.

Speech takes many forms, that can be expressing a political opinion, using a racial epithet, shouting fire in a crowded theater, publishing a rumor filled story about a celebrity (Sheikh Anwar Awlaki), or making flase promises. Thats why there are ground rules here on this blog and also in the laws that govern free speech in the United States.

Speaking of those rules or regulations here are some:

1. the least restrictive alternative test- that it must provide for a alternative that is least restrictive to serving its interest and avoid limiting speech.

2. the regulation must not be overly vague-

3. regulation must not be overly broad.

Given this structure- i already self censor, if i were to follow your regulation, then it would be quite vague and overly broad since colloquial use of language and speech is a common practice in Urdu, English, Arabic, you name it every language in the world has it.
Leaving me to use and, if and possibly not even but's, to suite all peoples tastes, likes and dislikes.

If you find and want to define my use of things such as "panties" as obscene, then okay, we can argue that.

Now you might not even take this structure of from the US Constitutional analysis of whats free speech and whats not. Yet I already said that I self-censor. You do not see four letter words starting with a "F" or an "S", because those are frivioulus.

You might argue that "panties" in a discussion about metal music is frivioulus, yet my argument to that is that you proved what I was trying to put across and that is "before rushing to judgement" here is what I present to you, where I come from, what I feel comfortable with.

When it comes to speech, I would take the vigilent route and say that I agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes, "We should be eternally vigilent against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country"

Again most likely this means nothing becuase the very premise of secular, natural law to describe and concieve of a framework regarding the "right to freedom of speech" is not acceptable under some schools of thought in Islam.

So for the record, I come from the school of thought that does accept this framework.

thanks for taking the time to post.



Anonymous said...

Jazak Allahu khayr for taking the time out to clarify your perspective. I understand your point of view and I’m not trying to convince you to believe otherwise.

I also feel the need to clarify and expand upon my viewpoint so that you can see where I’m coming from as well.

JazakAllahu khayr for being an active contributor of this blog. I really do enjoy reading it and seeking knowledge from it. Although I disagree with you upon this specific issue, I do value your posts and this issue has not affected my appreciation of your writing.

Here’s my take on the issue:

One point that’s important to take into consideration is the concept that the means DO NOT justify the ends. I know that your purpose is as you stated to “ discuss the problems, the triumphs and the issues we as American Muslims are faced with.” If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t be a frequent visitor of this blog. As I was saying before, the means is just as important as the ends. If I wanted to pray to Allah (swt) but decided, “hey I want to pray two times a day instead of 5 and pray 10 rakat in each salah” that would not be appropriate. If the end is to please Allah (swt), then I need to follow the means in which he’s instructed me to worship him.

Now that we’ve established that the means are just as important as the end, how can you get upset that people are seemingly disregarding the “rest of the work” by pointing out a term that is offensive? Your means (the way you described a certain part of the article) was offensive to people and that reflected on the rest of the work. You cannot blame me for walking away with that statement when you decided to include it. I did read the article about “Muslim” Punk Rockers but I ended up getting something else out of it. Just as you had the choice to use certain words, what I take away from it is my personal choice as well.

Also, we shouldn’t use terminology because it is more “interesting” as you previously mentioned. Generally, lots of things in life are interesting but not necessarily the best way to approach a situation. Also, many things that are interesting could potentially go against what is acceptable Islamically.

You must also keep into consideration that panties are female undergarments. You are not a woman so that’s even more reason why it’s inappropriate for you to use that term. For example, it’s not socially acceptable for a Non-African American to use the “N” word to “reclaim the language” or prove a point. In this case, even if you don’t think there is a problem with it Islamically, there is a problem with it socially.

I found it interesting that you changed the phrase in question to a white text color. I do not understand why you decided to do that but I’m assuming that was done because the quote could potentially evoke a response so that was intended to hide it or you wanted to give it dramatic effect so that people can notice it more. Either way, it shows that you knew that this statement could potentially be offensive to a group of Muslims. Now, it’s important to ask, why would a writer on a Muslim blog include a term that “might not serve to further any purpose” if it could offend fellow Muslims?

As we all know, the context of a statement is very important. Certain things could potentially be appropriate in one environment and inappropriate in another. For instance, if I was at a funeral and I just started laughing hysterically, that would be very inappropriate. However, laughing while enjoying a comedic movie is completely normal and acceptable. I’m mentioning this because this term was used in a Muslim blog, which I hope has a certain level of respect associated with it. When I read a Muslim blog, I expect the content to be welcoming to all its readers and represent me, as a Muslim, in an appropriate manner. On the other hand, if you decided to use that same statement on your own blog, that’s a different case. Although I disagree with you using that terminology, your blog is owned by you and only represents you so it doesn’t need to seem appropriate according to my standards.

I want to make it very clear that if this seemingly inappropriate issue in the context of a situation is a matter of aqeedah or fighting for justice, then you don’t EVER, under any circumstances, change your position to please others. There is a matter of daroorah (necessity) in comparison to a personal preference, which is obviously not a necessity.

It’s also important to reflect on how important words and statements are. The greatest tool to do good and evil on this earth is our tongue and how we use it. A word is never “minute” and it definitely has an affect on the world that is “falling apart.” How does racism start? It always starts off with an insult or term. I’m a firm believer that the first step towards someone committing a hate crime is degrading another race by using inappropriate terminology. When racial jokes become acceptable in our society, it desensitizes the population into thinking that it’s okay to think less of a group of people. In that case, the racial jokes has now made it okay to hurt them physically because they obviously don’t deserve the respect that other human being deserves. Racial joke (word) -> lack of respect -> viewing them as “less” human -> not valuing their existence -> hate crime.

Every action, word, and statement is important and we will be held accountable for it so it’s not okay to demean that.

I have thought out my position to the best of my ability and May Allah (swt) guide us all towards what is correct and acceptable. If I took anything you said out of context or misunderstood anything, I apologize because that was sincerely not my intention.