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Musical Jihad: Islam and Hip Hop


Musical Jihad: Islam and Hip Hop Hip-hop culture is now a dominant art form in youth culture, with a presence in countries as diverse as Egypt, Brazil, Japan ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Musical Jihad: Islam and Hip Hop

Musical Jihad Islam and Hip Hop
  • Hip-hop culture is now a dominant art form in
    youth culture, with a presence in countries as
    diverse as Egypt, Brazil, Japan, Australia, South
    Africa, Germany, Senegal, Algeria, Palestine,
    France, Cuba, China, Norway, Columbia and Mexico.
    Contrary to neo-orientalist discourses of an
    West-East clash of civilisations, hip-hop
    culture has always been an amalgamation of
  • (Saeed, 2006)

Outline of Talk
  • Representing Islam in the age of TWAT
  • Neo-orientalism
  • Hip Hop Origins
  • Islamic influence
  • Moral Panic/Islamic Threat?

Representing Islam
  • In newsreels or newsphotos, the Arab is always
    shown in large numbers. No individuality, no
    personal characteristics, or experiences. Most of
    the pictures represent mass rage and misery, or
    irrational (hence hopelessly eccentric) gestures.
    Lurking behind all of these images is the menace
    of the jihad. Consequence a fear that the
    Muslims (or Arabs will take over the world)
  • Said, 197846
  • Poole (2002) Reporting Islam Media
    Representations of British Muslims
  • Poole and Richardson (2005)Muslims and the News

TWATPolitical Western GlobalizationFull
Spectrum Dominance
  • Clash of Civilizations
  • a Dec .3 2001 issue of the National Review, with
    a drawing of George Bush as a medieval crusader
    on the cover contained an article headlined
    Martyred Muslim murder and mayhem against
    Christians, in which the author cites with the
    approval the conclusion in Samuel Huntingtons
    book. The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking
    of World Order The underlying problem for the
    West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam,
    a different civilisation whose people are
    convinced of the superiority of their culture and
    are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.
  • Sardar and Davies 200249

War Against Islam?
  • We need an Islamic reformation Paul Wolfowitz
  • the ultimate goal of the war on terrorism has to
    be Islams modernization or religion building
  • To encourage moderation among Palestinians, the
    Palestinians need to be defeated even more than
    Israel needs to defeat them.
  • Daniel Pipes of Middle East Forum

  • Orientalism crusade
  • Neo-Orientlaism redefine islam
  • (for western interests i.e capital)
  • Bernard Lewis 2003
  • The Crisis of Islam/What went wrong
  • Steven Emerson 2003
  • American Jihad The terrorists among us
  • Robert Spencer 2003
  • Islam Unveiled Disturbing Questions about the
    worlds fastest growing faith
  • Melanie Philips 2005
  • LondonistanHow Britain is creating a a terror
    state from within

  • Hall comments
  • Identity is not as transparent or unproblematic
    as we think. Perhaps
  • instead of thinking of identity as an already
    accomplished fact, which
  • the new cultural practices then represent, we
    should think instead, of
  • identity as a production, which is never
    complete, always in process
  • (Hall,1990 222)
  • However having being stigmatised by popular
    culture as one of the enemy within the last few
    years have seen a change in my social and
    political conscience. More and more I see myself
    as belonging to the ummah. The concept of the
    ummah, - the global Islamic community which
    supercedes nationality explained briefly, there
    are two tiers to Muslim identity, one is related
    to faith and one related to country, but faith
    overrides any other component of identity
  • (Saeed, 200439)

  • Academic authors note that culture is not static
    and fixed likewise youth culture transforms
    through social, economic and political
    influences. It could be argued that in
    contemporary Europe, Muslims are feeling the
    impact of social, economic and political
    alienation. These expressions can manifest in
    expressions of culture and art. This cultural
    resistance can be understood as an attempt to
    positively assert their beliefs (without fear of
    ridicule) whilst simultaneously communicating
    with wider aspects of society at a level that may
    provide grounds of dialogue and understanding.
  • Fiske semiotic resistance and social resistance

Hip hop
  • Depictions of black and Hispanic neighbourhoods
    were drained of life, energy and vitality. The
    message was loud and clear to be stuck here was
    to be lost. Yet, although these visions of loss
    and futility became defining characteristics, the
    youngest generation of South-Bronx exiles were
    building creative and aggressive outlets for
    expression and identification.
  • (Rose 1994 34)
  • For many black youths in the United States.. the
    world is a ghetto. Trapped in and witness to
    cycles of violence, destitution and lives of
    desperation, their aspirations and views find
    expression in political behaviour, social
    practices, economic activities and cultural
    outlets. These streams came together and informed
    a culture of resistance that has been termed Hip
    Hop whose most dynamic expression is in the from
    of rap music.
  • (Lusane 1993 41)

Hip-Hop and Black Nationalism
  • Lusane (1993 41) calls the rap practitioners
    black cultural activists and suggests that
    their lyrical skills were strongly influenced by
    the likes of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.
    The fact that music is used as a vehicle to relay
    their frustrations as meant that right from the
    outset hip hop music has had a political
    conscious expressed in artists and songs which
    outline the reality of working class life in

Hip hop and Islam
  • Prominent US rappers like Public Enemy and Ice
    Cube were strongly connected to the NOI.
    Furthermore a NOI splinter group called the 5
    Percenters (5) who employed Islamist terminology
    in conjunction with a Black Nationalist theology
    were committed to try to attract youth into their
    movement. Whilst none of these artists were
    orthodox Muslims and all preached
    African-American/Black versions of Islam what
    they did was inspire mainstream Muslims
    worldwide, especially Muslim minority communities
    in the West.

Black Folks CNN
  • Organic cultural intellectuals
  • (Decker 1995 102).
  • rap has had an international impact. Just as the
    Vietnamese sang civil rights freedom songs,
  • so have the political imperative of rap traversed
    the globe and found cultural expression in
  • venues from Mexico to India
  • (Lusane 1992 42).

Articulating Rap
  • Morley argues that to understand a media
    product, the viewer is required to be competent
    in certain forms of knowledge, and to be
    familiar with certain conventions encoded in
    the media product (Morley 1986 44).
  • It could be argued that British Asians are
    culturally competent to Black American culture as
    both communities are a diasporic people (Barker
    1999) who share a common history of imperialism
    and racism (Gilroy 1987).
  • Tricia Rose coined the term Black Noise in her
    exploration of the genesis of hip-hop culture in
    the USA in the 1970s and 1980s. Within a decade
    researchers had articulated an Asian Noise,
    which addressed the booming British Asian dance
    music scene, which was heavily influenced by
    hip-hop culture. It now may be possible to expand
    on this further and talk about a Universal or
    Global noise.

Hip hop ummah
  • USA NOI and the Hip Hop Mission
  • Hip-Hop Mission as a further arm to reach inner
    city youth. On June 13, 2002, Louis Farrakhan
    delivered the keynote address at the Hip Hop
    Summit in New York City. He said, Rap has
    brought the children of the world to you and
    noted that young people in the streets are being
    raised by hip-hop and their peers.

Uk Fundamental
  • Im the soldier in the name of Allah
  • so put down the cross and pick up the X
  • (FunDaMental, President Propaganda, Nation
    Records, 1994)
  • It could be argued that FunDaMental are rap
    practitioners who assert an identity politics
    that often seems essentialist, separatist and
    even supremacist, while simultaneously working
    effectively to forge new transitional identities
    and solidarities
  • (Swedenberg1992 64).

  • We do not believe in compromise or violence. We
    believe that a way out is to concentrate our
    efforts in re-establishing a home for Islam. A
    place where Islam comes before race. Before
    colour, before nationality and before language
  • Blakstone exemplify this global ideology in
    tracks that address the Iraq War, Gaza Strip and
    corrupt dictators in Asia and Africa. They also
    encourage a positive Deen (way of life) for
    Muslim youth living in the West. For Blakstone
    hip-hop music can give Muslim youth education,
    information in an entertaining format that will
    raise awareness and self-esteem.
  • http//
  • It could be said that FunDaMentals militant
    political outlook is borne out of the racism the
    bands member see and face in Britain, British
    Muslims, from a variety of different ethnic
    groups, are willing to assert an Islamic
    identity in the face of real and perceived
    prejudice (Saeed, Blain and Forbes/1999).

  • The French group IAM (Imperial Asiatic Men) adopt
    the Black Nationalist colours of red, black and
    green alongside Islams star and crescent. The
    group again is multi-ethnic and racial one of
    their rappers is an Italian convert to Islam. IAM
    openly acknowledge the influence of Islam in
    their music.
  • Throughout Europe, hip-hop groups have started to
    even develop cross-over appeal. In Denmark the
    group Outlandish who are once again multi-racial
    and multi ethnic have used their experiences to
    furnish their songs about the immigrant
    experience in Europe.

Music and Islam
  • Hip-hop is not Dawah (a call to prayer) but when
    it is used as rally cry it touches the youth,
  • our youth from places the Imams cant reach or
    fear to tread
  • Blakstone
  • Theologians have been addressing the issue of
    Islam and music for centuries. Mainstream
  • authorities note that music is permissible if it
    servers good purposes. One can also see the
  • influence in Sufi Islam of devotional Qawwali
    music that is embodied in the songs of artists
  • such as the late Nusret Fateh Ali Khan.
  • However a more conservative view is that music is
    essentially a regressive force because it
  • can excite passion and incite lust.

Halal Hip Hop
  • Whilst the older generation of Muslims may not
    see a connection with Islam and Hip-Hop this
    convergence for many Muslim artists seems almost
    natural. The Holy Koran (which many scholars
    see as a collection of poems) was revealed to
    Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), orally and
    in large sections through almost rhymed prose. It
    could be argued that this mirrors the vernacular
    linguistic pattern that is evident in hip-hop
  • The writer Abdel-Alim has interviewed several
    Muslim hip-hop artists who detail the
    similarities in hip-hop language and the text of
    the Koran. Mos Def (a Sunni Muslim
    African-American and now Hollwood actor) notes,
  • The reason that people are able to be hafiz (one
    who memorises the entire Koran through repetition
    and study) is because the entire Koran
    rhymes..hip-hop has the ability to do that- on a
    poetic level.

Haram Hip Hop
  • The current Western media representation of Islam
    invokes discourses of violence and
  • despotism. Ironically these are the same images
    that are promoted by corporate companies
  • when marketing gangsta rap.
  • Kitwana indicates that the media and music
    industry push the types of hip-hop music which
  • (1) do not threaten the status quo (2) reinforce
    negative stereotypes about blacks (3)
  • manipulate these stereotypes to increase sales
    and (4) move rap further away from its
  • grassroots origins. (Kitwana 1994 20).
  • Thus assumptions as those in a Newsweek
    article from March 1990 which describes rap
  • music as crude, offensive and bland music
    produced by angry young males and is
  • mostly empty of political content (Zook 1992
    255) are pushed by the media.

(No Transcript)
Jahili Bling Bling
  • hiphop music today is plagued by jahili
    territorialism (jahili derives from jahiliyya. An
    Arabic term referring to the pagan age in Arabia
    before Islam that generally denotes ignorance).
    Contemporary hip-hop also has a heavy disrespect
    of women and a sense of materialism that borders
    on jahili idol worship. The emphasis on
    consumption or bling bling culture dilutes the
    political potential of hip-hop.
  • For a disaffected young Muslim, Islamic hip-hop
    provides a vehicle of positive expression for
    his/her culture. Whereas, for the non-Muslim
    consumer this may be the only opportunity to
    encounter Islamic frustration or discover Islamic
    culture in an accessible, non-patronising manner.
    This may spark further inquisitive reading about
    Islam. Previous researchers have noted that
    hip-hop music has the ability to convey an
    essentialist identity whilst at the same time be
    articulated by varying groups.

No sell out? conclusion
  • Difference sells. Capitalism must constantly
    multiply markets, styles, fads, and artefacts to
    keep absorbing consumers into its practices and
    lifestyles. The mere valorisation of 'difference'
    as a mark of opposition can simply help market
    new styles and artefacts if the difference in
    question and its effects are not adequately
    appraised. It can also promote a form of identity
    politics in which each group affirms its own
    specificity and limits politics to the group's
    own interests, thus overlooking common forces of
    oppression. Such difference or identity politics
    aids 'divide and conquer' strategies which
    ultimately serve the interest of the powers that
    be.(Kellner 1995 40)
  • The need for greater diversity - the rallying cry
    of my university years - is now not only accepted
    by the culture industries, it is the mantra of
    global capital. and identity politics, as they
    were practiced in the nineties, weren't a threat,
    they were a goldmine. 'This revolution,' writes
    cultural critic Richard Goldstein in The
    VillageVoice, 'turned out to be the savior of
    late capitalism. And just in time, too.(Klein,
    2000 1150

Fight The Power
  • In summary hip-hop the traditional music of the
    marginal may help incorporate young Muslims in to
    the mainstream. This does not necessarily mean an
    assimilation or dilution of Islam but a
    re-formulation of identity in a rapidly
    globalised world. At the moment this identity is
    still in its infancy and may manifest itself in
    immature and contradictory fashion but the
    passion and fire that manifests itself in much of
    Islamic hip-hop can rarely be doubted. Adisa
    Banjoko an African-American convert to Islam in a
    recent book Lyrical Swords Hip Hop and Politics
    in the Mix notes that
  • Hip Hop should not be feared, Banjoko
    concludes. It needs to be authentically
    researched, understood, appreciated, and
    discussed. The same can be said of Islam.