Special thank you to Riyaad M and Hussein Rashid for sending us rap groups to look into.
Despite the debate over whether any type of music is permissible in Islam, different types of Islamic rap have popped up around the world. As I mentioned in a post last January, American rapper Lupe Fiasco, for instance, is Muslim but does not typically speak to Islamic issues or messages. Another example is rapper K’Naan. In fact, Muslim rap is not exactly new. The controversial Fun^Da^Mental has been on the scene since 1994.
What is new today is a music video channel in Egypt, 4Shbab, that was launched on February 1st of this year and is dedicated to airing music videos with Islamic messages. Currently, mainstream music videos, even in the Arab world, share similar characteristics. For the most part, videos star sexy pop singers and greedy rap personas. Creator of 4Shbab Ahmed Abu Haiba says:
Mainstream music videos are “lewd” and do not represent the Arab world’s cultural values… they are haram, or forbidden and sinful in Islam.
The idea behind 4Shbab is to present youth with a more authentically Muslim and faithful message about Islam and a more down to earth image of pop stars as well. Blogger Shelina Janmohamed of Spirit 21 puts it this way:
cultural development requires us to be challenged and search for the truth of artistry and spirituality through new creative methods. Thus I watch these new artistic and musical developments with interest and excitement. ‘Music’ that we currently consider to be Islamic did not develop from a vacuum but rather from the creative spark of faith and cultural expression. As Islam and Muslims interact with Western cultures we are now witnessing that creative process first hand. The artistic and spiritual challenge is to retain meaning and truth.
Some rap groups like Waahid have led the way to retaining “the meaning and truth of Islam.” Can you think of any other bands? What do you think about music videos on an Islamic television station? Do you think that music is permissible in Islam? If so, what about rap music? Please share your thoughts on Inside Islam by leaving a comment below or sending us an email message.