Islam and popular culture: an Inside Islam recap

All-American Muslim, a reality TV show we covered in 2011. Photo: TLC

It’s fitting to end Inside Islam where we started. When we first began the project, we focused heavily on Islam in popular culture and media. Our first shows and posts focused on Muslim youth and new media, videobloggers, and even fashion.

Our focus on cultural topics was deliberate. In our efforts to break down stereotypes about Islam, our strategy was to humanize Muslims by showing them engaged in activities non-Muslims could relate to. Popular culture has always cut across cultural and geographic borders, so we focused heavily on the medium.Our coverage of popular culture has not been limited to music and television. Of course we covered Muslim heavy metal bands, hip hop artists, folk music, punk rock artists, and Islamic MTV. We also wrote about television shows from around the world like All-American Muslim (and our response), reality shows in Indonesia, Halal-TV in Sweden, Turkish soap operas, and even spoof shows like The Qu’osby Show. We covered films like Mooz-lum, and documentaries like Pop Goes Islam, A Jihad for Love, and On a Wing and a Prayer.

One of our most popular topics was comedy. Over the years, we have written about Muslim American comedians, comedy and religion, and interfaith comedy troupes. And we have mused about the power of comedy to break down barriers and stereotypes.

We also took a stab at popular literature, covering graphic novels, comics, and political cartoons. And we looked at fashion, challenging the idea that faith and fashion are incompatible. We also posted on fashion as a form of religious expression and looked at the fashion of the hijab. We even wrote about Muslim hipsters.

And finally we looked at art and architecture. From temporary exhibits to museums, photographs to visual essays, we have talked about the relationship between art and Islam, and highlighted the artists who bridge the two.

So as Inside Islam comes to an end with this final post, it seems a fitting time to go back to where we started. Thanks for joining us for the ride!

Do you think popular culture has the ability to break down barriers and stereotypes, or does it just reinforce them? What sorts of popular culture do you think we missed? Please leave a question or comment below.

(The comments threads on Inside Islam will stay open for a couple of weeks. We still appreciate hearing from you and keeping the dialogues and debates going.)

3 thoughts on “Islam and popular culture: an Inside Islam recap

  1. I agree to the comedy breaking the barriers concept. If you talk of things lightly, chances are, it will generate more talk and understanding.

  2. Now that people are talking about these easier-to-identify-with topics, I’d like to start a discussion on similarities among the different Abrahamic faiths. Join me!

  3. I am impressed the methodology……..people really need to know about real Islam