Yesterday, among over 13,000 protesters congregating to protest the same legislation, Rashid Dar, President of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison offered his own opinion of the situation. “I hesitate to tell people how to pick their politics, but in choosing our sides we would do well to consider who is working to bring the most overall benefit to society at large, and who is working to benefit a select, but influential, elite.”
Sofia Baig, a twenty one year old Canadian spoken word artist of Pakistani, Chinese and Spanish descent uses her poetry to speak out against discrimination, prejudice, and her personal struggles. What makes Baig fascinating is that her own personal journey represents the struggle of many Muslim youth growing up in Western countries. Although Baig grew up in a Muslim family, she did not practice the rituals of the faith as a child but definitely identified herself as Muslim.
There aren’t a lot of famous writers who are also dentists. Alaa al Aswany is Egypt’s most famous living writer who happens to also work as a dentist by day in Cairo. He says being a dentist enables his writing: his patients open up to him, confess their troubles and reveal their inner lives. Al Aswany’s first novel, The Yacoubian Building, published in 2002, overnight became the bestselling novel in the Arab world, and was subsequently made into Egypt’s highest grossing film ever.
The only Arab-language novel to have created greater buzz and sell more copies is his second novel, Chicago, which has just been published in the US. Set on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center where he himself trained as a dentist, Chicago explores the interweaving lives of a group of Egyptian students and professors trying to find their bearings in post 9/11 America.
Hip hop and diplomacy are just as unlikely a pair as heavy metal and Islam to the Western mind. Nevertheless, hip hop and heavy metal are popular forms of music among youth in the Middle East. As in every society, the younger generation struggles to find alternatives to tradition through travel, study, and rebellion. The next generation in the Middle East faces the pressure of rebuilding a region after years of war. They are playing metal and hip hop to rebel against the surrounding culture of violence and war. Popular music suggests that a lot of Muslim youth are choosing an alternative to political activism, living their daily lives apart from ethnic and religious conflict with politics in the West.
UPDATE: the Muslims in the Media show was changed to October 29, 2008. Reza Aslan will also join Here on Earth host Jean Feraca for the show.
Baba Ali is Co-founder of Ummah Films, a Muslim film company, Ali works to create Halaal or “Islamically permissible” entertainment, including a videoblog called “The Reminder Series.” Ali videoblogs on YouTube and on the Ummah Films site about Islam and Muslim culture under the alias Baba Ali. He lives and broadcasts from Los Angeles, CA.
Mark LeVine, author of Heavy Metal Islam and Suroosh Alvi, co-director of Heavy Metal in Baghdad will join Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders on air Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. CST. You can listen to the show live on the Ideas Network webstream or check for the podcast later that day.
Watch the blog for posts about Islam and music around the world this week. Also, join the conversation. Leave questions for the guests or Jean, host of Here on Earth, in the comment section for this post. You can suggest topics for the show here as well. Thanks for listening.
In anticipation of Here on Earth’s first broadcast for Inside Islam on September 25, here is the trailer for a documentary called Heavy Metal in Baghdad. Acrassicauda, a group of young Iraqis, form the only heavy metal band in the city. The film follows their struggle for freedom to play music and stay alive. The younger generation of Muslims in Iraq and across the Middle East has seen the fastest growth in generations. Politically active and charged with changing the future landscape, bands like Acrassicauda fight for a more open and creative solution to the nation’s challenges.
Heavy Metal in Baghdad Trailer
“If I didn’t play drums as hard as I can, I was going to kill someone.”