Nowadays, Yemen is often associated with a growing Al-Qaeda movement and seen to be a breeding ground for terrorism. Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric, has become an example not only of the growing terrorist influence in Yemen but also in America. However, this is obviously not all there is to Yemen, just as it is not all there is to Islam. Many Muslims artists have used hip-hop and rap to relay messages of change and peace. While one may not think of rap in the context of Yemen, this needs to change. Yemeni-American Hagage “AJ” Masaed, has been rapping for many years and is using this medium to reach the younger generation and to counter extremist messages. Continue reading
Identity and belonging are funny things. They never mean the same thing to everyone. Growing up as a Muslim American, I was exposed to a myriad of experiences, but I definitely cannot say I was exposed to every kind of Muslim or every interpretation of Islam. We are talking about over 1.3 billion people! What I have learned is that there are Muslims everywhere who have grown up claiming more than one identity marker and they are finding numerous ways to think about their faith, question, negotiate, and locate a space within it that they feel as their own.
An emerging trend is the appearance of films about Muslim hip-hop. Today on Inside Islam: Dialogues and Debates, we quickly outline three of them and include their trailers below. First, the upcoming Deen Tight is a film about how hip-hop has influenced the lives of Muslims around the world, starting in the United States. Second, Slingshot Hip-Hop follows Palestinian rappers as they examine their experiences of being discriminated in the region and their Arab roots. Rather than follow a group of musicians, the last documentary New Muslim Cool, focuses on the story of Puerto Rican American rapper Hamza Perez who stopped using drugs twelve years ago, converted to Islam, and now is part of the rap duo M-team.