The alarming rate at which the nasheed genre is changing from being songs exclusively about Allah and his rasul (saw), to country-western/r’n’b/hip hop songs. Should send shivers down the spine of any Muslim who is clinging on to the last remnants of traditional Islam. In an era which has declared an all-out-war on every known traditionally understood aspects of Islam. Which were the very fabric in binding together Islāmic communities of the past. Previously, I had written about this. However, the prophetic prediction;
“Surely you will follow the ways, of those nations who were before you, span by span and cubit by cubit (i.e. inch by inch) so much so that even if they entered a hole of a lizard, you too would follow them,” We said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?” He replied, “Whom else?”(Bukhari)
Is clearly demonstrated by the artists in the nasheed genre. Under the label of calling it a ‘nasheed’ all manner of songs are being produced. Almost copy-cat, like for like songs, to their western non-Muslim counter parts. The simple arguments put forward by those in the modernist camp is; ‘well, our youth are listening to the haram music. We however, are giving them a ‘halal’ alternative’. Its beggars belief to think, by producing like-for-like songs it will some how push people, especially the youth, into piety and righteousness. Now, i am not saying, nasheeds should be banned, all fun and games should be confiscated from the hands of a 5-year-old!
What i am saying is, producing replica songs by Muslim guys does not mean to say, the original song once produced by a non-muslim. Has now for some magical reason become ‘halal’. Just because a Muslim guy is now singing it! By inserting words like ‘Allah’ & ‘the prophet’ in a song, to make it more dramatic. A song does not become ‘Islāmic’. What difference is there for a youngster growing up with his iPods’ and iPhone loaded with western music to see. If a Muslim song is exactly the same as a non-Muslim song he is currently listening to? It will only add to his assumption that listening to songs is halal in Islam. As long as there is no mention of sex, drugs or violence.
Throughout our history, pathetic and feeble excuses have always emanated from the liberalist corners of the ummah. Those who were always out, seeking ways in which they could bend the rules of sharia and in some cases, completely change them if they could. It was people like Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Tahawi, Imam Ghazali and people as such, who were the bulldozers in the face liberalists uprisings. Breaking down people’s preconceived and pre-defined ideas of what religious law is. One of these modernist “nasheed” company leading the fight to legalize “islamic” songs is, Awakening.
In one of the late 90’s TV interviews, i remember hearing one of the leading people in the founding of the western nasheed industry, Yusuf Islam. As saying, when he began to travel the Muslim world extensively. Only then did he begin to realize the commonality of musical instruments being used within the ummah, past and present. He then went on to cite the ottomans who would use;
‘music to treat certain mental illnesses. A diseased person would be placed in a particular room designed for certain acoustic effects at which point an ensemble of some sort would play a particular type of music tailored to the disease’.
In all actuality, this became the foundation and the main for him to move back into main-stream music industry. Leading the way for others like Sami yusuf, Maher Zain and other aspiring ‘Muslim’ musicians to follow in his footsteps. This was the day in which, the Islāmic nasheed industry gave birth to the “islamic” songs genre. Their concept is, like many of the pseudo-shaykhs who promote this idea, as long as there is no mention of sex, drugs, alcohol, immodesty, vice, and evil in songs. There is no harm producing or pursuing a career in becoming a Muslim artist. What my friend Mr Islam forgot to understand is, the ottomans or anyone else for that matter, are not the people who we take our deen from. It is only from authentic Islāmic sources.
If he (Mr Yusuf Islam), and people like him are willing to use the ottomans as excuse to legalize musical songs. Then they should take the other aspects of ottoman lifestyles into account aswell. Which is the lavish wine drinking, heavy partying and drunken nude dance parties which the late ottoman sultans are known to have done. One of the reasons why Allah destroyed Muslim rule over the world was because of this.
During the mid 18th century the ottoman sultans began to take their honorary stations as ‘Amirul Mumeneen’ for granted. Using public money from the ‘batal maal’ to host elaborate and lavish parties for their allies and friends. Often times these parties included at least a dozen naked dancing-girls. The few remaining remote bath and public houses left in the Muslims lands, stand testament to these deplorable acts. The walls painted with very erotic and sensual imagery. – images which are equal to being early form of porn! It was in these times, that the rebellious sultans began introducing musical instruments and songs as means of entertainments. Are we now going to see the re-emergence of these vile acts within the Muslim communities? Just because the Ottomans did it?
The argument that, ‘Muslim youth are listening to haram songs and we must give them alternatives’. Is not something new. Music has always been there since the beginning of Man. Secondly, the young have also been there, present among the different eras of music. Music and the youth are not a new phenomenon. Majority of the companions of the prophet (saw) were youngsters, when they became Muslims. (A fact which is often overlooked) Syyiduna Ali (R) was only 8! when he became a Muslim. Syyiduna Amar (R), the son of the first martyr of Islam, The honorable Sumayah (Ra), was only 18/21 years old, when he became Muslim. It is said that apart from a handful of sahabas (companions), the rest of the Muslims were largely the youth. Either in their mid 20s or late teens. More importantly, In these times of turbulence and difficulties, music was ever-present, like it is today. Did these youngsters, the companions of the prophet (saw) not want to listen to music? Did the prophet (saw) not think (like the liberalists); ‘Muslim youth are listening to haram songs and we must give them alternatives’?
No, We all know the answers to these questions. You see, evil and vice has always existed, the sins and vices which are present today, were also present in earlier generations. Our lives are only the repetition of our fathers and their fathers. Nothing is new in this world. If we need answers, then all we have to do is, look back.
So songs like the following:
Is completely not necessary.
Traditionally understood, a nasheed was something which was either the praise of the prophet (saw) or Allah. It was understood to be as a means of evoking emotions and love, for the prophet (saw) and Allah. Mentioning the qualities of Allah or the prophet, his sunnah or his sirah. Nothing else. So, if Christians are singing the praises of their lord, it will be called a christian nasheed. If muslims do this, then it is classed as an islamic nasheed.
Another sickening development in the “islamic” songs industry is, songs in which a muslim guy sings about his “sisters” or his “wife”. How on earth is something like this:
Even considered to be an “Islāmic” nasheed? This is nothing short of being called a romantic song than anything else! Far from it being Islāmic!. What sort of message are you sending to the millions of the single Muslim men and women around the world. Who are yet to marry or are not even married? Anyone listening to the above will be more inclined to think about his wife in a romantic way, than anything else. So, what will unmarried people do? think about Allah and his rasul (saw)? i don’t think so!! They will begin to fantasize about their future spouse. Cooking up ideas of romantic night outs and candle light dinner for two. – chuckle. In certain corners of the ummah, this has lead to teenage muslim girls fantasizing over the nasheed artist as being their “ideal Muslim husband”. – The pop culture of the west is slowly creeping in to the ‘Islamic’ pop-culture. We know that in Islam anything which leads to haram is also haram. Creating evocative songs under the guise of “Islamic” nasheeds is nothing short of deceiving people. Especially the naive Muslim youth! Therefore it will be easily classed as being haram. And, nothing different to want punk rock bands, or rap groups are doing!
One of the reason we will not see the demise of the ‘Islamic’ songs industry is because, it is now a multi billion dollar industry. To fuel its growth there will be no shortage of pseudo-shaykhs giving out fatwas of its legalities. In traditional circles where true Islam is still practiced, much-loved, admired and propagated. Nasheeds can still be enjoyed for what they were created for. That is, to evoke emotional and spiritual love of the listener, for Allah and his rasul (saw), nothing more. Not for the oppressed “sister”, or someone’s wife, or any particular land! In my opinion, one of the last true nasheeds groups still around is a group called ‘Manaqib’; A group who truly exemplify what is a nasheed.
Further reading: A Lost Generation of Nasheeds