Thursday, January 29, 2009

Music

Assalamu Alaikum,
'Deen Tight' trailer-ht to MuslimahLocs for the link.

So I've been thinking about the music thing. First, I went to visit UmmLayth (yes, she of TheMuslimah.com, may Allah bless her); as it turns out, she doesn't live that far from Conservopolis. Since I'd left my laptop at her house I went to retrieve it and stayed the night. It was so good to see her!
We got to talking about many different things, and music was one of them. Alhamdulillah I'm not going to talk about her house here, except to say that she doesn't have a television, and the stereos I saw were not on once. Ya'll say mashaAllah.

She asked me if I listened to music... and then added that she doesn't judge on it. I guess she understood the look on my face.

See, whenever the subject of music and Islam, and living with or without it comes up, I feel pushed. I'd already converted when one of the sisters in MSA, I think she was a vp at the time, made some remark about how a certain person was so extreme, that they put all the pictures in the house face-down, and 'didn't even listen to music!'. And I immediately asked her, "Wait- music isn't allowed in Islam?" She refused to answer, and quickly changed the subject.

So even then I understood this to be something that involved a definite difference of opinions.

Fast forward a couple years, past the MSA East Zone convention where I started wearing hijab, to living in Puerto Rico. By then I was in full immersion mode, and riding in the car with my friend Abeer.

I love Abeer for many reasons, not least of which is that during one lonely Ramadhan after learning that I was fasting by myself, she piled her kids into her rusty blue'89 Chevy wagon, came to my house and bullied me into the car, and did not leave me alone henceforth. I truly believe she not only saved my sanity, but she maintained my link to Islam. This was shortly before I got my first laptop and started this blog.

Anyway, so we were winding through the streets of Guayama, and Abeer asked me:" Pues, cuando mueres, quieres musica, o quieres Qur'an?"- did I want music, or Qur'an playing at my funeral? I forget what brought that on, I think maybe someone famous had died in PR recently.
"Qur'an," I replied firmly.
My brainwashing was nearly complete.

Something brought me back from the brink, though.

It's because of the extremity of actively avoiding music. Not only is it everywhere, but I operated for the longest in a world that moved to its direction. And, I can't see evil just in the existence of melody and harmony. I'm sorry- the Qur'an has too much of those beautiful sisters for me to dislike them for their own sake.

I fully understand the reasons for the dislike of music, really. It takes away from study of Qur'an, it occupies the mind with other things- and certain of these things can be undesirable. There's a hadith involved.

But I also know that I've been brought closer to understanding how to love Rasulullah (saws) and his example through music. Native Deen, Sami Yusuf, and Outlandish have all inspired me to learn more about certain hadiths and ayahs. I still feel the transcendance when music and a deft lyric can say more than all the speeches anyone could write.

And beyond that? As they said in the video, this is something that my mother does, that my grandmother did, that her father did. I know the songs used to tune the hoes in the fields. I know the weariness on my mother's shoulders by the tune she chooses while she scrubs a dish. I can tell you what grade I was in when given hip-hop tunes came out, and who was my friend, and who was my teacher, and what happened to make I was taught as a child that music was something we used to praise God. What do you mean, God doesn't like it? This hit me about as much as not wearing shoes inside peoples' houses- my father insisted that we wear shoes inside the house if we were awake. It's that kind of training. I'm a classically trained musician, and my siblings have won gold medals in performance. How do I turn away? I just don't see first that it's wrong, and second, how to fight it.

I do know that the way forward is through strengthening faith. The more I memorize Qur'an, the more I want to learn more, the less time I do spend with music. I do miss composing though, and spoken word. So that's the part of hip-hop I feel connected to. As it is, I rarely listen to music unless I'm working out.

Gotta go- just one more point. As part of the Practimate training, we're invited to express our opinions on marriage and potential partners in a variety of ways. One brother expressed his disdain for a sister who- among other things- listened to music. I really wonder how many of these brothers listen to absolutely no music (I mean, no anasheed? Sami Yusuf but without strings? What?) and how to portray the fact that I'm okay with filtered music right now, though inshaAllah I'm definitely open to decreasing my usage. How intolerant are we as an ummah to something where there is a known difference of opinion?

Okay, I'm off my soapbox. Salaamu Alaikum.

peace
TwennyTwo

3 comments:

  1. Honey, there are so many different opinions on this subject that can't all be right. I follow the opinion that it's not the medium, it's the message, that is important. If you listen to recitations of the Qur'an, or old formal supplications that were passed down through the chain of Holy Imams, they can be very beautiful and melodious. Even the daily salat is melodius when it is chanted out loud. The scholar I follow, says that as long as music contains a message that doesn't incite haram acts and haram living, it is halal. I lo-o-oo-ove muslimhiphop.com, once, for several months when my faith was really shaky, those songs are what kept me clinging to my faith, and preserved my dignity in the end. I respect anyone whose iman is so strong and deep that they don't want or need 'music'. But I don't want to limit the ways I can use to get closer to Allah.

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  2. Took a dive from Hajar's blog,

    Interesting perceptive. I'm together with Hajar on this. ^ I rarely listen to music, and the ones that I do are normally classical instrumentals *i can be such a bore* or the ones with good clear messages. In any given day, listening to recitals always have a melodious ring to it. :)

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