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Yvonne and the Nasheed

May 4, 2006

I’ve had a bee in my kufi about the way that Nasheed concerts work, and Yvonne Ridley comments on it further, albeit a little vociferously. The point she makes about not joining the Police Force is a bit strange in that I don’t believe you can change a system unless it is from within and she does love this Britain Bashing thing she has going on. This does appeal to first generation immigrant muslims quite a bit I have noticed, but may be little cynical me sees it as just a grab for headlines. As a presenter, she certainly is no Paxman.

Coming back to Nasheeds, I personally like listening to them however I have some issues with some artists. Very often groups such as 786 and so on, are emulating a style of music which just sounds a little alien to me. Together with that the lyrics are a little wanting if not repetitive. Artists such as Dawud Wharnsby and Zain Bhikha write lyrics and nasheeds which focus on issues which to me seem more relevant than the simplistic ‘Do Dua’ by 786. Together with that, what really grates with my is the cynical way that Sami Yusuf is using the Nasheed market. As a bit of background for the non-muslims out there, music is considered forbidden in Islam but percussion is fine. This is due to the intoxicating/distracting nature of music which would mean you lose focus on what your life is about.

Now our Mr Yusuf, released his last album in 2 versions: With Music, and Percussion only. My argument here is that if people want to hear music they will hear music. So have music on your album and say it is, but don’t try to open up sales to a market which wouldn’t be there for you by adding a Percussion only version. As an artist, are you not compromising your artistic integrity by allowing a song which has been written with a particular melody in mind to be altered in order to appeal to a broader market?

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20 Comments
  1. Hi Everyone,

    I just wanted to say blease subbort my dear sister Yvonne in the elections. She loves Britishness and hence she is standing for elections. Although I have my doubts sometimes as to whether she is a zionist spy or a taliban one. My brothers it doesnt matter. She obenly subborts my JIHAAD so it is now a duty for all my muslim brothers and sisters to subbort her.

    And yes, I like Try not to Cry of Sami Yusuf.

    See you all in hell.

    Yours
    Zarqawi
    Al-Qaeda Iraq

  2. Hi , I’d like to invite U to my blog if U like sketches and something like that. See ya.

    Best wishes
    Robert
    ———————
    http://nitrous.blog.com

  3. great photos. regards

  4. Owen permalink

    I don’t understand the distinction between “music” and “percussion” – surely rhythmic drumming is more distracting/hypnotic than most music?

    (Incidentally this is a nice Comment box!)

  5. I’m not sure on the music vs percussion thing. I think it is a little over my head, but the essence of music in Islam is to accentuate the beauty of what is created naturally. So if listening to music leads you down a path to the prohibited, then it is forbidden. Because for the general masses it is difficult to determine what is in an individual’s heart, the approach is to minimize the risk by prohibiting things. The ‘Duff’ is something which was according to some traditions only allowed on Eid days. I’ve found percussion to fade into the background when listening to a voice. And the voice is not forbidden in Islam (afaik). Imam Al Ghazali’s take on the voice is a simple one: a nightingale sings with the same throat structure as a human. So to sing is simply not using one of God’s gifts. In the same way, man has reason and his 5 senses. Each of those five senses like pleasures and man must use reason to keep them in check. But it is nice to look at pleasurable things, taste delicious food, smell perfumes, touch silks and softness, and of course listen to beautiful sounds.

  6. Mad Hatter permalink

    Well so far as I know, there are three opinions about music being hala, haram, borderline.
    first group believes that music is haram, period, there is just no music allowed.

    second groups says it’s allowed as long as it’s only with percussion, and it’s valiadted by the ahadith where it was documented that they used to play with percussion during the times of the Prophet (pbuh).
    the third opinion is that it’s okay to listen to music as long as it doesn’t take you away from the remembrance of Allah. In this category the music with nasty lyrics like 50 cents is haram.

    Well, I actually don’t know why Sami Yusuf does this two version of music. In my world, I think I should have ONE way of doing things, so those that agree with me could listen to my work, and those that don’t won’t listen.
    In other words, I totally agree with you last paragraph.

    Some people are not liking DWA anymore for he is not exactly speaking about Islam so directly. I totally recognize people’s right to differ from me, but I guess it would be nice to see some muslims trying to broaden their horizon and pay attention to some real issues that plague our society instead of cancelling everything that doesn’t contain the word ‘Allah’ in it. I think DWA or Zain Bhikha or yusuf Islam are conveying the message of Islam way better than 786 or Sami Yusuf, the way they say Allahu Allahu in a rather not so Islamic fashion, even if the former parties’ music may not contain any direct dhikr. They make you reflect as opposed to going to booty dance with “Allahu Allahu”. But still… I don’t know. I want some smart people in the ummah who could see beyond these use of instruments and look at the content and meaning of these anasheed/songs.
    I think I couldn’t really get my message across. I will try again later. =p

  7. well said Mad Hatter,

    thats the message i wanted to get through too.
    we muslims fell after 1000 years of glory when we started emphasising on the form rather than the substance.
    i like what yusuf islam says, “There were one hundred reasons for leaving the music industry back in 1979, not least because I had found what I was looking for spiritually. Today there are perhaps one hundred and one good reasons why I feel right making music and singing about life in this fragile world again.”
    people will be rewarded according to their intentions, both here and hereafter.
    Wallahu ‘Alam.

  8. Salam,
    Just to let you know that I changed my blog URL! I will notify that on my old blog later. But for now, just click on my nick.name!

    JAK!

  9. Well said both!

    Durer Kontoshor, you’re right, form over substance is what has plagued us in the past and it still is. People will always be critical of musicians/poets/artists. That comes with the territory, but my biggest concern is the compromising of artist’s ideals which has been something which plagues the music industry, Islamic or otherwise. Too many artists start off with ‘I’m doing it for the music’ and end up on a negative spiral down to ‘I’m rich’.

  10. durer kontoshor permalink

    shapps vi,
    i agree with you wholehertedly.
    <em>innamal ‘amalu binniyat<\em>

  11. An Australian newspaper is taking votes for publishing cartoons of our beloved Prophet Mohammad SAW.

    Voting for “NO” will not take more than 2 secs at the following address:

    http://news.ninemsn.com.au/vote.aspx?qid=2106

    Please pass the word around and say NO.

  12. kamran permalink

    I think one thing everyone is failing to understand, I will try to highlight as shortly as possible.

    I definitely don’t like Sami Yusuf’s style of singing, no offence Sami, but its just not my style.

    However, I was dragged to a concert and I have to say
    I was surprised to see the audience he is attracting.

    It’s not your regular hijabis or practicing Muslims who only attend a full day boring conference.

    However I am sure there were many praticing Muslims there too(no pun intended).

    Now the question I fail to understand is how is it that
    a smart sister like Yvonne Ridley would fail to understand this point.

    Did she not realise that Sami Yusuf is attracting a different type of audience. And also how does one contain and educate these fluffers??? as she states.

    I think it was simply foolish of her to call this crowd fluffers. Maybe they screamed and jeared and danced but I can assure you that these fluffers would do far worse in a bollywood or non-Islamic concert.

    She is simply damaging the work done by some who are trying to attract this particular crowd. And dont ask me how I know becuase my sister is the one who dragged me to this concert in London and I know she would never go if it wasnt for Sami Yusuf and his style of music.

    So a word of advice to sister Yvonne, yes, you maybe a new convert and have lots of zeal, but please be careful in what you say as it has a lot of repurcussions amongst the ever confused ummah.

  13. ki he shapps vai,
    apni to dekhi eedaning ek ekta post diye pura dub den!!! busy?

  14. salaaaaaaaaaaaam *wave*
    i aint been here for agess [ sorry..for the …absentness ]
    mashallah good to see this blog is still going strong!!
    inshallah i’ll be back after my exams…[remember meh in ya duas plz]
    coz i too have much to say bout this article…
    wasalamalaikum
    CG

  15. James Abdullah permalink

    My brother says percussion is halal because people like Sami Yusuf have researched the topic and found it in Holy Scripture a verse that says its ok. My mosque teacher says percussion IS a musical instrument. I admit I don’t know whether percussion is haram or not, but I take the safer side and just refrain from listening to percussion for the love of Allah!

  16. Joann permalink

    Salamualikum

    I am totally confused!

    Which nasheed is halal and which is not? Some say it can onli have one instrument etc.?
    Which nasheed really is halal? Inshallah some1 will be able to give me the right advice and may Allah (SWT) guide us all. INSHALLAH.

  17. daaniya permalink

    Open Letter
    From Sami Yusuf to Yvonne Riddley

    intersting……………………….
    please read

    http://www.samiyusuf.com/press/Sami_Yusuf_open_letter.htm

  18. daaniya permalink

    Yvonne Ridley Get gunned by Sami Yusuf:

    Open Letter
    From Sami Yusuf to Yvonne Ridley

    17/06/06

    Dear Yvonne,

    Peace and blessings of God be upon you.

    Your recent article on ‘Pop Culture in the Name of Islam’ has been brought to my attention. I commend you for voicing your opinion and raising some very important issues – albeit in a very provocative manner. I thought it would be useful to share some of my thoughts with you on this matter.

    As a Muslim artist, I regularly seek clarification and advice from world-renowned scholars on art, music, singing and culture. Be informed that the subject of music is one of the most controversial topics in Islamic Jurisprudence. I respect those who consider music to be haram. Yes eminent scholars of our past have opined such. However, I respect and follow the opinion of other eminent scholars – classical and contemporary, who permit singing and the use of musical instruments. The well-established jurisprudential rule states that ‘in matters where there is ikhtilaf (differences of opinion) there is to be no condemnation of either opinion.’ This is from the beauty of the religion of Islam. The diversity of our cultural, legal and social traditions is something we are in dire need of celebrating not condemning. So let’s agree to disagree on this one.

    The obsessive fascination of fans towards any celebrity – be it in arts, music, politics, media, etc – to the point of hysteria and hero-worshipping is definitely unhealthy not to mention un-Islamic. Of course, as Muslims, we are required to abide by certain etiquettes in whatever situation we may find ourselves in. However, I definitely did not see girls dancing or behaving indecently in any of my concerts. To state otherwise is a gross exaggeration if not an outright fallacy. And if indeed that did take place then let’s deal with it in the true Prophetic tradition – a tradition that imparts love, mercy, tolerance and wisdom. Let me share with you the story of the Bedouin who came to the Prophet’s mosque and started urinating in the mosque itself. The Companions rushed to grab him and give him a ‘good beating.’ But the Prophet did not allow them to do so and told them to let him be. After the Bedouin had urinated, the Prophet asked his Companions to bring a bucket of water and wash the place. Afterwards he called the man and with gentleness and affection explained to him that this was a place of worship and that it should be kept clean. Though I have to say that had the Bedouin been around today he would be lucky to get away with just a ‘good beating’!

    Indeed the state of contemporary mainstream music is one dominated by celebrity worship, materialism and the constant promotion of a consumerist culture that seeks only to derive instant emotional and physical gratification. The arts industry in general – and the music industry specifically – is being commercialised at the expense of art itself. We don’t value good art or good music anymore – it’s about what can sell most in the market. In the midst of all this, it is upon all conscious and responsible artists who look beyond the commercial to work in refining arts and music. Apart from entertaining audiences, music is a powerful medium to communicate values and social messages. In these times where heinous crimes against humanity are being committed, we as artists – Muslims or non-Muslims, British or non-British – have a duty to use this medium to bring some sanity to this world of unrest, fear, violence, terror and war. Human life and dignity are values that should be cherished and championed by all. Had you listened carefully to the songs in my latest album which is actually entitled ‘My Ummah’ before hastily passing judgements, you would have noticed my modest attempt at addressing issues facing the global Muslim community – such as regaining our lost legacy in all spheres of human life, oppression in different parts of the Muslim world, Aids, landmines, poverty and freedom to wear the hijab.

    This leads me to another important issue which you raised – that of identity and culture. Who are we? How do we define ourselves? What do we stand for? Let me remind you again – I am a British Muslim. Proud to be Muslim and proud to be British! Why? Because this is what Islam teaches me to be – loyal towards my faith and my country. Throughout our rich history, wherever Muslims settled they adopted and fused the best aspects of the local culture/society with Islamic teachings and traditions. As Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah, a leading American Muslim scholar and thinker writes in ‘Islam the Cultural Imperative’:

    …In history, Islam showed itself to be culturally friendly and, in that regard, has been likened to a crystal clear river. Its waters (Islam) are pure, sweet, and life-giving but—having no color of their own—reflect the bedrock (indigenous culture) over which they flow. In China, Islam looked Chinese; in Mali, it looked African. Sustained cultural relevance to distinct peoples, diverse places, and different times underlay Islam’s long success as a global civilization…

    At a time when leading Muslim scholars and thinkers have reached an advanced stage in crystallising theories of citizenship and positive integration into Western societies, any discussion of renouncing parts of our identity is simply ridiculous, dangerous and destructive – especially for someone who has no other homeland. Such emotional fist-pumping and chest-pounding about renouncing our British identity may seem attractive to a minority of Muslim youth, but as Muslims in positions of influence like yourself, we should not play to these base instincts. Rather, we should try to be more far-sighted and responsible in our discourse and not sacrifice this in the pursuit of tabloid-style sensationalist journalism.

    Check it out:

    http://www.samiyusuf.com/press/Sami_Yusuf_open_letter.htm

  19. Anonymous permalink

    Joann ,Joann ,

    Hi I have actually heard that using a duff (a hand-held drum like a tambourine, without bells) is okay in islam as it was perhaps used in the past, but you’d have to look into it further.

    Thanks scottish gal

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