Hip Hop in the 21st Century


The Rise Of Satanism In Urban America

“Hip Hop” in the 21th century has taken the position of heavy metal in the 80’s. To the conscious observer the clear references to “satan” are evident and the indirect references are abundant. From Kayne West to Outerspace hip hop has traversed the boundaries of moral action and life affirming values, it is a realm where moral consciousness is obscured and human being has no worth. Today hip hop celebrates musically and honors poetically idolatry, occultism, illicit sex, theft, drugs, materialism, death, killing and now homosexuality.

Claiming the status of a new global religion as the singer Erika Badu has claimed it is a demonstration and affirmation of the ignorance (jahiliya) of old that was celebrated by “poets of the age of ignorance” who resided in the Arabian pennisula before the emergence of Islam. What hip hop managed today was to universalize the values of heavy metal across ethnic lines making “necrophila” a way of life.

Something many Muslims have a difficulty in facing is that Islam as a notion no longer carries the weight of a transformative concept in hip hop. 50 cent’s claim to recite a “Ghetto Qur’an” is a sign of the triumph of  “far fetched ta’wil” and the celebration of supreme “kufr.” The Ghetto Qur’an he refers to is his words put to music making himself a prophet who is giving revelation to the people. This as a theme is not uncommon in hip hop, the claim to prophecy. The task of the da’ee today is how to present the Qur’an as a way to transform the personality molded by hip hop in the 21st century, inspired by the way of satanic being in the world. Lectures and books will not be sufficient to transform the necrophilic personality nor soften the heart inspired by satanic values. What is needed is a righteous patient teacher who imbibes the Qur’an and is aware of the culture of death celebrated by hip hop.

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62 Comments

  1. Suhaib Webb says:

    Excellent post and thoughts akhi. Like the brothers above I was brought into Islam through the Hip-Hop world. That being said, once I became Muslim and started studying, I realized that in order for me to develop and grow as a Muslim I would have to amputate my relations with Hip-Hop and its community. I realized that the Qur'an and Hip Hop simply don't mix. What is sad about many of our Muslim Hip-Hoppers and well as performers in general is their acute poverty when it comes to religious knowledge. I have never understood how people could stand on stage, carry themselves like some type of Rakim rejects knowing that they lack the basic fundamentals of religion and faith? I have gone back and forth on this issue trying to be just, but have failed to find any excuse for Muslim Hip Hop and comedy. Let's be honest, when one listens to hip-hop what is the feeling found in the heart? Is it a feeling of bliss? Is it a feeling of tenderness and love, or is it a feeling that “I'm the baddest [you insert the swear word] on the planet and can't nobody [insert] with me?

    That being said, one of the greatest problems with hip hop is its inability to provide effective solutions to the problems of the hood while presenting itself as some type of savior for it lighting the very frustrations that come with living there. Since the 1970's hip hop as done nothing to help the hood except throw its women on BET while some self styled Uncle Tom runs a credit card through their cleavage, served to degenerate basic language skills; create a culture of hyper masculinity based on a feeling that one is greater than God! In addition, it allows people to create false heroes. In a Muslim summer camp some years back a brother said, “Tupac was a kafir fasiq!” Suddenly a Muslim youth began to cry saying, “Don't' talk about him! He was a righteous man! He did great things!” When I was a D.J. I had a friend who called me one night after a Tupac show, “Wax! That N*$*# tried to rape me!” So much for being a righteous man concerned about the plight of the hood. The last image of Tupac kicking that man in the lobby is telling. It represents the very controversy that hip hoppers live: claiming to love the hood, but raping and mutilating it at will. I remember when Biggie was gunned down in a hail of bullets, hijabis at a local Islamic school started crying saying “He isn't dead!” Where were the tears for the 24.000 people who die every day of hunger? And now in our own communities we allow hip hoppers and entertainers to stretch the limits and moral of our community in the name of dawa and popularity.

    That is the reality of hip hop and its lesson is clear: any act not founded on the general principles of Islam is bound to wreck havoc on communities. Unfortunately Muslims are adopting the same attitude. Musicians and other entertainers are given the status of Muslim Messiah's, paid up to $40.000 dollars per performance while Imam's like Siraj Wahaj have to be put in the public sphere just to raise money for their cancer treatment! While Muslim bloggers went rapid over Jacko's funeral, what was done to save masjids closing in New Jersey and to raise funds for the family from Mali who lost 8 children in a tragic fire some time ago! Again, our priorities are telling. I will be honest, I have struggled with this for some time trying to understand where our brothers and sisters are coming from. But after greater reflection and thought I've realized that there is no good in these endeavors. What they have served to do is take many of our practicing brothers and sisters a notch down. Instead of listening to the shuyukh, Qur'an and memorizing Qu'ran, Hussari Cd's are replaced with loads of Nashid artists and comedians. I noted once that a brother had well over 500 songs on his I-phone and not one Islamic lecture or Qur'anic reciter. Again, the fruit from this entertainment enterprise is bitter and its seeds are spoiled. It is another symptom of the C.R.E.A.M virus. While I'm open to certain types of music, I find hip hop and the idea that it is a savior nauseating. It has gotten to such an extreme that artist like KRS ONE are claiming it an independent religion calling it the “Temple of Hip-Hop.”

    Dr. Trica Rose said it well,
    “I'm dismayed by the genius of hip hop and the production of music as the unconscious promotion of misogyny,” she said. “They are always looking for a new way to rap about the domination of women and other people. They use the same limited language of insult. It's not lyrically creative. The 'N' word, the 'B' word…we've got all of those words. They can't seem to not say it, it's like a knee-jerk reaction to prove you're down. It filters into male-female relationships and the 'pimp-ho' model becomes a reasonable way to construct relationships.”

    On the Imrul al-Qaiys of this century Kanye West she said:

    ““He's a self-promoter. He has talent, but his music is not as conscious. People see him as some sort of radical savior, which is part of the problem I am talking about. If he wants to say Bush hates black people, he needs to figure out what the answer is. I know 10 academics who would help him.”

    Suhaib

    http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_3_how_hip_h

  2. salman says:

    Can we not distinguish between the genre and the usual content of the genre? I agree that most of the hip hop out there has a negative message that's entirely against what Islam teaches. But that's just because it sells well, not because it is necessarily essential to the genre. Hip hop is just a style of music, a lyrical way of delivering verse. That verse can be filled with any kind of words.

    Hasn't anyone here ever listened to Saul Williams (just to give one example)? He actually speaks out against all of the things mentioned in this post.

    And where do we draw the line exactly? Spoken word poetry has a great resemblance to hip hop… but go to any live spoken word event and I guarantee that the most prevalent topics will be social activism, counter-sexism, and other very positive messages.

    I just can't agree with the line of reasoning here. It's the same one that's used against us by Islamophobes. They condemn the religion as a whole because of the actions of some Muslims.

  3. Nadeem G says:

    Assalamualakum,

    I think the parents have a big responsibility to check what's on kids iPods these days. But what's happening is that even the parents are going out and buying iPods and don't care what their kids put on it. The ears are very connected to the heart and parents should be on the look out for what's on kids' mp3 players.

    I was in the car with some Muslim youth and they had no problem blasting some nonsense by I don't even know who (alhamdulilah). It was like all rap: the lyrics made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I had no clue what he was trying to come out with, except his arrogance, swear words, and how he drives such sweet cars. It wasn't even English to me, it was ghetto English. Unfortunately many of the parents don't know this.

    But Muslims have problem with the Quran being recited. If I'd put Quran CDs in replacement of music, they'd tell me ohh turn it off, we're talking it's haraam to keep it on if you're talking. Well then, shut up and listen to words of Allah for a few minutes! Then we go to the Quran and our tajweed is completely off. Listening to the Quran helps with tajweed.

    Now that Ramadan is coming up, we're going to be in an absolute hurry to finish the Quran, especially with the time locking in later for Taraweeh. Muslims will start to set conditions on the speed of the reciter and the reciter will avoid the tajweed rules because he's in such a hurry. It's not even mandatory to finish the Quran in Taraweeh. We're losing the art of tajweed more and more because of this. We make up problems with the Quran, but have no problem with hip hop. What have we come to these days?

  4. J says:

    “I realized that the Qur'an and Hip Hop simply don't mix. What is sad about many of our Muslim Hip-Hoppers and well as performers in general is their acute poverty when it comes to religious knowledge. I have never understood how people could stand on stage, carry themselves like some type of Rakim rejects knowing that they lack the basic fundamentals of religion and faith? I have gone back and forth on this issue trying to be just, but have failed to find any excuse for Muslim Hip Hop and comedy.”

    Jazakh-Allah khair for the above, Imam Suhaib. I agree with you fully 100%. I think the so-called Muslim Hip Hop thing is horrendous. I often see Muslims with big beards trying to dress thuggish, walk thuggish, and even drive thuggish cars. To me, this typifies the superficiality of those who obey the outward laws of Islam but who don't follow the inner spirit of Islam at all. Fine, you have a big beard, but do you think your sideways baseball cap, thugged out Fubu clothes, and that idiotic expression on your face (what I call the “thug face”) are what the believer should look like?

    It is haram to look like thugs and hoodlums, as this constitutes imitating the faasiqoon. Not only this, but this “look” and “talk” exudes extreme arrogance. Hip-hop and rap is all about arrogance, self-aggrandizement, and the “ana complex (Me, myself, and I) ” (as Ustadh Hamza Yusuf says). The Prophet [s] forbade the people of that time from dragging their garments out of arrogance, since that was the thing at that time. Today, is not wearing insanely bagging and sagging pants the new attire of the arrogant?

    One thing I'd like to say, however, is that not all hip-hop looking Muslims are ignorant of Islamic law. I know of one Muslim brother who has a lot of Islamic knowledge, and doesn't even listen to music itself…but he still dresses in that way, walks in that way, talks in that ghetto accent, etc. (And he's desi, so no excuse there.) Yes, he might be abiding by the strict laws of Islam, but is he adhering to the mannerisms of the believer? Shouldn't the believer be modest and not bad-a**?

    Anyways, Allah [swt] has always instilled in me a hatred for that look. It makes a person look uneducated and ignorant. What I think we really need is for dawah-carriers like Imam Suhaib Webb and others to actually pass fatwas that explicitly say it's haram (or at least makrouh) to dress in certain ways, that we shouldn't talk in that stupid accent, etc.

    Interestingly, I've seen a fusion between this “hip hop Muslim look” and the e-jihadis. I've seen that this look and style really appeals to these youngsters, so they fuse the tough looking nature of the hip hop rappers with the so-called “mujahideen” (Al-Qaeda and the like). It's all about being bad a**, nothing else. Dressing like a hip hopper and rap artist is being bad a**, and so is supporting Al-Qaeda.

    And what should be stressed again and again is that it doesn't matter if you gave up hip hop or rap music–or don't listen to music at all. If you still dress that way, talk that way, have that stupid look on your face, walk that stupid way, think that way, etc., then you are one of them. As the Prophet [s] said, if you imitate a people, then you ARE of those people.

    A Muslim should look educated and decent…most importantly, he should look humble.

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

  5. Amatullah says:

    Jazaak Allahu khayran Imam Suhaib, beautifully written.

    I was personally disturbed at how much attention (even on websites of famous du'aat) the death of Michael Jackson received from the Muslims. It is great to take a lesson or two from his life but subhanAllah it was really overdone. Like Imam Suhaib said, we have such greater problems in our ummah right now that need more attention than MJ.

    Brother J, what about brothers who dress or talk like that because it's their culture? I know many great brothers in our community who do not listen to music, who are knowledgeable about the deen, trustworthy and family men but they grew up in that environment so they still speak in that manner (of course not using bad language) and I wouldn't say they dress like hoodlums but you'll see a thobe with some timbs.
    Also younger Muslims who go to public school end up embracing this culture too, not to turn away from Islam but just because of peer pressure.
    Maybe I misunderstood but I think it's a bit harsh to condemn everyone who speaks/dresses this way and to say it is haram because we don't know their situation. I think it depends on the intention, and Allah knows best.
    InshaAllah Imam Suhaib can elaborate more.

  6. Amatullah says:

    Brother Nadeem, although listening to the Qur'an is praiseworthy, I think this issue is much bigger than that. Our youth have no connection with Allah azza wa jal. They do not know His Names and Attributes, they do not have a strong spiritual attachment to the Creator and the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. When the love for Allah and His Messenger is missing…I don't know how one can enjoy listening to the Qur'an. It also doesn't help that the overwhelming majority of our ummah does not even understand the Qur'an either. Allahul Musta'aan, it's scary to reflect upon it.

    Our youth, in my opinion, need two things:
    1- active and righteous role models in their lives. We need more FUN programs for the youth instead of shoving islam down their throats. No wonder they turn to these rappers and this lifestyle, we are not showing them who they should be emulating.
    2- learn about emaan, using the Qur'anic method. Aishah radi Allahu anha said, “If the first ayah revealed in the Qur'an was telling people do not drink, they would have rejected that order. If the first verse revealed was telling people not to commit zina and fornication, they would have rejected that order. But the first verses revealed were talking about jannah and jahanam until the hearts became attached to Allah (subhanah) Then the orders of haram/halal were given.”
    If we teach them about Allah first, loving Him, fearing Him, the hereafter and at the same time build strong friendships with them, inshaAllah we still see a drastic change in their behavior.

    Allahu ta'ala a'lam.

  7. amalik says:

    Being a Hip-hop/Nasheed artist myself, I find this discussion about Hip hop and its effect on the Muslim youth to be very important. There are many artists who, through the seductive power hip hop music entered into the fold of Islam. Many of these artist afterwards wanted to use its power as a tool for good and to bring others into the fold of Islam. There are other artists who found many youth listening to negative music and saw a need for developing an Islamic alternative.

    Allah has many ways of bringing people to Islam, it does not mean music (or comedy) is in intrinsically a positive or negative force. Omar (RAA) was brought to Islam through his desire to kill the Prophet (SAW). Issues such as music have to be addressed by our scholars who have disagreed widely on the use of instruments. But it is unanimous that Nasheed and poetry was practiced in the time of the Prophet (SAW) – as was comedy (as understood through the comedic personalities that surrounded the Prophet SAW).
    As masjid-going, kufi/Hijab/beard wearing Muslims, I feel we forget about the huge percentage of Muslims who are outside of this group. I heard estimates that only 5% of Muslims are practicing Muslims. Many times we focus our tarbiyyah (spiritual education and nourishment) towards people who are already at a certain level and who will directly benefit from Quran or lectures, but forget about the vast percentage of Muslims who have headphones affixed to their heads for the majority of the day – listening to Hip hop music.

    What I believe Islamic musicians aspire to do is to develop a deep connection and love for the faith through their art. If we look to the time of the Prophet (SAW) there were many companions that were not experts in Quran or Fiqh, but had an extreme love of Allah and his Prophet. Once that is established in the soul, the thirst for knowledge comes to how best please the Creator. I believe the ultimate goal for all Islamic artists/comedians is to directly or indirectly foster this emotional connection to the Divine.

    The concern it seems to be how to push people to the next level. Maybe they were introduced to Islam through hip-hop, but now they are in their 4th semester of the figurative Islamic tarbiyyah program and they still haven’t passed Islam 101. However they have memorized all the songs of their favorite Muslim hip-hop artist. The blame rest mainly on that individual if he has not developed himself. However if this starts being a common occurrence within the community, then maybe the artist should refine his/her work to try to cultivate and encourage individuals to move to the next level of their deen.

    Does that mean that any art or music genre is acceptable – Islamic heavy metal for example? If we accept the opinion that string instruments are halal, does that give the license to have Islamic heavy metal concerts? What if in the future, Muslims were produce rated “R” movies filled with grotesque violence, etc, but aimed at delivering an important message? I would argue that it is the responsibility of the artist to inspire and educate its audience and push them to improved action. However if the environment is not conducive to bringing about this change, then, although the music, comedy, movie or art itself maybe intrinsically an acceptable thing, the negative effects of the atmosphere that surround the art with outweigh any positive benefits gained. Thus artists are particularly tasked with always monitoring the effects of their art and must consult and respect advice given to them by the community at large. So I appreciate our Imams bringing up this important topic.

    Abdul-Malik Ahmad

  8. Amatullah says:

    ps- i've tried this method with younger Muslims (family and my students) and although it takes time, it works alhamdulillah. Br Nouman from Bayyinah also mentioned this way to us and told us how the youth who were the worst in the whole school when he was teaching are now the teachers, huffadh and principals mashaAllah.

  9. lucield says:

    Just a question/observation

    Just because you think some particular hip hop songs by an artist, as well as part of that artists life and struggle are motivational/inspirational doesn't mean that you agree with everything the artist did.

    Shakyh Suhaib, you brought up 2pac –

    To illustrate what I am saying, obviously many 2pac songs like hit em up, etc are complete trash, and there is no excuse for them. However, songs like keep ya head up do give a good message and are inspirational. I don't really have to like 2pac or anything about him to to appreciate the particular song, and I don't have to listen to other 2pac songs. I simply like this song, and find it has a good message.

    On my other point of finding part of the artist life inspirational – I don't have to even like the person, or agree with everything he/she says to find parts of their life inspirational. This applies for 2pac, it could also apply to a countless number of people.

    In conclusion, my basic point is take the good and leave the bad I suppose. I like some 2pac songs, but there is no way I would ever excuse a lot of the trash he made and a lot of the gangster lifestyle he supported.

  10. Jeremiah says:

    As salamu alaikum J,

    JazakAllahu khairan for your thoughts. I was intrigued by your post.

    You said, “Second, even with those who came from “the hood”, I think they should of course be given a transition period, but ultimately they should be enjoined to abandon the sub-culture.”

    I think what you are talking about refers to individuals that do not understand proper decorum. Of course the person that dresses and talks in 'hood' style as you call it for a job interview needs some serious re-direction. We should not be concerned about the manner that a person uses to speak to their family/friends in the confines of homes and neighborhoods or other social situations. Every language has its less than standard usages. The use of so-called 'hood' language, neglecting the haram of course, to me is like Egyptians saying masgid instead of masjid.

    Furthermore, what culture or sub-culture as you call it, would you have the convert embrace?

    Alhumdulillah, I never found the pants below the butt an attractive look. However, I do not think we should start turning people away from the halal features of their culture because of personal dislikes.

    wassalam,
    Jeremiah

  11. Dawud Israel says:

    Imam Suhaib/Sidi Abul Hussein:

    I think the problem isn't hip-hop but alternatives to it…why do Muslims so adamantly argue FOR hip-hop or its genre in the first place? Do you ever see them argue that intensely about other things such as the Quran? It is- in my interpretation- a following of desires.

    Personally, I think Muslim artists who want to use their poetic styles to help Muslims and further the Islamic cause should first of all, stop calling themselves hip-hoppers, but call themselves, poets. Get rid of the glammer. Call yourself a hip-hop artist, then you automatically want to associate with that crowd, but call yourself a poet, you are closer to the history of Islamic poetry.

    Secondly, I think these “poets” (see I am using it already!) should try and invent their own lyrical poetic style, rather than tagging along imitating the kuffaar. I think it would be a good idea to have some sort of lyrical contest on here regarding islam…

  12. J says:

    Wa alaykum as-salam, Jeremiah.

    Jazakh-Allah khair for your post.

    I disagree with you that the use of “hood” language is like Egyptians saying “masgid” instead of “masjid.” The former is seen as the speech of immoral people, whereas the latter is not. Please see the fatwa of Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen on this issue.

    I also disagree that we shouldn't be concerned with the way they speak in their private lives. A Muslim should speak in an honorable way, no matter where he is. He should not sound like the immoral people. And what I mean by immoral people is what that society deems as the immoral group. So if in Egypt there was a group of low lives that talked a certain way or dressed a certain way, then I think that should be discouraged (or forbidden). That I think is a more apt comparison; notice how Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen says:

    “If custom dictates that this is not done except by a specific group that is traditionally known to be immoral, then those who are decent and of good character should not let their hair grow long, because it is customarily regarded by the people as something that is only done by those who are of low status and immoral….If [however] custom dictates that all people, noble and lowly alike, grow their hair long, there is nothing wrong with it; if it is done only by the lowest of people, then people of honour and status should not do it.”

    So that pretty much sums up my view on the issue.

    As for what culture or sub-culture they should embrace, how about they just talk, walk, dress, and act just like the rest of us Americans, which is the country they live in?

    Also, I must protest your last statement: I am not saying this just because of my personal dislikes; rather, my personal dislikes were shaped by my Islamic views.

    I apologize if any of this is offensive. May Allah [swt reward you.

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

  13. Jeremiah says:

    As salamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh J,

    So using 'hood' language is equated with morality? Notice hood is in quotes to indicate that I don't describe non-standard use of English by African-Americans in urban environments as “hood” languages. Rather, I am using your descriptor. Please also note as I said before, I am not talking about clearly haram type of speech that would put one in the group that should not be emulated as covered in the fatwa by Sh ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah).

    The type of speech that I am talking about is that speech that is commonly accepted as non-standard usage of English, typically called slang. Very few people use their respective language in its classical or pure form in everyday speech. This is true of African-Americans and it is also true of descendants of other immigrant groups here in America and even true of the descendants of the original colonialists. Furthermore, I would guess that this is true in all languages, hence my usage of the Egyptian dialect as an example.

    You and I agree that the hip hop culture is by and large immoral. However, slang or non-standard usage of English did not originate with the advent of hip hop. I am completely bewildered as to how you can equate the usage of slang that is clear of haram elements to ones moral state. I think this is very problematic.

    Furthermore, you said, “As for what culture or sub-culture they should embrace, how about they just talk, walk, dress, and act just like the rest of us Americans, which is the country they live in?”

    Brother, I implore you to go easy. America is not a monolith. There is not a singular American talk, walk, and dress. When my family moved to Louisiana (we are originally from Chicago) it took me awhile to figure out that the people with the 'funny' accents were not visitors from the Caribbean, but Louisiana residents. Similarly, I still have problems with Boston accents despite my 'Americanness (don't know if that is a word).'

    I will just close by saying I wonder what my 101 year old uncle in rural Arkansas would say to you after hearing you implore him to talk, walk, and dress like the rest of Americans after you heard him answer the phone by saying what's up. I doubt he could name one rapper/hip hop artist for a million dollars.

    Wallahi, I love you for the sake of Allah because you are a muslim. However, I do find it rather offensive when someone that is likely a first or second generation American is imploring the people that had a huge role in building America to talk, walk, and dress like Americans.

    wassalamu alaikum,
    Your brother in Islam,
    Jeremiah

  14. J says:

    Wa alaykum as-salam, brother Jeramiah.

    May Allah [swt] reward you!

    First, my dear brother, let's not turn this into something racial. It is not just blacks. From every race you will see people dressing in that way, including Mexicans, whites, desis (Indo-Paki's), and Asians (Chinese, etc.).

    In fact, I would go as far to say that the way these people of all different races dress alike in thuggish attire, talk in a certain way, etc. unites all the immoral people of all the different races. So the immoral ones from the desis are known as the ones who dress that way, so are the immoral ones from the blacks, from the Mexicans, from the whites, etc.

    You said:

    “Please also note as I said before, I am not talking about clearly haram type of speech that would put one in the group that should not be emulated as covered in the fatwa by Sh ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah).”

    Brother, I think you need to read Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen's fatwa more carefully. You cannot at all compare the clearly haram type of speech (cursing, vulgarities, etc.) with what Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen was talking about. The fatwa of Ibn Uthaymeen was about growing hair long, which we know our Prophet [s] even did. So it is about something that is NORMALLY halal, but becomes discouraged or haram due to the fact that it becomes the dress of the immoral people.

    For example, the scholars have forbidden/discouraged the Muslims from dressing like the Shia scholars, even though individually none of the things they wear is haram (i.e. black amama, ring in a certain way, certain type of cloak, etc). The whole point is that the moral people should not dress like the immoral people.

    You said:

    “I am completely bewildered as to how you can equate the usage of slang that is clear of haram elements to ones moral state.”

    Brother, there is no need for bewilderment. :) Are you really going to tell me that there is no association whatsoever between “ebonics” and hip hop? Regardless of what it's origin was, NOW ebonics is something that is considered the speech of immoral people. The origin of it as irrelevant as the origin of the black amama of the Shia Ayatollahs.

    As for the rest of your post, bro, I also think that the Muslims should not talk like hicks either. But I'm not saying that Muslims must all talk in the same accent. I am saying you can talk in any accent you like, so long as that accent is not considered the accent of the immoral people. And that is exactly what ebonics has become. When I hear ebonics, I immediately think of thugs, and so does everyone else.

    Let me rephrase how I think Muslims should talk: you should talk in such a way that you would at a job interview, public speech, professional setting, classroom, etc. That should be a good criterion. I know that I pretty much speak the same way in the professional atmosphere as I do at home.

    With regard to your last paragraph, I do not deny the great accomplishments of the black people in America, who fought with their lives and limbs to give rights to all Americans that we desis now enjoy only because of that struggle.

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

  15. MR says:

    Rappers should read the auto biography of Malcolm X. Malcolm X was the hardest brother in the black community.

  16. J says:

    To be clear: I am NOT saying that talking in the ebonics fashion, or dressing a certain way, etc. makes a person immoral. I am saying that this style of speech, dress, etc. is known to be the general characteristic of the immoral people. Therefore a person who is not immoral–but who dress in that way, speaks in that way, etc.–is imitating the dress of immoral people, which is discouraged/forbidden in our religion.

  17. Dawud Israel says:

    Keep in mind Imam Suhaib talks slang in his talks…but this is simply, how he talks. While, some of us might be a little peeved about the fact he talks gangster-like, we still recognize he speaks about lucid things from his education at Al-Azhar.

    Similarly, if you listen to people speak Patois, the commonspeak English variant in the Caribbeans it may sound like rubbish- but even in that unusual language they have wise sayings.

    The point of this post was not the superficial stuff, but also what it represents- the inner filth it creates.

    As the hadith goes, from Imam Ali, “Songs increase hypocrisy in the heart like water grows the vegetation” (paraphrased).

  18. Zain says:

    Unfortunately Bro J, while trying to prove your point you have missed the mark. You have lumped two different things together… Language style, that is basically related to identity, and morality. It's a form of false logic and I seriously doubt this was even the intent of Shaykh Uthaymeen's fatwa. I know a lot of people who are not part of any gangster, thug or immoral lifestyle who speak a variant form of english that can be found in the inner cities (ghetto talk or ebonics, if you will) simply because it borders on personal identity. There are nuances in such speech that can not be replicated with what you call “proper”. I myself, with my Nigerian roots speak pidgin english quite often with others who might better understand the point I want to make. You simply don't understand what you are criticizing and might end up appearing bigoted. By saying that what is inherently halal becomes makruh when heavily used or associated with a group is strange. What happens when all the hiphop gangsters start wearing black kufis or speaking impeccable english such that it isn't clear if you are imitating them or just being “normal”. In essence the muslims keep adjusting their own culture. It's a slippery slope, akhi.

  19. Jeremiah says:

    Brother J,

    The cat is out of the bag. I am African-American. How did you know? :-) I was trying very hard to avoid the injection of race into the discussion.

    Let's not conflate dress and manner of speaking. The manner of thuggish dress is clearly inspired from hip hop. I would discourage any muslim from emulating the pants off the butt style that is popular in hip hop. I am a pretty plain dresser, however, there are some elements of hip hop dress that are quite nice and respectable. I am just not cool enough to partake.

    I was trying to point out to you that the manner in which African Americans use non-standard English (you call it Ebonics) did not originate with hip hop. I thought that point was made clear by giving the example of my 101 year old uncle. I do not know many people that use the same type of language at home that they would in a professional meeting. You are the first person I have ever heard of doing this. It is true that hip hop has injected new terminology into the language like the word bling. However, I want to re-iterate the point (to the best of my knowledge) that there is not a dialect/accent in speech that is clearly related to being an immoral person. At least not here in America. However, there are words and phrases that we should all avoid.

    Personally, I think it is beautiful to meet a Muslim brother that talks like a hick. I am sure that in the time of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wassalam) there were many people that did not have the eloquence of Ali (radiAllah anh). I would pray that the brother can turn off his improper word usage in the appropriate times.

    Regarding your use of the term Ebonics: I do not know a single person in my family or my wife's family or among any of my African-American friends and their families that will seriously characterize their slang version of English as Ebonics. That is just my experience. Please let me know if you know African-Americans that have a different view.

    I agree with you that we should not get into a prolonged back and forth. I enjoyed conversing with you on this topic. I ask Allah to reward you with the best in the life and the next.

    wassalam,
    Jeremiah

  20. J says:

    As-Salam Alaykum, my dearest brother Jeremiah.

    May Allah [swt] reward you for your good manners.

    I just think we should speak in the most beautiful of ways, in an educated, articulate, and eloquent way…and we should inculcate that into our day to day lives, since we are a part of community that is constantly calling to all that is good and forbidding from evil. Yes, I speak in a similar way in the professional setting and every day life. Of course, it is not the EXACT same, but more or less. I think English–like any language–should be spoken properly. It is the sign of an educated person. Wallahu Aalim.

    But let us agree to disagree. Again, may Allah [swt] reward you for your good manners.

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

  21. Zain says:

    Bro J,

    No offense taken. No need to apologize. I actually didn't call you a bigot. I simply meant that the way you were going about trying to articulate your point, you risked coming off as bigoted. You shouldn't be surprised that the focus of contention is on “speech”. You did say

    “… I am saying that this style of speech, dress, etc. is known to be the general characteristic of the immoral people. Therefore a person who is not immoral–but who dress in that way, speaks in that way, etc.–is imitating the dress of immoral people, which is discouraged/forbidden in our religion.”

    So I say, it is not the speech of immoral people though immoral people might use it.

    You also said..

    “If gangstas started talking in impeccable English, then this would no longer be a distinguishing characteristic of them, since many groups talk in that way, the noble and the lowly”

    So I say to you, many people talk and possibly dress the way you describe. A narrow perspective assumes they are all the same. An informed one realizes that people are different and can only be judged by who they truly are.

    “cry baby reaction…”….???

  22. J says:

    “So I say to you, many people talk and possibly dress the way you describe. A narrow perspective assumes they are all the same. An informed one realizes that people are different and can only be judged by who they truly are.”

    My dearest brother Zain, please read (carefully) the fatwa of Sh. Ibn Uthaymeen: Obviously, not ALL of the people with long hair in ANY society would be immoral. But it is the issue that in some cultures such hair style is associated with the lowly people. Yes, it is a generalization! But then in that case, the Muslim should not don the dress, style, hair cut, talk, etc. of the immoral people so that they (the believers) may be known as a noble people, worthy of dignity and respect.

    “So I say, it is not the speech of immoral people though immoral people might use it.”

    It is associated in this culture with the people of immoral character, which is reason enough to avoid it.

    “cry baby reaction…….???”

    waah waah waah…

    Just kidding. :p

    May Allah [swt] reward you.

    Fi aman Allah,
    J

  23. Zain says:

    May Allah reward you too Bro J,

    I guess we have to agree to disagree since you seem to be convinced that the behavior of a handful of people (thugs, gangsters….etc) defines the entire culture (or sub-culture) they emanated from.

    I came to America just a few years ago. I don't speak ghetto (or whatever it's called), don't dress thuggish, work as a researcher and college professor and interacted with people of various background but I have lived in, made enough friends and mentored youth in the inner cities to know better.

    May Allah create the way ease for us all. Amin

  24. Musa McG says:

    The hip hop culture is certainly immoral and less than honorable, but so is the white American suburban mainstream that some here wish to legitimize and normalize as the standard of uprightness. We have to see through the sheen and luster of privilege. The poverty of urban America only gives us a unfiltered view of the pathologies that afflict us all. The fact that Muslim youth in the parasitic suburbs are now intoxicated off hip hop culture is perhaps more than irony and maybe a little justice (especially given the unchecked racism that is common in those communities).

    So let's definitely oppose the greed and materialism of hip hop and corporate America. Let's definitely oppose the misogyny and rampant fornication in hip hop and corporate America. And let's do it regardless of how much money either hip hop or corporate America puts in our masjid coffers.

    So if you feel me, all my (corporate) thugs and my (consumerist) shawties say “Heyyyyyyyy!”

  25. J says:

    “mentored youth in the inner cities to know better.”

    Akhi, so have I. I volunteered at Berkeley High School in a program called “RISE”, which was designed to help mentor and guide urban minority youth. I also taught free SAT classes with the Princeton Review, and they sent me to inner cities.

    Anyways, agree to disagree insha-Allah.

    Fi Aman Allah

  26. J says:

    My dearest brother Musa McGuire,

    Since your post is clearly directed at me, allow me to respond insha-Allah.

    You said:

    “The fact that Muslim youth in the parasitic suburbs are now intoxicated off hip hop culture is perhaps more than irony and maybe a little justice”

    My initial post was in fact directed at desi (Indo/Pak) youth living in the suburbs, many of whom have adopted the hip hop culture, in their dress, mannerisms, speech, etc. So I am 100% with you if you say that we should condemn this. In fact, that was what my first post was entirely about. My point was simply that we should not imitate the lowly people of dubious moral character. I do not think that such attire and mannerisms are specific to any one race, urban vs suburban demographic, etc. Rather, I have found that it is across all races and social groups: it seems that the sinful people of each of these groups adorn themselves in that way.

    Lastly, I just want to say that I enjoy your writing. May Allah [swt] reward you!

    Fi Aman Allah,
    J

  27. Ahmad says:

    Yo this post is wack!
    :)

  28. Abul-Hussein says:

    AS

    At the end of the day we need to be conscious of the effect of popular culture and what are the limits we ought clarify when we deal with popular culture lest we drown as Muslims into a cess pool that is bottom-less. Muslim youth need a sense of pride in being Muslim and this was the idea behind “New Muslim Cool.”

    What we have failed at is addressing the plight of Urban Muslim youth. In the path to show our American-ness we are sinking into those practices and attitudes that take the luster away from American beauty. Yes we are American but our American identity should be guided by Islamic values not self-destructive orientations and in this hip hop is not the only culprit we can extend this, as Musa Mc pointed out, to corporate greed or any sphere of behavior where life affirming values are absent.

    There is a trend in popular American culture and practice and values which is destroying this country and we should be concerned with that. When the people of Nuh (a) decided to take their path it affected the whole society so much so that it collapsed and Nuh (a) was stranded alone with a select few left to rebuild. In other words, when the wrath comes down it will strike the righteous and the devious at the same time.

    If we are going to delve into popular culture as Muslims than we should be trend setters not followers here we come back to the principle of not imitating others but maintaining an Islamic identity. In fact, trend setting without ego should be the object in any thing we do whether it is business, the arts or economy. In the end this is why it is necessary to have a basic knowledge of the aims of the Shariah and the values of Islam so we can judge with knowledge to tell whether something is in general Islamic or not despite not having detailed proofs for claiming that it is or is not. A question that puzzles me is what happened to making the Qur'an supreme in our lives?

    Allahu Al'am

  29. Nasir Abdussalam says:

    J,

    Assalamu alaykum

    Some of the comments you have made can only come from someone with negligible exposure to the black American community, particularly those blacks living in ghettoes. Please understand that a substantial portion of the black population speaks this dialectical variant of English (whether by necessity due to ignorance of standard English or by choice when speaking informally amongst ourselves); the criminal element therein being the minority. I know that it was not your intent to sound bigoted, but basically, what you have suggested is that a centuries-old dialect spoken by tens of millions of people is indicative of criminality (or any other commonly held prejudice against blacks such as our supposed stupidity and indolence). Think about that for a moment. Now, put yourself in the position of a black American reading your comments and imagine the offense that may be taken. The question is this: from what perspective does one unfamiliar with the history of the English language and its various dialects pass judgement upon one of its most commonly spoken dialects as being used primarily by criminals and other such lowlifes? The answer: from a prejudiced perspective. I appreciate Sh. Uthaymin's fatwa, but in this case it is being misapplied. Why? Because the fatwa assumes that what is perceived as a custom of immoral people corresponds with reality; whereas regarding black American vernacular, the reality is that this is how many blacks speak in general, moral and immoral alike. Our dialect is no more a means of discernment between the law-abiding versus the criminal than our traditional foods. Or shall we say that eating collard greens and corn bread is a custom of the immoral also? 99.9% of black thugs have them in their diet, I guarantee you. LOL Anyways, those who perceive the usage of black American vernacular as peculiar to the immoral are ignorant, and the (mis)perceptions of ignoramuses (no matter how large their number) can never be accepted as an objective criterion.

    And I agree with Imam Suhaib's comment as well. : )

    Barak Allahu feekum

  30. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee says:

    Musa McG,

    I agree with your comments, bro. However, what I wish you and the other brothers would spell out a little more clearly is the question of Islamic Hip Hop specifically. Believe me, no one amongst the Muslim hip hop artists would disagree or dispute with everything negative that's being said about commercial hip hop. Those artists are trying to use a style or genre of music that the youth are taught to love to communicate different values. To suggest that the values communicated in the hip hop of Muslim artists is the same as in mainstream commercial hip hop is not correct.

    Now, of course if music is haraam none of this matters. If one thinks that Muslim hip hop artists encourage Muslim youth to listen to commercial hip hop than none of this matters. No doubt there is much else about Islamic hip hop culture that may be problematic…but I don't think quoting mainstream rappers is enough of evidence. Muslim hip hop artists are trying to pose an alternative to what you are attacking, they are not attempting to join it. Again, this does not mean they are successful. I am skeptical of the project, though I must bear witness, as I did over at Shaykh Abul-Hussein's blog that many of these artists are sincere and humble and not at all people who have the attitudes being described here as individuals.

    In the meantime, Musa McG, I encourage you to join me in my effort to start a genre of Islamic Irish Rebel music, that would be done without music, drinking, nationalism, or even singing….we're going to have to be creative here, akhi but we can do it.

  31. Taqwa Jihad of ANP says:

    As salaam alaikum wa barakaatu!

    I agree with Sh. Suhaib’s points 100%. Basically, why do you want to listen to music, even if it is calling you to Islam (like ANP, or SOA) when you have Quran?

    Why would you allow non-Mulsim rappers to violate your ears?

    As for the comments of Abul-Hussein, to me they lack creditability and understanding. The only emcee I can remember calling for the direct worship of Satan is a cat name Shan… (not MC Shan, and maybe the name is not correct and my memory is failing me, walhumdulialh). He was a small time emcee from the early 90s. By comparison Heavy Metal had many of it's stars (like Ozzy) call for Satanism and the direct worship Satan.

    Hip Hop is just as immoral as everything else in western culture, so I am not sure why it is being singled out here. As for its influence on the Muslim youth, that is because the Islam has not been taught correctly and made relevant.

    I would suggest all aspiring emcees, and those currently recording to think about what they are saying. I would encourage to put more time in learning the BASICS of the deen, and less time writing, producing and performing. Don't make the same mistakes I did.

    May Allah guide us all… Ameen!

    Taqiudeen

  32. Mohsin says:

    I agree w/ brother Nasir, and I also commend brother Jeremiah for being so patient. J's comments exude ignorance. You said you don't want this to be racial, but your comments from the getgo were intrinsically racial. The fact that you yourself don't recognize this only makes it that much worse. Whats sad is that so many Muslims from immigrant parents, have adopted this line of thinking.

    For exmaple, when you say that ppl should act and talk like the rest of normal americans what you are actually saying is “I think we should all act and speak like white people.” You have internalized the racism of the white supremacy to the point that you don't even recognize your notions of beauty and intelligence are fed you to by the dominant white culture.

    Whats worse is your patronizing attitude in trying to justify your line of reasoning by claiming some sort of legitimacy you have gained by tutoring in certain urban environments.

    Before you write anything further I highly suggest you read Dr. Jackson's book, “Islam and the Blackamerican” as well as a host of other works on the topic of race, such “The Racial Contract” by Charles Mills.

    I just want to conclude by saying I agree that the “hip hop culture” is very decadent, and with what brothers Suhaib Webb and Abul Hussein commented, and especially with Abu Noor. And lastly please forgive me if my post was too harsh.

    Mohsin

  33. Swarth Moor says:

    In essence, the hip hop culture is satanic, for it glorifies lust, intoxication, greed, and the ego. These are tools certainly used by the devil to keep people in a degenerate state. Furthermore, you have the 5% thing that was popular back in the late 80’s and early 90’s (and perhaps the Wu Tang Clan is still around and some others). These 5%ers openly made a call to kufr–in the guise of (pseudo) “Islam.”

    Also, some of the rap groups today are pretty heavy on the demonic symbolism, such as, the 666 Mafia… that won a Grammy(?) for bragging about pimping. Biggie Smalls had the Jr. Mafia, that was divided into three groups, and each group was called a “6.” Also, there was a cut that DMX did in which he brags about “selling his soul to the devil.” And there is one rap video that Snoop Bastard did in which there is a cross hanging upside down in the background. Of course, we don’t believe in this stuff, but it does indicate the mindset of the people behind it.

    The whole rap/rock world is based on Satanism. It comes from the mushrik African culture of the slaves that were brought here back in the day. The most famous early blues singer Robert Johnson himself spoke of selling his soul to the devil for women and fame “down at the crossroads.” In West African mushrik religion, there is a demon called “Eshu” or “Elegba” who would wait at the crossroads and make deals with lonely travellers. The rural South (like, down in the Delta, where the blues came from) is still filled with people doing all kinds of satanic stuff (in addition to the demonic things that take place in the churches). And it is from the rural South (back to mushrik Africa) that the blues/rock/rap music descend.

    Lastly, the general pop culture itself has STRONG satanic undercurrents, and hip hop has made itself part of that pop culture. And today, to a large extent, defines popular culture. The music culture is all part of the psy-ops campaign that the mega-corporations use to control the masses of humanity. Al-Hamdulillah, if Muslims simply implement the rules of the Religion, it insulates us from these demonic schemes.

    swarthmoor.wordpress.com

  34. Dawud Israel says:

    “A question that puzzles me is what happened to making the Qur'an supreme in our lives?”
    -Sh. Abul Hussein

    EXACTLY.

    Hip-hop is full of confusion and lacks direction, because these singers are confused with their kufr and make up their own religious fantasies in their songs, so naturally there is satanism. Perhaps a better word is PHARAONIC- having more to do with Pharaoh's belief in thinking one self to be god (astaghfirullah) and demanding others worship them. Aren't these songs nothing more than dhikr, for worshiping the self. We should not think that this self-worship is a good tool for dawah- just because its popular- but rather we should be confident in the deen of Allah and the power of Islam.

    Write poetry about the deen, and amaze the world with it, but you can only do that but inculcating yourself with the Quran. Don't become a slave to the hip-hop.

    Allah puts forth a similitude: a (slave) man belonging to many partners (like those who worship others along with Allah) disputing with one another, and a (slave) man belonging entirely to one master, (like those who worship Allah Alone). Are those two equal in comparison? All the praises and thanks be to Allah! But most of them know not. Surah Zumar: 29

  35. douglas_kelly says:

    I think we all need to fall back for a moment and recognize that the origin of any broken English spoken by a descendant of slavery has its basis in the deliberate denial of their education. Remember: It used to be a crime for a slave to even learn to read. Brown v. Board of Education, over a half-century ago, still has not cured this endemic pandemic.

    Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley, Barack Obama, etc., are exceptions to the rule. The “rule” is to keep young African-Americans miseducated, ignorant, fearful and dependent on the descendants of their former slavemasters–rather than Allah (subhana wa t'ala)–for their sustenance.

    In the absence of a community that loves us, accepts us and teaches us how to live as a community where we each have a place, we either learn our “place” from the kuffar who control the access to education, jobs and capital…or we create our own jobs “by any means necessary,” which often means accepting the wide-open invitation to join a lawless culture of drugs and gangs (whose theme music is Hip-Hop) and end up forcibly learning our “place” in the prison system. And our “place” at the bottom rung of a society that won't forgive us, educate us, hire us or even rent to us.

    Don't sleep on the number of people worldwide who take 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes as seriously as a heart attack. Of course their message is toxic. Even satanic. But why aren't we talking about how to get the loving, accepting, nourishing, educating message of Islam into the hearts and minds of ALL of our youth, instead of complaining about the disastrous results of the message they've BEEN getting for 400 years in America? We simply blame it all on the rappers, who are merely modern-day slaves of the recording industry.

  36. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    The attacks of Shaytan are not necessarily symmetrical. Allah says, “[your are forbidden] to follow the footsteps of shaytan.” Commenting on this the scholars noted that “footsteps” implies that that the strategies of Shaytan are many. It is not a simple one day your Muslim, the next day your kafir strategy. Scholars noted that he begins with the mundane issues slowly guiding the servant through the minor sins to the major ones. Looking at the message of hip-hop: misogyny, violence, sex and most importantly that most get when they hear it, I think there is no doubt that it exemplifies those very footsteps we've been ordered to avoid.

    The very belief that HH is a instrument for social and spiritual mobility while ignoring the Qur'an and Sunna brings about a host of questions related to one's self worth and faith in religion. Let's propose to leave hip hop for a year, focus on the Qur'an, Sunna, study, worship and dawa and see what happens. The Prophet could have encouraged all of his companions to make Arabic poetry the basis of their dawa:

    1. It was the most popular form of entertainment
    2. It was a quick means to reach the guts of society
    3. A good poet was seen as cool and “the man” amongst the Arabs

    But he instilled in them a love and focus for revelation. Allah says, “The Qur'an was reveled to me so that I may warn with it.” It is well documented that when a person became Muslim during the time of the Prophet he was taught a few things:

    1. How to pray
    2. How to read the Qur'an and some short chapters
    3. Sent back to his people to spread the message

    Allah knows best
    SDW

  37. A Muslim says:

    This article is hypocritical. We complain that non-Muslims and the Media lump our community into one group of terror driven savages, yet we do the same others too.

    How general and narrow is this article? The author probably knows nothing about the Bronx in the 70's, nothing about Kool Herc, Africa Bambaata, & Grandmaster Flash, nothing about the gangs in the Bronx, the economically and socially disadvantaged communities in the Bronx, nothing about the burned down Projects, nothing about a slum on top of a slum. The author probably doesn't know what the 4-elements of Hip-Hop are, or where they came from, or why they were even started. The author probably doesn't know anything about corporate America and how it has deeply infiltrated this American sub-culture. The author probably doesn't know a thing about the difference of opinions within the Hip-Hop community with regards to what Hip-Hop really is. Instead anyone associated with Hip-Hop is inherently evil, even if there are organizations that promote reaching out to community, providing an alternative to those involved in gangs, supporting projects to help the homeless, working with city officials to beautify certain areas of a community, etc etc. Not to mention the hundreds of people all over the world who have acknowledged Hip-Hop as a stepping stone for coming to Islam. Are we to discount those who have embraced Islam through Hip-Hop? Is there Shahada not valid?

    There is nothing patient about this article, a blind condemnation that lacks fair understanding and wisdom.

  38. swarthmoor says:

    A Muslim,

    I hope you realize that you are arguing against yourself. Hip hop started in the pit of kufr in the debauchery of American slums. Hip hop was PARTY MUSIC. It was played at venues that encouraged people to fornicate–that was, in essence, the reason why people went to those gatherings. In addition to trying to “hook-up,” folks went there to GET HIGH and GET DRUNK. They weren't gathering to soften their hearts in the remembrance of their Creator.

    The stepping stone towards Islam argument doesn't hold much weight, for how many thousands of Muslims have commited kufr and left Islam by repeating the kufri lyrics of these rap songs? Similarly, how many people have become confused because of all the kufr and misguidance the rappers promote that they call “Islam,” whether it be the 5%ers, the negro nationalists, the Farrakhanis, Afrocentrism, etc? Rap was bad BEFORE the coporations took it over. The rappers–even the one's who called themselves Muslims back in the day–never had Religious guidance. Consequently, rap has always been a confused mess of kufr and immorality. Muslims in the West need to develop their own forms of artistic expression BASED UPON THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE DEEN, and not upon the satanic nafs driven materialistic egomanical decadent culture of hip hop.

    With Allah is the success.

  39. Abu Noor Al-Irlandee says:

    “Let's propose to leave hip hop for a year, focus on the Qur'an, Sunna, study, worship and dawa and see what happens”

    Masha Allaah I like this suggestion, Imam Suhaib. Could we include a break from electoral politics as well? This was suggested by Christian David Kuo, who had worked in the Bush White House, but became very disillusioned by the distorting effect political participation was having on Christian's ideas of what was important about their faith and communicating its true message.

    Allaah Knows best.

  40. TheAkhira says:

    As a convert to Islam and as someone who used to listen to hip-hop and rap and R&B, I can honestly say that the lyrics, lifestyle and values that not only hip hop promotes but pop culture as well, is soo completely opposite of what I learned Islam to be about. Here we have Muslims defending hip hop of all things while putting down their own muslim brothers and sisters. astaghfirallah. I dont condone hip hop, because i speak from experience and hip hop never led me to do any good (alahamdolillah i came to accept Islam), its not a good influence on me and i certaintly wouldnt want my muslim brothers and sisters to take part in its promotion. Especially in Chicago where the gang culture is strong and is being promoted by such lyrics and lifestyles, theres no respect for human life, let alone women. Children are being murdered in our streets and we sit and bicker and defend such fitnahs. audhubillah, get a grip people, take a few steps back, and think about it. to me hip hop is jahiliyyah and it will always be my jahiliyyah, its not a form of expression to me, it doesnt help me achieve spiritual enlightenment, it just distracts me from whats really important. and give the brother who wrote the article some slack, if 50 cent said those things then why is all these ppl jumping to defend the guy? when will we find out that Islam is everything we have that has any value, nothing else matters, islam is enough. Im not saying ignore the hip hop population, we do need to be able to relate to those who struggle in hip hop culture. there are many issues from drugs to gangs to poverty etc. But when we come to Islam we should take the guidance of our teachers and move away from hip hop culture while maintaining our unique perspectives. We should be able to recognize that our role models are no longer these rappers and hip hop divas, but we as muslims have such greater role models, we have Prophet Muhammad (S) and the Sahaba (R), the Mothers of the Believers (R), these are our examples and we should follow them. To not learn about them and to not try to follow in their footsteps would great ingratitude for the sacrifices they made for us, so that we can be called muslims. Allah swt brings people to accept islam, not hip hop. do we really want to settle for a larger quantity of muslims, or do we want better quality, ask yourselves that question.

  41. peace says:

    1. There are many in hip hop who do not recognize 50 cent and Erykah Badu as hip-hop, nor do they accept commercialized trivial pop culture, gangster rap, money, material things, etc.

    2. Obviously Islam over Hip-Hop, there's no doubt about it

    3. My main contention: how can you judge a thing if you only understand an aspect of that thing but neglecting it in it's entirety? Lumping those who identify with hip-hop culture, even if they too are against the vile things that have been associated with Hip-Hop and are doing what they can within their context and resources to seek the truth, is unjust and unfair. It arrogance on our part as Muslims to do so.

  42. Abul-Hussein says:

    Just dropped by to say…ASALAAMU ALAIKUM!

  43. J says:

    As-Salam Alaykum,

    Recently I had a heated discussion with some brothers, including brother Jermaine, brother Mohsin, and brother Nasir Abdussalam.

    Al-hamdu lillah, I am not a man who is stubborn, or who rigidly sticks to his viewpoints even when confronted with new ideas and new ways of looking at things.

    I have thought about what you brothers have said, and spent time deeply reflecting on it. I have realized that what I have said is deeply offensive to my brothers and sisters in the black community. I also realize that a lot of what I said sounded a lot like the stuff Republicans say about blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants, and minorities in general. That is absolutely the last group I'd like to be compared to.

    I renounce everything I said in this thread, and sincerely ask for your forgiveness. Your words have affected both my mind and my heart. Please be assured, however, that I had never meant to be racist, nor do I think I was. However, I realize that one should carefully use words on such sensitive issues, and I was careless in that matter, so the fault is none other than mine if others construed those to be racist, and there can be no blame on those other people for having construed them in that way.

    Furthermore, I think that such matters should be left to the people of wisdom and knowledge in the black (Muslim) community itself, as they are more cognizant of their own situation. The fire burns closest to its source. I know that this is a matter that is obvious, but I needed a reminder. I am a very opinionated man, and sometimes I opine on matters that I really shouldn't delve into.

    May Allah [swt] reward you brothers with the highest ranks in Paradise.

    Fi Aman Allah

  44. salman says:

    Salaam to all of you,

    I've been lurking and reading all the comments since I first posted a few days ago. Here are a few things I've noticed. First, everyone who supports the idea of doing away with hip-hop entirely has failed to directly answer the question of why this is necessary, rather than simply doing away with the inappropriate stuff. I think it's clear that no one who's arguing for hip-hop is also arguing for lyrics about illicit sex, drugs, and violence. On this point, we're all on the same page.

    Second, if I can be so bold as to speak for the others here who arguing in favor of hip-hop, I think we would not be opposed to abandoning the genre altogether if a thoroughly convincing argument for this was made. However, with respect to Sheikh Abul-Hussein and brother Suhaib, their original arguments were quite weak. Then, when the questions and comments of the dissenting voices were ignored in lieu of simply repeating their arguments in a new way, a lot of frustration began to emerge from the dissenters. Their answers continued to assume that hip-hop is inherently immoral/destructive/etc without saying why. The points we raised went unanswered, and that gives the impression that they're viewed as illegitimate.

    I really must beg of the Sheikh, brother Suhaib, and many others here on this blog: please, don't ignore the legitimate concerns we raise. We're not here to undermine you or to be willfully disobedient. We're all Muslims and we're all playing for the same team. We simply have different viewpoints.

    So, to restate the main concern many of us raised: why must we abandon an entire genre of music when there is no intrinsic connection between that genre and the inappropriate content that commonly exists within it? Why must we abandon Native Deen because of 50 Cent's lyrics? If it can be proved that hip-hop is inherently immoral, then by all means do so; our hearts are wide open. But allow me to first address some of the objections that have already been made against hip-hop, which did not adequately prove that it itself is immoral:

    1) There is no consensus that says music is haram. Many scholars have many opinions about this.
    2) Even if the majority of popular hip-hop is inappropriate, the genre itself isn't necessarily discredited. Shakespeare is by far the most popular poet who uses iambic pentameter, and he often wrote about illicit sex, but I've yet to see any objections to iambic pentameter.
    3) Even if hip-hop was born in a pit of sin (arguable), as some have said, that doesn't invalidate the genre. As brother Peace pointed out, Islam was born in pagan Arabia. Yet here we are.
    4) Yes, the Quran comes first. No one is arguing against that point. This doesn't mean we must spend ALL our free time with it.
    5) Western, or anything else from outside the generally accepted Islamic paradigm does not equal “bad”. And just because a thing is un-Islamic today does not mean we can't adapt it to be Islamic tomorrow. Muslims have been doing this for centuries and we need to keep it up.

    I'd like to end with a hadith, paraphrased, from an article by Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah:

    “In celebration of an annual Islamic
    religious festival, a group of Black African converts
    began to beat leather drums and dance with spears in
    the Prophet’s mosque. Umar felt compelled to interfere and
    stop them, but the Prophet intervened on their behalf,
    directing Umar to leave them alone and noting to him
    that they were “the sons of Arfida,” that is, not his
    people. The Prophet invited his wife Aisha to watch
    the dance, took her into the crowd, and lifted her over
    his back, so that she could watch them clearly as she
    eagerly leaned forward, her cheek pressing against his.
    The Prophet made it a point to dispel the Ethiopians’
    misgivings about Umar’s intrusion and encouraged
    them to dance well and, in one account of this authen-
    tic story, reassured them to keep up their drumming
    and dancing, saying: “Play your games, sons of Arfida,
    so the Jews and Christians know there is latitude in our
    religion.”

  45. AbC says:

    Here are a couple of Imam Suhaib's Statements on his previous replies to this blog post:

    “I realized that the Qur'an and Hip Hop simply don't mix. What is sad about many of our Muslim Hip-Hoppers and well as performers in general is their acute poverty when it comes to religious knowledge. I have never understood how people could stand on stage, carry themselves like some type of Rakim rejects knowing that they lack the basic fundamentals of religion and faith?”

    “Let's be honest, when one listens to hip-hop what is the feeling found in the heart? Is it a feeling of bliss? Is it a feeling of tenderness and love, or is it a feeling that “I'm the baddest [you insert the swear word] on the planet and can't nobody [insert] with me?”

    “I remember when Biggie was gunned down in a hail of bullets, hijabis at a local Islamic school started crying saying “He isn't dead!” Where were the tears for the 24.000 people who die every day of hunger?”

    “Musicians and other entertainers are given the status of Muslim Messiah's, paid up to $40.000 dollars per performance while Imam's like Siraj Wahaj have to be put in the public sphere just to raise money for their cancer treatment! While Muslim bloggers went rapid over Jacko's funeral, what was done to save masjids closing in New Jersey and to raise funds for the family from Mali who lost 8 children in a tragic fire some time ago! Again, our priorities are telling.”

    “I noted once that a brother had well over 500 songs on his I-phone and not one Islamic lecture or Qur'anic reciter”

    “While I'm open to certain types of music, I find hip hop and the idea that it is a savior sickening.”

    (All of the above quotes are from the first reply to the blog-post, by Imam Suhaib Webb)

    In my opinion, what Imam Suhaib is trying to say is that Hip-Hop (as well as nasheed artists and comedians) is given too much importance, so much that the Shuyookh of our communities have to take a backseat to them, when they should be given more importance. As stated in one of the quotes above, we Muslims have gotten our priorities all mixed up. So you see, Br. Salman, in my personal opinions, it is a matter of Useful vs, Useless, and a matter of setting our priorities right.

  46. Suhaib Webb says:

    Asalamu alaykum,

    Salman:

    I find the tone of your response interesting. While I appreciate it, I fail to agree with the contention that we are being dismissive. While Dr. 'Umar is certainly a respected scholar. What does his madhab say about the hadith you quoted above? It is interesting to note that this hadith was not used by any of the four schools to allow music? Thus, if we were to choose between Dr. Umar and the four schools, who should we follow? Imam Ibn Hajar donated a large discussion to this narration noting the different wordings and texts related to it as well and the pertinent rulings non of which conclude that music is permissible.

    As for the claims of being dismissive, I would have to respond in the negative. I have no problem speaking at an event where Muslims are using hip-hop or music. I simply don't agree that it is the best use of our time. I would differ that there are a number of comments below by the supporters of hip hop that have questioned the writers credentials, my own and simply to put it blunt “dissed us.”

    I was a D.J starting in the 80's, recorded 4 hip hop records and mixed and scratched until my conversion in 1992. My point is that Muslims are not taking advantage of the time they have in this life to focus on more productive things. It was the call to tawhid and reading the Qur'an that brought me out of kufur. Once I learned those things I knew that Hip Hop had nothing to offer.

    Many of the artists who I met and worked with were frauds. The preached things to the masses that they failed to practice themselves. On Halloween night 1985 a group of Hip Hoppers, Old Skool, were with me. I was only 12 and they were all laughing about something. These were huge stars in the business and not some simple cats. When I got to the dressing room I found them standing over an African American women, naked with her legs open. I felt disgusted because she was in real bad shape. Suddenly, the leader said to me, “Get ya some man. You still a little N##3a, go on and take care ya buidnez!” Now these same guys were rapping about “All the way to heaven” and saying “Oh my God” in there songs stating that, “We are trying to promote Jesus in the lives of others.” On other occasions, Hip Hoppers were doing these things with women in the open, smoking weed, giving me drink and encouraging me to live the life of Eazy E. Thus, all the talk about Africa Bambatta and the Zulu Nation which my best friend was a member of, is highly exaggerated. Until now they have done nothing for the hood. And a quick look at their creed would reveal a mix of the Nation of Islam and George Clinton's Parliament Funckadelic pure kufur at its finest.

    My point is instead of focusing on these things for social change, why not present focus on learning our religion first. If the Prophet censored Umar for reading passages from the Torah saying, “If Mosa were alive today, he would have no choice but to follow me.” What would he say to a Muslim youth who listens to Hip Hop in order to draw nearer to Allah?

    The response of some Muslims is telling: “Are you saying we just spread our message pure and simple?” The reality is that we have moved from a position of yaqin in revelation to doubt. That last question is proof of that. Now we are encouraged to understand Islam through Hip Hop, through Liberalism, through Post Modernity and through feminism. When are we going to invert the process and understand our surroundings with revelation?

    If you think that it is better to focus on hip-hop and continue to find Muslim entertainers who cannot even read the fatiha correctly, put pictures of themselves on face book on a bed surrounded by women and turn events, call to mind the recent Radical Middle Way event with Remarkable Current, into raves where Muslim youth are mixing, jumping up and down and forgetting their morals, better than studying the deen and developing a sincere Islamic approach to the dawa, then that's worrying.

    SDW

  47. atikahw says:

    Assalamualaikum. I would like to say something about your comment here.

    Though I can't really say anything much about the majority of the content of your comment since I am not at all into the hip-hop culture but I have to disagree with you on the matter of grafitti. On the surface, yes, grafitti is bad. Defacing public property is never good. However, you are looking at the wrong perspective here or the wrong source. Not all grafitti is bad. Nowadays there are professional graffiti artists that are being paid and allowed to do graffiti. Sure, some of them are doing graffiti just for art's sakes but some graffitis are done to spread messages of goodwill and even, Islam.

    The perfect example is Muhammad Ali, or also known as Aerosol Arabic. I think he is one of the most well-known Islamic graffiti artists. Every each one of his graffitis are done with permission and has messages of Islam. This catches the attention of a lot of media as not many people have combined the elements of Islam into graffiti. And yet, Aerosol Arabic has done so and at the same time, changes people's perspective on how to spread the message of Islam. With the work of Aerosol Arabic, not only the general public feels refreshed at seeing something new in the Islamic art but also realizes how easy it is to spread the messages of Islam if you try.

    To Aerosol Arabic, graffiti is a just another medium to remind us about our duty as Muslims and our faith to Allah. I'm not saying all graffiti is good. But do not categorize graffiti as simply bad. With this sort of thinking, it narrows our abilities as khalifahs and our creativity to perform dakwah. We must look at it from every point of view. First and foremost is out intentions. If our intentions is only to serve Allah, then why is doing graffiti in the name of Allah be condemned as bad just because of the general view of the artform?

    And most importantly, I believe Br. Suhaib said that we must be relevant in reaching out to the youth about Islam. Yes, graffiti is initially done as a form of rebellion. But, Aerosol Arabic has changed this damaging artform into something legal, spiritual and beneficial.

    For more information, go to http://www.aerosolarabic.com or http://www.aerosolarabic.wordpress.com

    And to give proof of the legitimacy of his work, here is a blog post of him explaining about the FAQ's: http://aerosolarabic.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/f

    I do hope that I changed your opinion about graffiti or at least, broadened your understanding about artform. :)

    Salaam.

  48. salman says:

    Wa Alaykum Salaam, brother Suhaib.

    Thank you for the response. I appreciate your insights into hip-hop culture. You've certainly seen it from an insider's perspective, which is something most of us here can't claim. Though I still disagree with your conclusions about hip-hop as a whole, I understand how such experiences would influence your opinion on the issue.

    I'm afraid I misrepresented Dr. Abdallah by not giving the context in which he (and I) was using that hadith. It wasn't intended to be a justification for listening to music. It was part of a paper he wrote called “Islam and the Cultural Imperative”, which argues that in order for American Muslims to put down deep roots in this country, we must accept America's culture as our own. Not to say that we should accept what's immoral, but that we must be truly American and truly Muslim. So the point of the hadith (as I was using it) was to say that before we dismiss something that's so deeply entrenched in American culture, we should ask ourselves whether it's definitely haram 100% of the time.

    Culture is important. No matter how much I prioritize the Quran over other parts of my life, my background is still going to be a part of who I am, and that means I'm going to long for the things from my culture. Hip-hop is a part of that for me and many other Muslims out there. All I'm saying is that we should look deeply into these things before we try to deny people their heritage.

    With respect to the experiences you had with hip-hop as a child, I can understand what it's like to get burned by hypocrisy. When I first converted some time ago, the brothers who were mentoring me turned out to be total hypocrites. And these weren't just the average people you meet at your local masjid, these brothers were running zakat at Al-Aqsa. They all abandoned me because I had the gall to speak up when one of the brothers was making sexual advances on me. But what if I had applied your attitude on hip-hop to Islam? I would have left the deen. I probably would have felt completely justified in doing so, too, assuming that Muslims are all a bunch of sinful hypocrites. Our tendency to be reactionary in our judgement is what's truly worrying.

    Thank you for speaking with me, brother Suhaib. May God give you the best in this life and the next.

  49. Sean says:

    Dear and Respected Imam Suhaib,

    I love you for the sake of Allah, and have no doubt that you are one of the future men of knowledge and wisdom to help guide our ummah.

    I beg of you to please just move on to other topics. I feel as though this is leading you to say things that are not indicative of the balance and wisdom that Allah has blessed you with.

    You have just unecessarily related to us in excessive detail a raunchy and disgusting story that sheds no light on the subject. I was surprised and disappointed by your choice to do that. Your message that the hip-hop scene has a lot of very negative activities associated with it is clear. No one would dispute that. No one is claiming hip-hop is the “best use of our time.” No one in this discussion is claiming hip-hop is the savior or we should “understand Islam through hip-hop.”

    Yes, there are some very serious problems with the lifestyles associated with hip-hop. This is well-known, and, yes, the reminders to Muslims are still very necessary. But if one takes the opinion that music is permissible (which is, as you know, a fully valid opinion amongst the many around music), than one can view hip-hop like any other artform of human civilization and take from it whatever one finds beneficial. EVERY human civilization has music and art, just as every civilization has styles of dress or food or sports. It is simply a part of what it means to be human.

    Although you have not clearly stated your position, you are welcome to contend that all music is just plain haram, but I do think you should be more measured when you attempt to speak on behalf of the well-being of black community or “the hood” as you call it. You declare that hip-hop has “nothing to offer” and Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation “have done nothing for the hood.” Wow. You are welcome to criticize Afrika Bambaataa and label the Zulu Nation “pure kufr” (BTW, they've taught since the 1970's belief in “the Abrahimic God” and the “validity of the Qur'an”). But it is well-documented that their work in the roughest parts of New York, creating gang truces and converting gangbangers into social activists has saved lives. How can anyone take seriously such declarative statements from you about what is good for “the hood?”

    Besides the rhetorical recklessness of such sweeping declarations as “hip hop has done nothing to help the hood,” I would caution you from feeling so comfortable categorizing hip-hop's place in the realm of the black experience. More so than any other American group, music for Blackamericans is an essential fabric of their humanity. It helped them survive the torment of brutal slavery, the agony of suffocating Jim Crow laws, the tortuous frustration of poverty, and the demeaning pain of second class citizenship in this country. In my eyes, white people (particularly knowledgeable ones like yourself) are entitled to their opinion, but should not make any outright declarations about the meaning and role of black music in black people's lives.

    You may have some credentials in that you were a DJ and hung out with “huge stars” like Old Skool (never heard of them ;)), but it just seems like you've had a very narrow exposure to hip-hop. You asked rhetorically what are the feelings that one has when listening to hip-hop (implying that its only about feeling like the “baddest dude on the planet). Well, I can answer from my experience. From listening to hip-hop, I have felt love, joy, bliss, anger, enlightenment, rage, confidence, frustration, tenderness, empathy, understanding, introspection, escape, guilt, awakening, inspiration, and the list goes on and on. In other words, I have felt the whole range of experience that any human art and expression can instill. It is natural, it is human, and it contains all the good and bad of humanity that I am free to choose from.

    I too used to be a DJ and left that to move away from the madness of the hip-hopscene and spend more time drawing closer to my Creator. I lament the ways hip-hop has been distorted and manipulated for the lowest forms of human expression, and I too caution Muslims about its dangers. But I still respect hip-hop as a genuine human artform, a source of some good in “the hood,” and a means for me to sometimes to just enjoy the enriching beauty of human expression.

    Forgive me Imam Suhaib for my tone, and for any errant words I have typed. I took time to offer my advice and insight only because I honor your integrity and wisdom and hope to partake in it's continued growth.

    May Allah bless you.

    Your brother,

    Sean

  50. Nomad78 says:

    Salam,

    I have not been following the whole argument but your reply caught my eye especially the quote “which argues that in order for American Muslims to put down deep roots in this country, we must accept America's culture as our own. Not to say that we should accept what's immoral, but that we must be truly American and truly Muslim”
    I am a firm believer in understanding and appreciating other cultures but I am very much an opponent of the “melting pot” mentality that predominates the American culture. Two points, first the American culture itself is still trying to define itself. After all America is only 350years young and the generational shift in cultural attitudes and moral standards is rapid and the well-defined set in stone codes are a few and far in between. This is not meant as a disrespect but rather an observation when you compare the American culture to that of Chinese, Arab, Persian or other well established cultures.
    The second point is the fact that you are defending hip-hop as a part of the American culture is false because of the fact that hip-hop has not been around for more than two generations. To go with your point one must look beyond the short attention span that we are plagued with here in America and look beyond the years of one's own life to decide whether something is cultural or generational (e.g. Thanksgiving vs hip-hop)
    The cultural shift that America should realize or is realizing recently, which is part of growing pains, is that the “melting pot” doesn't work and the “mosaic” model works best. I can/I am a muslim with an American citizenship, I eat Chicken (don't like Turkey) on thanksgiving, I like football, Burgers and Hot Dogs…….I can argue Apple Pie but i am not a huge fan of the taste. Hip-hop is a generation's rebellious voice against a loosely defined moral standard not a staple in the American culture.
    I hope you are not offended by my comments for that is not the intention. My only other advice if I may is the fault a lot of us fall into which is to judge the whole based on the actions of the few (this is in reference to the hypocritical muslims that existed ever since the dawn of the religion)
    Nomad78

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