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where culture itself is degraded, and vulgarity is enthroned. Much of the music that much of the world listens to is narcissistic, misogynistic, and mired in messages of gratuitous violence. It has been this way for decades, with artists of every stripe always looking to see how much further they can "push the limits" (of decency)..."I Love Good Music
--El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
by El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan
..... I love good music. I come down on the side of those scholars who determine its worth (halal or haram; permissible or forbidden) based upon its content. Music is part of a universal, creative language that has the power to touch the emotions - and either elevate or degrade human consciousness. I love good music.
On this note, before getting into the primary purpose for this particular message, I want to pay tribute to a great talent who just passed away at the young age of 40; and convey my heartfelt condolences to his family. The deceased artist is Gerald Levert - the son of Eddie Levert, an original member of one of the most respected groups in the music industry, "The Ojays."
I learned about Gerald's death while passing through Philadelphia on my way home from New Jersey yesterday. I was scanning the dial when I heard one of his soul stirring songs being played over WDAS-FM. After the song went off I learned of his passing (of an apparent heart attack), as the station proceeded to conduct an hours long tribute to his legacy; and what a tribute it was. Nationally and internationally known artists (i.e., singers, producers, and song writers) came by the station (or called by telephone) to share their personal memories of this talented young artist with a BIG heart. Multitudes of fans called into the station to testify about how Gerald, or his music, had touched them in very personal ways.
I didn't know Gerald Levert personally, but I knew people who knew him. One mutual friend is Br. Luqman, aka Kenny Gamble, co-founder of the legendary recording company known as "Philadelphia International." Luqman had some very warm and memorable things to say about Gerald and his father (Eddie). Indeed, from all that was said about Gerald by the many different people who stopped by the station (or called in) to give testimony, he was a man and artist that touched millions of people in a very, very special way. May Allah (Almighty God) reward him for it.
Now, for the primary reason for this missive. It has come to my attention (though I am not surprised) that Muslim Spoken Word and Hip Hop artists - who have the consciousness and courage to "speak truth to power" through the medium of their music - have begun to receive special attention from "intelligence agencies" headquartered in the West. (see the article below)
The global music industry - led by America - comprises a gargantuan cesspool of cultural filth; where culture itself is degraded, and vulgarity is enthroned. Much of the music that much of the world listens to is narcissistic, misogynistic, and mired in messages of gratuitous violence. It has been this way for decades, with artists of every stripe always looking to see how much further they can "push the limits" (of decency). But now we are told that "intelligence agencies" have taken aim at young Muslim artists in the west (particularly America and Britain) who are viewed as bearing "jihadi" messages!
It is my earnest prayer that overwhelming numbers of concerned folk within (and outside) the Muslim community - irrespective of what our (or our "Sheikhs") individual position on music happens to be - will defend the rights of these young brothers AND SISTERS to express themselves through the medium that The Almighty has blessed them with!
To the young Muslim artists, I simply say this: One of the greatest socially-committed artists of the twentieth century, the extraordinary Paul Robeson, once said, "Each artist must elect to use his (or her) art to either fight for freedom, or to fight for slavery." This is the choice that every artist must make; for the God-fearing, the stakes and standards are indeed high.
Use your power wisely brothers and sisters (always with a sense of accountability to Allah); and always strive for balance as you endeavor to do what every conscientious Muslim must endeavor to do - speak truth to power, to the best of our ability. May Allah strengthen and protect all who follow this way. Ameen.
Courtesy: El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan. He is Director of Operations, The Peace And Justice Foundation, Silver Spring, Maryland
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