Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World: Performance, Politics and Piety 2013020129, 9780415665629, 9781315867236

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Table of contents :
Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of illustrations
Introduction: the paradigm of performing Islam beyond the political rhetoric
1 New Islamist popular culture in Turkey
2 Social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt
3 Singing dissent: Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives
4 Debating piety and performing arts in the public sphere: the ‘caravan’ of veiled actresses in Egypt
5 Wah wah! Meida meida! The changing roles of dance in Afghan society
6 The manifest and the hidden: agency and loss in Muslim performance traditions of South and West Asia
7 ‘Muslim punk’ music online: piety and protest in the digital age
8 Devotion or pleasure? Music and meaning in the celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora
9 Multicultural harmony? Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford
10 Hip-hop bismillah: subcultural worship of Allah in Western Europe
11 Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab: challenging clichés or serving up an immigrant stereotype for mass consumption online?
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Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World

In contrast to many books on Islam that focus on political rhetoric and activism, this book explores Islam’s extraordinarily rich cultural and artistic diversity, showing how sound, music and bodily performance offer a window onto the subtleties and humanity of Islamic religious experience. Through a wide range of case studies from West Asia, South Asia and North Africa and their diasporas – including studies of Sufi chanting in Egypt and Morocco, dance in Afghanistan, and ‘Muslim punk’ online – the book demonstrates how Islam should not be conceived of as being monolithic or monocultural, how there is a large disagreement within Islam as to how music and performance should be approached, such disagreements being closely related to debates about orthodoxy, secularism, and moderate and fundamental Islam, and how important cultural activities have been, and continue to be, for the formation of Muslim identity. Kamal Salhi is Reader in Francophone, Postcolonial and North African Studies at the University of Leeds and Deputy Director of the Leeds Centre for African Studies, UK. He is the founder and editor of two academic journals, Performing Islam and the International Journal of Francophone Studies. He is the founding director of the Leeds Centre for Francophone Studies (1997–2003) which has developed into the Centre for French and Francophone Cultural Studies. Dr Salhi has recently completed with Distinction an AHRC/ESRC funded research project, ‘Performance, Politics and Piety: Music as Debate in the Muslim World’.

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21 Navigating Contemporary Iran Challenging economic, social and political perspectives Edited by Eric Hooglund and Leif Stenberg

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22 Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World Performance, politics and piety Edited by Kamal Salhi


Music, Culture and Identity in the Muslim World Performance, politics and piety

Edited by Kamal Salhi


Routledge Taylor & Francis Group


First published 2014 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2014 selection and editorial material, Kamal Salhi; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Kamal Salhi to be identified as author of the editorial material, and of the individual authors as authors of their contributions, has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Music, culture and identity in the Muslim world : performance, politics and piety / edited by Kamal Salhi. pages cm. -- (Routledge advances in Middle East and Islamic studies ; 22) Summary: “Through a wide range of case studies from West Asia, South Asia and North Africa and their diasporas - including studies of Sufi chanting in Egypt and Morocco, dance in Afghanistan, and “Muslim punk” on-line - the book demonstrates how Islam should not be conceived of as being monolithic or monocultural, how there is a large disagreement within Islam as to how music and performance should be approached, such disagreements being closely related to debates about orthodoxy, secularism, and moderate and fundamental Islam, and how important cultural activities have been, and continue to be, for the formation of Muslim identity”-Provided by publisher. Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Islamic music--History and criticism. 2. Music--Islamic countries--History and criticism. 3. Music--Social aspects--Islamic countries. 4. Music--Political aspects--Islamic countries. I. Salhi, Kamal. ML3197.M87 2014 297.2’67--dc23 2013020129 ISBN: 978-0-415-66562-9 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-315-86723-6 (ebk) Typeset in Times New Roman by Taylor & Francis Books


List of illustrations Contributors Acknowledgements Introduction: the paradigm of performing Islam beyond the political rhetoric

ix x xv



1 New Islamist popular culture in Turkey



2 Social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt



3 Singing dissent: Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives



4 Debating piety and performing arts in the public sphere: the ‘caravan’ of veiled actresses in Egypt



5 Wah wah! Meida meida! The changing roles of dance in Afghan society



6 The manifest and the hidden: agency and loss in Muslim performance traditions of South and West Asia



7 ‘Muslim punk’ music online: piety and protest in the digital age DHIRAJ MURTHY




8 Devotion or pleasure? Music and meaning in the celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora



9 Multicultural harmony? Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford



10 Hip-hop bismillah: subcultural worship of Allah in Western Europe



11 Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab: challenging clichés or serving up an immigrant stereotype for mass consumption online?





List of illustrations

Figures 2.1 al-tariqa al-Ja`fariyya. Yearly mawlid hadra, performed at the central mosque of the tariqa al-Ja`fariyya; Darrasa, Cairo, Thursday, 14 November 1996 2.2 al-tariqa al-Jazuliyya al-Husayniyya al-Shadhiliyya. Weekly Thursday hadra, central mosque of the tariqa al-Jazuliyya; Qayt Bay, Cairo, 11 May 1998 2.3 al-tariqa al-Bayyumiyya: central group. Weekly Friday hadra, central mosque of the tariqa al-Bayyumiyya; al-Husayniyya, Cairo, 8 May 1998 2.4 al-tariqa al-Bayyuumiyya: local group. Weekly hadra, Madinat al-Nur, Zawiya al-Hamra’, Cairo, 27 April 1998 2.5 Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami. Public hadra, Badari, Assiut (middle Egypt), 8 February 1996 2.6 Sufi order in Phase 1 2.7 Sufi order in Phase 2 2.8 Sufi order in Phase 3 7.1 From iMuslims: rewiring the house of Islam by Gary R. Bunt 7.2 ‘Taqwacore’ tagged posts on a selection of tweets with the hashtag or keyword #taqwacore 9.1 Map of 2009 Bradford Mela



43 44 45 48 49 50 167 172 212

Tables 2.1 Distribution of heterodox elements in tariqa hadras



Martin Stokes is King Edward Professor of Music at King’s College, London. He is also Honorary Professor of Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. His research interests lie in Europe and the Middle East, particularly in Turkey and Egypt. His The Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music was published in 2010, and won the Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2012. Michael Frishkopf is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Alberta, an ethnomusicologist and composer. His research interests reflected in his numerous publications include Sufi music; the Arab music industry; sound in Islamic ritual performance; music and religion; comparative music theory; the sociology of musical taste; social network analysis; (virtual [world) music], digital music repositories; music in West Africa; music of refugees; participatory action research; psychoacoustics and music cognition; and music therapy as memory therapy. He is a lifetime member of both the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Middle East Studies Association of North America. He has received numerous fellowships, including grants from Fulbright, the American Research Center in Egypt, the Social Science Research Council, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Killam Foundation (Canada), the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Recent edited volumes include Music and Media in the Arab World (2010) and Music and Architecture (2012). Earle Waugh is Professor Emeritus of Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Arts and currently Adjunct Professor and Director of the Centre for the Cross-Cultural Study of Health and Healing in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta. His work includes key studies on Music in Muslim countries, and Islam in the West. He has written or edited over a dozen of books, dictionaries and studies, and has received several awards for his writings. His The Munshidin of Egypt: Their World and Their Song (1989) and Memory, Music, Religion: Morocco’s Mystical Chanters (2005) have both been critically acclaimed for the new direction

Notes on contributors


they provide in Islamic studies. His long commitment to education about minority groups in Canada and his promotion of understanding of Muslim and indigenous cultures was recognized in 2005 by the awarding of the prestigious Salvos Prelorentzos Award for Peace Education by Project Ploughshares. Karin van Nieuwkerk is an anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Radboud University, the Netherlands. She is the author of A Trade Like any Other: Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt (1995). She edited Creating an Islamic Cultural Sphere: Contested Notions of Art, Leisure and Entertainment, a special issue of Contemporary Islam (2008). She has also edited Women Embracing Islam: Gender and Conversion in the West (2006), and Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps, and Revolutionary Theater: Artistic Developments in the Muslim World (2012). Her other key publications are ‘Piety, Penitence and Gender: the case of repentant artists in Egypt’, in Journal for Islamic Studies (Vol. 28, 2008); ‘Time and Migration: Changes in Religious Celebrations among Moroccan Immigrant Women in the Netherlands’, in Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs (Vol. 25, 2005); ‘Veils and Wooden Clogs don’t go Together’, in Ethnos Journal of Anthropology (Vol. 69, 2004); ‘Religion, Gender, and Performing: Female Performers and Repentance in Egypt’, in Music and Gender. Perspectives from the Mediterranean, Tullia Magrini (ed.) (2003). Karin van Nieuwkerk has led several, funded research projects of great importance and supervises doctoral research in the field of anthropological Islam and the performing arts. John Baily is Emeritus Professor of Ethnomusicology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He came into ethnomusicology from experimental psychology, with a doctorate on human spatial coordination and motor control from the University of Sussex. In 1973 he became a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Social Anthropology, Queen’s University of Belfast, and in collaboration with John Blacking conducted two years of ethnomusicological fieldwork in Afghanistan. In 1978 he was appointed Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Queen’s. From 1984–6 he trained in anthropological film making at the National Film and Television School, and directed the award-winning film Amir: An Afghan refugee musician’s life in Peshawar, Pakistan. From 1988–90 he was Associate Professor in the Centre for Ethnomusicology, Columbia University, New York. He joined Goldsmiths in 1990, then became Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of the Afghanistan Music Unit. As a musician John has been playing the Afghan lutes, the dutâr and the rubâb, for many years and is acclaimed by Afghans as a performer of their traditional music. He has published widely on the music of Afghanistan, including several CDs of field and studio recordings of Afghan music. His other main research interests are musical cognition, music and the human body, ethnomusicological film making, and music in the South Asian communities in the UK.


Notes on contributors

Richard K. Wolf is Professor of Music and South Asian Studies at Harvard University. He has written about classical, folk and tribal musical traditions, and on music in Islamic practices in India and Pakistan. Based on eight years’ fieldwork, his published work addresses issues of language, emotion, poetics, and rhythm. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, ACLS, NEH, AIIS, AIPS and Fulbright. He is editor of Theorizing the Local: Music, Practice, and Experience in South Asia and Beyond (2009) and forthcoming volumes on indigeneity in India and the cross cultural study of rhythm. Wolf ’s first book, The Black Cow’s Footprint: Time, Space, and Music in the Lives of the Kotas of South India (2005, republished 2006), received the Edward Cameron Dimock, Jr. Prize in the Humanities. Wolf also performs on the South Indian vina and is currently completing an ethnomusicological monograph in the form of a novel. Dhiraj Murthy is Senior Lecturer of Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His research interests include social media, virtual organizations, online communities, online diasporas, and digital ethnography. He has recently published his work in Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies, the European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Media, Culture, and Society. He also recently wrote a book, Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age (2012). Natalie Sarrazin is Associate Professor of Music at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a Masters degree from Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University. Natalie has written and spoken extensively on the topics of Hindi film music and the role of Indian music in education. She is the author of numerous publications including, ‘Celluloid Love Songs: Musical Modus Operandi and the Dramatic Aesthetics of Romantic Hindi Film’, in Popular Music (2008), ‘Children’s Urban and Musical Worlds in North India’, in Oxford Handbook of Children’s Musical Cultures (2012), ‘Global Masala: Digital Identities and Aesthetic Trajectories in Post-Liberalized Indian Film Music’, in Gregory Booth and Bradley Shope (eds), Popular Music in India: Dancing with the Elephant (2013), and a pedagogical book, Indian Music for the Classroom (2008). Thomas E. Hodgson was Stipendiary Lecturer in Music at Magdalen College, Oxford. He was the Lamb and Flag Scholar at St John’s College, Oxford, where he completed his D.Phil. in Music. He is currently British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at King’s College London. An ethnomusicologist, his current research focuses on Pakistani Mirpuris and music in the UK and Kashmir, where he has also conducted extensive fieldwork. Outside academia, he writes occasional articles for the New Statesman and The Times, and has recently produced a series for BBC Radio 2.

Notes on contributors


Maruta Herding received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Cambridge in 2012. Her Ph.D. thesis was on Islamic youth culture in Western Europe, looking at a recent phenomenon that has shaped both European Islam and the subcultural landscape of France, Germany and the UK. Her research was funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council and by Girton College. Her Master’s dissertation in Sociology at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg was on ‘Segregation and Urban Conflict: The Riots in French Suburbs’. During her graduate studies, Maruta also studied at the Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne, and The American University in Cairo. Since 2011, Maruta has been a researcher at the German Youth Institute. Her research interests include Islamic youth culture, Islam in Europe, urban arts, subculture, cultural globalization and migration. Jonathan Ervine is Head of French at Bangor University in Wales where he lectures on French language, film, politics and history. His research focuses predominantly on cultural and media representations of immigrants and young people from suburban housing estates in France known as banlieues. This work concentrates on domains such as contemporary cinema, music and new media and also sport and national identity. He is the author of the monograph entitled Cinema and the Republic: Filming on the Margins in Contemporary France (2013). During a period of research leave in 2012, he worked on a new project about multiculturalism and humour in France in which he analyzes the ways that humour can both provoke controversy and also provide a means of promoting tolerance in contemporary French society. Kamal Salhi is Reader in Francophone, Postcolonial and African Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds. He has a research background in theatre and performance of North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and he has published widely in the field of politics and aesthetics of performance with special emphasis on cultures influenced by Islam, colonialism and secular traditions. He has successfully led the research network project, ‘Performance, politics, piety: music as debate in Muslim societies of North Africa, South Asia, West Asia and their diasporas’ (2008–11), funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, which received AHRC Distinction on its completion. He is the founder and editor of the interdisciplinary journal, Performing Islam. Some of Kamal’s publications include, The Politics and Aesthetics of Kateb Yacine: From Francophone Literature to Popular Theatre (1999); African Theatre for Development: An Art for Self-determination (1998); ‘The Pragmatics and Aesthetics of Kateb Yacine Theatre Practice’, in Biodun Jeyifo (ed.), Modern African Drama, A Norton Critical Edition (2002); ‘Theatre of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia’ in Martin Banham (ed.), A History of Theatre in Africa (CUP, 2004); ‘Theatre, Politics and National Identity: the Ambiguous Compromise’, in

xiv Notes on contributors Journal of Algerian Studies (2000); ‘Slimane Benaïssa from Exile in the Theatre to Theatre in Exile: Ambiguous Traumas and Conflicts in the Algerian Diasporic Drama’, in Journal of North African Studies (2006); ‘Religion in the Francophone Postcolonial Word’, in the Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and its Empires (2008).


I wish to thank the British Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for the funding of my research network project (2008–11), based in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds, from which this book has resulted. The project, successfully completed with Distinction, was part of the large AHRC/ESRC research programme, Religion and Society, directed by Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University). I am very grateful to the following colleagues for their invaluable input: Martin Clayton, Alexandra Richardson, Alyssa Moxley, Amy Catlin-Jairazbhoy, Anne K. Rasmussen, Dhiraj Murthy, Crona Condron, Daniela Merolla, Earle Waugh, Gita Mohan, Hae-kyung Um, Jane Lewisohn, Jasjit Singh, James Chopyak, Karin van Nieuwkerk, Mohammed Ali Rizvi, Nicola Dach, Qasim Riza Shaheen, Razia Sultanova, Tony Langlois, Katherine Brown, Kristen Scheid, Deborah Kapchan, Nina ter Laan, Richard Wolf, John Baily, Maruta Herding, Thomas Hodgson, Jonathan Ervine, Natalie Sarrazin, Michael Frishkopf, Martin Stokes, Ananya Kabir, Joseph Alagha, Laudan Nooshin and Jeanne Openshaw. This book is in memory of Mohammed Arkoun (1928–2010) who gave the inaugural lecture of the project.


Introduction The paradigm of performing Islam beyond the political rhetoric Kamal Salhi

This book addresses the importance of music, culture and identity in the Muslim world through the study of performance, politics and piety, and in a timely fashion, offers a theoretical basis for the understanding of the pleasures and politics of Muslims worldwide. Today, within stereotyped characterizations of Islam, pleasure, debate and performing creativity find little place. Rather, mainstream discourses’ strongest signifiers of Islam are violence, fundamentalism, repression and joylessness. Such simplifications are misleading. Across the world, diverse communities of Muslims live their collective identities in dialogic interaction with various social forces: the legacies of colonialism, the imperatives of globalization, the pressures of diaspora, the demands of modernity, the pull of sacred pan-Islamic radicalism, and the perceived injustices of the ‘war on terror’. The criss-crossing axes of the global, the local and the transnational impel them to consolidate collective identities, confirm their historical legacies and look forward to the future. Like all human beings in all societies, they also engage in enjoyable and pleasurable expressive acts while doing so, in particular, by making, listening to and being emotionally sustained by music. Music and performance have been an important issue in Islamic thought from the start of Islam. For some time in the history of Islam there was a controversy surrounding the role of music within the religion. This was followed by a general consensus about two possible theories of music, one initiated by al-Farabi and ibn Sina and the other by the Brethren of Purity (Ikhwan al-Safa’) and al-Kindi. One approach is about what music reflects, the other concerns what it does for us, though they are complementary. This theoretical genesis situates the Pythagorean approach becoming the reasoning behind Sufi and other Muslim-influenced music, which sees itself as doing more than just producing pleasure in its addressees. The movements in Muslim-influenced dance and music are designed to reproduce the basis of reality and to worship God by using the body in ways that are not customarily parts of prayer. Our interest in the studies gathered together in this book, as the result of a research network project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council, is not primarily musicology but rather the aesthetics of performance and


Kamal Salhi

the culture and identity subsequently engendered. As reflected in the chapters of this book, the contexts of Islam and performance encompass a wide range of events, manifestations and behaviour patterns which display local conceptions and articulations of aesthetics. Although the term aesthetics remains vague at best, its appropriation and redefinition in the light of non-Western cultures show that performative or ritual contexts assume varying awareness of the aesthetic. In one way or another, the contributors to this volume make aesthetic evaluations of performance which flow well with the combination and integration of various performative elements of sound, movement, interaction and meaning. The politics of sound is approached as an integral complex involving the visual or iconic, gestural, verbal, vocal, corporal and instrumental. In the case of the visual, the mediums of sound (i.e. musical instrumentals) are crafted with specific materials, symbols and designs to conform to aesthetic and performance expectations. In fact, in some contexts showcased in the various chapters, they are formed and manipulated according to musical, symbolic decorative or abstract considerations. I would therefore argue that aesthetic forms of structured music, dance and other performative elements link the inner experience of the subject with the objective structure of the performance, which satisfies the fundamental condition of piety. However, it is important to distinguish that Muslims do not always use the generic term ‘music’ in the same way it is employed in the English language or in other Western/European languages. The Arabic term for music, musiqa, for example, does not apply to all types of artistic vocal and instrumental arrangements of sounds, tones and rhythms. In more specific contexts Arab Muslims might use the idiom handasat al sawt, the art of sound. Musiqa, or music, applies more to particular genres of sound art, and for the most part it has been designated only for those that have a somewhat questionable or even disreputable status in Islamic culture (al Faruqi 1986). Handasat al sawt is a recently invented term used by Arab Muslims to separate their Muslim conception of ‘music’ from that held in the Western and non-Muslim world, which often contrast in quite critical ways. It is therefore the aim of this volume to look at the influence of Islamic religious beliefs on the role and realization of the art of sound and its manifestation in the Muslim world and its diaspora. Without engaging in a comparative study, it is worth highlighting here that many similarities exist between handasat al sawt and various examples from contemporary Western art music, and also certain forms of jazz. Such comparisons might make the art of sound of the Muslim world more accessible and understandable, not only to specialists but also to those more familiar with developments in the musical world of the West and Europe. For clarity and simplicity the terms ‘music’ and ‘performance’ are used throughout this book, and in reference to Muslim culture the term music is used precisely to mean handasat al sawt rather than the Arabic musiqa. What should be noted here is the polyvalent and multi-generic nature of the former, which leaves room for artistic and theoretical creativity, particularly in light of

The paradigm of performing Islam


the examples from North Africa and Asia covered in this volume. This also justifies the inclusion of music, culture, identity, performance, politics and piety in the title of this volume and other related terms and concepts in the titles of the essays presented here. No matter what research perspectives we bring to it, the subject of performative Islam remains an important area of challenges and fresh discoveries. Some of these challenges have been addressed. Martin Stokes’ chapter, ‘New Islamist popular culture in Turkey’, is explicitly concerned with music as a vehicle for debate about public culture in Muslim Turkey. He shows how music, in itself and in performance, is a form of contest and he locates the various kinds of debate that revolve around this issue, and their political stakes, within the broader concept of public formation. New considerations have emerged in relation to the contemporary understanding of religion, especially after the events of 11 September 2001. These can appear minor in relation to the bigger picture, but could have a significant impact on approaches to the study of religion and the performing arts, and indeed to wider academic and public concerns. Recent cultural productions have been revealing in the forms of Islamic expression that have been emphasized; there may be little attention paid to cultural and artistic diversity under the umbrella of Islam, with a focus instead on political rhetoric and activism at the expense of quietist mystically oriented beliefs. Sound, music and bodily performance offer a window onto the subtleties and humanity of Islamic religious experience. This is in contrast to much of the media coverage about Islam since the aforementioned events. The performative aspect of contemporary Muslim life is the focus of this book. It explores how, through modes of performance, piety and protest, music, dance and chanting have become a vehicle for problematic debate within societies where Islam exerts a significant cultural influence. Paying attention to these intra-communal debates, alongside the differences between ‘the Muslim world’ and its perceived antagonists, offers fresh insights into the relationship between Islamic, secularist and nationalist orthodoxies and social repositioning within Muslim communities. Moreover, this approach can shed crucial light on how radicalization, fundamentalism and violence might themselves be countered. This book therefore opens up space for interdisciplinary inter-regional perspectives, and encourages comparative understanding of how, within the wider context of ‘Islam’, sound and bodily performance practice enables disagreement as well as cross-cutting solidarities. It also facilitates a comparative examination of the relationship between practices and the emergence of Muslim collective identities in different geographic locations with cohesive geo-cultural space, namely North Africa, South and West Asia, and their diasporas. It shares the experience of pre-modern Islamic empires – Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal – which, as historians are increasingly demonstrating, were in constant mutual contact, and which remain culturally significant to their modern-day inhabitants. It shares too the experiences of European colonialism that made them layered sites for the negotiation of modernity. Such negotiations have been further complicated by postcolonial


Kamal Salhi

governments at various levels of Islamic adherence, engagement and antagonism. The substantial Muslim diaspora within Europe, originating from this geo-cultural arc, presents a transnational extension of these processes. Through case studies, the respective chapters endeavour to uncover the ongoing dialogic relationships between local and vernacular cultural forces and the cultural legacy of Islam. Related religious performance in the Muslim world lies on the intersection between myth and history, sacred time and secular time. Religious and cultural historians draw on these intersections for the tropes with which they calibrate the different histories that together represent the Muslim world. The tensions between the various forms of performance inside and outside that world have often turned on the distinction between myth and history. Prior to the advent of the written traditions of Islam there were only the sacred oral traditions of the native in most of the Muslim world. Literacy began with the reading and reciting of the Holy Book, whose capacity for symbolism and mysticism remains undiminished, even today. The temporal dimensions of performance, particularly music, constantly allow for new beginnings. The contact with or embracing of Islam within the various indigenous cultures and traditions of the Muslim world brings new rhythms, tones and performance structures that are themselves – more often than not in Muslim cultural historiography – sustained the longest in religious contexts. The very possibility of multicultural performance and music in that world depends on the capacity of ethnic sections of the population to return to their beginnings when repertoires are in need of revitalization and authenticity. The renewal of beginnings is not only an act of authentication. It also expresses a profound unremitting uncertainty about music’s position in the Muslim experience. It asks whether the music within this experience is, theologically, music at all, whether the sacred and the aesthetic are mutually exclusive. Many are subject to this uncertainty, raising their voices in the daily practice of Muslim religious experience. In his chapter, ‘Social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt’, Michael Frishkopf explains how Muslim mystics, Sufis, have became notorious within conservative Islamic circles for heterodox poetic expressions employing metaphors of intoxication and sensual love, or expressing mystical union. Likewise, his study stresses how conservatives have criticized Sufis’ elaborate musical practices for being heretical. They base both critiques on shari`a, the Divine Law, embodying the essence of Islam. However, in contemporary Egypt, where religious fundamentalism is strong, independent professional religious singers, the munshids, publicly perform such poetry, accompanied by musical ensembles. In the more private rituals of Sufi orders, tariqas, texts are generally limited to conventional Islamic sentiments, emotion being more restrained and musical instruments infrequent. Frishkopf analyzes this contrast via models of strategic decision-making, which are employed to define and perform a poetic repertoire, models shaped by the objectives of their users, and their constraints and positions within the dynamic field of Islam in Egypt.

The paradigm of performing Islam


This dynamic addresses the challenges posed to the contemporary world by various political movements that enlist the theological support of Islam. It is a framework for understanding counter-radical movements within contemporary Islam that use musical performance and practice to express and initiate debate, discussion and pleasure. For example, the professional munshid lacks status within the Sufi establishment, and so is freer to maximize emotion via texts which are felt to provide glimpses of Divine reality, the haqiqa. As Frishkopf argues, logical discord with shari`a is muted by the affective frame of aesthetic performance, and by strategies of textual delivery which discourage rational comprehension of assertions, while promoting an affective perception of concepts and language sounds. For him, the tariqas, as official religious organizations, are vulnerable to the critiques of conservatives. Through ritual they reinforce connections to shari`a, thus defending reputation and increasing membership. They also use poetic performance as a tool for spiritual education and group solidarity, not merely to create an ecstatic moment. Both factors lead to restrictions on poetic content and performance. In fact, the cognitive dimensions of this kind of ritual lead to multidimensionality. Richard Schechner explains that ‘people are more than susceptible to rituals of all kinds – religious, political, sportive, aesthetic; they manifest a need demanding the kind of satisfaction only rituals can provide’ (Schechner 1993: 302). If religious experience accrues to historical and political zones of uncertainty, music and performance – the multifarious sacred practices that the contributors in this book examine – mark and intensify that experience. Although music, or the art of sound, in the Muslim world may mollify uncertainty, it could also necessitate new beginnings and arrest the path of change, stretching beyond the horizons of authenticity. Whatever its eventual impact, music is omnipresent in Muslim experience, and its capacity in the transformation of religion can be immediate. ‘The attitude toward music [in the Muslim world] has always been ambivalent, as expressed in a series of contradictory feelings and concepts: predilection and mistrust; divine-devilish; exalting-disruptive; admissible-prohibited’ (Shiloah nd). Views about the admissibility of music, or the art of sound, in the Muslim world, range from complete negation to complete acceptance, even of dance and other bodily expressions. Many Muslims fear the paranormal intoxicating power of music and prohibit it as a tool of the devil. Other Muslims, however, find music inspiring and entirely spiritual. Some Muslims fall somewhere between these poles, restricting the practice of music to some degree but allowing it in various controlled forms to achieve a harmonious contemporary identity based on tolerance and piety. Regardless of the admissibility or not of music, Muslim-influenced performance usually strives to realize and express as much as possible the ideas and beliefs of Islam as set down in the Qur’an. Qur’anic chant, for example, can be seen as the prototype of all Islamic music and the most pervasive genre of Islamic sound art. The point of much music in the Muslim world is, therefore, to express and encapsulate the most important concept of the Qur’an: tawhid or unity with


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God. In his chapter, ‘Singing dissent: Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives’, Earle Waugh, drawing on fieldwork in Egypt and Morocco, argues that the social and cultural contexts of Morocco have interacted with several key tendencies in Moroccan Sufism to produce a quite idiosyncratic Sufi environment for the chanter. His study demonstrates how the musical traditions within certain Sufi groups have played an important role in articulating distinctive identities. It examines elements of difference, dissent and alterity as features of the chanting tradition in each and shows how these Sufi groups encourage variance as part of their response to the divine. The chanter amalgamates many of these influences in his chant, becoming a vehicle for the integration of disparate elements and peoples, but also providing a connection with an Islam that is perceived to be universal. The chant then takes on another purpose: it motivates initiates to stand firm for Sufi principles and preserve Sufi values. From this perspective, the chant is a vehicle of empowerment that may reach beyond the confines of the zawiya/ribat complex to inspire the larger Moroccan community as it has in the past. The characteristic of this music or handasat al sawt is that it can be seen as liberating within Islamic culture. Through and in the moment of musical performance, spiritual regeneration, shared narratives and communitas are constantly consolidated. In South and West Asia as well as in North Africa, strong correlations exist between music as art form and Islamic manifestations of performance. From premodern times onwards, musical traditions in these regions have also been in dialogic relationship with the interdictions and disapproval of Islamic orthodoxy. Exemplary here is the generation of bodily liberating joyfulness through music, as spectacularly demonstrated by women devotees at Sufi shrines. Dogmatically forbidden but collectively desired, its near-transgressive joyfulness enables such music, arising from within Islamic contexts, to challenge several orthodoxies – national, secular, patriarchal, and Islamist. In both diasporic and homeland contexts, musical performance becomes a vehicle to express historical and social tensions, as well as to debate the contradictory legacies of British and French colonialism, and postcolonial nationalism and fundamentalism of various shades. In her chapter, ‘Debating piety and performing arts in the public sphere: the “caravan” of veiled actresses in Egypt’, Karin van Nieuwkerk looks at Egyptian artists who abandoned their art and turned away from the spotlight, leaving wealth and fame behind to devote themselves to God. These now former performers started to influence others and led a ‘caravan’ of stepped down artists. Following ‘repentance’ and as role models they turned to preaching veiling and piety among higher-class women and enabled the extension of the piety movement into the higher echelons of Egyptian society. They were perceived as a threat by the secularists and the state. The veiled artists became, accordingly, objects of intense public debate, constituting an example of the emergent public sphere in Egypt. Many voices contributed to this debate encompassing art, gender and religion. This ‘pious turn’ of female artists became an issue challenging the notions of the ‘common good’ and the ‘good Muslim’.

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Like music, dance is also a highly contentious issue in Muslim culture. It reflects the diversity of people, cultures and languages that have all, in some way, been changed and enriched by interactions with Islam. Dance styles range from religiously centred spiritualistic Sufi movements aimed at decoupling mind and body in an effort to connect with God to elaborate stylized rituals. Group line or circle dances are also popular during family or community gatherings. Many dance forms have developed in conversation with Muslim and non-Muslim cultures alike, drawing on a wide range of influences at the formal as well as the popular levels. John Baily’s chapter, ‘Wah wah! Meida meida! The changing roles of dance in Afghan society’, looks at changes in the place of dance in Afghanistani society over the last 30 years, from the ‘pre-war’ period of 1970s Afghanistan, to the performance of dance in the Afghan diaspora today. It is worth recalling here that there have been contradictory statements about the performing arts, providing justification for people on either side of the dispute over the prohibition of some forms. These ambiguities have led to divisions within Islam over the status of music and dancing. One split is sectarian in nature: radical Salafists and Wahhabis generally view music and dancing as haram, forbidden, while moderate believers accept them as halal, permissible. Mystical Sufis are the most dedicated dancers in the Muslim world, embracing whirling and other trancelike movements as a way to draw closer to Allah. Another division is based on class. Urban elites have historically refrained from dancing, viewing it as frivolous and beneath their dignity. The rural Muslims who account for the majority of the faithful, however, have developed rich dance traditions. Until about 30 years ago, dancing was almost a norm at rural Muslim weddings around the world. In Afghanistan, for example, Pashtun men have traditionally formed a circle to perform an ancient ritual dance, the attan, which is a group dance performed by men and by women, though in separate spaces, and this is regarded as a ‘national dance’, expressing a certain measure of Afghan-ness. Anti-dance sentiment surged in the 1980s, as Saudi Arabian elites began aggressively to export Wahhabism. Saudi investors bought the contracts of well-known Egyptian belly dancers, paying them to recite Quranic verses rather than swivel their hips on television, though belly-dancing appears to be a pre-Islamic art form that has survived in more secular countries such as Egypt and Turkey. Taliban militants have banned dancing at wedding parties, although some observers believe this move is meant to stamp out tribal traditions. Based on fieldwork in music and dance sustained by long research experience in the Afghan region, Europe, North America and Australia, John Baily engaged with the various genres of dance encountered in Herat city and Province in the 1970s, and has analyzed dance in the Afghan diaspora since 2000. While his historical background seeks to resituate dance in the courts of the Amirs of Kabul since the eighteenth century, it opens a curious window for the interested reader on a comparative perspective for the understanding of religion and the performing arts today. We know about, for example, the generation of pamphleteers who railed against dance in the early twentieth


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century, such as The Christian and Amusements (1909) by Presbyterian evangelist William Edward Biederwolf. Just as today’s Saudi fundamentalists blame pre-Islamic cultures for belly-dancing, Biederwolf claimed that ‘the mingling of the sexes in dancing originated in Greece among men of contaminated morals and women of loose, questionable character’. While solo dance in the Muslim context of Herat, performed at private family parties by cross-dressed dancing boys and girls, might involve eroticism and negative perceptions, mixed dancing, with men and women dancing together, or ‘massed dancing’, as Baily describes it, is regarded by Afghans as threatening and undesirable. In fact it is general knowledge that ‘moderate’ Muslims generally do not object to music and dancing per se. But some hardliners view sexually suggestive movement, racy lyrics and unmarried couples dancing together as haram. This standpoint bears a resemblance to the anti-dance feeling common among American Christians, for example, at various times in American history. As is known, Minister Cotton Mather wrote in the seventeenth century that dancing was a creation of the devil, and warned that a ‘Christian ought not to be at a ball’ (quoted in Van Winkle Keller 2007: 310). Dance has therefore been an evolutionary ambiguous performance within the prism of pleasure, piety and identity. Afghans living in Western society, where dancing is today a completely accepted activity, have discovered the pleasures of social dancing. Piety may be reflected in the activities of dancing boys and dancing girls, but unlike social dance, they have been constrained in the diaspora where they create a direct personal experience of identity, as Baily shows in his examination of children dancing in California at New Year, when they can be seen as learning to perform their Afghan-ness, or a similar but more interesting situation in London. Where differences come into the study of rhythmic importance in the music of Islam-influenced societies is how Muslims themselves perceive and use that all-important element. The ability to apply multiple interpretations of what rhythm means to Muslims is substantially based on the fact that rhythms are brought into play differently in that kind of music compared to Western music. In Western culture the idea of drumming, for example, is nearly always associated with entertainment or just to add to the musical quality of a song. In Muslim societies, drums carry deeper symbolic, ethnographic, social and historical meanings. This multi-pronged approach is precisely what is enacted in this volume in Richard Wolf ’s article, ‘The manifest and the hidden: agency and loss in Muslim performance traditions of South and West Asia’. His essay’s point of departure is the study of cases from Delhi, Karachi, and Hyderabad, revealing the broader political context in which actors negotiate what should be manifest, visible, or external and what could be, concealed, invisible or internal. Knowledge of the statements of performers, the contexts in which particular utterances are made and representative details of the local ‘musical’ systems become a condition of his examination. Critical attention is also paid to aspects of the structure and naming of repertoires and what performers say about their repertoires, which support claims for how their social

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groups gain prominence in complex urban settings. The suggestion is that an orientation towards understanding the rhythm, or more specifically drumming, is critical, and indeed, this has a cultural significance that explains the broad differentiation between how Muslims approach rhythm and how Westerners approach drumming. The difference here clearly lies in the perception, but this perception may not be as explicit as it seems. Westerners tend to regard rhythm solely from an aural point of view, but that does not mean that Muslims necessarily regard rhythm as an extension of motion. Rather, what might be closer to the point is that Muslim practitioners feel and undergo rhythm as well as hear it. Wolf elicits a ritual context for his investigation, recalling the annual commemoration of the battle of Karbala in 680 CE in which the grandson of the Prophet, Muhammad, and his followers were slaughtered by the henchmen of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid. In fact, the emotionally powerful narratives and visually and aurally elaborate rituals associated with this commemoration draw spectators and participants from many communities in South Asia. Drumming figures prominently in some of these rituals through its commonplace battle associations. It is not meant to be taken as mere musical accompaniment, it is literally a method of communicating. Drummers can therefore pound out a rhythm that replicates not only speech rhythm, but also speech pitch. This is indicative of a perception that the use has a meaning that is very specific. In order to facilitate this meaning, a drummer must have a natural sense of pitch or arena (as is for example often delimited for the commemoration activity) that is extraordinarily well developed. In my view this highly developed pitch may explain why ethnomusicologists such as Richard Wolf insist on Muslim-influenced rhythm being so highly distinctive in itself as well as distinctive from Western drumming. He construes that different meanings arise not only from differences in perspective, but also from differing motivations of participants to present their actions as meaningful in one or the other context. As he explains, some perpetuate performances whose meanings are accessible at one level and veiled at another; others strategically resist commonplace forms of meaning; and some aspects of meaning are not so much hidden as lost, owing to social changes that have impeded the transmission of knowledge. The case of hidden texts, as his study presents, precipitates a discussion of the ‘manifest’ and ‘hidden’ as named categories in the Muslim world and, more broadly, as phenomenal categories of human experience. Important historical reasons make music a fruitful means of hearing dissenting voices. Orthodox Islam’s antagonism towards music has long co-existed in dynamic tension with the chanting and rhythmic iteration characteristic of non-orthodox Islamic movements, often grouped together as ‘Sufism’, particularly in South Asia. As Islam spread across Asia and North Africa, nonorthodox cults cross-pollinated with regional and local music, dance and bodily practices to create diverse musical traditions. Such cross-pollination conveyed correctives to Islamic orthodoxy, and alternative interpretations of piety and ethics. Today, these inherited musical traditions interact with other


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youth protest music globally available through MTV culture. Not only diasporic movements but evolving technologies foster such continuing cross-pollination. Since colonial modernity, music has travelled via technology, gramophone recordings, radio broadcasting and cassettes, and now CDs, DVDs, MP3 and the Internet. Its dissemination in modernity is itself another reason for music’s importance within the ongoing struggle between modernity and Islamic (neo-)traditionalism. Music has always stimulated communitas. The sense of oneness with others that it creates fosters community identity, and under the right circumstances has the power to bring disparate groups together to emphasise that music in Islam cannot be conceived monolithically or monoculturally. The contemporary relevance of the studies presented in this book is a catalyst and displays the possibilities for dialogue between research and practice and offers perspectives for policymakers. Of course, there remains immense scope for the incorporation of ethnomusicological research into an interdisciplinary framework that investigates the intervention of musical practice and performance within contemporary debates about secularism, fundamentalism and religiosity in Muslim societies. Dhiraj Murthy, in his chapter ‘“Muslim punk” music online: piety and protest in the digital age’, looks at the presence of young diasporic Muslim musicians in new media, using the pages on MySpace and Facebook of diasporic Muslim bands as examples. The argument here is that young Muslim males continue to be, as he says, ‘othered’ or ‘exoticized’ and so marginalized both online and offline. The online presence of ‘Taqwacores’, a transnational diasporic punk music scene, serves as a space where this marginal essentialism is contested. Even in the Islamophobia wake of post-9/11 and 7/7, Taqwacores’ cyberspace continued to be viewed as a ‘safe’ outlet for progressive activist Muslims. The Internet’s role in providing growing room for Muslim musical youth subcultures is important, and these virtual spaces are indeed the domicile of young male Muslims, particularly ostracised ones, who can express themselves freely yet creatively. Murthy explores the continuing circulation of the pejorative essentialism of diasporic Muslim males (especially as ‘terrorist’/ demonic ‘other’) and underlines the possibility of cyberspace to function as a meaningful and progressive Muslim social space which challenges this essentialism both online and offline, and thus the study of the anti-Islamophobic leanings of the Taqwacores. Both historically and in the contemporary context, there are strong links between music and a sense of place and identity, of both people and places. ‘Places’ can be thought of as complex entities, ensembles of material objects, people and systems of social relationships embodying distinct cultures and multiple meanings, identities and practices. As such, cyberspace is continually in the process of becoming, rather than essentialized or fixed; it is open and porous to a variety of flows in and out, rather than being closed and hermetically sealed. Not only is there little consideration of the geography of music but such work tends to be descriptive and conceptually limited. Cyberspace should nevertheless be pertinent to cultural geographers because music influences virtually all aspects of culture

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and manifests itself in numerous spatial ways. They could seek a more sophisticated engagement between virtual geography and music. In fact there should be mature accomplishment in exploring the geographic dimensions and implications of the unique and mysteriously indefinable phenomenon we call music. Clearly there is a vacuum waiting to be filled, and in recent years interest has grown in issues of music, place and identity in a range of empirical settings, theoretical frameworks and policy contexts. At the same time, other scholars of music and social scientists have also recognized the importance of space and place in relation to making music and issues of identity. In her essay ‘Devotion or pleasure? Music and meaning in the celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora’, Natalie Sarrazin conceptualizes another form of place as ‘much of what might seem to be absent must be supplied by the picturization itself ’. In a pertinent example, she explains that ‘the audience’s judgements of and affective responses to the qawwali authenticity are influenced by all of the off and on-screen production factors. The contribution of the mise-en-scène enhances the appearance of authenticity through costumes, lighting, set design, choreography and location.’ Whereas a traditional sacred qawwali event may take place at a shrine, it is now the on-screen representation of a shrine which must suffice. Audiences also assess the general authenticity of the on-screen actor playing the qawwal as well as the voice of the playback singer. The screen becomes a place where the behaviour of the back-up group is significant. Any non-qawwali dancers and their costumes and movements, any narrative elements that might be spliced into the number, and of course the film and music directors’ interpretation of the place of the qawwali are in the narrative. The most important factor, however, will be the genre of film itself and the director’s approach regarding Muslim representation in the rest of the film narrative. The musical popularity of qawwali, as she describes it, takes its form in the hybridity of qawwali with Indian popular music to create space for an acceptable place for Muslims in society. The ways in which the character of music events and places can change in unintended rather than intended ways is also explored by Thomas Hodgson in the context of the annual Bradford Mela festival in Britain. Since its inauguration in 1998, it has become dominated by audiences of various social groups, which has made it a highly desirable social event. As a result of the enhanced demand for participation in the festival, it transformed from an artistic celebration into a cultural commodity. This challenged the overall purpose of the festival and resulted in changes in artistic direction, as programmes with a wider popular appeal were introduced in search of new audiences. I see the Mela festival as exemplifying the way in which social trends in Britain produce new contested arenas, as place – in this case the diasporic city of Bradford – became a metaphor for these wider trends, emphasizing the ways in which music in place is both affected by and constitutive of broader social processes. In fact, wider national and global


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influences can find expression in more local musical cultures, and I would stress the links between embodiment and mobility, fixity and fluidity in the contemporary world. The event of the Bradford Mela, which has a music and arts remit, has changed its geographic focus, moving from being South Asian to, putting it in a nutshell, more broadly, Bradford’s various cultures. Hodgson explains that this shift in the festival’s ethos is tied up with, and informed by, a variety of discursive, yet connected, political, social and economic developments in Bradford. In response to the experiences of racism that South Asians were being subjected to in Bradford, and the negative publicity the city was attracting, a group of students and youth activists organized a small music and arts festival on playing fields near the city’s university. As Hodgson argues, the event had the dual purpose of being both something for the city’s South Asian population to celebrate and a way of engaging the wider public with multiculturalism by introducing them to aspects of South Asian culture that existed beyond newspaper headlines, curry houses and taxi ranks. In fact, within a few years, the Mela had become the city’s flagship multicultural event and moved to a much larger venue, Lister Park. Hodgson’s chapter identifies some of the transformative ways in which politics, culture and music have collided, conflicted and combined over the course of the festival’s history and unravels some of the complex power relations therein. The desire for creativity is explored, emphasizing the ways in which music is part of diasporic culture, a way of life with its own beliefs, conventions, norms and rituals in Bradford. This challenges postmodernist assertions that the globalization of music and indeed other forms of popular culture results in a loss of place, a general condition of both placelessness and timelessness. In fact, music plays a key role in the production of place, literally and metaphorically: as a concept which is interpreted, as a material setting encompassing physical and built environments, and as a setting for social practices and the interactions of everyday life. Another approach to the formation of place is the contribution of different and challenging types of migration which reflect critically on the concept of diaspora. In their respective chapters, ‘Hip-Hop bismillah: subcultural worship of Allah in Western Europe’ and ‘Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab: challenging clichés or serving up an immigrant stereotype for mass consumption online’, Maruta Herding and Jonathan Ervine explore new platforms of music as debate. The two essays show empirical variation, which means that the concept of diaspora can help us unravel the processes presented in their case studies. In both of them, diasporas are sites of multiple identifications and intersectionalities, sites of consciousness, as well as forms of personal experience and histories. Indeed, diasporas in their cases provide important political and economic resources and a basis for redefining people’s identities and forms of belonging. For some European Muslims they are an enabling space, a domain in which to remake their self and surmount difficulties or reserves laid at their door. Ervine’s chapter demonstrates that Mange du kebab by rapper Lil Maaz is based on challenging combinations of clichés

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about members of Muslim groups in France. By using the means which new media provide, he uses an alternative route to fame to present a vision of the Muslim diaspora which seeks to promote tolerance and acceptance, rather than voice dissent or anger. Herding shows that Islamic hip-hop in the West is highly political, not only charged with the dominant conflict between ‘the West’ and ‘Islam’, but also with political debates within Muslim communities. Hip-hop thus has the agenda of claiming one’s rights, stating one’s identity and voicing concerns about underprivileged groups in society. A dialectical relationship develops between the different nodes to which people relate. Ervine analyzes the extent to which the kebab (here the subject of rap music) can be considered a modern multicultural equivalent of the steak and chips so famously written about by Barthes in Mythologies (1959). He considers the applicability of Gilroy’s notion of conviviality to the way in which Lil Maaz portrays his kebab shop and its customers. His examination of interviews with the novelty rapper shows that he is keen to present a consensual view on many potentially emotive socio-political issues in an attempt to achieve broad popular appeal. Herding’s chapter, which compares Britain, France and Germany, showing the transnational similarities, approaches the subject from the perspective underlying motivations of Western/European Muslim rappers for their creative new genre of contemporary Islamic music. In the preparation of this book, which is the result of a successful research project, I have become acutely aware that the role of music and the performing arts in Muslim societies and their diaspora, and in Islamic doctrine, is a subject which has not been systematically explored by cultural analysts, musicologists, social scientists or historians. In leading the research project, I have tried to encourage thinking on this new but common subject among scholars, researchers and practitioners concerned with interrelated areas of musical and bodily performativity, diasporic and homeland negotiations, and the complexities of contemporary Islam. The main aim was to understand contemporary Muslim identity formations precisely, through examination of a wide range of music and performance practices that draw on a broad spectrum of Muslim heritage and culture in South and West Asia, North Africa and their diaspora. Through this book we build a cumulative understanding of how such intra-Islamic musical and performance dialogues intersect with the broader debates about orthodoxy, secularism, moderate and fundamental Islam. We have interrogated the role of non-orthodox varieties of music and performance in contemporary world politics, reiterating, through music as debate, the complex and proliferating relationships between the global and local in communities, both in the homeland and in the diaspora.

References Al Faruqi, Ismail (1986), The Cultural Atlas of Islam, New York: Macmillan. Barthes, Roland (1959), Mythologies, Paris: Seuil.


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Schechner, Richard (1993), The Future of Ritual: Writing on Culture and Performance, New York: Routledge. Shiloah, Amnon (nd), ‘On Jewish and Muslim Musicians of the Mediterranean’, in Ethnomusicology Online. (accessed 17 January 2011). Biederwolf, William Edward (1909), The Christian and Amusements, Chicago, IL: The Glad Tidings. Van Winkle Keller, Kate (2007), Dance and its Music in America 1528–1789, New York: Pendragon Press.


New Islamist popular culture in Turkey Martin Stokes

Islamist political gains and media deregulation in Turkey have, since the early 1990s, provided conditions in which a new popular religious culture has flourished. This chapter explores its musical dimensions through one prominent practitioner, Mehmet Emin Ay.1 This case study raises some broader questions about the theorization of religious, public and mass media. New kinds of religious popular music have come into being elsewhere in the Muslim world, and for similar reasons. They are often known as inshad dini, or nashid, or some version of these Arabic terms. These terms – connoting song but avoiding the secular/Christian implications of the term ‘music’ – encompass, as other contributors to this volume will already have indicated, a great diversity of musical styles.2 So the questions I am raising also have a frame of reference beyond modern Turkey. Though popularity is always hard to measure, this music is ubiquitous in Turkey in the media, on the Web, and at municipality-sponsored ramazan festivities in large cities.3 Its ubiquity reflects the unassailable position, at the time of writing, of Turkey’s dominant religious political party, the AK Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Parti, or ‘Justice and Development Party’), and its current chairman, Recep Tayyip Erdog˘ an. Tayyip Erdog˘ an’s AK Party succeeded the Refah Party, which was dominant throughout the 1990s under its flamboyant and combative leader, Necmettin Erbakan.4 These parties have done little, actively, to promote an Islamist musical culture.5 But they have actively championed the deregulation of the state media system. This has meant the end of the musical symbols of the secular state (its folk music orchestras and so forth), and a proliferation of Islamist FM radio and television stations requiring content. Mehmet Emin Ay was one of the earliest to exploit these opportunities, and his inventive and productive energies have had a major impact on the field. He was born in Van, in the far east of Turkey, in 1963. His father was a state-appointed Kur’an recitor and mosque functionary in that city. He grew up with the sounds of Istanbul’s Kur’an recitors reverberating in his ears, particularly Halis Albayrak, Fatih Çollak and Mustafa Öztürk. But he was also located close to the Arab and Persian world, and in a predominantly Kurdish city. He developed an ear for Arab popular and classical music, and


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a cosmopolitan sense of the region’s various musical cultures. He moved to Bursa : in the west of the country, with his family, after graduating from Van’s Imam-Hatip high school. He completed his studies in Bursa, writing a Ph.D. at Bursa’s Uludag˘ University on Islamic pedagogy. Soon after, he was appointed professor in the Faculty of Theology. His academic interests range from pedagogical issues amongst Turkish migrants in Western Europe, to the institutionalization of Islam in post-Soviet Central Asia. His official university website makes no reference to his musical achievements, mentioning only his recitation of passages of the Qur’an to Queen Elizabeth II on her official visit to Turkey in 2008. Yet, during his period of employment as an academic at Uludag˘ University, he has produced major recordings of the Qur’an, recited the Qur’an for the Turkish Radio and Television corporation, and produced a large number of popular recordings with his colleague, Mustafa Demirci, through their production company, Beyza Yapım.6 This conveys some of the bare facts. It might be useful, though, to begin by describing how I first came across this musician. Impressionistic though this description may be, it will communicate something of the milieu and the atmosphere in which this music initially thrived.

A listener In 1991 I visited a small city in the south of the country, close to the Syrian border. My motivations were vague: I mainly wanted a sense of musical and cultural life away from Istanbul. I had received a warm invitation from some high-school teachers who I had assisted on an official visit to Belfast, where I was then working. This southern city had a port and a massive Russianbuilt iron and steel works. It was close to major oil pipeline termini and American air bases. Long-standing ethnic tensions between local Kurds, Arabs and Turks were running high, fuelled to a large degree by the collapse of the local economy after the first Gulf War. The area was economically vulnerable, being heavily dependent upon the Iraqi building sector and cross-border haulage. The small group of teachers that initially looked after me made no secret of their allegiance to a far-right Turkish nationalist political party. My relations with this group remained cordial, but quickly cooled. I spent more and more time with another of the teachers, somewhat marginalized and clearly looking for company. I will refer to him as Osman. He turned out to be a graceful and witty conversationalist and I was, at first, puzzled by his marginalization. But the reasons for this quickly became clear. Osman held Turkey’s secular order in low esteem, and had little time for petty nationalism. Stuck in this pestilential backwater (his characterization) for a long summer of tedious administrative tasks, he badly wanted to be back home in his northern village, together with his wife and newborn baby. Having tested the waters with a few sardonic barbs on the subject of secularism, talk quickly turned to religion. A week or so after I got to know him, he handed me a cassette: Mehmet Emin

New Islamist popular culture in Turkey


Ay’s first recording, Dolunay. Listen to this, he said, and tell me what you think. As a musician. The cassette, a copy of which I am listening to now, begins with a spoken voice. Deep, resonant and solemn, it introduces the song of praise reputedly sung by the women and children of Medina to welcome the Prophet after his flight from Mecca – ‘Taleal Bedru Aleyna’. The prophet is likened in these verses to the beauty of the newly risen full moon. A sustained deep synthesizer tone adds to the atmosphere of solemnity and spirituality. The song on the cassette is sung in a cultivated and carefully pronounced Arabic. The intonation of the musical mode, hüzzam, follows Arabic, rather than Turkish, intonation.7 The voice is powerful, high pitched, and double tracked in the opening verses. The accompaniment is sparse, comprising only a frame drum and a keyboard, which adds discrete harmonies and end-of-line flourishes. The last two verses, beginning ‘wa teahidna jamian … ’ (‘we all promised together … ’), are sung as a kaside, which is to say, without metrical accompaniment and in a quasi-improvised style. The singer’s voice is single-tracked here. Higher up the scale, it repeatedly cracks with artful emotion. The strength and emotionality of the voice made an immediate impact then, and continue to do so now. But at the time, I found it rather difficult to respond to Osman’s question. I did not know how to place it. Religious music had no presence, at that particular moment, in the Turkish media market, which still operated in the penumbra of the secular state media system. It was unusual to hear a Turkish voice singing in Arabic outside the relatively circumscribed world of Qur’an recitation. The intonation was that of Arabesk, the then dominant popular culture oriented to Turkey’s south-east, and to its rural–urban migrants (Stokes 1992). And it also resembled Arabesk in its rather hastily thrown-together style of studio arrangement. But the spiritual and literary frame of reference was entirely different. I wanted to know more. How had Osman found this? What did he know about the vocalist? Who else does this kind of thing? Osman turned out to be as interested, curious and, in some regards, as ill-informed as I was. This was something new in Turkey, he said. ‘Everyone’ was listening to it. As for buying my own copy, I’d have to go to Beyazıt, in Istanbul, and find the cassette shops in the pedestrian walkway near the main mosque. I said I knew the place. I had, on occasion, bought copies of cassette sermons from some of the religiously oriented cassette and book vendors there in previous years. I had done so rather cautiously. It is sometimes hard to remember, at the time of writing, just how much anxiety hovered over open expressions of religious identity in the shadow of the military coup of 12 September 1980. Whenever I showed up at Osman’s apartment, particularly on those evenings when he seemed to be making rather a point of not mixing with his colleagues watching television in the courtyard, he would put on Mehmet Emin Ay’s cassette and press me for my thoughts. I, in turn, tried to fathom his. Osman’s underlying intention was, of course, to proselytize. Difficult though I often found these encounters, there was an affability, an intelligence and a


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curiosity at play in Osman’s conversation that interested me. We ended up spending many enjoyable evenings that summer chatting about religion, politics, poetry and music. Before long, he introduced me to the writings of Said Nursi (1887–1960), pressing a large number of cheap printed pamphlets into my hand. These were popular editions of writings from Said Nursi’s magnum opus, the Risale-i Nur, his collected writings, which were finally published in 1956. No doubt feeling I could be trusted, he had finally declared his hand. ‘Bediüzzaman’ Said Nursi was a religious scholar affiliated to the Naks¸ibendi-Halidi order, known today for his opposition to the secular state. His theology was characterized by an engagement with positivism’s critique of religion and the quest for an Islamic modernity. Like other Naks¸ibendi, his followers (known as ‘Nurcu’) were political realists with a commitment to contemporary mobilizational methods, particularly those involving mass media (Mardin 1991: 137). In the late 1980s, the left-leaning Turkish press often asserted that the Nurcu constituted a recognizable clique within government and the military. In the later 1990s, a splinter group following charismatic preacher Fethullah Gülen was to become a formidable force in Turkish politics, media and education.8 This encounter sticks in my mind, since it encapsulates many features of the Islamization of Turkey’s public sphere at this moment. This was a process very much driven from the provinces, impacting on big city life in the west of Turkey through its migrants and the urban poor. Many of the movement’s local-level activists were to be found in the provincial academic and educa: tional system, particularly the Imam-Hatip (religious functionary training) schools that spread across the country after the 12 September 1980 coup (see Bozan 2007). Its political motivations were complex, and still the subject of analysis, but certainly involved a growing frustration with the secular order, its corruption, its inefficiency and its authoritarian reflexes. The emerging Islamist parties promised not just probity in government and economic liberalization, but also cultural vitality and new intellectual horizons. To people like my companion in this troubled southern city, those representing the secular state at that moment, by contrast, seemed rigid and dull. Osman was exaggerating, but not far off the mark when he told me that ‘everybody’ was listening to Dolunay, Mehmet Emin Ay’s first cassette, which first appeared in 1989. It sold, I later learned, over a million copies. Osman, : the product of an Imam-Hatip school education, with a loose intellectual and emotional affiliation to the ‘Risale-i Nur cemaati’ (the Risale-i Nur community), was in many ways very typical of many of Mehmet Emin Ay’s listeners. When we met for an interview in Bursa in September 2008, Mehmet Emin Ay was quick to recognize the support of this broad configuration of communities and movements, one which, generally speaking, had ‘moderate’ views on music (‘müzig˘ e ılımlı bakan cemaatler’, as he put it) and encouraged cultural creativity. This was a matter of necessity as much as aesthetic preference. Mehmet Emin Ay had learned the Qur’an from his father, and knew the musical culture of tilavet

New Islamist popular culture in Turkey


(Qur’an recitation) well. But he had no connection with the Halveti-Cerrahi, the Mevlevi or any of the other groups associated with the musical culture of the Turkish Sufi tekkes (‘lodges’). He : had learned what he refers to as tasavvuf musikisi (‘mystical music’) in the Imam-Hatip school choir that he himself attended in Van, and in the Theology Faculty choir in Bursa.9 In Turkish terms, this would have to be described as an entirely amateur musical formation. His colleague, Mustafa Demirci, spoke in similarly self-effacing terms about his own musical background. ‘We just weren’t that intellectual’ (‘o kadar entelektüel deg˘ ildik’), he told me. There were reasons for this. The military coup of 12 September 1980 drove tekke musical culture underground. For a while at least, Islamists were hounded as much as leftists. For the generation of Islamists coming of age intellectually and culturally in the aftermath of the coup, tekke musical culture was perceived as remote and ‘intellectual’. It may have elicited respect, but it no longer pressed on those wanting to branch out, in musical terms. A fresh start was now possible. It now strikes me that Osman, for all of his enthusiasm for Mehmet Emin Ay, was unsure exactly how to listen to him, and often seemed to be looking to me for guidance or clues. The issue was complicated, or clouded, by the well-known objections to music in much Islamic thinking. For Osman, the matter could quickly be resolved by appealing to the ‘niyet’ (i.e. the intentions) of the musician. As long as it was clear that the musician intended to instruct and inform in an appropriately well-intentioned way, the matter was settled. ‘Music’, under these clearly defined circumstances, was entirely legitimate. But in the classical Sufi and hadithic texts dealing with the so-called sema (‘spiritual audition’) polemic, the locus of moral agency in discussions about music is usually the listener. The musician, in a sense, simply provides a service: sounds that remind the listener of his/her separation from God. So the question has habitually been conceived in terms of an emphasis on cultivating appropriately ethical listening, rather than appropriately ethical performance. Many, following Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (1058–1111), have understood music as permissible as long as the basic conditions of zaman, makan wa ikhwan, i.e. an appropriate time (zaman), an appropriate place (makan) and an appropriate community structure (ikhwan, ‘brotherhood’), can be realized.10 But what was to constitute zaman, makan wa ikhwan when listening to a cassette on your own in a tiny apartment, constantly disturbed by the dust and clanging from the iron and steel works across the road? The broader question of how religious music might circulate in modern public spaces and media domains, and with what ethical effects, is a complex one. I will return to this important issue in the last part of this chapter. Before doing so, I should say a little more about Mehmet Emin Ay’s music.

From Dolunay to Nûru’l-Hüdâ Mehmet Emin Ay generally composes for texts selected from classical Sufism, Islamic devotional formulae and Ottoman Turkish spiritual verse. The music


Martin Stokes

is assembled in studios in Istanbul and Bursa. His colleague, Mustafa Demirci, sees to production, marketing and distribution through their company, Beyza Yapım. Based in the Fatih district in Istanbul, Beyza Yapım came into existence in 1998. As well as distributing non-Turkish Islamist musicians produced elsewhere (such as Sami Yusuf), Beyza Yapım markets over 100 of its own recordings. A ‘house style’ might be said to have emerged, involving top producers and session musicians from both the religious and secular markets (for instance, Taner Demiralp, Hakan Oral, Ceyhun Çelik, Bas¸ar Dikici and Göksel Baktagir). Both Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci think of this style as ‘somewhere between’ classical Turkish music and tasavvuf (i.e. both popular and tekke derived religious music culture), and emphatically reject any connection with previously dominant popular musical styles, notably Arabesk. From an outside perspective, though, the vocal aesthetics and studio sound of their music clearly owe something to Arabesk: lively rhythms, large string choruses, a rich array of Western and Middle Eastern instruments in the mix, an emotional vocal style.11 Proximity to the music of secular popular entertainment clearly caused problems in the studio. Perhaps because he was more directly involved in the nitty-gritty of production, Mustafa Demirci was happy to discuss these with me explicitly. Musicians associated with the secular market (the piyasa), he told me, ‘have their own way of doing things’ (‘kendi yaklas¸ımları var’), and the results, from his perspective, could be undesirable (‘ … istemedig˘ im s¸eyler yapılmıs¸ olur bazan … ’). Constant vigilance was necessary. He had a ‘red line’ (he used the English expression) that he would not allow musicians or guest producers to cross. Making judgement calls over issues such as ostentatious musical flourishes, sounds detracting from texts and spiritual meanings, or overly explicit reference to musical styles associated with secular entertainment was a matter involving hassassiyet (‘sensitivity’). He was confident, though, that he was capable of striking the right kind of balance, and was prepared to take risks. Beyza Yapım represented a certain stance of sophistication in the religious music market. Cemal Kuru, Abdurrahman Önül and others often came up in conversation, and my sense was that both Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci regarded their lyrics and music as folksy, their vocal styles overly reminiscent of Arabesk, and their gestures towards religious propriety (such as leaving out violins and darbukas in the mix on the grounds of their ‘secular’ associations) heavy-handed and simplistic. Their own formula seemed to have been commercially successful: individual Beyza Yapım CD sales figures started at around 100,000, going up to 300,000 or 400,000 in exceptional cases.12 Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci have, at the time of writing, released 11 CDs together since 1998. On top of these, Mehmet Emin Ay has made ten solo CDs, and Mustafa Demirci six. Their compositions are generally strophic and adhere closely to classical makam (modal) formulae. From a classical point of view, they use a relatively circumscribed set of makam. Kürdi is particularly common (characterized by its lower A-B flat-C-D

New Islamist popular culture in Turkey


tetrachord); nihavent, us¸s¸ak, hicaz, rast, hüseyni, segah and hüzzam are also used consistently. This general profile is not dissimilar to that of prominent Arabesk musicians trained in makam, such as Osman Gencebay, for example (see Stokes 2010). Ample space is provided for either instrumental improvisation (taksim) or vocal improvisation (generally referred to, in a religious context, as kaside). Meters are generally duple or triple. The agglutinative or ‘additive’ meters common in Turkish folk and classical music are not to be found. In this regard, too, the new religious music shares something with Arabesk and other kinds of Turkish popular music. And as with Arabesk, the spoken word is prominent. Many of the CDs, like the ‘Taleal Bedru Aleyna’ recording mentioned earlier, have spoken introductions, translating, explaining or contextualizing the lyrics. These recordings have a pronounced didactic bent. The lyrics come from diverse sources, often exploring a particular verse form: for example, nâts (or nât-ı s¸erifler, songs praising the Prophet, as in the Nât-ı S¸erifler: Gül-i Ruhsâr and Güle Sevda: Nât-ı S¸erifler CDs) or münacaats (a musical prayer or supplication, as in Beyaz Dilekçe). Neglected verse forms are revived, such as the Ottoman kaside by Sultan Abdülhamit I which is to be found on Nûru’l-Hüdâ.13 Others focus on specific devotional practices, such as tesbîhât (litanies based on God’s 99 names, the esmâ’ül-hüsna, as in the Namaz Tesbîhâtı and As¸kı Mevlâ: Esmâ’ül-Hüsna 99 CDs). Yet others thematize the work of a particular poet, such as Seyyid Osman Hulûsî (1914–90) (as in Hulûs-i Kalb) or Mevlana Celalettin Rumi (as in As¸kın Kanatları: The Wings of Love). As well as being explained, translated or contextualized in spoken introductions, liner notes contain extensive glossaries, allowing listeners to translate obscure religious or Ottoman terms into modern Turkish. One of the rationales for Mehmet Emin Ay’s Nûru’l-Hüdâ recording was the feeling that most people in Turkey are ignorant of the rich heritage of Arabic spiritual poetry. Much, he felt, could be achieved by presenting some well-chosen selections of it in a popular musical idiom that would be familiar to them. In a similar vein he spoke about what a pity it was how little people in Turkey actually knew of Mevlana Celalettin Rumi’s poetry, despite claiming him as a national treasure. His poetry has, arguably, become the highly rarified preserve of a handful of scholars in Turkey with a Persian-language literary training. As¸kın Kanatları: The Wings of Love, was an attempt to popularize his work in a Turkish musical context. Mehmet Emin Ay’s compositions on this and other CDs popularize, translate and inform a listenership assumed to be inclined to Islamic mystical culture but badly in need of instruction. A passion for the Egyptian popular music of the 1950s and 1960s – the music of Umm Kulthum, Mohamed Abd al-Wahhab and Abd al-Halim Hafiz – has also guided the development of Mehmet Emin Ay’s musical style. Like many who grew up in Turkey’s border regions, where Turkish state broadcasting does not enjoy a monopoly, he has a lively sense of the musical cultures of Turkey’s southern and eastern neighbours. His knowledge of the Egyptian music of this period seemed to me to be quite comprehensive,


Martin Stokes

though he had never, himself, visited Egypt. But this knowledge informed his pronunciation of Arabic, his vocal improvisations, his intonation of makams and his sense of what, musically speaking, stirs, excites and moves. On some CDs, such as Nûru’l-Hüdâ, this Egyptian frame of reference is quite obvious, prompting extensive discussion in our interview. For his part, Mustafa Demirci was drawn to what he referred to as Hint tarzı (Indian style), by which he meant specifically the qawwali of Nusret Fateh Ali Khan, which could then easily be found in the ‘world music’ sections of up-market bookstores in Istanbul. The influence of qawwali was more studied, and more restricted to specific numbers, than Mehmet Emin Ay’s broad embrace of Egyptian popular music culture. Though firmly grounded in Turkish classical music, popular hymn (ilahi) singing and the popular styles that had held sway in Turkey since the 1980s, this was music that located itself self-consciously in a broader Middle Eastern and Islamic context. Who, though, are the addressees of this musical pedagogy and this cosmopolitanism? This audience is, primarily, Turkish. Both Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci have a clear conception of a Turkish community of listeners whose musical memories do not go back much further than the 1980s, who purchase and listen online, who identify with the Islamist movement, and who are entirely at home in the world of Islamist consumerism and life-style choices. But they are clearly thinking of an audience beyond Turkey, as indicated by a few songs in English, or in multiple languages (like the verse presented in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish, French, German and English in the song ‘Salât ü Selâm’ at the end of Nûru’l-Hüdâ). This could be an audience of Turkish and Kurdish migrants in Western European cities, whose children are deemed by many in Turkey today to have lost touch with their language, religion and culture. And it could, equally, be an audience of spiritually inclined Westerners, eventually led by a Google search for ‘Turkish Sufi music’ to Beyza Yapım’s website. This strategy for engaging a transnational listenership is not uncommon in Turkey. They concentrate on the local market with tried and trusted formulae, but take a small gamble with elements that might arouse interest, particularly in Western Europe and America.14

Online How do people listen to this music? The stakes of this question have already been mentioned. Islamist media cannot simply justify themselves by reference to the niyet (intention) of the performers and producers. Listeners and contexts of listening must, somehow, be taken into account, as well. And yet the problems of taking listeners into account are almost insuperable, since mass media, by definition, are everywhere and nowhere. Who knows how people might be listening, lost in crowds at live concerts, or in solitude online? It might be difficult to know how people listen. But we can know something concrete about the imaginative, discursive and pedagogical constructs that people deploy when listening, in order to make sense of what they are

New Islamist popular culture in Turkey


hearing, to connect it with other domains of experience, to share and to guide the experience of others.15 One answer to the question of how the cultural managers of the Islamist movement fashion habits of ethical listening lies in the verbal pedagogy that accompanies music in these new contexts. The question is aggravated where there has been some rupture, cutting people off from historically embedded religious discourses on sema, and institutions that have managed such discourses, such as the Sufi lodges. Arguably, this was the case in Turkey after the 1980 coup. The pedagogy in question needs to be rather explicit. Mehmet Emin Ay, for example, often introduces songs on his CDs. These spoken introductions provide a historical context, explaining and sometimes translating the words (if they are in Arabic or Persian). These introductions betray a slight anxiety that one could listen to this music in the wrong way. This kind of verbal guidance is to be seen elsewhere. By way of an early example, I attended a number of Islamist weddings in the mid-1990s with one of my music teacher’s ensembles which provided instrumental music and ilahi (hymns). The guests, from rural migrant and proletarian backgrounds, clearly had difficulty with the basic concept of these events – with music and food but, confusingly, without dancing or alcohol. So a preacher would often be invited to give a short sermon. These were often, simply, an explanation of this kind of wedding and its place in the emerging order of things in Turkey. On many occasions, the question of music would be addressed explicitly, the presence of musicians legitimized, and applause and other forms of acknowledgement encouraged. Islamist television and radio programmes in these years also gave much space to documentaries and to interviews with musical specialists about Turkish Islamic musical culture. This kind of media pedagogy has expanded greatly in recent years. So Mehmet Emin Ay’s introductions on his recordings might be seen in a broader context of a kind of ‘top-down’ instruction in mass-mediated audition. Such skills are also cultivated more informally through conversation within communities of listeners. The lengthy conversations attached to YouTube clips online provide an interesting snapshot of the process. Consider, for example, the conversation attached to Mehmet Emin Ay’s ‘O Gece Sendin Gelen’ (‘It Was You Who Came That Night’). This highly popular song has had approximately half a million views since it was posted on 18 September 2006. The song is strophic, in kürdi makamı (with a lower tetrachord of A-B flat-C-D), and in a simple foursquare meter. The instrumental backing is provided by frame drum, keyboard, strings and fasıl kemençesi (a classical fiddle). The musical structure comprises an ascending verse, whose opening phrase is repeated sequentially a tone lower (the words: ‘Ars¸ın kubbelerine adı nurla yazılan/I_smi, semada “Ahmet”, yerde “Muhammed” olan … ’ or ‘He whose name is written in light on the domes of the throne of God/He whose name is “Ahmed” in heaven, and “Muhammed” on earth … ’). It is followed by a verse that starts in a higher register, comprising a slowly descending sequence touching on hicaz makamı (with a lower tetrachord of A-B flat-C sharp-D) at


Martin Stokes

the end (the words: ‘Sag˘ nak yag˘ murları inerken yedi kattan/O gece sendin gelen, ezel kadar uzaktan/Melekler her zerreye, müjde verirken Hak’tan/O gece sendin gelen, yâ Hazreti Muhammed … ’ or ‘As torrents of light descended from the seven heavens/it was you who came, from eternity/As the angels announced the good news from the Truth/it was you who came, O Prophet Muhammed’). The lyrics express devotional thoughts in simple rhymes, refering to the Miraç, the Prophet’s mystical journey into the heavens.16 The visuals show birds, insects, flowers, clouds, trees, waterfalls, historic mosques and praying hands. It is a well-crafted song with a catchy tune and a warmly emotional style of vocal delivery. It is not hard to see why it has been so popular, and has generated a relatively large number of online commentaries. Apart from its quantity (197 posted comments) the content of this conversation is rather typical. This commentary has two important dimensions. One is a matter of establishing public presence, of constituting a community interacting in the act of listening. Many comments locate the listener by mentioning place, or name, or locating oneself through language (‘allah razı olsun çok güzel ilahi I_BRAHI_M BENZER,ÖMER TOKGÖZ? VE LÜTFÜ SÜTSATAN dan kucak dolusu sevgiler’; ‘my name is emin!!!!! im bosnia’; ‘voll schön ich liebe dieses ilahiii !!! cok? güzel herkeze slm lar’; ‘Hic unutmam Kerkuk’te Ramazanlari onu dinlerdik’) (‘May God accept it, a very beautiful ilahi. Love and warm embraces from Ibrahim Benzer, etc.’; ‘My name is Emin, I’m Bosnian’; ‘(in German) Really beautiful, I love this ilahi. (in Turkish) Very beautiful, greetings to all’; ‘I’ll never forget. We used to listen to it in Kerkuk – in Iraq – during ramazan’).17 Listeners register themselves as part of the Turkish world, though not necessarily as Turkish speakers, or necessarily as people living in Turkey. Others simply respond with a prayer formula, a direct way of affirming moral presence common in everyday social interaction. These range from short (‘allah razı olsun? kardes¸im’) to more elaborate formulations (‘la ilahe illahe illalah muhammeden resullulah. binlerce salavat kainatin efendisine … ’; ‘selamunaleykum. Bu günlerin feyzi üzerinize, rahmeti geçmis¸inize, bereketi evinize, nuru? ahiretimize, sıcaklıg˘ ı yuvamıza dolsun. Kandiliniz mübarek olsun … ’) (‘there is no God but God and Muhammed is his prophet, thousands of prayers for the Lord of creation’; ‘Peace be with you. May the enlightenment of these days be with you, their mercy on your past, their blessings on your house, their light on our life in eternity, and their warmth fill your homes. May your Kandil festival be blessed’). Occasionally listeners engage in direct conversation with one another, but often only to censure inappropriate remarks. ‘Scaredyet’ writes ‘dershanede kalirken gavatin biri hep sabah namazina bu ilahiyle kaldirirdi bangir bangir calardi? … ’ (‘when I stayed at the dorm there was some idiot (gavat) who would play this song, bangir bangir, by way of morning prayers … ’).18 ‘Umitkirtil’ replies, irritably: ‘kimin gavat oldugu gayet belli deil mi ? … böyle bi ilahinin altına bunu? yazarak ne oldugunu belli etmene gerek yoktu … Allah biliyo ne oldugunu bari kuldan saklada adam sansınlar’ (‘isn’t it clear who the

New Islamist popular culture in Turkey


idiot is? No need to spell out what you are, writing such things under such a beautiful ilahi … God certainly knows what you are. At least try and conceal the fact from others, so they at least might think of you as a human being … ’). Others simply acknowledge the contributions of those writing in: ‘cok güzel bir ezgi, Allah söyleyendende buraya ekleyendende razi ve memnun olsun … ’ (‘a beautiful melody. May God accept it and be pleased with those singing and those adding comments here … ’). Many of these kinds of comments constitute a kind of electronic phatic communication, simply establishing the presence of ethically engaged co-auditors. The other dimension elaborates emotional and aesthetic states. Some are short and simple, communicating terms of aesthetic engagement. These range from ‘tek kelimeyle super’ (‘in a word, “super”’) to ‘Harika Ses … Harika Yorum … Harika Müzik … ’ (‘Great Voice … Great Interpretation … Great Music … ’) to more emphatic declarations, such as ‘bu ilahiii coookktek? güzel ya’ (‘this sooong is reaaallly beautiful’). Some refer to specific qualities of the voice: ‘günahlarımızı affeyle? yarabbim … harıka bir ses ve harıka bir haykırıs¸’ (‘forgive our sins O Lord … a wonderful voice and a wonderful wailing … ’); Evey cok guzel bi ilahi, ayrica mehmet emin ay in sesi cok yumusak ilahilere yakisiyor’ (‘Yes, a very beautiful ilahi, besides which Mehmet Emin Ay’s voice is gentle and really suits these ilahis). Others note the singer’s purity of heart: ‘agzına temiz kalbine saglık allah razı olsun böyle gusel ilahıler? dinletme fırsatı verenlereden allaha razı olsun kardesim’ (‘good health to his mouth and his pure heart, may God accept it, may God accept those who give us the opportunity to hear such beautiful ilahis, my brother’). A great many refer to emotional states, and particularly the act of weeping while listening: ‘Mükemmel … dinlerken göz yas¸larımı tutamıyorum Allah razı olsun’ (‘Excellent … I couldn’t stop crying while listening. May God accept it’ – i.e. either the song, or this person’s tears); ‘Cok etkilendim. Allah razi olsun’ (‘I was really touched. May God accept it’); ‘Agla gönül belki uslanirsin’ (‘Cry, soul, perhaps you’ll come to your senses’); ‘Allah Cümlemizin Günahlarini Affetmeyi Nasip Etsin … (Amin) … Dinlemekten Hic Bikmadigim Vede Dinlerken Aglamaktanda Hic Usanmadigim Bir Ilahi … ’ (‘May God forgive us all our sins. Amen. I never got tired of this and wept while listening. A song I’ll never get bored of ’). A contributor who refers to herself as ‘Moslimkiz’ (‘Muslimgirl’) writes in twice: ‘ilahi super ya allah razi olsun gunde enaz ikidefa dinleyip agliyorum’; ‘slm. hepinizin regaib kandilini kutlarim kardeslerim allah dualarinizi kabul eylesin allah razi olsun cok guzel bir ilahi super her dinledigmde gozum doluyo ya muhamed[s.a.v]ya ressullallah’ (‘the ilahi is superb, you know, may God accept it. I listen to it at least twice a day and weep’; ‘Greetings. Happy Regaip Kandili to you all, my brothers, may God hear your prayers. May God accept it, a really beautiful song. Every time I listen to it my eyes fill with tears. O Muhammad – peace be upon him! – O Prophet!’). We gain a sense from these online exchanges of how a discourse on musical audition might constitute a community of listeners. We also see how they


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create an emotional space. They assert sensitivity and affect as the ground of meaning, and the means by which those who listen to this music are collectively brought, via tears, to purity, humility and spiritual sincerity (that temizlik or ‘cleanliness’ of the heart with which listeners credit the singer himself). This community of listeners is a complex emergent social form. Hirschkind’s (2006) notion of a ‘counterpublic’ captures well the various aspects of this social process that interest me, particularly their sensory and affective dimension, their dispersed and anonymous quality, and their oppositional stance vis-à-vis the secular republic. But counterpublics are also spaces of contradiction and competition. In Web discussions about this music, discrepant elements (for example, those supplied by ‘Scaredyet’) can be managed and consensus evoked. During live performance, as we shall see, such issues are less easily controlled.

Performance During ramazan 2008, Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci performed live at the Bag˘ larbas¸ı Cultural Centre in Istanbul. This centre, an imposing marble-clad neo-Seljuq edifice, was the hub of the municipality’s ramazan festivities in this part of town. Every evening, its concert hall was the venue for a programme of entertainment following iftar, the break of fast. This usually started with an outdoor march by the Janissary band, and was followed by staged skits from Karagöz and Hacıvat, a magician’s show, and various bands performing religious music.19 The hall was full on each of the two occasions on which I visited. The atmosphere was festive, but somewhat restrained, perhaps because of the imposing surroundings, and perhaps because, on the occasions I visited, of a certain level of tiredness half way through ramazan. Though most of the performers were men, probably twothirds to three-quarters of the listeners were hijab-wearing women and their children, and clearly from modest backgrounds. I had a vivid image of White’s observation about the Islamist movement in the 1990s, one, she argues, directed by men and supported by women (White 2002). Two areas of tension struck me as an observer. One was not, I believe, the subject of much discussion amongst those involved, whilst the other clearly was. I use the word ‘tension’, incidentally, not to describe aesthetic failings, but, rather, the kind of productive contradictions at play in any cultural practice. The first involved the body language of the performers, and the ways in which they signified (or did not) their acknowledgement of the event as, itself, a performance. The vocalists stood at the front of the stage. The accompanying musicians (comprising, from left to right, a large darbuka, a bendir, a ney, a kanun and a keyboard) were seated behind them. The stage was quite deep, so the musicians had to decide where they were going to stand, and how they were going to move. The two musicians seemed to have made, consciously or otherwise, rather different decisions. Mehmet Emin Ay, dressed soberly in a dark suit, stood behind a music stand, microphone in hand, scarcely moving for the duration of the 40-minute

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performance. His reticent demeanour had a clear message: that what is important here is the music and the verse, and not the personality of the performer. To perform, ‘a performer’ would need, according to the logic of this position, to move during the entire event, a highly problematic step in the direction of the secular stage and popular musical star culture. In this context, according to this logic, medium (the singer’s body) and message (spiritual verse) were not to be confused. Mehmet Emin Ay’s carefully staged reticence acknowledged the issue, partly for his own benefit, and partly for audience members who may have shared these anxieties. Mustafa Demirci, dressed in silver suit and black shirt, occupied the stage in a very different way, moving around, often to the front of the stage, microphone in hand, and rarely consulting the music on the music stand. His body language also communicated an overt statement about performativity, one diametrically opposed to that of Mehmet Emin Ay: that medium and message were inextricably intertwined, and that forms of secular culture could – and perhaps should – be fully embraced if the goals and intentions of those involved were demonstrably pure.20 The other issue related to the sound mix. I found myself involved in a rather tense discussion of this issue. I had not had the opportunity to tell Mehmet Emin Ay or Mustafa Demirci I would be there, and wondered whether to risk surprising them by turning up unannounced backstage. When I eventually overcame my reticence and entered the dressing room, I discovered an argument in progress. There was a brief and awkward silence, but people quickly gathered themselves. Greetings and compliments were exchanged, and members of the band were politely introduced. But the discussion resumed, and my opinions were sought. The matter was partly one of volume (too loud) and partly one of balance (too much emphasis on the instrumentalists, and not enough on the vocalists). There was clearly no simple answer to these questions, and my own thoughts were neither here nor there. In the event, the discussion petered out. Already tired, the musicians had long journeys ahead of them, and people began to edge towards the door. Such post-performance discussions are the stuff of professional musical life, but here, this rather routine technical question broached broader anxieties. The level of the volume was appropriate to the secular concert hall but, arguably, not to the kind of contemplation and spiritual tranquility appropriate to a ramazan evening. And a balance tipped in favour of the accompanying musicians might incline the ear to the percussion, the playful mastery of the kanun and ney players, and a keyboard player, all of which, taken together, bought the whole ensemble perilously close to the kind of sound one might hear in a nightclub. The questions raised by live performance piled up around a set of neatly binarized issues. Did one step back from the front of the stage, or step forward? Did one make eye contact with the audience, or focus on the music stand? Did one dress up, or dress down? Did one instruct the sound engineer to tip the balance in favour of instruments, or voices? Should the performance be loud, or quiet? In live performance, and real time, the social complexity of events and simple miscommunication might push things in unexpected, and


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even unwanted, directions. However clear the issues might appear to be, their resolution, during performance, was usually either difficult or impossible. The performance, as a whole, might be regarded as a working-through of a set of constitutive contradictions in the broader political and cultural process. At root, the question was: to what extent was Islamist mobilization a matter of colonizing Turkey’s secular culture, and to what extent was it a matter of providing an alternative? These contradictions are deeply rooted and, equally deeply, unsettled.

Conclusion I have attempted to describe the career of a prominent musician associated with the Turkish Islamist movement, the conditions under which his music emerged, and his efforts to forge a viable popular religious musical style. I have offered some thoughts about how people listen to this music, how musicians and audiences negotiate the vagaries of live performance, and complex issues of legitimacy. This chapter represents the views of an outsider, and one whose views on Turkish music have, over 25 years, been largely formed in a secular context. So I should stress its limitations. But it raises some interesting questions, perhaps as a consequence of them. What new kinds of devotionalism and ethical self-fashioning have mass media enabled in Turkey, and elsewhere in the Muslim world? How do cultural practices oriented towards mass media shape Islamist political mobilization? What kinds of public are emerging in their wake? What is the nature of their constitutive tensions and contradictions? Mass-mediated publics have been the focus of much thinking in recent years, not least in the Middle East and the Muslim world (e.g. Hirschkind 2006; Armbrust 2000; Eikelman and Anderson 1999). They continue to be elusive. As Warner points out, ‘you cannot point to them, count them, or look them in the eye’ (Warner 2002: 7), and yet we are increasingly conscious that they press on the politics of religion and identity from every side. The role of ‘reflexively circulating discourse’ (Warner 2002: 11) in creating such publics has long been recognized (see Habermas 1984; 1991). But the sedate Habermassian account, heavily focused on reading and writing, has been subject to growing critique in recent years, particularly for its tendency to obscure gendered and other social exclusions in the late eighteenth-century political order (Fraser 1990). Other kinds of ‘reflexively circulating discourse’, other kinds of texts, and (thus) other kinds of publics are increasingly coming into view. Warner, for example, is interested in their diverse terms of affective engagement, and the varying extent of their accessibility, reflexivity and openendedness. Some publics, he notes, end up being ‘more public that others’, giving ‘greater scope for criticism and exchange of views. But by the same token they may be less directly political’ (Warner 2002: 45). Whether their politics is overt or not, friction with the dominant social order can always be imagined. ‘Counterpublics’, in Warner’s view, are always at least potentially oppositional.

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Charles Hirschkind, discussing cassette sermons in Egypt, is also interested in the affective dimensions of mass-mediated public formation (Hirschkind 2006). Hearing is central to pious Egyptians, but also, as he shows, the site of a struggle with an Egyptian state suspicious of popular religion and the arts of rhetoric (the ilm al-balagha). Modern habits of trusting the eye and distrusting the ear simultaneously allow the Egyptian state to justify control of public religiosity, and to push such public formations away from social scientific view. They are, thus, doubly elusive for the ethnographer. Hirschkind is cautious about defining counterpublics in terms of opposition or resistance. This would be reductive in the Egyptian context, he suggests. The political work they do must be understood otherwise. One of his central claims is ‘that the affects and sensibilities honed through popular media practices such as listening to cassette sermons are as infrastructural to politics and public reason as are markets, associations, formal institutions, and information networks’ (Hirschkind 2006: 9). The cassette-mediated public in Egypt constitutes, in other words, a kind of grounding for, and not simply an alternative way of doing, ‘politics and public reason’. Such ways of thinking about publics have been in the background of my description of Mehmet Emin Ay’s music. Affectively, as we have seen, this music indexes a sensibility of tearfulness, humility and purity of heart that is at play in various domains of religious practice in Turkey. Its blend of Turkish musical tradition and a broader Middle Eastern soundscape engages a sense of shared spiritual sentiments lying beyond, or deeper than, language and national identity. Its mode of address is, in other words, quite open-ended, engaging a Turkish-speaking world far beyond the borders of the Turkish nation-state, and others besides. It is also reflexive. In part, this has to do with the ongoing intensity of classical debates in the Muslim world over the legitimacy of performance and audition. And in part, it has to do with the complexities of the performance situation. Performers must, as we have seen, handle conjunctions of time, place and community that impose unexpected demands, press on hidden contradictions and often make it hard to stay on message. These circumstances impel energetic and ongoing exchanges about music’s ethical dimensions in modern environments – exchanges facilitated by new media (for instance, YouTube) and new performance spaces (for instance, concert halls). Such exchanges constitute a community that may be difficult to point at, count or ‘look in the eye’, but whose presence can, nonetheless, be felt. I would like to offer, in conclusion, three methodological considerations in the analysis of mass-mediated religious popular culture in the Muslim world. For further work in this area is surely both desirable and necessary. First, its politics are usually ambiguous and underdetermined, and might best be approached, as I have tried to suggest here, in terms of the literature on publics rather than that on subcultures, resistance and so forth. Second, such publics take shape in an increasingly complex field of mediation, embracing live performance, television, radio, CDs, YouTube and other file-sharing platforms. So one cannot determine their properties directly from a single medium, as


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others have done with, for example, newspapers, cassettes or films.21 One must, rather, consider media today as ‘assemblages’ of a variety of technological, discursive and other social mediations (Born 2005). Third, these publics might most usefully be conceptualized in the context of late capitalism and its crises, and not uniquely that of the Muslim world. Religion has been promoted elsewhere by the managers of the new ‘market states’ (Balakrishnan 2003) as a social security net, and as a vehicle of an intimate sentimental public morality well adapted to the withered states, the sprawl of suburbs and slums, and the dispersed migrant family structures of the current global order. The sacred/ secular divide might weigh heavily on the minds of our interlocutors and thus colour much of our ethnography, but it need not determine our own analysis.

Notes 1 I am deeply grateful to Mehmet Emin Ay and his colleague Mustafa Demirci for sparing time during the hectic ramazan 2009 period to chat to me, answer my questions and give me armfuls of CDs. I am also grateful to Gökhan Yücel for help with the nuances of Internet chat-room Turkish, and for casting his well-informed eyes over this chapter. 2 See also Barendregt (2008) on Malaysian boy bands, Sharma, Hutnyk and Sharma (1996) and Gazzah (2008) on Islamic rap and hip hop in various contexts. The global contexts in which such musical practices circulate have been more explicitly theorized in, for example, Frishkopf (2009) and Kapchan (2007). 3 Early in 2006, for instance, the Minik Dualar Grubu (the ‘Mini Prayer Group’, a group of singing children) sold 285,000 copies of Tes¸ekkür Ederim Allahım (Thank You God), significantly outselling Sezen Aksu’s S¸arkı Söylemek Lazım (148,500), and mass media sermonizer Fethullah Gülen appeared as Turkey’s seventh highest selling ‘recording artist’, according to sales figures. The Turkish Music Industry Federation (MÜYAP) provides reliable figures on sales, but music circulates and attains ‘popularity’ in many ways other than CD sales. These figures need to be treated with considerable caution as indicators of ‘popularity’. See Tekerek (2006). 4 For an extremely useful account of Islamist mobilization in the years of the Refah party, on which I draw heavily here, see White (2002). Like her, I use the term ‘Islamist’. The term is somewhat problematic, since it does not translate common Turkish terms, or terms used within the movement (I_slamî is the most likely candidate, but it has a slightly critical edge which is not intended here). It is perhaps the most useful way of referring to activity aiming to develop self-consciousness religious identification in everyday political and cultural life in Turkey. 5 An exception would be the creation of a religious music chorus within the ranks of the formerly highly secular Turkish Radio and Television station. It is a little hard to assess the impact of this new chorus at the time of writing. 6 Beyza Yapım’s website can currently be found at (accessed 3 July 2013). It contains a discography, news of concerts, live television and radio, and a mission statement. 7 Its tonic note is closer to the Arab quarter-tone than the Turkish ‘comma’-flattened B; in the upper tetracord, the E and F are fully sharpened and flattened (i.e. constituting an augmented second), while in Turkish hüzzam they are much closer in pitch. 8 Muhammed Fethullah Gülen was born in Erzurum in 1941. He came to prominence as a preacher in the late 1950s, holding posts in various parts of the country. It was around this time that he encountered the work of Said Nursi. A distinctively

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12 13 14





emotional style of preaching began to develop in the 1960s, when he held posts in Bornova, Izmir and elsewhere in the Aegean region. This brought him nationwide renown, impelling his break with the Nurcu and the establishment of his own movement. This was pushed underground by the military after the 1980 coup. His sermons, which lent themselves well to the medium, then started to circulate in cassette form. In 1991 he moved to the USA, from where he continues to run both his movement and a media empire. This generic term encapsulates nearly all para-liturgical religious music, particularly popular hymn singing, or ilahi, but also zikir (litanies of ‘remembrance’ of God), the Mevlid-i S¸erif (a nativity narrative) and a variety of regional and more obscure genres like mersiye (laments for the family of the Prophet who fell at Kerbala). Al-Ghazali attributes his legitimization of music in these terms to al-Junaid. We should not forget that al-Ghazali also had much to say about the morality of performers. He objected to ‘those idle instruments of music, both stringed instruments and pipes’ (Duncan Black MacDonald’s translation, MacDonald 1901: 211) on the grounds of their association with drinking and partying. Any instruments that ‘remind assemblies of men of drinking’ (ibid.: 212) have no role to play in spiritual audition. To slightly update his interesting analogy, he argues that listening to such music can be like drinking soft drinks out of wine glasses. This kind of music might, in itself, be an empty vessel, and its content innocuous, but the associations it carries with it of unruliness and objectionable types are sufficiently strong for it to be prohibited. I am grateful to the anonymous reader of this chapter for reminding me of this aspect of al-Ghazali’s argument. Mehmet Emin Ay, like many, claimed that Orhan Gencebay, a musician he was very fond of, was not ‘really’ an Arabesk singer. The kinship between Mehmet Emin Ay’s music and Gencebay’s is not hard to see. Both musicians are musically sophisticated cosmopolitans, with a lively sense of the connections and overlaps between Turkish and Arab world music. On Gencebay’s cosmopolitanism, see Stokes (2010). As Mustafa Demirci pointed out elsewhere, the credit crisis, file sharing, YouTube and other forms of piracy had all put something of a dent in these figures. Kaside are Arabic language praise poems in the Ottoman poetic corpus. A notable case of a CD oriented to the local market, but also claiming attention from Western World Music listeners was Sezen Aksu’s Is¸ık Dog˘ udan Yükselir/Ex Oriente Lux of 1996. The case is extensively discussed in Stokes (2010). Steven Feld (1984) reminds us in a seminal essay that speech about music is not always to be regarded as an obstacle to be somehow overcome in our effort to grasp musical experience. I share most contemporary ethnomusicologists’ interest in ‘how’, as Feld puts it, ‘people routinely talk about music’ (ibid.: 1). I also have in mind here Zbikowski’s discussion of the mutual structuring of musical and nonmusical metaphors (Zbikowski 2002), and of Eric Clarke’s discussion of ecological listening, whereby musical understanding is approached via ‘everyday’ listening practices (Clarke 2005). The Miraç is the subject of elaborate lore about the Prophet across the Muslim world (Schimmel 1985), and figures as an extensive narrative episode in the wellknown fifteenth-century Turkish nativity narrative, Süleyman Çelebi’s Mevlid-i S¸erif. Those writing YouTube comments often only have access to an English-language computer keyboard and are careless about grammar. In acknowledgement of the fact that new forms of written Turkish expression are currently emerging through Internet use, I have preserved them exactly as they appear.


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18 Gavat means ‘pimp’, and can, face-to-face, be a strong term of abuse. It is used so casually here that I have chosen a milder translation. Dershane refers to private learning institutions designed to coach students for university entrance and other public exams. But the author of these lines is possibly referring to a similar institution, probably run by Nurcu-s, and thus having a dorm, hence the reference to having been constantly woken up by this recording. So I have translated the word as ‘dorm’. I am grateful to Gökhan Yücel for this observation. 19 Karagöz and Hacıvat are shadow-puppets, still well known across Turkey, though the original form of the shadow theatre with which they are associated, a traditional form of entertainment during ramazan, is now entirely obsolete. Karagöz represents street-wise wiliness, in contrast to the slower but more educated Hacıvat. The two are constantly getting into scrapes with other stock characters and ethnic stereotypes in Ottoman society. 20 See, for a comparable issue, Navaro-Yashin’s discussion of the Turkish Islamist fashion industry in Navaro-Yashin (2002). 21 On newspapers, see Anderson (1983); on cassettes, see Manuel (1993); on film see Hansen (1994), for classic studies.

Discography Mehmet Emin Ay As¸kın Kanatları: The Wings of Love, Beyza, 2007. Beyaz Dilekçe, Beyza. Güle Sevda: Nât-ı S¸erifler, Beyza. Hulûs-i Kalb: Ilahiler, Beyza, 2002. Kısa Sûreler, Beyza, 1999. Muhammed Lovers/Muhammed Âs¸ıkları, Beyza. Nât-ı S¸erifler: Gül-i Ruhsâr, Beyza, 1999. 99.34.Ü.1492.21. Nûru’l-Hüdâ, Beyza, 2006. 2006.Ü.1422.126. Visâl, Beyza, 1998. Yâsin-i S¸erîf Sûresi … , Beyza, 1999. Mehmet Emin Ay and Mustafa Demirci As¸kı Mevlâ: Esmâ’ül-Hüsna 99, Beyza. Gülbeste 1 and 2: Klasikler, Beyza, 2000. KB.2000.34.Ü.1492.52 Mustafa Demirci Âhuzâr, Beyza. As¸ka Dâir, Beyza, 1999 As¸kı Mevlâ 2: Esmâ’ül-Hüsna 99, Beyza. Asude, Beyza, 2000. KB.2000.34. Ü.1492.64. Namaz Tesbîhâtı, Beyza. Selam Sana, Beyza. Sufimehter (with Murat Necipog˘lu), Tuna. (Note: in some cases dates and CD numbers are not given, or are not legible)

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Webography Beyza Yapım’s official website. (accessed 3 September 2009). You Tube site featuring Mehmet Emin Ay’s ‘O Gece Sendin Gelen’, and commentary by listeners. (accessed 22 December 2010).

References Anderson, B. (1983), Imagined Communities: On the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso. Armbrust, W. (ed.) (2000), Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Balakrishnan, G. (2003), ‘Algorhythms of War’, New Left Review, 23: 5–33. Barendregt, B. (2008), ‘The Sound of Islam: Southeast Asian Boy Bands’, ISIM Review, 22: 24–25. Born, G. (2005), ‘On Musical Mediation: Ontology, Technology and Creativity’, Twentieth Century Music, 2(1): 7–36. Bozan, I. (2007), Devlet I_le Toplum Arasında Bir Okul: I_mam Hatip Liseleri … Bir Kurum: Diyanet I_s¸leri Bas¸kanlıg˘ ı … , Istanbul: TESEV Yayınları. Online. www. 20BirKurum%2003_2007.pdf (accessed 3 July 2013). Clarke, E. (2005), Ways of Listening: An Ecological Approach to the Perception of Musical Meaning, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Eikelman, D. and J. Anderson (eds) (1999), New Media in the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. Feld, S. (1984), ‘Communication, Music and Speech about Music’, Yearbook for Traditional Music, 16: 1–18. Fraser, N. (1990), ‘Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy’, Social Text, 25/26: 56–80. Frishkopf, M. (2009), ‘Globalizing the Soundworld: Islam and Sufi Music in the West’, in M. Dressler, R. Geaves and G. Klinkhammer (eds), Sufis in Western Society: Global Networking and Locality, New York: Routledge, 46–76. Gazzah, M. (2008), Rhythms and Rhymes of Life: Music and Identification Processes of Dutch-Moroccan Youth, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. Habermas, J. (1984), A Theory of Communicative Action, Boston, MA: Beacon Press. ——(1991), The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Hansen, M. (1994), Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Hirschkind, C. (2006), The Ethical Soundscape. Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics, New York: University of Columbia Press. Kapchan, D. (2007), Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance Music in the Global Marketplace, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. MacDonald, D.B. (1901/02), ‘Emotional Religion in Islam as Affected by Music and Singing being a Translation of the Ihya “Ulm ad-Din of al-Ghazzali” with Analysis, Annotation, and Appendices. Parts 1 and 2’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 22 (1901): 195–252, 705–48; and 23 (1902): 1–28. Manuel, P. (1993), Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.


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Mardin, S. (1991), ‘The Naksibendi Order in Turkish History’, in R. Tapper (ed.), Islam in Modern Turkey: Religion, Politics and Literature in a Secular State, London: I.B. Tauris, 121–42. Navaro-Yashin, Y. (2002), Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Schimmel, A. (1985), And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. Sharma, S., J. Hutnyk and A. Sharma (eds) (1996), Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, London: Zed Books. Stokes, M. (1992), The Arabesk Debate: Music and Musicians in Modern Turkey, Oxford: Clarendon. ——(2010), The Republic of Love: Cultural Intimacy in Turkish Popular Music, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Tekerek, T. (2006), ‘Fethullah Gülen, Hande Yener’i, Gülben-i Solladı’, Milliyet, 17 December. Online. (accessed 22 December 2010). Warner, M. (2002), Publics and Counterpublics, New York: Zone Books. White, J. (2002), Islamist Mobilization in Turkey: A Study in Vernacular Politics, Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. Zbikowski, L. (2002), Conceptualizing Music: Cognitive Structure, Theory and Analysis, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt Michael Frishkopf

A number of Sufis (Muslim mystics) became notorious within conservative Islamic circles for heterodox poetic expressions employing metaphors of intoxication and sensual love, or expressing mystical union. Likewise, conservatives criticized Sufis’ elaborate musical practices as heretical. They based both critiques in shari`a (Divine Law), as embodying the essence of Islam. Yet in contemporary Egypt, where religious fundamentalism is strong, independent professional munshids (religious singers) publicly perform such poetry, accompanied by musical ensembles. In the more private rituals of the Sufi orders (tariqas), texts are generally limited to conventional Islamic sentiments, emotion is more restrained, and musical instruments are infrequent. This chapter analyzes this contrast via models of strategic decision-making employed to define and perform a poetic repertoire, models shaped by their users’ objectives, constraints, and positions within the dynamic field of Islam in Egypt. The professional munshid lacks status within the Sufi establishment, and so is freer to maximize emotion via texts which are felt to provide glimpses of Divine Reality (haqiqa). Logical discord with shari`a is muted by the affective frame of aesthetic performance, and by strategies of textual delivery which discourage rational comprehension of assertions, while promoting affective perception of concepts and language sounds. The tariqas, as official religious organizations, are vulnerable to conservatives’ critiques. Through ritual they reinforce connections to shari`a, thus defending reputation and increasing membership. They also use poetic performance as a tool for spiritual education and group solidarity, not merely to create an ecstatic moment. Both factors lead to restrictions on poetic content and performance. In this chapter I probe the social forces shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi musical performance in contemporary Egypt.1 The debate over music (Arabic musiqa) in Islam, historically and geoculturally widespread, is well documented in secondary scholarly sources (Farmer 1952; Choudhury 1957; Nelson 1985; Shiloah 1997) as well as in primary source texts (Ghazzali 1901; Dunya 1938; Ghazzali 1938). Throughout this literature it typically appears – stated or implied – that musical sound is more acceptable in Sufi Islamic ritual contexts (where it may be known as sama`, spiritual audition) than in Islamic ritual at large. In ethnomusicology, in particular, Sufism (along with, or as a form


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of, ‘popular’ Islam) is often assumed to imply a willingness to harness music for spiritual ends, leading to lush sonic rituals, replete with musical instruments and complex musical forms – the quintessential example being the Mevlevi ‘whirling dervishes’, followers of Jalal al-Din Rumi, which served for a time as a kind of de facto conservatoire of the Ottoman Empire (Friedlander 2003). Ordinary Islamic ritual, by contrast, is typically portrayed as musically arid, containing only the solo unmeasured chants of adhan (call to prayer), du`a’ (supplication) and tilawa (Qur’anic recitation). None of these is classified under the heading musiqa, and beautiful performances, while appreciated, are not required for ritual efficacy; aesthetic perfunctoriness is common.2 But this Sufi/non-Sufi contrast, if memorable, is highly misleading, for at least two reasons: first, because the division is not clear, Sufi thought and practice having long ago diffused broadly as Islam’s ‘mystical dimension’ (Schimmel 1975; thus Sufism should never be regarded as a ‘sect’); second, because even granted a distinctive social realm of Sufi orders (turuq) locally recognized as such, one nevertheless finds within it tremendous ritual (and, particularly, musical) diversity. Leaving aside studies that attempt to identify and contrast Sufi with non-Sufi performance contexts, what remains is the systematic investigation of variation (qualitative and quantitative) in the sound of ritual across multiple Sufi contexts. Such study is important insofar as this variation proves to be a sensitive barometer of differences within the vast range of phenomena identified as ‘Sufism’ (in the West), or al-tasawwuf (in Arabic), a unitary label covering tremendous diversity – in social, doctrinal and ritual practices, and in the social and political environments within which those practices evolve and develop spiritual meaning. Not only should Sufism never be described as a sect – Sufism is not even remotely homogeneous. However, if Sufism is not unitary, it is not disconnected either. Despite the vagaries of history, its many branches are connected – socially, doctrinally and ritually – to a common root. In particular, the durable social structures of Sufism, the ‘ways’ (tariqas) often described (with a gender bias, albeit partially justified due to the overwhelming dominance of men) as ‘brotherhoods’ or ‘confréries’, crystallized around charismatic founders – sheikhs, later elevated as walis (saints), or even qutbs (axes) – entail particular social forms, what I call ‘spiritual genealogies’ (Frishkopf 2003), based on spiritual kinship (spiritual father, or sometimes mother; spiritual child, brother or sister) constructed primarily through a ritual initiation (`ahd or bayi`), maintained through ritual participation, rendered affective through music, chant and movement, and legitimized by that spiritual–social power known in Islam as baraka, ‘blessing’. Such ritual–spiritual kinship instantiates what anthropologists term fictive kin relations, often constructed, affirmed and expressed in ritual (Sayres 1956; Norbeck and Befu 1958; Barnes 1961; Lévi-Strauss 1969; Coy 1974; Hart 1977; Dinn 1990; Donofrio 1991; Holý 1996; Vernier 1998; Maddy 2001). In their social, doctrinal and ritual aspects, Sufi orders develop both endogenously and exogenously. That is, they develop both through an internal

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developmental logic (driven especially by death, and the necessity of spiritual inheritance) and through immersion in a shifting social and political environment. It is the relation between transformations to the social structure of the Sufi organization, and concomitant transformations to musical ritual – the ways in which social change reframes musical discourse and practice – that I intend to explore in this chapter, with specific ethnographic reference to Cairo, Egypt, but with relevance to similar phenomena worldwide. Music (in the general sense, including concomitant discourse, movement and poetry), generally expected to be of marginal importance in Islamic studies and the sociology of religion, turns out, nevertheless, to be a key bellwether for broader religious trends in Egyptian Muslim society (as elsewhere), and indeed for social transformations at large. Its analysis, therefore, is often more fruitful than might be expected.

*** For Muslims, the aim of al-tasawwuf is to bring the worshipper (muslim, ‘submitter’) closer to God, through a spiritual process combining tazkiyat al-nafs (purifying the lower self) and tarqiyat al-ruh (raising the higher self). For the purpose of guiding this process, organized mystical orders called tariqas (literally ‘ways’) developed, each based on the charisma, teachings and ritual practices of a teacher (sheikh), who guides disciples in their spiritual development (Trimingham 1998). In Egypt, neither Sufism as a whole nor the individual tariqa can be properly regarded as a sect, doctrinally or socially, their relation to Islam being supplemental rather than substitutive. Thus, doctrinally, all Sufi orders require that members fulfil religious obligations incumbent on all Muslims, as set forth in Islamic law, shari`a. Socially, the tariqas never form closed religious societies; rather, social ties criss-cross orders via multiple memberships in families and even individuals, linking them to one another and to society at large. Rather, Sufis conceive of each tariqa as a ‘way’, grounded in shari`a, but leading towards one destination: Divine Reality, or haqiqa, metaphorically as the spokes of a wheel lead to its hub. Active members of active Sufi orders meet regularly – typically once or twice each week after the sunset prayer, al-maghrib – to perform a corporate ritual called hadra (‘presence’). This hadra may include recitations of fawatih and ad’iyya (short supplicatory prayers, involving a call-response dialogue between soloist and group), sacred texts (Qur’an, or tariqa-specific prayers called hizb or wird comprising a mélange of Qur’an and prayers, often composed by the founder), sermons (khutab, wa`z) and religious lessons (durus diniyya), performances of religious hymns (inshad) by a religious singer (munshid dini, usually simply munshid) sometimes with choral or instrumental accompaniment, and dhikr: collective rhythmic chanting of one of the Names of God (most often one of Allah, Hu, Hayy, Qayyum, Quddus) or the tahlil (assertion of monotheism, la ilaha illa Allah: there is no deity but God), accompanied by regular physical movements (most commonly turning or bowing)


Michael Frishkopf

and inshad (Frishkopf 1999, 2001, 2002b). Through such practices of concentration and self-discipline, the disciple aims to purify the baser self (al-nafs) and raise the spirit (al-ruh) towards God, through a progressive series of ethical– spiritual stages called maqamat. Along the way, flashes of mystical insight (hal) or ecstasy (wajd) sometimes occur. The larger Sufi orders are divided into bayts or local chapters; weekly hadras take place at their central headquarters, while more intimate hadras occur at the peripheral chapter level of bayt. Hadra performances may contain a greater or lesser quantity of what I call heterodox elements. By this term I mean those sonic, linguistic and behavioural elements of performance often labelled ‘innovation’ (bid`a, usually in a negative sense, implying ‘heresy’) by Muslim conservatives, those who cleave more closely to the letter of shari`a, and acknowledged even by their Sufi practitioners as potentially controversial. Such elements are used by participants in hadra to inspire or express wajd, often taken to represent a glimmer of the sought-after mystical apperception of haqiqa. Sufism as a whole harbours a tension between narrow compliance with shari`a and the mystical search for haqiqa, and this tension is manifested in ritual practice, including its sonic dimensions. Heterodox elements of hadra include four main types: First, poetic metaphors of erotic love, music, dance, intoxication and union (Schimmel 1982), often expressed in colloquial Arabic for greater intimacy. The Sufi is a lover longing for the Beloved, whose identity is often ambiguous. The lover sits in the tavern (al-han), hoping for wine (khamr, mudam, rah) from the cup-bearer (al-saqi); he becomes intoxicated (sakran) and attains closeness. The literal meanings of such metaphors violate Islamic law, while their mystical meanings conflict with orthodox doctrines of divine transcendence. Orthodox Islamic poetry by contrast focuses upon unambiguous uncontroversial themes, such as madih (praise for the Prophet), salawat (calls for blessings upon the Prophet) and du`a’ or ibtihal (supplication to God), and centres on the classical language.3 Second, secular music (musiqa): musical instruments, secular melodies or lyrics, and secular styles such as tarab (sophisticated listening music, designed to evoke emotion via emotional interactions with the audience as improvisation and poetry; see Racy 2003), light strophic songs (taqatiq or adwar) or dance music, often deploying an accelerating tempo. Orthodoxy condemns such musiqa in hadra, though tarab in particular achieves a special spiritual significance for Sufis, reinterpreted as nashwa ruhiyya (spiritual refreshment) (Frishkopf 2001). While frame drums are often acceptable due to many hadiths indicating that the Prophet allowed them, the flute (nay) is less so, and stringed instruments least of all. Third, ecstatic inarticulate pronunciation of God’s names (asma’ Allah al-husna, ‘God’s most beautiful names’) as a special form of dhikr (dhikr al-qalb), which may resemble a sort of hoarse breathing. Some Sufis regard this style as expressing or facilitating deeper concentration and greater closeness to God, closer to the pole of pure mystical emotion, escaping the restraints imposed by linguistic sound. The orthodox position is that God’s names must be

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


performed with perfect articulation, for these names are from the Qur’an, and hence regulated by its rules of pronunciation, ahkam al-tajwid (Nelson 1985). Fourth, individualistic and unrestrained movement and emotional expression in dhikr. Some Sufis express emotion (wajd) through movement or, conversely, use movement to induce an ecstatic state, sometimes even reaching the wild contortions of trance, or self-mortification (walking on coals, piercing the body with skewers, eating glass and the like). By contrast, orthodox movements are well coordinated, regulated, slow and restricted in range. Turning movements, sometimes called dhikr Hifnawi (perhaps after the famous Khalwati sheikh of al-Azhar, Muhammad ibn Salim al-Hifnawi (1690–1768)), are generally considered more heterodox than bowing (perhaps because the latter resembles movements of salah), especially when performed vigorously or rapidly, and the more conservative turuq sometimes forbid them, while in the unrestrained public dhikrs of mawlids and life-cycle rituals, dhikr Hifnawi predominates.

*** Sufi hadras in Cairo today exhibit a broad spectrum of such elements, varying in kind and frequency, leading to variation in the perception of hadra heterodoxy. What are the social forces underlying the distribution of these elements, and shaping the heterodoxy of Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt? I present five examples to illustrate the range, and – subsequently – develop a theory. The first example is drawn from the central hadra of the tariqa al-Ja`fariyya al-Ahmadiyya al-Muhammadiyya, founded in the early 1960s by Sheikh Salih al-Ja`fari, formerly Imam of the celebrated al-Azhar mosque (commissioned in 970) in Cairo, whose preaching gathered a circle of followers that eventually crystallized as a formal tariqa. The particular hadra documented here was held on 15 November 1996 in the tariqa’s headquarters, a large mosque in Cairo’s Darrasa neighbourhood, not far from al-Azhar itself, on the occasion of the founder’s yearly mawlid (birthday festival). Even on this celebratory occasion, the hadra is overwhelmingly orthodox, muted. Inshad, performed by two munshidin, praises the Prophet Muhammad in a sober manner. The precomposed melody is restrained, of narrow compass and a dignified steady tempo (MM = 47). This melody cleaves to the poem rather than developing an independent aesthetic force, its rhythm matching the poetic metre precisely, and repeating predictably throughout the long poem (of which only an excerpt is presented here), with corporate refrains by the full congregation ensuring their lucid participation – there is no opportunity for ecstatic responses. All remain seated in orderly lines; behavioural expression is limited to a gentle swaying. Posture and movement appear to emulate the demure and restrained demeanour of the muqri’ (Qur’an reciter), which is universally accepted. There is no dhikr chant, and the mood is solemn. Besides inshad, the evening includes religious sermons on conventional topics. The Ja`fariya are divided into many local chapters, each conducting its own weekly hadras, but hardly differing from that performed at the headquarters.


Michael Frishkopf

Figure 2.1 al-tariqa al-Ja`fariyya. Yearly mawlid hadra, performed at the central mosque of the tariqa al-Ja`fariyya; Darrasa, Cairo, Thursday, 14 November 1996. Example 1: This hadra, closely resembling the regular weekly Thursday night hadra (but much larger), was performed to celebrate the mawlid (saint’s day) of the tariqa founder, Sheikh Salih al-Ja`fari. The poem, madih (praise) for the Prophet Muhammad, was written by Sheikh Salih himself; an excerpt is presented here. This qasida, in classical Arabic, is completely orthodox in content, as is nearly all of his poetic output, which constitutes the basis for inshad (religious hymnsinging) performances in the tariqa. Besides inshad of this type, the hadra included religious sermons. Inshad performances never include instruments, secular melodies or dhikr; the latter may be performed separately, as part of the tariqa’s hizb (special prayer).

Solo (chorus in parentheses) al-hamdu lir-rahmaan (Allah, Allah) an`ama `alayhi biridaah (Allah, Allah)

Praise to the Merciful (God, God)

a`taahu rabbi al-khayr dhuriyyatan tardaah

My Lord gave him good fortune: descendents who believe in him

Who blessed him with satisfaction (God, God)

Chorus (solo in parentheses) Allah, Allah, Allah (Allah, Allah) 2x Madad ya rasul Allah!

God, God, God (God, God) 2x Help us, oh messenger of God!

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


Figure 2.2 al-tariqa al-Jazuliyya al-Husayniyya al-Shadhiliyya. Weekly Thursday hadra, central mosque of the tariqa al-Jazuliyya; Qayt Bay, Cairo, 11 May 1998. Example 2: This weekly hadra takes place after evening prayer. The ecstatic and heterodox inshad and dhikr (rhythmic repetition of God’s names) shown here constitute only part of the hadra, much of which is devoted to the study of orthodox religious subjects such as Qur’anic recitation and interpretation, hadith (the words and deeds of the Prophet) and fiqh (jurisprudence), as well as dhikr of a more restrained sort. But the following qasida (monorhyme ode), by the founder of the tariqa, Sidi Jabir al-Jazuli, dwells upon the theme of mystical love for an unspecified beloved, employing a variety of heterodox symbols to describe the author’s mystical progress. The solo munshid (religious singer) performs freely with instrumental accompaniment (oud, visible), and the inclusion of secular songs and styles, as well as taqasim (instrumental improvisations) is common. In the first two lines (excerpted from the full performance) – performed solo – an unspecified ‘she’ addresses the ego (Sheikh Jabir); the original poem clarifies that ‘she’ is a spirit (ruh, grammatically feminine) intercessor with the Beloved. In the standard interpretation this spirit would be the Prophet, and the Beloved would be God. In the last line, the chorus enters, in the colloquial language of intimacy, suggesting a second interpretation of ‘she’: Sidi Jabir al-Jazuli himself, addressing the disciple as ‘ego’. This sort of referential ambiguity is typical of mystical poetry; a sharp distinction between various ‘beloveds’ (sheikh, Prophet, God) is not always maintained. The sheikh is often addressed as ‘father’.


Michael Frishkopf

The second example is taken from the central Thursday evening hadra of the tariqa al-Jazuliyya al-Husayniyya al-Shadhiliyya (founded in 1952 by Sidi Jabir al-Jazuli and today led by his successor and son, Sidi Salim) held at their central mosque. This excerpt comes from a hadra segment they term dhikr al-hana (dhikr of the ‘tavern’, the location of mystical ecstasy often referenced in Sufi poetry) in which musical instruments and secular styles are freely deployed as a means of generating corporate ecstasy; while a designated chorus sings occasional responses, the bulk of participants are free to express themselves individually through movement and chanted dhikr, fostering a build up of intense ecstatic emotion. Amplified music, including an `ud (fretless lute) and percussion, further charges the atmosphere. The munshid sings from an ecstatic ambiguous love poem by the founder, followed by a chorus devoted to Sidi Jabir, using a semi-improvised melody and an accelerating tempo (at the moment depicted in the photo approximately MM = 100). Music may also include taqasim (instrumental improvisations) and excerpts of songs by Umm Kulthum, `Abd al-Wahhab and other secular singers. Like the Ja`fariyya, the Jazuliyya is a large order, widespread throughout Egypt, with many local chapters whose hadras closely resemble those held at the tariqa’s centre – though somewhat less ecstatic. Solo: fa qaalat tamahhal ya mutayyamu fi’l-hawa inna’l-hawa sa`bun wa lakin bimuraadiyaa wakhla` muraadaka in aradta mahabbatii watba` muraadii in aradta ridaa’iyaa

She said: go slowly in love, oh infatuated one! Indeed love is difficult, but by my wish Cast off your desire if you want my love and follow my wish if you want my pleasure

Chorus: yaba yaba ... yaba ya Jazuli

Oh father, oh father ... oh father, oh Jazuli!

The third example comes from the central Friday hadra of the tariqa al-Bayyumiyya, founded in the mid-eighteenth century by Sidi `Ali Nur al-Din al-Bayyumi. This hadra in their main mosque, located in Cairo’s Husayniyya neighbourhood, is less orthodox than the Ja`fariyya, but nevertheless restrained and ordered, even if movements are not well coordinated; hands are clasped as for prayer. Dhikr is articulate, if roughly hewn; no musiqa is employed, but munshidin are free to improvise melodies, generating a strong emotional response alongside a powerful dhikr chant. The tempo accelerates from about MM 60 to close at MM 131 during the final few seconds. The munshid praises the Prophet with orthodox madih, poetry sung upon the Prophet’s arrival at Madina after his journey from Mecca. Note the empty prayer rug in the centre, indicating the absence of the central sheikh, who rarely attends.

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


Figure 2.3 al-tariqa al-Bayyumiyya: central group. Weekly Friday hadra, central mosque of the tariqa al-Bayyumiyya; al-Husayniyya, Cairo, 8 May 1998. Example 3: This weekly hadra takes place following the Friday group prayer, about an hour after high noon. The munshid performs nearly the same text every week to accompany chanting of ‘Hayy’ (‘Living’, one of God’s 99 Names) in the dhikr, a text which is utterly orthodox in its meanings and metaphors. The first line refers to the impermanence of this world and its delights, in contrast to the eternity of God. tafna wa yafna na`iimuha wa yabqa al-waahid al-hayy

It vanishes, and its happiness vanishes;4 what remains is the Living One5

The following four lines are taken from what is perhaps the most famous and traditional madih to the Prophet, sung by the inhabitants of Madina to greet him, after his hijra (emigration) from Mecca, in the year AH 1 (622 CE). tala`a al-badru `alayna min thaniyyaat al-wadaa`

The full moon6 rose over us coming from the paths to the farewell7

wajaba’l-shukru `alayna maa da`aa lilaahi daa`

Thanks are incumbent upon us as long as people pray to God

ayyuhaa al-mab`uuthu fiinaa ji’ta bi’l-amri’l-mutaa`

Oh you sent among us you brought the order to be obeyed8

ji’ta sharrafta’l-madiina marhaban ya khayra daa`i

You came and honoured Madina welcome oh best of missionaries.


Michael Frishkopf

Figure 2.4 al-tariqa al-Bayyuumiyya: local group. Weekly hadra, Madinat al-Nur, Zawiya al-Hamra’, Cairo, 27 April 1998. Example 4: The munshid begins with a standard supplication, which will be interpreted by most listeners as referring to the Prophet. The second line is most likely borrowed from sentimental secular poetry. In a mystical context, these heterodox metaphors of secular love and longing are interpreted as referring to the sheikh, the family of the Prophet, the Prophet or God. God may often be addressed using the grammatically feminine form ‘al-jalala’ (the Majesty), or the female name ‘Layla’ to which the feminine pronoun can be applied. ‘Layla’ is the most common name for the female beloved in secular love poetry; in mystical contexts it is often interpreted as an acronym for the tahlil or formula of tawhid, ‘laa ilaaha illa Allah’, ‘there is no deity but Allah’.

adriknaa ya munaa `ayni

help us, oh my eye’s desire!

wadda`tuha wa’l-dam`u yaqturu baynana wa kadhaaka kullu muwadda`in mushtaaqi

I bid her farewell, as the tears dropped between us, for everyone yearns who bids farewell.

The fourth example is also from the Bayyumiyya tariqa. This hadra, however, represents the intimate local, rather than the central, kind. The weekly ritual is held in the home of a leader of one of the tariqa’s myriad chapters. Protected from public scrutiny and under local control, the hadra displays a great deal of heterodoxy: unrestrained movements, inarticulate dhikr al-qalb and poetic metaphors of love, intoxication and union in abundance, sung to

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


an improvised solo melody, as participants freely release mystical emotion in chant and movement.9 The tempo sharply accelerates as mystical energy builds in the small room, from about MM = 42 to climax around MM = 83. Lacking clear chains of command, the ritual displays individualism, ecstatic dynamism and spontaneity. Whereas hadras performed by local chapters of the Ja`fariyya and Jazuliyya orders are similar to those held at the centre, or somewhat less ecstatic, the Bayyumiyya exhibits the reverse: the periphery is more heterodox, the centre more conservative.

Figure 2.5 Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami. Public hadra, Badari, Assiut (middle Egypt), 8 February 1996. Example 5: Sheikh Yasin and his group – percussion, kamanja (violin) and kawala (reed flute) – performed this amplified public hadra for the arba`in (40th-day memorial) of Sheikh Muhammad Abu Shama, a renowned leader of the Rifa`iyya tariqa, attracting an enormous crowd (a photo of the deceased Sheikh is visible in the upper left). The following two lines are taken from a qasida which treats the mystical relation in heterodox symbols of love, intoxication and song. The meaning is vague and difficult, but the images are powerful and ecstatic. araa kulla dhii sukrin sayashu min al-hawa illaa ana fasahwi fiika `illatu sakrati

Every drunkard will awaken from love

ma aqraba’l-arwaha minna ladaa’ l-ghinaa siwaa naghamatin adrakathaa qadiimati

How near are the spirits when there’s song like melodies they knew in pre-eternity10

except me, for my wakefulness in you is the cause of my drunkenness


Michael Frishkopf The lines which follow appear to be an improvisation on a qasida by the twelfth-century Andalusian mystic, Abu Madyan (1126–98), known as ‘al-Ghawth’ (the saviour). He was the spiritual grandfather of Abu’l-Hasan al-Shadhili, founder of the Shadhili line, from which the Jazuliyya and (indirectly) Ja`fariyya tariqas are descended. The poetry speaks of mystical love. Listeners will no doubt identify the ‘you’ of the poetry with the Ahl al-Bayt, the family of the Prophet Muhammad. nahyaa nahyaa fii dhikraakum nahyaa alaa inna hawaa’l-ahibbati yun`ishunaa, yuharrikunaa

We live, we live in your remembrance for love of the lovers revives and moves us

lawlaa hawaakum fi’l-hashaa lam nahya tarqusu’l-arwaahu shawqan ilaa’l-liqaa...

Without your love inside us we wouldn’t live the spirits dance, longing for a meeting.

The fifth and final example is drawn from an open public hadra, entirely outside the jurisdiction of any tariqa or sheikh, and performed for a public occasion: the arba`in (40th-day memorial) of a great sheikh in Upper Egypt. The munshid, Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami, is the most famous professional munshid in Egypt, and has developed an international reputation as well through ‘world music’ networks (al-Tuhami 1998). The highly heterodox performance includes ecstatic and individualistic movement, inarticulate dhikr, and a full musical group including violin, kawala (reed flute) and percussion (riqq and tabla) resembling the chamber ensemble (takht) typical of older tarab music, and amplified to a high volume. Thousands of men perform a vigorous dhikr as many more look on. Between poetic segments, musicians play precomposed lawazim (instrumental filler, mostly from secular Arab songs) or improvisations, designed to maximize the emotional impact. Poetry is rich with heterodox symbols of love, intoxication and (self-referentially) song (Frishkopf 2001; 2002a). The tempo accelerates from around MM = 70 in the free ibtihalat section, featuring expressive vocal improvisation in long melodic lines, to the driving rhythm of the madad section in praise of saints, reaching its fastest clip at around MM = 93, and driving the large crowd into a frenzy. This memorial performance is typical of the life-cycle rituals (including circumcisions and weddings) and mawlids at which Sheikh Yasin (and many other munshidin like him) performs, though rather larger and more public than most. When performing for a wedding in a small town, the level of public scrutiny is considerably less. Yet regardless of context, from the comparatively private wedding in a small village to the most public performances celebrating Egypt’s greatest saints before tens of thousands thronged in Cairo’s most public squares, the level of heterodoxy is equally high.


Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


How can these differences be understood? Egyptians themselves – alongside many religious studies scholars – often link ecstatic ‘popular’ Islam to class. Poorer, rural or less-educated Sufis are thought to exhibit more ecstatic ritual emotion than elites. Many reasons are given: religious ignorance, the need to counter material deprivation with emotionalism, folkloric survivals from ancient times. While the correlation between class and emotion in Islamic ritual may hold to a certain extent, I believe that the reasons given are incomplete. Rather, I suggest that, in the modern age, when various factors have conspired to create a reformist Islamic environment somewhat hostile to Sufism, the persistence of heterodox elements, and the ecstasy they engender or express, is more directly related to the social organization of the tariqa, particularly its cohesion and centralization – and thus its ability to formulate and deploy effective strategies for remaining cohesive and centralized, in the face of reformist criticism – and the exposure of its power centres to such critical censure. The desire for spiritual ecstasy is basic to the mystical impulse, and deeply satisfying to many Sufis of all classes. Controversies over Sufi practices such as sama` (listening to music) flared with some frequency throughout the medieval period, ignited by criticism from stricter legists (Ghazzali 1901; 1938; Dunya 1938). But by the eighteenth century, Sufism was ubiquitous in Egypt, even among scholars of the religious establishment, including professors in al-Azhar University (Jong 1978; Abu-Rabi 1988). Certainly, most orders did not preach ecstatic abandon in ritual, and some were quite conservative. But the atmosphere as a whole was conducive to ritual rich in emotion. Over the past century, however, Islamic reformers have achieved broad sway in Egypt, and created a much chillier climate for Sufism and, a fortiori, for Sufi ecstasy. These new religious currents draw on narrower, at times literalist, interpretations of shari`a, traceable from the ultraorthodox ninth-century legal school of Ibn Hanbal (d. 855), to the puritanical polemics of Ibn Taymiyya (1263–1328), to the reformism of Muhammad ibn `Abd al-Wahhab (1703–92) in eighteenth-century Arabia, producing the so-called ‘Wahhabi’ movement. These intellectual forbears were reinterpreted in Egypt by the Salafi reformers of the late nineteenth century – most famously, and in a kind of discipular succession, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838–97), Muhammad `Abdu (1849–1905) and Rashid Rida (1865–1935) – who influenced the popular-political Islam initiated by Hasan al-Banna (1906–49), founder of the broadly successful Muslim Brothers (al-ikhwan al-muslimun) from which various ‘fundamentalist’ groups have sprung in Egypt and elsewhere (Abu-Rabi 1996). Whatever their differences, and despite the irony of influential Sufi training for many of them, these reformers were uniformly critical of ‘innovative’ Sufi practices, particularly ecstatic ritual and its musical trigger, considered a perversion of Islamic principles, a kind of bid`a (heresy) and even shirk (associationism), that could only lead to individual spiritual ruin, and to moral and political weakness at the level of the society as a whole.


Michael Frishkopf

At the same time, twentieth-century secular currents of modernity – whether nationalist, liberal, socialist, communist, capitalist, etc. – have tended to lay a certain amount of blame for Egypt’s political and economic retardation upon Sufi orders and rituals, criticized for cultivating an emotional otherworldly orientation, an attitude of passivity, fatalism and social withdrawal, displacing the sought-after political dynamism, supporting instead a religious environment inhospitable to the creation of a modern nation in the Rationalist– Enlightenment tradition (as fostered, for instance, by the mainline Protestant denominations). Thus, both secular and religious discourses of modernity have called for Islamic reforms (Sirriyeh 1999). How do the Sufi orders react to the inhospitable discursive environment in which they now find themselves? Under certain conditions they may attempt to cleave closely to both shari`a and Enlightenment expectations, in order to avoid criticism. But these conditions are not simply related to class or education. To understand them requires a brief digression into the endogenous evolutionary logic by which Sufi orders form and develop within a modern environment favouring discourses of Islamic reform. This process can be summarized in three main developmental phases.

death life Founder-leader


Disciples Figure 2.6 Sufi order in Phase 1. The living tariqa founder (the large star), with his living spiritual children (awlad ruhiyya, disciples), including the designated successor, the khalifa (grey circle). The lines extending from star to circles indicate personal social and spiritual relations; the oval indicates boundaries of social solidarity. The horizontal line separates life and death. The group, still small, is relatively immune from reformist pressures.

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


In phase 1, a Sufi sheikh achieves some renown for his high mystical station, as displayed in teachings or miracles (karamat), and gathers an informal circle of spiritual children – disciples – some of whom become loyal devotees. At first, the social organization is homogeneous except for its charismatic centre. Gradually, subsidiary roles are differentiated, and a successor (khalifa) appears, most often the founder’s son, sometimes another relation, literally or spiritually consanguine. The entire tariqa organization, gathered in a cohesive spiritual genealogy, is centralized. As the group is relatively inconspicuous, typically meeting all together in private settings, the impact of reformism is limited. The second phase begins when the founder passes away, even as the tariqa is growing rapidly. While the founder is now venerated as a saint, the khalifa must exercise practical authority, making provisions for the group’s continuity and growth, including the establishment of an administrative hierarchy. Sufism is based on a direct relationship of trust and guidance between disciple and sheikh. With expansion, the central leader is unable to perform his end of this relationship personally, and must delegate authority to proxies, local leaders



death life





Founder-saint Khalifa (hving leader) )

Local lea din's


Figure 2.7 Sufi order in Phase 2. The founder, again marked by a large star, has passed on; his living khalifa, marked by a grey circle, a charismatic sheikh in his own right, now leads an increasingly far-flung organization, mediated through a set of local leaders (black circles) and their chapters (bayts), which meet independently. Here, diagonal lines of spiritual-social relation and social cohesion extend from the khalifa directly to local bayts, while lines branching from the grey circle to the black circles, and from black circles to individual bayt members, represent the formal administrative hierarchy. The oval indicates the social solidarity of the group. Reformist pressure comes to bear on the khalifa, now that the group is large, far-flung and conspicuous. This pressure is distributed to each bayt, because the tariqa remains centralized. (Note that typically there are more hierarchical levels than are displayed here.)


Michael Frishkopf

who supervise chapters, bayts. But the charismatic authority of the khalifa, obtained directly from the founder, commands allegiance from all quarters. The tariqa remains cohesive and centralized, bound up in a single spiritual genealogy of living persons. It is in the third phase, after the passing of the first khalifa, that tensions usually begin to develop between the administrative hierarchy and the actual loci of charisma. The connection between the official living tariqa leader and the founder, traced through a lengthening chain (silsila) of predecessors, becomes increasingly tenuous, and the living leader may no longer rely upon the founder’s charisma as a touchstone for his own spiritual authority, which therefore weakens unless he is charismatic himself. If not, the critical sheikh– disciple relationship is transferred completely to the local level of bayt, and the tariqa’s cohesion diminishes. While the entire organization still comprises a single spiritual genealogy in theory, key genealogical linkages pass through deceased



Khalifa-saint Ref





Previous leaders


death life

Living leader

Local leaders

Disciple Figure 2.8 Sufi order in Phase 3. The founder and his khalifa, by now venerated as saints (grey circles), and a sequence of subsequent leaders, have now passed on; the living official leader is remote and frequently uncharismatic. As a result the tariqa begins to fragment into its local bayts, each of which pays homage to the deceased tariqa founder and khalifa, though often unified in practice by a local leader (ovals). Reformist pressure exerted upon the official leader is no longer effectively distributed to the bayts, which operate quasi-independently, despite the formal administrative hierarchy.

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


members. Restricting the spiritual genealogy to linkages between living members, who can actually meet face-to-face at social events such as hadras, causes the tariqa to disconnect, separating into multiple components. When the chapters are numerous, local leaders may appear whose charisma far exceeds that of the central, official leader. These local sheikhs attract followers directly, and control tightly knit groups of disciples. This situation heralds a radical redistribution of power in the tariqa. Local chapters continue to pay formal homage to the weak centre, but become practically autonomous. While the founder continues to provide spiritual unity from his shrine, he cannot ensure social unity. Lines of spiritual relation now pass from the founder directly to the local leaders, bypassing the nominal leader (and his administrative hierarchy). Real power lies with the local chapter leaders. Earlier I argued that modern discourses – both Islamic and secular – in Egypt have pressured Sufi organizations towards greater conformity with shari`a and abandoning heterodox devices as an instrument of mystical emotion, expressions of haqiqa. Reformist pressure upon Sufism to eliminate heterodox practices does not bear down uniformly on all groups, nor evenly on any one group. Rather, these pressures affect the tariqas differentially according to developmental phase. Smaller, low-profile groups may be little affected by critical discourse. Large, conspicuous groups are more vulnerable, but are not directly affected throughout. Instead, pressure comes to bear primarily upon prominent positions of official responsibility – the central leader and his coterie – especially when individuals in those positions participate in other organizations harbouring reformist currents, or are subject to reformist pressure. For instance, the Supreme Council for the Sufi Orders (Majlis al-A`la lilTuruq al-Sufiyya) is an official Egyptian governmental organization comprising the central leaders of all officially recognized tariqas in Egypt, with close ties to other religious institutions. Criticism of tariqa behaviour is funnelled to this advisory group, which responds by formulating defensive policies, including control of the heterodox elements in hadra. But the ability of the central tariqa authority to respond to outside pressure by formulating, disseminating and enforcing effective strategies throughout the tariqa requires group cohesiveness and centralization, and these two properties, as we have seen, depend on the distribution of charisma. A tariqa whose charismatic loci lie principally at the centre will be both centralized and cohesive. Pressure applied to that centre will result in the formulation of strategic responses, distributed to the local level by the tight linkages which comprise the organization, in an effort to ensure the group’s survival (see Phase 2). On the other hand, a tariqa whose centre is devoid of charisma will tend to be decentralized and loosely interconnected. When pressure is applied to the centre of such a group, the central authority, being out of touch with the periphery, may respond by reigning in heterodox practices directly under its supervision, but may not even be able to formulate an effective strategic response for the tariqa as a whole, much less distribute or enact it


Michael Frishkopf

(see Phase 3). The local chapters – smaller, lower profile, more private – are less directly sensitive to reformist pressures. Yet, pressure applied at the tariqa’s centre is not transferred to them either, due to low cohesion. Providing they face no internal criticism, they will tend to carry on as they have always done. Finally, we are in a position to interpret better the five examples introduced earlier. The situation can be summarized in Table 2.1: Example 1: al-Ja`fariyya. A centralized phase 2 tariqa displaying orthodox hadra at both centre and periphery. This widespread group is nevertheless firmly led by the son of the founder. The hadra is extremely conservative, manifesting no heterodox elements. The founder, Sheikh Salih al-Ja`fari, was also Imam of al-Azhar, and through ongoing structural connections with this bastion of Islamic orthodoxy, pressure is transmitted to the tariqa. But the conservatism of the tariqa hadra is no mere reflexive response; rather, it represents a complete strategy – subsuming also publications, Friday sermons and local meetings – for attracting conservative reformist-minded Muslims to Sufism. Such conservatism is also effective as a means of ensuring control and deflecting criticism, for there is little here to which a reformist critic might object. Except for size, there is virtually no difference between central and peripheral hadra, central control being assured by the strong charisma which the current central leader inherited from his father. Example 2: al-Jazuliyya. A centralized phase 2 tariqa displaying heterodoxy at the centre and orthodoxy at the periphery. Like the Ja`fariyya, this tariqa is led by the son of the founder. Though widespread, it is centralized due to the leader’s inherited charisma. Yet the central hadra contains many heterodox elements. I contend that this hadra represents a different, but equally effective, strategy for Sufi prosperity in the modern period, one which balances shari`a with haqiqa. The founder aimed to create a modern Sufism for the twentieth century, with special appeal to a young educated middle-upper-class group for whom reformist Islam provides insufficient spiritual fulfilment. In order to draw them away from frivolous pursuits, and provide a rich spiritual experience, he has designed a private hadra full of music, evocative poetry and individual expression. But these elements are strictly limited to dhikr al-hana and are balanced by other sections of the hadra that are devoted to group study of shari`a. Furthermore, when the group performs in public mosques, heterodox elements are eliminated. Local hadras focus on group study and are Table 2.1 Distribution of heterodox elements in tariqa hadras; phase number is given in parentheses. Periphery Centre




Ja`fariyya (2)

Bayyumiyya (3)


Jazuliyya (2)

Sheikh Yasin

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


likewise bereft of ecstasy, a means of ensuring propriety and control at the periphery. Examples 3 and 4: al-Bayyumiyya. A decentralized phase 3 tariqa displaying orthodoxy at its centre and heterodoxy at its periphery. The great Egyptian historian of the eighteenth century, `Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1753–1825), mentioned the Bayyumiyya hadra as raucous and heterodox (Winter 1982: 137–38; Khalidi 2013). Writing in the early nineteenth century, Edward Lane describes their unusual dhikr, employing hoarse chanting together with a kind of circle dance (Lane 1836: 455–56). Yet we find nothing of the kind today; the group’s central hadra is relatively orthodox, if not firmly ordered, and rather poorly attended. I suggest that central leadership, more exposed to reformist discourse, has modified this hadra, falling directly under their supervision, in order to be more compliant with shari`a, as a reflexive response to modernity. There are no signs, however, that these changes form part of any broadly conceived strategy to increase membership or centralize control. In particular, they are not applied uniformly throughout the tariqa. For the central tariqa leader is not charismatic. Nor does he receive much support through the tenuous 200-year-old spiritual genealogy connecting him to the founding saint. Consequently, his sphere of influence is exceedingly limited, especially as he rarely even attends the central weekly hadra. As loci of real charismatic authority have appeared on the group’s periphery, the group has become decentralized and loosely connected. Therefore reformist pressure bearing down upon the central leader is not transmitted to local groups, enabling heterodoxy to flourish there, especially when the group is small and meets in private. The particular local group I documented additionally lacks strong leadership, being led by a youth in place of his deceased father, and this leadership vacuum contributes to an even more freewheeling performance. Example 5: Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami. Open public hadras, whether conducted for major saint festivals (central) or more intimate life-cycle rituals (peripheral), fall under the jurisdiction of no sheikh or tariqa. The group itself is ephemeral, called into existence by the munshid’s musical performance, and dissipating after its conclusion. Despite high visibility, and despite the presence of a fair percentage of middle-class, educated participants, heterodox elements are freely employed, because there is no tariqa to set ritual norms, no sheikh to enforce them, and no structural points of sensitivity for reformist critiques. There is criticism, but nothing durable to criticize. Only the munshid could be called to task, but his professional ambitions are best served by imbuing the hadra with as much emotional power as possible, using the gamut of musical and poetic resources to generate a powerful response. He is unlikely to change this style, so long as he finds a market for it. And as long as the mystical impulse exists among Egyptians, it seems likely that he will find one, regardless of what reformist discourses have to say about the matter.


Michael Frishkopf

Notes 1 In the present chapter, I use the word ‘heterodoxy’ to indicate those ritual expressive practices (musical, poetic, behavioural) which are – by common consent among the overwhelming majority of Egyptian Muslims (regardless of their degree of Sufi orientation) – understood to be non-normative (not necessarily wrong), rather than that which is, again by common consent among the majority, believed to be unequivocally forbidden by Islamic law (haram). In other words, in my usage ‘heterodoxy’ includes what most Egyptian Sufis – knowing full well that others may prejudge and, ultimately, misjudge them – interpret as a valid ritual expression of haqiqa, and what Egyptian Muslim conservatives typically consider bid`a (literally ‘innovation’), a word almost always used pejoratively. By contrast, I use the word ‘orthodoxy’ to refer to that which – being well grounded in shari`a – is, by common consent among the majority of Egyptian Muslims (regardless of mystical orientation), believed to be Islamically sound. In Egypt there are a few Sufi orders (turuq) whose public practices centre on such heterodoxy, while most restrict heterodox expressions to private settings or advanced disciples (or both), or else officially prohibit them altogether (thereby aiming to cultivate an aura of complete orthodoxy) while allowing them in practice. Outside the turuq, or outside the power of their central administrations, heterodox practices are more likely to prevail, as is demonstrated in this chapter. 2 This metaphoric dichotomy – ‘lush’ vs. ‘arid’ – constructed in parallel to ‘Sufism’ vs ‘Islam’ conceals a nineteenth-century orientalist lineage, since early Islamicists were fond of claiming that Sufism was a foreign plant (usually supposed to have been derived from a combination of Neoplatonism, Christian monasticism, Hindu bhakti devotionalism and central Asian shamanism), not native to the ‘arid soil’ of Arabian monotheism (see Schimmel’s introduction to Andræ 1987: viii). This belief has been largely discarded today, and Sufism is now viewed by most Islamic studies scholars as an organic internal development. Ironically, the ‘foreign plant’ metaphor continues to thrive in Muslim Islamist circles. 3 Veneration of the saints (awliya’) and even excessive devotion to the Prophet Muhammad himself, formerly mainstream, is today borderline heterodox (i.e. understood to be non-normative by the majority) due to the growing influence of Wahhabiinflected Islamic movements, many of whose adherents consider such devotions misguided, or even a form of shirk. 4 That is, the world (al-dunya) and its pleasures are fleeting. 5 God, here referred to by one of His 99 Names: al-Hayy, the Living. The munshid performs so as to time this word with the dhikr. 6 The Prophet. The full moon (al-badr) is a symbol of beauty in Arabic poetry. 7 That is, from the paths to Mecca, whence the Prophet’s journey began. 8 That is, Islam. 9 Following the love poetry of this excerpt, the munshid sings a more heterodox line which combines intoxication, music and union: ‘I circumambulate around my essence, with cups of my wine, and listen to the melodies in the tavern of my presence.’ The Arabic, for ‘circumambulate’, atuufu, is ordinarily associated with the seven-fold circumambulation of the Ka`ba at Mecca, an integral part of the hajj pilgrimage. The author affirms that he performs this holy rite about his own essence in a tavern, while carrying wine and listening to music. 10 The time before the world was created, when the Primordial Covenant was established between God and humanity. God said: alastu bi rabbikum, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ and the spirits answered ‘balaa’, ‘indeed’ (Qur’an 7: 172). Sufis consider this moment of Divine proximity to be the first dhikr, and the ahistorical origin to which they desire to return. ‘Melodies’ is likely a reference to this Covenant; the song reminds the spirits of their origin, and so they gather to hear it. Jalal al-Din al-Rumi has also written of the Covenant in this way (Schimmel 1975: 184).

Sufi performance in contemporary Egypt


References Abu-Rabi, I.M. (1988), ‘Al-azhar Sufism in Modem Egypt: The Sufi Thought’, The Islamic Quarterly, 32(4): 207–35. ——(ed.) (1996), Intellectual Origins of Islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Andræ, T. (1987), In the Garden of Myrtles: Studies in Early Islamic Mysticism, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Barnes, J.A. (1961), ‘Physical and Social Kinship’, Philosophy of Science, 28(3): 296–9. Choudhury, M.L.R. (1957), ‘Music in Islam’, Journal of the Asiatic Society (letters), 23(2): 44–102. Coy, P. (1974), ‘An Elementary Structure of Ritual Kinship: A Case of Prescription in the Compadrazgo’, Man, 9(3): 470–9. Jong, F. de (1978), Turuq and turuq-linked Institutions in Nineteenth Century Egypt: A Historical Study in Organizational Dimensions of Islamic Mysticism, Leiden: Brill. Dinn, R. (1990), ‘Baptism, Spiritual Kinship, and Popular Religion in Late Medieval Bury-St-Edmunds’, Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 72(3): 93–106. Donofrio, S. (1991), ‘The Atom of Spiritual Kinship’, Homme, 31(2): 79–110. Dunya, I.A. al- and Robson, J. (ed. and trans.) (1938), ‘Dhamm al-malahi’, in Tracts on Listening to Music, London: The Royal Asiatic Society. Farmer, H. (1952), ‘The Religious Music of Islam’, The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 1/2 (April 1952): 60–5. Friedlander, S. (2003), Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes: Being an Account of the Sufi Order Known as the Mevlevis and its Founder the Poet and Mystic Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. Frishkopf, M. (2000), ‘Inshad Dini and Aghani Diniyya in Twentieth Century Egypt: A Review of Styles, Genres, and Available Recordings’, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, 34(2) (Winter): 167–83. ——(2001), ‘Tarab in the Mystic Sufi Chant of Egypt’, in S. Zuhur (ed.), Colors of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 233–69. ——(2002a), ‘Shaykh Yasin al-Tuhami: A Typical Layla Performance’, in V. Danielson, S. Marcus and D. Reynolds (eds), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, 6, New York: Garland Publishing, 147–51. ——(2002b), ‘Islamic Hymnody in Egypt’, in V. Danielson, S. Marcus and D. Reynolds (eds), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, 6, New York: Garland Publishing, 165–75. ——(2003), ‘Spiritual Kinship & Globalization’, Religious Studies and Theology, 22(1): 1. ——(1999), ‘Sufism, Ritual, and Modernity in Egypt: Language Performance as an Adaptive Strategy’, unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. Ghazzali, A.H.M. al- (D.H. Macdonald, ed. and trans.) (1901), Emotional Religion in Islam as Affected by Music and Singing, London: Royal Asiatic Society. Ghazzali, M. al-D. al-T. al- (1938), ‘Bawariq al-ilma`’, in J. Robson (ed. and trans.), Tracts on Listening to Music, London: The Royal Asiatic Society. Hart, D.V. (1977), Compadrinazgo Ritual Kinship in the Philippines, De Kalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press.


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Holý, L. (1996), Anthropological Perspectives on Kinship, Anthropology, Culture and Society, London, Chicago, IL: Pluto Press. Khalidi, W.A.S. (2013), ‘Bayyūmiyya’, Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Brill Online. encyclopaedia-of-islam-2/bayyumiyya-SIM_1345 (accessed 4 July 2013). Lane, E.W. (1836), Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptian, The Hague: East-West Publications. Lévi-Strauss, C. (1969), The Elementary Structures of Kinship, rev. edn, Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Maddy, R.E. (2001), ‘Fictive Kinship in American Biomedicine’, in L. Stone (ed.), New Directions in Anthropological Kinship, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 285–302. Nelson, K. (1985), The Art of Reciting the Qur’an, 1st edn, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Norbeck, E. and H. Befu (1958), ‘Informal Fictive Kinship in Japan’, American Anthropologist, 60(1): 102–17. Racy, A.J. (2003), Making Music in the Arab World: The Culture and Artistry of, Cambridge Middle East Studies, 17, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Sayres, W.C. (1956), ‘Ritual Kinship and Negative Affect’, American Sociological Review, 21(3): 348–52. Schimmel, A. (1975), Mystical Dimensions of Islam, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. ——(1982), As Through a Veil: Mystical Poetry in Islam, New York: Columbia University Press. Shiloah, A. (1997), ‘Music and Religion in Islam’, Acta Musicologica, 69(2): 143–55. Sirriyeh, E. (1999), Sufis and Anti-sufis: The Defense, Rethinking and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World, Richmond, NY: Curzon. Tuhami, Y. al-. (1998), The Magic of the Sufi Inshad, Montreuil, France: Long Distance. Trimingham, J.S. (1998), The Sufi Orders in Islam, New York: Oxford University Press. Vernier, B. (1998), ‘Spiritual Kinship’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 4(2): 392–3. Winter, M. (1982), Society and Religion in Early Ottoman Egypt: Studies in the Writings of Abd al-Wahhab al-Sharani, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.


Singing dissent Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives Earle Waugh

This chapter argues that the social and cultural contexts within Morocco have interacted with several key tendencies in Moroccan Sufism to produce a quite distinctive Sufi environment for the chanter. The chanter has picked up and amalgamated many of these influences in his chant, becoming a vehicle for integration of disparate elements and peoples, but also providing a connection with an Islam that is perceived to be universal. The chant then takes on another purpose: to motivate initiates to stand firm for Sufi principles and, if necessary, take up arms to preserve Sufi values. From this perspective, the chant is a vehicle of empowerment that may reach beyond the confines of the zawiya/ribat complex to inspire the larger Moroccan community, as it certainly has in the past: I am the hero, son of a hero among the heroes. My verse is above all verses forever. My rawi is above the highest-ranking rawis My voice is forever above any other voice. Imru al-Qais, pre-Islamic poet

Chanting with intensity: the background of activism In his 1980 film Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way, Huston Smith intoned that Sufis practising dhikr were chastised by a passer-by who noted it was prayer time, and the dhikr was still proceeding. Sticking his head in the door he yelled: ‘Prayer! Prayer!’ To which the sheikh replied: ‘We are at prayer!’1 Now, rewind back to the 1100s. Abu Bakr Ibn Baki, Andalusian singer and muwashshahat chanter, moved to Morocco to bring his message to the North Africans. Dismayed at his reception he used his song as vehicle for critique: What hope, what nobility can be found in a determined and vigorous prince who makes expeditions against enemies during sacred truce months! Living for his concern is an expedient that has lost all force and is now a profession which embarrasses even men of base extraction and of vile manners!2


Earle Waugh

Both embody the principle of critique: the first a rejection of the idea that only one kind of prayer constitutes legitimate conversing with God, the second scathingly criticizing the depth of Islamic commitment at the highest levels of Moroccan culture. The film, a recognized classic in religious studies, became standard fare for those exploring the new science of religion in America. This popular source indicates that North Americans very soon had the notion imbedded in their perception that Sufi practice could be an avenue of dissent from the legalizing tendencies within Islamic tradition, and that, indeed, various kinds of spiritual resistance were part of the Prophet’s religion. The song, riding on the distinguished place of poetry and song in Andalusia, tore at the pretensions of the Moroccan court – in effect signalling the chant as a social and religious criticism. The outcomes are interesting. While affirming canonical prayer might be regarded as normal, and the Sufi chant irregular, the film’s segment was interpreted to indicate that Sufis took a less doctrinaire form, more in tune with non-prescriptive religion (the dominant view in 1960s America). Hence the implication that normal Islam was militant, while Sufism was the opposite … the film really ‘proved’ what the West perceived Sufism to be: the opposite of activist, in fact quite pacifist. Nor has the activist strain in Sufism received much academic coverage. The point is important in any musical analysis because the unsuspecting might think that to chant is the most benign of practices. In fact it is not. Despite the global nature of Islamic practice, my comments here will be restricted to material gathered in Morocco (although it has to be recognized that the Sufi influence transcends national boundaries). It is necessary to assess some aspects of general Sufi character because it has played significant roles beyond its zawiya/ribat culture, and Morocco’s Sufi community has been influenced by and has itself influenced the nation. Furthermore, as we will argue, the chant within Morocco serves to freight the inner messages of Morocco’s Sufi communities, and therefore has to be understood within its cultural context; chanting arises out of and explicates the heartfelt message of the orders. Given our space limitations, our discussion will be confined to distinctive sections addressing four inter-related themes exploring the chanter’s activist roots: 1. The activist background of Morocco’s chant tradition; 2. Moroccan identity and the development of an alternative chanter piety; 3. Sufism, chanting and the empowered action of Baraka; 4. The power of the song: the chanter’s text and his music in Moroccan experience. A summary statement will then gather the main points together.

The activist background of Morocco’s chant tradition Chanting and the roots of activism The chant is integrated into the dhikr. Dhikr (remembrance), a key element in Sufi liturgy and life, is nurtured within a culture matrix, the tariqa. The tariqa

Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives


embraces dhikr as its life-blood – and it is always the organizational milieu around the rituals of dhikr. Thus, tariqa culture has been the inspirational foundation for nurturing and developing the medium of chanting in the Moroccan context. In addition, that culture helps motivate the quality of religious intensity espoused by its adherents. In order to understand the nature of Sufi chanting in Morocco, we must also understand the way that activism has been part of the modus operandi of Moroccan Sufism, indeed it has created the ground rules by which Sufis have understood their religion to be expressed. What we will hope to show here is that an activist orientation is written into the very texture of the cultural milieu in which the chanter tradition developed, and that has had a profound impact on the chanter, the music and the text. Our first task is to sketch some crucial aspects of this orientation in order to provide a way into the inner motivations of this tradition. If the institutional form of zawiya is regarded today as the instigator of all teaching and nurturing of the Sufi order, it was not always so. In fact, the current notion of the ribat for the explicit religious purposes of Sufi orders, i.e. the promotion of dhikr, sama’ and teaching, does not reflect its original context. The word ribat comes from the root rabata whose first form means ‘to bind, to attach’, but it also has meanings associated with litigation, dressing a wound and slowing down a vehicle.3 First connected to an Arab named Shakir, who was himself a companion of the Arab conqueror Uqb ibn Nafi, his ribat was a place of piety during Ramadan. Eventually, it was used as a staging place for anti-heretical struggles. As such, the ribat was utilized by the Almoravids as a place of reconnoitre before entering what is now Morocco to ‘cleanse the land’. Building on their initial tribal solidarities centred on their ribat of the south, they regarded ideology as important a motivator as spoils. Thus debate and proclamation of religious issues went hand-in-hand in their style of government. This suggests that the ribat, as an isolated jihad centre, provided the impetus for the eventual Almoravid triumph. Hence the zawiya/ ribat concept (both terms are used often and interchangeably today), historically embodies both the institutional form of the mystical tradition, as well as has considerable militant ancestry. The three symbolic directions within Moroccan tradition Indeed, the mystical tradition in Morocco may be seen as an amalgam of three symbolic spiritual directions, blending a distinctive Moroccan Sufism in the process. The directions herald a kind of intrinsic relatedness – the Sufism that developed was continually fed by three different streams or styles of culture, and what resulted was always related to these cultural distinctives. Thus even if a ‘cultural style’ cannot be held with any literalness, the fact remains that religio-cultural differences can be seen, and these distinctives can be designated through a ‘directional’ component. We can therefore ask whether the Sufism of the south is the same as the Sufism of the north or east.4 The answer is, evidently, ‘no’.


Earle Waugh

Such shifts in perception and in religious meaning are important if one is to comprehend the nature of the message and the mien of the chanter tradition. While the following breakdown is only a caricature, there is sufficient truth in it to reassess traditional interpretations of one ‘kind’ of background for the chanter tradition, at least in Morocco. The Sufism of the north, drawn from immigrants and influences from Andalusia, was characterized by its high intellectualism. It was a mysticism of philosophical and intellectual sophistication, symbolically represented in the complex works of Ibn ‘Arabi. It enlisted in its expression the literary culture of written Arabic. It featured the highly disciplined authority of the spiritual savant. It organized its authority through the lineage of powerful teachers, through a distinctive caste of intellectual leaders. Its roots lie in the powerful chanter, Ziryab. Ziryab (c. 900) was trained in both Persian and Arab forms of poetry and song and spent the early part of his life in the court in Baghdad. But his courtly songs held too much heat for the caliph, and he narrowly escaped with his life. That dissent was transferred to Andalusia, where he founded the qasida form called the muwashshahat, a poetic form that eventually influenced the troubadour tradition in the West, and which is at the heart of classical Sufi textual art in Morocco: Ziryab brought to el-Andalus not only expertise in performing and teaching, but also a musicotherapeutic system, known as the ‘tree of modes’, or the ‘tree of temperaments’. The system was based on concepts then prevalent in Arab medicine: relationships between parts of the body and elements of earth and Heaven believed to underlie human physical and psychological states and behaviours. Ziryab’s system, which he presented as revelation rather than theory, associated specific modes with body organs (heart, liver, brain, spleen) and human temperaments (anger, calm, joy, sadness.) The musical modes were further linked with natural elements (air, fire, water, earth), colours (red, yellow, white, black), and conditions (heat, cold, humidity, dryness). (Wendt 1998: 535) As can be seen, Ziryab’s tradition bequeathed a rich heritage to the Moroccan chanter: sophisticated poetic form, multi-layered system of meaning, inspiring lyrics, and foremost for our purposes, dissent. The Sufism of the east is characterized by an exploration of encounters with the divine, encompassed in the utterances of Dhu’l Nun al-Misri through to the mystical utterances of al-Hallaj. The goal of these mystics was to uncover the experiencing self, and to find in it the truths of transcendent existence. Its practices were highly individualistic and heterodox. It found the language associated with love to be a powerful theme, and it eventually developed a scholarly tradition that blended with Persian and Turkish forms. Like its secular counterpart, love in eastern Sufism is highly personal. In Morocco it has merged with and amalgamated with other trophes until it takes on a quite

Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives


distinctive character in the chanter’s repertoire. A flavour of this is reflected in the following: … the Tarsun, of Ben ‘Ali Cherif, is one of the qasa’id still well known in Morocco. The musicians sing it frequently in festivals, reunions, marriages, and dinner parties. Tarsun, which is close to the Spanish torzuelo, is a poetic name for a little falcon, and the poem continually unites alternatively the ideas of the bird as hunter and as the object of love. As has been remarked by Henri Pérèz, it is convenient to note at this juncture that, in the Arab tradition, which is to a large measure the source of the ‘courtly’ tradition, the poet of love, enslaved to his beloved, extended the image of his vassalism to the point of calling the one he loved by Sayyidi [my Lord, or Mawlana, my master, in the masculine form] but it is well known that the poets employed every bit as much the masculine as the feminine to speak of their beloved, so as not to make a distinction in the verses between those which addressed children and those whose object was a woman. (Jones 1981: 40; Pérèz 1990: 145) The Sufism of the south can be characterized by social formation, built around political issues. Belonging to the ribat was, initially at least, a binding together for political/spiritual purposes, focusing on the repetition of sacred phrases in the dhikr, and an experience of corporate activity based on the power of the sacred word, the Qur’an. Ecstasy served the purpose of healing and of collective well-being, rather than an encounter with the divine per se. In this reading, the tariqa was, first and foremost, a communal linkage, whether a network of trans-tribal organizations (like ‘city-states’) or religious groups whose goal was the service of God across locale divisions; once established it became a medium of diffusion and inculcation (O’Brien 1981). It is also possible to argue that the southern style, modelled on the Almoravid Murabitun, shaped a new kind of cohesion by emphasizing one style of Sufism, and attempting to submerge or displace the others. For example, by stressing social solidarity in the face of a perceived religious decline in Morocco, the sheikhs were able to establish discipline over quite disparate peoples. The order’s discipline was maintained by arguing that the zawiya stood for a return to the true principles of Islam. Like the Almoravids, conservative doctrine was the vehicle utilized for the convergence of separate identities. In the southern stream, there has been a marked emphasis on a ‘reassertion of fundamental Islamic ideals’ in Moroccan Sufism, whether it arises out of Arabo-Berber preachers moving into Africa from the eleventh century onwards to ‘properly Islamize’ the African people, or the reformist trajectories of the Tijaniyya tariqa of modern times.5 In keeping with the ribat’s ancestry, this brotherhood’s ardent revival of the nineteenth century arose in Morocco and spread throughout the network of sister tariqas, throughout Saharan Africa, with violent consequences in the Sudan. Still it was the reformist


Earle Waugh

tendencies, picked up by sheikhs and murids travelling and studying abroad and fed into the tariqa organization that shaped a reforming Sufism. The sheikhs of all orders, if they were to respond at all to new situations, amalgamated techniques developed elsewhere to attract converts and to inspire their members. Theirs has been an activist agenda. As Clancy-Smith argues, it also allowed them to transcend the local and limited circle of their zawiya and to embrace a universal image of an Islamic presence, connected to Sufi authorities all over the Muslim world (Clancy-Smith 1990: 213). In Morocco the local ribat/zawiya complex became the focal point for these kinds of explorations. Furthermore, the fact is that Moroccan mystical tradition is heir to other ‘southern-type’ memory banks of activism which have and continue to influence tariqa culture – the African warrior tradition, the Berber tribal tradition, the Arab ghazi‘a tradition, to cite those best known. These have elements in common with the south’s ribat traditions, and have doubtless had an impact on ribat ideology, but exploring them is quite beyond our limited space here. As can be seen, these influences are not quietist; they are regarded by scholars as schismatic and bellicose.6 Suffice to say that the chanter has a considerable legacy of militancy from which to draw. The Morocco amalgam These three quite different thrusts of Sufism have interacted within Morocco. Adepts have responded to the interpretation of their sheikhs for guidance as to which direction they should pursue in comprehending the Islam of the tariqa. They also have responded by withdrawing from any sheikh whose discipline took them in directions they did not believe constituted the correct one for themselves. This is signalled in the general ability of the Moroccan Sufi to transfer to another tariqa even while still belonging to his original one. For example, in June 1995, I met with Hajj Muhammad Bennis in Fez. Then 40, Bennis was raised at the knee of his grandfather, who was a muqaddam of the Tijaniyya tariqa. He is now regarded as perhaps the most outstanding chanter in Fez and, for many, in the whole of Morocco, with invitations from far and wide to chant in a wide variety of venues; his statement reflects this independence: I am not connected with a specific tariqa now. I’m with the tariqa of God. I am with all the turuq … because all the turuq take the same path … the way of the Prophet. This is the right route because all have a central difference of mind in them, and I’ve decided to take a proper direction … that is why I now assist with all tariqa.7 What seems evident is that it is not just what the zawiya/ribat has generated within itself that has defined its chanter tradition. Nor has the result been, as Shinar (1965: 141) suggests, one of far-reaching change per se, but rather the

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irregular modification of both Sufism and Berber/Arab tribalism through close interactions. One cannot assert, I would contend, that an activist orientation is uniformly expressed throughout all Morocco’s orders; nevertheless, one can see that activism is a complex force from which the chanter can draw on when shaping his message. The impact of Sufi self-assertion There are, however, important forces within Sufi tradition itself that can lead to a militant orientation and these are also available for the chanter to draw upon. In an increasingly secular environment, some might read a mystical tradition as reactionary in the contemporary world. While it is possible to interpret the conflicts of Islamism with governments in the modern Middle East as a transcendent vision struggling against a secularist environment, to do so is to read Islamism as the sole legacy of a militant stream not available to Sufism. Such an analysis fails, however, because there are several strands of activism in Islam that have taken their place within the mystical tradition and are available for personal and collective empowerment. Consider, for example, the words of the founder of the Shadhili order in Morocco: There are only two karamat which comprehend and unify all the others: the karamat of faith (iman) reinforced by certitude (iqan) and illuminative contemplation (shuhud al-’iyan), and the karamat of action, conforming to the prescriptions and examples (of the Prophet and the saints), which reject pretensions and duplicities … 8 Karamat are interpreted as spiritual gifts in Sufism, and here action is given its own special blessing as one of them. This view is not restricted to the Shadiliya. All knowledgeable Sufis will stress this fact when discussing spiritual truths. The chanter believes that this kind of empowerment is available as an inspiration and a force within his own chanting: The tariqa is the way to arrive at truth Dhikr gives clarity to the way The poem is like the Prophet – through it I begin to see, During dhikr I understand love and verity. Wird and dhikr, I am saved by them Whoever hears the poem is aided Through it – I know love in my heart It expresses love of the shari`a It speaks to me in my language Through it, I am content A visit brings peace, problems disappear Love satisfies me.9


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This chant from the Nasiriya reflects the empowerment deriving from just chanting … it opens up to the chanter a deeper spiritual vista, and this becomes an inspiration to him; it becomes an integral part of his approach to life. Or take the case of the Moroccan sheikh Muhammad bin Nasir al-Dar’i. His was a very conservative tradition quoted earlier; it is worth noting that the Nasiriyya tradition was exported eastward and the result has been a strong reformist presence in Egypt.10 The path from Sufism to militancy Furthermore, when placed in the context of contemporary movements in Islam, the Sufi life can be regarded as a motivator for direct, even violent, activity. Thus, Sufism and Islamism may have very deep connections, as the following selection by one of the leaders of Islamism in Morocco indicates: … Then I had an encounter. Someone told me: ‘There is a Sufi master in Morocco. If you go to see him, he will guide you.’ And in effect, I met a master named El-Hajj Abbas, and I saw him for six years. He was not illiterate, but he only had a traditional rural education. On the other hand, I, I who was imbued at that time with my own self-sufficiency – I was an important person in the Ministry of Education – I became his disciple, his humble disciple, and I understood what was Islam, what was God. Very humbly, I recognized that this man gave me a great deal. I went to see him for six years … Hassan al-Banna, as you know was a Sufi. In his books I found this special spiritual taste that is not found with the others. It is not so much my reading of Islamic or Islamicist books which determines my action, nor the despair of ever seeing the tariqa become something other than a tariqa, but an internal logic which holds that Islam must lead to the iman, and the iman must go to the summit of ihsan, and the summit of ihsan is the jihad. I had no personal ambition. I had this ambition which goes beyond limits, which transcends death, life and death: I wanted to please God. In 1974, I decided to do something … to, how shall I put it … to go out from the ambience of the tariqa, and then … to go out … to begin my action … (Yassine 1993: 15–16) Such testimonies indicate a structural pattern: when the individual reaches for some more authentic form of Islam, they may see Sufism as the institutional and religious locus for that quest. When they want a more physical action-oriented Islam, they move beyond the tariqa to the Islamist organization. The process appears to have an inner connection – one progresses from iman (faith) to ihsan (beautiful spiritual achievement) to jihad (engagement, holy war). From this perspective, the place of the tariqa in the foundation of a developmental ‘activist’ Islam appears evident. Sufism fosters a more aggressive stance towards the religious life than is found in the regular patterns of

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Islamic society. From the perspective of many in Morocco, the affirmation of a ‘better’ ‘more spiritual’ Islamic life would appear to be the first rung of a ladder leading to an activist Islam, and certainly that spiritual trajectory is one claimed by the Sufis. At the same time, following the path of the chanter may be viewed, as it often is, as a personal inheritance, harnessing one’s spiritual energies to the task of preserving the tradition … Bennis again: The inshad is something confided to us by our ancestors, and consequently, nothing should be changed, since what is important about this legacy is the message inscribed in it. The object of the munshid is to convey that message. It follows that this message must be safeguarded from distortion, and specially to be defended from being modified by contemporary interests.11

Moroccan identity and the development of an alternative chanter piety It is also essential to point out how Moroccan tariqa culture can be understood to be activist in several different ways. Traditional Moroccan Sufism, as an expression of both local tribal coherence and Islamic religious conviction, has a stance within it that has at times taken either a political, educational or cultic form. The point is that ribat/zawiya culture has been responsive to the people and sensitive to Moroccan Muslim political concerns. It has, thus, the capability to be nationalist by turns, in its own diffuse way. This ‘way’ is described by Duclos: Throughout the ages, therefore, the brotherhood movement seems to have had a highly important nationalistic role at the ideological level, assimilating adaptable foreign ideas (Sufism, Sharifism) and disseminating national values throughout a zone still in the process of self-definition; quite the opposite of the role of the various would-be central governments of Morocco. (Duclos 1972: 219) One can speak, then, as Terrasse (1952: 145) has done, of the ‘nationalization of Moroccan Sufism’, a process that has shaped a distinctive Moroccan identity. But it is not a process that developed a national state in the same way, as one can see the amalgamation of diverse groups in, for example, Switzerland. The model for the Moroccan kind of identity is closer to a coalition of interests funnelled through traditional operative networks. The flux implied in such an ad hoc arrangement of nationalism makes for a different order than that which predominates in the West, but it is still formulating a significant nationalist content. As such it is crucial for Moroccan identity. And


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as such, it is part of the orientation a chanter brings to his performance. As Bennis notes concerning the Bourda, Morocco’s famous religious text: The Moroccans, of all Muslims, are known to understand and use the texts of Imam Busayri. The other countries do not learn the entire texts of Imam Busayri. In addition, we want to preserve the actions (style) … when Moroccans work they sing and they sing either malhun or inshad. That is why they know many texts. So with my classes, among the actions each Friday morning they chant the Bourda at Fez and in the afternoon they chant with the malhun. Each Friday they go to the mosque of Mulay Idris to chant the Hamziyya and the Bourda. Variations in Morocco’s identity No national identity is composed of the same elements throughout its history, and Morocco, of course, is no exception. If Sufism has played its role in that formation, we should note that that tradition has itself undergone transformations … from the early days of the third century hijra (c. 900) when two trends can be seen in mystical teachings, the one associated with Abu-Yazid al-Bistami, and the other with Abu’l-Qasim al-Junayd. The Bistami legacy had an affinity for pantheism, and emphasized the experience of the divine over dogma. The Junayd school, which dominates Morocco, bent the mystical proclivities of its Persian origin towards the doctrinal standards of Qur’anic theism. Consequently, only echoes of Bistami are to be found in the West as, for example, in Mulay Abd al-Salam bin Mashish (Michaux-Bellaire 1921: 142). The crucial role of the zawiya/ribat complex We have spoken at length of the force for activism that this complex provides, but here we shall refer to its political linkages. In fact, the role of institutions of authority outside the dominance of a central military power shifts the attention to the ribat, a very flexible structure in North Africa. Its earliest political association is with the militant movement of the Murabits (i.e. devotees gathered in the ribat) in Marrakesh in 1062. Led by the militant Ibn Yassin, the movement grew into the empire known in the West by the dynastic name Almoravids; their militant attitudes against the earlier Khariji and Fatimid types of Islam that had carried forward Muslim expansion in the region established an important ideological principle – dissidence must agitate for a pure Islam, even if it means taking the sword against other Muslims.12 It should come as no surprise, then, that the murabitic jihad was initially against other Muslims (a fact that some contemporary scholars and the popular press on jihad seem to have forgotten).13 These militant reformers provide solid evidence that the notion of jihad must be contextually understood. The ideological principle also underlines the fact that the ribat was a centre for religious activism and militancy before it was a place for meditation. In that sense,

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Muhammad al-Sanusi’s Sufi reformism in North Africa was a return to the pattern established by ‘Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi, the founder of the Fatimid dynasty, and later by Ibn Tumart, the Mahdi of the Almohads.14 Nor should it be lost on us that one of Sufism’s prime formative institutions derives much of its nature from the original intention of what might be called an ‘ethic of public service’, where the ribat’s architectural purpose was a structure designed to provide food and shelter. We have noted that ribat was initially the word used for a place of launching into the country; eventually this shifted towards providing respite for the sojourner – an inn or caravanserai. Its root reflects the notion of preparing to assist one on a journey, as, for example, a place ‘to tie up’ and water the horses. It is significant that, to this meaning, was amalgamated the notion of the zawiya, a word that began its career among the Almohads in northern Morocco to delineate the ‘lodge’ environment of the religious centre or tariqa, but which quickly moved to a symbolic one implying a religious community larger than any one place. These terms have also appropriated meanings of local hospitality as well as traditions of being in touch with regional interests. The public service aspect of the zawiya’s presence is very real today. It can inspire many kinds of responses from local people, from a sense of place to a resource for helping find a job. The chanter knows this dimension of his practice well, and often refers to it as one of the reasons why zawiya culture has such a hold on people. As one chanter summed it up: I love this place. So many great followers of the shaikh have been present here, so many great hadras have taken place, so many have been blessed. I feel it in the very air … It’s like being at a (spiritual) home.15 Southern preference for zawiya In southern Morocco, the more popular term is zawiya where the root meaning focuses upon seclusion and hiddenness, and derives some of its thrust from local fitnas against external dominance from the east.16 Here the notion ‘to tie’ refers more directly to binding together for militant purposes, as one would arraign horses and battalions for battle. Thus some dimensions of the Sufi expression refer to this quality of being tied together for jihad. Hence it is the root perceptions of the zawiya/ribat combination that allowed it to be the rallying point for actions, and the centre for proto-nationalist ideas. A good illustration of the political and nationalist importance of the zawiya/ribat concept is that associated with Sheikh Muhammad al-Jazuli. This Andalusian mystic had to undergo ‘training’ at the zawiya of a Berber saint, Mulay Bou ‘Azza, in order to ‘naturalize’ his message to the North African territory (Michaux-Bellaire 1923: 23–58). The shrine of this Berber saint, a formidable power in his time, became the focus of what might be called an alternative Islamic piety. When he died in 572/1172, his tomb became the centre of an alternate pilgrimage; indeed, his biographer informs his


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readers that, for the poor, a visit to his tomb replaced the pilgrimage to Mecca, and pious acts carried out there had the same benefits as procuring the waters of Zamzam or reading the surah Ya-Sin (Loubignac 1943: 31). In a special sense, the proclamation of Islam out of the sacred space of the zawiya/ ribat has helped in the construction of a rigorous Sufism so distant from the Islamic political centres of power. It did this even as it entrenched the influence of the saint in connection with a ribat. As such it has meant the ascendency of the southern ‘social cohesion’ model in Sufi orders, with all the significance that has had for Moroccan Islam as a whole. The ribat/zawiya has retained its heritage of being a focus for Islamic power, with both proclamative and aggressive potential. For the chanter, then, being aware of the multi-dimensional origins of the tariqa’s physical home can provide a rich selection of themes from which to draw on. These provide not only a varied repertoire of meanings when he refers to the word in song, he can even be ambiguous in how he wants the audience to understand his reference. This gives pliability to his meaning and even builds a sense of tension in his performance. Listeners have to ‘read into’ what he is trying to imply, giving them the opportunity to respond actively to his song. The threefold divergence within Morocco’s Sufism This suggests, then, that despite the powerful role of Ibn ‘Arabi in Andalusia, Moroccan Sufism has not been overly influenced by what might be termed an excessive esoteric tradition. Rather, Sufi teachings are usually constructed around a three-fold division: From Junayd to al-Shadhili, that is, (III–VII h.), from the later schools of Shadhili to Jazuli (VII–X) and from the Jazuli legacy to post-war Sufism (X–XIV). In the first division, the Junayd influence integrated certain mystical tendencies with leading families, such as the Cinhajiyoun or Amghariyoun of the Bani Amghar. This amalgamation took place before the teachings of Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani arrived from the east. This alliance was to play an important role in the development of Morocco (Michaux-Bellaire 1921: 143–5). With Shadhili, another dimension was added to important teachings, for he stressed the allegiance to a particular discipline as represented by the sheikh’s guidance in a wide range of physical and spiritual matters. The integrationist teachings of al-Ghazali were added to the mix and out of it another orientation crystallized in al-Jazuli, from whose tradition almost all the important zawiyas in Morocco were derived. The traditions associated with the Amghariyoun died out or were incorporated into the new Sufi institutional forms and do not now exist, even if the family association with Sufism continues to play an important role in Morocco.17 At the same time, the Jazuli tradition became a crucial ingredient in the military fortunes of various sultans, as signalled, for example, by the Jazuli tariqa’s assistance in victories over the Portuguese and the Turks. In the former case, the sultan gave a huge tract of land to the Jazuli sheikh in appreciation for the perceived holy influence given by Abdul-Salim Shadhili in the victories. Michaux-Bellaire

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(1921: 146f) concludes that this led to the nationalization of Sufism and the crowning of Sheikh Abd al-Salam bin Mashish as the western equivalent of al-Jilani, the eastern ‘founder’. The role of the Berbers As for a more rigorous activism, or even direct militancy, it takes many forms. In the Sufi case, it was the Berber Murabitun themselves who provided a distinctive kind of Islam, centred on their proto-zawiyas, and affirming that the marabout’s baraka was a protection granted by God against all foreign powers. There is also the case of Ibn Qaysi. He was a Sufi sheikh who fomented the populace against the Almoravids; eventually he was able to foment rebellion sufficient to undermine their influence in al-Andalus. His book, entitled Khal’ al-na‘lain (The Removing of the Sandals), was studied by Ibn ‘Arabi and was so important to that Sufi savant that he wrote a commentary on it (Austen 1971: 26). We can glean a sense of the Berber militancy as it is exemplified by recitations of the Bourda, which is the pride of the Berber identity within Morocco; from it the chanter sings (Sperl 1996): Religion alighted upon their courtyard like a guest Bringing chiefs hungry for their enemies’ flesh, Leading armies vast as the sea, mounted on swift steeds. Foaming with surging waves of heroes. Each answerable to god and trusting in His reward, And wielding swords that uproot and shatter unbelief. Until the faith of Islam, exiled from them at first, Became part of their lineage and kin, And was provided through them with the best father and husband, And would never be orphaned or widowed. The Berbers believe these words arise out of their intimate connection to Islam in the west. While they came late to Islam – certainly after the Arabs – they were converts before the Arabs conquered their lands. Thus, as strangers to the Arabs, they embraced the Prophet’s teachings, and they sidestepped providing the Arabs with a reason to ravage their country by converting immediately to Muhammad’s message, before the Muslim armies came west. Islam became as much part of their lives as it had for the Arabs. Furthermore, these early Berber believers, their contemporaries hold, pushed Islam into the nether reaches of North Africa and across the straits to Spain. In the Bourda, this theme is picked up in the central eulogy of the Prophet where, after addressing the Prophet’s character and known qualities (29–33), it culminates with a ringing endorsement of the Prophet’s military accomplishments: the victories of Hunain, Uhud and Badr are ‘Seasons of death more


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calamitous than the plague’ (128), and even ‘lions of the thicket are stunned’ (135). At the same time, his protection of them was the model for their protection of his faith (and, incidentally, an early referent for the zawiya/ribat concept) ‘Never will you see an ally of his not aided/ By him, nor an enemy of his not crushed’ (136). Furthermore, Muhammad’s work founded their nation: Good tidings for us people of Islam, for in him we have A pillar of kind care which none can overthrow. When God called him – who calls us to obedience of Him His noblest messenger, we became the noblest of nations. (116–17) Even so, history tells us that Sufis did not conceive of their relationship with political power to be the same throughout Moroccan experience, nor did they all react to or express themselves as political powers in equivalent ways. Nor should our understanding of their relationship to violence be based solely on the concept of an overt militarism. In many cases, they concentrated their efforts on their local religious clientele, and eschewed the larger issues of politics. Accordingly, they reacted to violence by incorporating strategies for dealing with it into their zawiya consciousness. Religious resistance became a strong element in Moroccan Sufism. Like their confreres in Communist Russia, they faced adversity by focusing on creating a strong Muslim presence among the people, tying Islam to their institutions and influence.18 In so doing, they created a space for piety to fulfil itself within the body politic, even as they stood aside from the official machinations of the day. A good case in point is that of the Kittaniya brotherhood and the persecution of the sheikh, Sharif al-Kittani, who was arrested in 1908 and subsequently beaten to death by Sultan Mulay Abd al-Hafiz for allegedly conspiring against the throne (Harris 1921: 256). It is a measure of Sufi resistance that the Kittaniya continued to survive despite royal persecution, and even to see the violence as the price of their steadfastness to their principles. That their principles of independence from the throne would be strong enough to stand apart from it while still considering themselves to be Moroccan is demonstrated by the fact that the Kittaniyya would eventually be one of the three orders who promoted French interests during the Protectorate. 19 At particular moments the brotherhoods operated in a conventional militant manner. We have the example of a group of Shadhili sheikhs taking up arms directly; they rallied the army against the Christian-Spanish invaders at the ‘Battle of the Three Kings’ on 5 August 1578 and broke the European advance, propounding the theory after the victory that it was the intercession of the local Mulay Abd al-Salam bin Mashish that had saved the day (Duclos 1972: 219). By doing so, they martialed baraka for a nationalist cause, reflecting also the complex way in which militancy and mysticism contribute to Moroccan identity. The same military response occurred in the twentieth century, in agitation against the French and in joining the battle to regain

Sufi chant as a vehicle for alternative perspectives


Muslim control.20 Hence Moroccan history bears witness to a distinctive character that is activist in several critical ways, and this legacy is embraced by the chanter to this day. It is difficult to comprehend the Moroccan chanter tradition without coming to terms with the quality of this religious resistance and multi-dimensional activism.

Sufism, chanting and the empowered action of baraka A sacred place, the zawiya/ribat is charged with baraka; it is not restricted however, for if baraka is in the zawiya, it is also present in the chanter’s song. Both the power and the inspiration of his song is attributed to baraka. We therefore begin by noting the common meanings of baraka, a quality and gift held to be given to all those regarded as saints in Morocco. It is translated by Eickelman and Piscatori (1990: 264) as supernatural blessedness, divine grace and abundance, and is usually the term assigned by western scholars to the special power given by God to holy people, saints and mystics which they then dispense to meet people’s needs (Eickelman 1976: 10f.). The term applied to these people is marabout; it is not restricted solely to religious figures, however, for Entelis (1989: 39) contends it also applied to King Hassan as ‘supreme marabout’. A systematic analysis of the changes that have been reported because of baraka would entail a book by itself, but some flavour of its dimensions in the popular mind can be gleaned from the following: When a national crisis arises, like the need for rain, or the threat of an invasion, the Sultan calls on all people to pray the al-Latif. Brown gives his interpretation that such a prayer reflects how the power of the saint has been internalized in the prayer; in effect the collective reciting of the Latif was founded on relating together for an occasion of baraka. The occasion took place after the formal prayers, people went to the mosque and, using the melody of the Bourda, they recited a particular verse focusing on God as the benevolent (i.e. al-Latif). Although the recitation of these verses, called al-Latif, was not itself the prayer for rain, it came to be associated with droughts and with all crisis situations … The formula was used by government at various times, as an invocation to God, e.g. to bring rain, to stave off an expected evil, to expel invaders from Morocco, to stop the French invasion of 1911. Used in this way, it resembled the litany (dhikr) of the religious orders, and it could be – and indeed was – used as a prayer or a political symbol. Thus in 1930 the young men of Salé used the recitation of the Latif to protest against the Dahir Berbere.21 Here then, is an example of the power of baraka present in the acts of reciting verses which are deemed effective in changing weather patterns, overthrowing foreign armies and thwarting the abusive aspects of Morocco’s own government. The chanter envisions his inspired song along the same lines. A flavour of this is found in Nabil’s comment:


Earle Waugh There is no doubt that this is an environment of great spiritual power, because I am aware that Satan is behind me. He is just waiting for some opportunity to destroy. But I go into a munshid’s trance at a certain point with which I am familiar, and then I need not be concerned about Satan, for I am protected by the spiritual circumstances. You must also be aware that in being a munshid, I am also part of a great family … a ta‘ifa is a great family, with many powerful people. We all belong to a strong group, from the faqir, to munshid, dhakran, maqaddim, and shaikh. They will all help and protect each other. (Waugh 2005: 119–20)

The power of the song: the chanter’s text and his music in Moroccan experience Dissidence and text I first encountered the use of the chant as dissidence in Egypt. There it was a peculiar situation – the leadership of the order disagreed with the political stance of the sheikh. Sheikh Ahmad al-Demirdash, of the Khalwatiya al-Demirdashiya, wanted the nuqabat to support him in his opposition to the governor of Cairo, who wanted to place huge gates on the road into the zawiya. At the meeting I attended, the sheikh argued for a court case against the government on the grounds that the city had no right to restrict access to the zawiya. As he pushed his case against the gates, the chief nuqabat broke into a chant of a key part of the Demirdash dhikr. It was picked up by all the nuqabat, drowning out the sheikh’s voice and negating his arguments. Angered, he withdrew from them and the case was never taken to court (Waugh 2008). Ashab, superb munshid of the Darqawiya order, sets the stage for understanding how dissidence can enter the life of the chanter – it begins from the root of his inspiration. That inspiration is from other dimensions of reality. When he enters these alternative realms, he is empowered to chant what he is given, including words that he may not know, or meanings that are quite beyond his understanding. Some people may be ‘put off’ by this, or the words may indicate significant religious difference; in short he chants with a power that is not limited by public propriety or legal requirement: When the munshid sings he is in the alam al-mithal or alam al-ruh. One sees in these worlds something like paradise. It is an extraordinary environment, an environment of emotion and personal meaning … an environment of one’s soul. It is a state into which the munshid arrives when he sings well. It is both ilham [inspiration]) and a gift from the heart of one’s shaikh … (Waugh 2005: 117) Muhammad Bennis signals that chanting, regardless of what it costs, is like a personal mission, a personal requirement or even destiny: ‘This is part of

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my jihad, my inheritance. I must undertake this chanting for God!’ (Waugh 2005: 169). The challenge was affirming the power of another dimension of reality, when the vehicle, the chanted song from the past, could be said to be outmoded. Thus, when challenged about the fact that the materials sung are from another time, and do not reflect the ‘modern’ world, munshid Nabil retorted: When I sing, I sing those songs that have the baraka of the saint in them. Otherwise, what’s the point? Singing without power would be like singing a TV commercial or a jingle like ‘happy birthday’. (Waugh, fieldnotes, 2003) He was unmoved by the need to be modern to be effective, arguing that the tradition itself gives far more authority than one can have just by creating something by oneself. One can be more aggressive because one can have confidence in the text. Thus the chanted text is rendered as a type of baraka, with all that that means for the listeners. Then there is a clear connection between text and goals. He noted: ‘When the brethren are blessed and leave the hadra feeling confident that they have encountered the other world, I know the reason is because they have felt the power in the text. I have just been a vehicle for the power of the text.’ The particular text itself is not the key, however. It is the ability of the text to freight the baraka. By singing the ‘best’ text, the munshid becomes free of himself, and becomes purely an articulator for baraka. Then, his chant can be very effective. In this sense then, the text is transformed into oral baraka, a process akin to the power deemed to be encompassed in the Vedic texts intoned by the priests in ancient India (Coward and Goa 1991). Time cannot be a factor since the text is impervious to loss, and the very modern notion that a text has to be fresh and new to be effective is quite foreign. Since power does not reside in the chanter but in the text, this frees the chanter to concentrate on the production of the text in such a way as to enhance its baraka, a process that allows a heightened sense of authority. Activism is interpreted, then, as conveying the baraka-laden material in a manner that showcases the inherent power of the sheikh. Then there is the sense in which the text takes on new meanings. Just as al-Latif has taken on meanings associated with bringing rain, even though it has nothing to do with rain in the original text, so texts can assume new meanings and new interpretations. There are several ways in which this can occur, but two will suffice here. One is that some forms of chant are in luraniya, a mystical language. This language is not known by anyone, except that it is spoken by the chanter when he is in a highly inspired state. He himself may not know precisely what he is saying, but the mystical language fits into his presentation and carries the inspired sense to a higher state. In effect the context delivers a meaning and, when chanted within the hadra, it takes listeners to


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new heights of spiritual awareness. It is not necessary, then, for this language to be translated – its meaning is ‘known’ from its context. Then there is the situation when a text, or even a fragment of a text, when moved into a certain context, shifts the entire meaning. Since the chanter is constantly adapting words and phrases from various mystical sources into his performance for the brethren, he does this when he is inspired to do so, and sometimes the result is electrifying. Such activism can also occur when the zawiya is experiencing difficulty; then, certain words or phrase become code words for the problem, and the dhikr can enshrine them as a means of dealing with them. In this way, select phrases can become favourites within orders, because they take on added meaning during times of stress. Controversy around music and the chant A further dimension is added by the very inspiration of the song. Almost all chanters are aware of the controversies around music and chanting in the hadra. The controversies surrounding music and dance in Islam are long and complex; Kristina Nelson has reviewed most of the relevant material of the issue of sama’ in her book The Art of Reciting, and my earlier book (1989) also surveyed some of the data. A long and prolonged debate within Islam, dating from before Islam’s arrival, and characterized by condemnations of and resistance to music and dance has been the rule rather than the exception (Nelson 1985: 33, 213, n.47). Lois Al-Faruqi (1985: 8) actually arranged various types of music into a hierarchy ranging from approved (Qur’an cantillation) to strongly condemned (the use of music for pure pleasure); such a schema ignores issues of social context since, for example, it is not appropriate to cantillate the Qur’an during prayers or while marching in a parade, but it is at all times when people can stop activity and listen quietly. It is not just, as Stokes (1992: 208–9) contends, the presence or absence of maqam (musical modes) that determines this legitimacy. Rather, the law applies to several different kinds of musical genres in different ways, reflecting a culture of activism surrounding music. This culture has a particular form in Morocco’s Sufi legacy. The banning of singing during the hadra was initiated in Egypt under the jurisdictional powers assumed by ‘Abd al-Baqi al-Bakri in October 1880. These reforms seem to have been developed under the aegis of khedive Isma‘il, who was sensitive to public criticism of the excesses of the orders (de Jong 1978: 98–101). Several kinds of dhikr were altered by this injunction, and some orders lost their identities when the ban went into effect, e.g. among almost all Shadhiliyya orders (whose head was in Morocco), the so-called ism alsadr dhikr of the name of Allah, involving the short rasping breath ending in ‘ah’, was forbidden (ibid.: 98, n.13, n.14). As might be imagined, the ban set off a profound reaction, reaching across national boundaries. In Egypt, the heads of the orders refused to recognize the authority of the shaikh al-sajjada or head sheikh of the orders in these matters, a refusal which baldly stated that the government had no control over these spiritual matters. The

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government responded by withdrawing its support from the administrative structure of the shaikh al-sajjada. In Morocco the discussion centred on whether the liturgies of the Sufis were subject to critique from the government in the name of Islam, a situation that implied that the orders were somehow external to proper Islamic form. Accepting such a proposition was at odds with the orders’ self-understanding and self-expression. It also called into question the efficacy of the liturgies, which had been assumed all along to rest in Muhammad’s exemplary piety. Yet even of more importance was the effect this had on the orders throughout the Middle East. Once banned by a figure who was responding to government initiatives, the practice came under scrutiny by the order’s participants, on the grounds that such a critique should come from within rather than from without. After some debate, the Nasiriyya of Morocco banned the use of music during hadras and moved to restrict the amount of freedom the sheikh had in shaping the liturgies of the order. The result ushered in an even closer scrutiny of the sheikhs, especially for tolerance of behaviour that would be deemed improper by authorities external to the order. In a peculiar manner, the scrutiny consolidated the sheikh’s local power even more for, by meeting the stringent demands of an enquiring public, the spiritual norms of the sheikh became even more definitive. At the same time, the orders could only present themselves as the normative expression of Islam if they conformed to public acceptance. Furthermore, the sheikhs could turn the very diffuseness of Islam to good advantage, because they could offer one publicly acceptable way of being Muslim. In moments of indecision or doubt within the community, the sheikh and his officials represented a solid bulwark and haven for the believers. Under popular pressure, the order could move to more conservative expressions, while still encompassing the traditions associated with the founder. Overall, this suggests a much more responsive relationship between the order and the community, reflecting how the militancy of the public at large can affect the religious culture of the orders. The chanters, tracking that mood, were a key element in this movement, for they were able to withstand the pressure to shut down music and, at the same time, encompass the new directions within their performances. Morocco’s chanter tradition remains robust because of it. Chanting and the sheikh’s effectiveness There is, however, another activism involved in the chanter tradition. The power of the sheikh is often measured by the entourage he is able to assemble for trips. These trips, whether from one zawiya to another, or for journeys to large cities for mussems and celebrations are part of the social–political environment. The very best munshidun are taken along as evidence of the attractiveness of the sheikh. Superb chanting is one measure of the effectiveness and power of the order. Moreover, the role of these visits is often prolonged, either for the sheikh to make alliances and personal connections in


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the urban centre, or to allow the murids to educate themselves on new interpretations and scholarship. The munshid comes into contact with other musicians in the zawiya, and interaction is an occasion for learning. New skills are learned, and confidences are built. Besides, these trips are often part of what Eickelman called ‘maraboutic politics’, and contestations for regional hegemony can be a purpose, as Clancy-Smith (1994: 54–5) notes. But they may be just part of enhancing the spiritual world of the muridin, and introducing them into the wider world of zawiya culture. Whatever the motivations, the munshid, as an ‘official’ in the sheikh’s private entourage, is a key part of the scenario.

Conclusion Our discussions here have demonstrated that activism and dissent are an integral part of the liturgical life and culture of Morocco’s orders. They may have arisen initially out of the militancy of the early Berber converts to Islam, but other sources and inspirations cited here have amalgamated with and appropriated to Sufism other dimensions of activism. The chanter is heir to this legacy, and the very best munshidin are able to respond to the moment and adapt the text to deliver these transforming meanings. While much of this activism takes place within the confines of the zawiya, it is potentially fertile enough and strong enough to be able to ignite hearts and minds as resistance and dissidence. In such a case, the chant becomes a way of enlivening the believers to stand firm for Sufi principles and, if necessary, take up arms to preserve Sufi values. From this perspective, the chant is a vehicle of empowerment that may reach beyond the confines of the zawiya/ ribat complex to inspire the larger Moroccan community, as it certainly has in the past. The chanter is a key ingredient in this process, for his text takes on colouration, and responds to the needs of the moment. Moreover, his inspiration can be deemed to be a kind of divine affirmation. Thus, in Morocco’s long engagement with Sufism, among other things, text and music have been vehicles for reform, for transformation, for dissidence and for resistance. So long as this tradition continues, it is likely to retain the power to institute change and encourage reworking and rethinking of Morocco’s cultural life. Likewise, the role of the chanter and his song will continue to be a vibrant part of Moroccan culture.

Notes 1 Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way (1980) Narrated by Huston Smith, produced by Elda Hartley. 2 Al-Fath ibn Hakan (1860) The entire selection is found in French translation in Henri Pérèz (1934: 13). 3 Marshall G.S. Hodgson (1974: 269) translates the word as ‘jihad war outpost’ because warriors joined together to subdue African populations as far south as

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5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21


Senegal. These warriors were led by Ibn-Yasin, and the followers of this reformist movement were called Murabits, or devotees of the ribat. The traditional way of understanding is to see a western and an eastern Sufism, as we see in the analysis of R.A. Austen (1971: 48). He believes Ibn ‘Arabi was the main connector between Persian and Arabic Sufism. Yet the references to this ‘west’ and ‘east’ are clearly not geographical, since Ibn ‘Arabi is technically ‘western’, being from Andalusia. Where does the Sufism of Ibn al-Farid, i.e. from Cairo, fit within this model? I use the terms purely to indicate a subtle directionality of influence. The phrase is O’Brien’s ‘Islam and Power in Black Africa’, in Cudsi and Dessouki (1981: 164). For the African warrior tradition, see Mazrui (1977); for Berber tendencies, see Shinar (1965: especially 139–41). Scott (1958: 98), relying on Sherif and Sherif (1953). Johnson (1997) argues for a more diverse interpretation of jihad in Islam. Bennis, interview, Fez, 9 June 1995. Quoted in Michon (1969: 133). See the Nasiriya poem in al-Jirari (1970: 172). The Muhammadiya Shadhiliya is the most notable example, see Johansen (1996: 32–41). Bennis, interview, Fez, 9 June 1995. See the succinct statement by Derek Hopwood (1971: 151): ‘Organized dissent took a theology as its ideology and a sectarian form as its organization.’ Hopwood has correctly indicated that the reform was couched in messianic terms; see ibid. See a short account of his work in Gibb and Kramers (1953: 502). For a through examination, Knut (1995). Waugh (2005: 38). Readers may find a more extensive discussion of some of the issues in this chapter in this volume. As they did, for example against the Ottoman empire in the sixteenth century. See Terrasse (1952: 144–5). See, for example, Morsy (1972). See Bennigsen (1981). Bennigsen speaks of Sufi brotherhoods as ‘parallel Islam’, a concept that has some problems, notably that the participants do not consider themselves to be anything but Muslims. The Tayyibiya, the Kittaniya and the Tijaniya all were compromised by working with the French in various ways. See Abun-Nasr (1965: 97). For example, when the French bombarded Salé in 1851, the saints were personally called to assist: ‘O Ibn Hassun, cavalier of solicitude, sultan of Sale, and Sidi b. ‘Ashir, may God forbid that the infidels enter your city.’ Brown (1976: 179). Brown (1976: 82). Under King Hassan, group reciting of the al-Latif in a mosque was forbidden since, in the absence of an outside enemy or crisis, the implication was that the government was the oppressor, according to Dr. Mohamed al-Nouhi, Moroccan historian, personal interview, 2004.

References Abun-Nasr, J.M. (1965), The Tijaniyya: A Sufi Order in the Modern World, Oxford: Oxford University Press. al-Faruqi, L. (1985), ‘Music, Musicians and Muslim Law’, Asian Music, 17(1): 3–36. Al-Fath ibn H. (1860), Qala’id al-’Iqyan, Marseille, Paris. al-Jirari, A.I.A. (1970), ‘al-Qasidah’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Cairo. Austen, R.A. (trans.) (1971), Sufis of Andalucia, London: George Allen and Unwin. Bennigsen, A. (1981), ‘Official Islam and Sufi Brotherhoods in the Soviet Union Today’, in A.S. Cudsi and A.E.H. Dessouki (eds), Islam and Power, London: Croom Helm, 95–106.


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Brown, K.L. (1976), People of Salée: Tradition and Change in a Moroccan City, 1830– 1930, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Clancy-Smith, J.A. (1990), ‘Between Cairo and the Algerian Kabylia: The Rahmaniyya tariqa, 1715–1800’, in D.F. Eickelman and J. Piscatori (eds), Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination (Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies), Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ——(1994), Rebel and Saint: Muslim Notables, Populist Protest, Colonial Encounters, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Coward, H. and D. Goa (1991), Mantra: Hearing the Divine in India, Chambersburg, PA: Amina Books. Cudsi, A.S. and A.E. Dessouki (eds) (1981), Islam and Power, London: Croom Helm. Duclos, L.-J. (1972), ‘The Berbers and the Rise of Moroccan Nationalism’, in E. Gellner and C. Micaud, Arabs and Berbers: From Tribe to Nation in North Africa, London: D.C. Heath & Co., 217–19. Eickelman, D.F. (1976), Moroccan Islam: Tradition and Society in a Pilgrimage Center, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Eickelman, D.F. and J. Piscatori (eds), Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination (Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies), Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Entelis, J.P. (1989), Culture and Counterculture in Moroccan Politics, Oak Forest, IL: Westview Press. Gibb, H.A.R. and J.H. Kramers (eds) (1953), Shorter Encyclopaedia of Islam, Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. Harris, W.B. (1921; reprinted 1983), The Morocco that Was, London: Eland. Hodgson, M.G.S. (1974), The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization, vol. II, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Hopwood, D. (1971), ‘A Pattern of Revival Movements in Islam?’, The Islamic Quarterly, 15(1,2): Johansen, J. (1996), Sufism and Islamic Reform in Egypt, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Johnson, J.T. (1997), The Holy War Idea in Western and Islamic Traditions, University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. Jones, A. (1981), ‘Sunbeams from Cucumbers? An Arabist’s Assessment of the State of Kharja Studies’, La Coronica, 10: 38–53. de Jong, F. (1978), Turuq and Turuq-linked Institutions in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, Leiden: E.J. Brill. Knut, S.V. (1995), Sufi and Scholar on the Desert Edge. Muhammad b. ‘Ali al-Sanusi and his Brotherhood, Evanston, IL and London: Northwestern University Press. Loubignac, V. (1943), ‘Un saint Berbere: Moulay Bou Azza’, Hesperis, 31(4) : 15–34. Mazrui, A.A. (ed.) (1977), The Warrior Tradition in Modern Africa, Leiden: E.J. Brill. Michaux-Bellaire, E. (1921), ‘Essai sur l’histoire des confrèries morocaines’, Hespéris, 1(2): 141–59. ——(1923), Les Confreries religieuses au Maroc, Rabat: Protectorate de la Republique francais au Maroc. Michon, J.-L. (1969), ‘Autobiographie (Fahrasa) du Soufi Marocain Ahmad Ibn ‘Agûiba (1747–1809)’, Arabica, XV–XVI. Mogali, Morsy (1972), Les Ahansala; Examen du role historique d’une famille maraboutique de l’Atlas morocain, Paris: Mouton. Nelson, K. (1985), The Art of Reciting the Qur’an, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

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O’Brien, D.B.C. (1981), ‘Islam and Power in Black Africa’, in A.S. Cudsi and A.E. Dessouki (eds), Islam and Power, London: Croom Helm, 158–66. Pérèz, H. (1934), ‘La Poésie à Fes Sous les Almoravides et les Almohades’, Hespéris, 18(4): 9–40. ——(1990), Esplendor de al-Andalus: la poesía andaluza en árabe clásico en el siglo XI, Trad. Mercedes García-Arenal, Madrid: Hiperión. Scott, J.P. (1958), Aggression, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. Sherif, M. and C.W. Sherif (1953), Groups in Harmony and Tension, New York: Harper & Bros. Shinar, P. (1965), ‘Abd al-Qadir and ‘Abd al-Krim: Religious Influences on Their Thought and Action’, Asian and African Studies, 1: 139–60. Sperl, S. (trans.) (1996), ‘The Burda in Praise of the Prophet Muhammad’, in S. Sperl and C. Shackle (eds), Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, vol. 2, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 389–411. Stokes, M. (1992), The Arabesk Debate: Music and Musicians in Modern Turkey, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Terrasse, H. (1952), Histoire du Maroc des origines a’ l’etablishement du protectorat francais, 2 vols, Casablanca: Editions Atlantides. Waugh, E. (1989), The Munshidin of Egypt: Their World and Their Song, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ——(2005), Memory, Music, Religion: Morocco’s Mystical Chanters, Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ——(2008), Visionairies of Silence: The Reformist Sufi Order of the Khalwatiya al-Demirdahsiya of Cairo, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. Wendt, C.C. (1998), ‘North Africa: An Introduction’, in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music: Africa, vol.1, New York and London: Garland Publishing Inc. Yassine, A. (1993), ‘From Sufism to Islamism’, in F. Burgat and W. Dowell (eds), The Islamic Movement in North Africa, Austin, TX: Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, pp. 15–16, from an interview in Rabat-Salé, October 1987.


Debating piety and performing arts in the public sphere The ‘caravan’ of veiled actresses in Egypt Karin van Nieuwkerk1

In the 1980s, several Egyptian artists saw ‘the light’ and publicly announced their retirement from art: the actress Shams al-Barudi (1982) shortly followed by her husband Hassan Yusif, the dancer Hala al-Safi (1987), the singer Shadia (1987), the actress Hanaʾ Tharwat and her husband Muhammad al-`Arabi (1987) and the singer Yasmin al-Khiyyam (1989). From the 1990s – with a peak in 1992 – the ‘caravan’ of artists stepping down increased at a staggering speed: Shahira, `Afaf Sho`ib and Madiha Hamdi veiled and retired, soon to be followed by Soheir al-Babli, Soheir Ramzi, Sawsan Badr, Farida Seif al-Nasr and many others. These well-to-do stars retired and veiled whilst in the middle of a successful career in art and turned away from the spotlight and stardom. They left wealth and fame behind in order to devote themselves to God. They ‘repented’ of their ‘sins’ and attended religious classes with their veiled colleagues. They were labelled veiled artists (fannanat muhagabat), repentant artists (fannanat taʾibat) or stepped-down artists (fannanat mu`tazilat).2 These former performers started to influence other colleagues, and between 1990 and 1995 around 20 stars stepped down. These pious stars provided a new role model, not only for lower-middle-class women but also for affluent ones. They started to preach veiling and piety among higher-class women and enabled the extension of the piety movement into the higher echelons of Egyptian society. Whereas attacks by ‘militant’ Islamists could be dismissed as ‘terrorist extremism’, the general Islamic revivalist campaign for morality in society and the field of art could less easily be dismissed by the government and secular artists. Thus the Islamic trend was greeted with an ambivalent attitude by its opponents. The government was trying to profile itself as more religious than the ‘extremists’ (Tadros 1994). It was at the same time opposing and accommodating various strands of Islamists, depending on shifting evaluations of the danger they were perceived to pose to the state (Hirschkind 2006: 61–62). Within this tense climate the ‘repentance’ and veiling of many actresses, singers and dancers proved to be a complex and sensitive issue. They were increasingly perceived as a threat by both the secularists and the state. The veiled artists therefore became objects of intense public debate. These debates about retired artists can be studied as an example of the emergent public sphere in Egypt. Many voices entered the debate about such crucial issues as art, gender and religion, concerns that came together in the

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‘repentance’ and veiling of female artists. Art and popular culture, including entertainment, are difficult to separate in the Egyptian context, as is the case with art and vocations or crafts (Van Nieuwkerk 1995). So I use the notion of art to describe the broad spectrum of cultural products and activities, from ‘high’ culture to popular entertainment, in order to avoid reinstating unproductive distinctions between low culture and high culture. In the context of this particular debate on art, the distinction is particularly made according to the level of assumed morality rather than the quality of the art product. The moral character of art is particularly attached to or read from the behaviour of female performers. The ‘pious turn’ of female artists thus became an issue par excellence for debating morality and notions of the ‘common good’ and the ‘good Muslim’. Media, particularly the written press, cassettes, video and TV, were intensively used by secularists, conservative Muslims, Islamists, the state and ‘repentant’ artists to publicize their version of Islam and moral art. In this chapter, I will look at the development of the ‘pious turn’ of individual artists into an issue of great national concern, focusing on the period from the early 1980s towards the mid-1990s. I will analyze the ensuing debates and different voices that entered into the debate in the public sphere. The research is based on archive material comprising different newspapers, Islamist booklets on the repentance of artists, and video and TV interviews as well as personal interviews with stepped-down artists. I collected the stories of 30 well-known singers, dancers, actors and actresses who stepped down and ‘repented’, and in some cases returned, including five men. During the fieldwork in 2005, 2006 and 2008, I was able to arrange personal interviews with 17 of them, including three men. I start with the life story of one of the first artists to step down, Hala al-Safi, and show how they remained visible and influential despite their retreat from the spotlight. I then proceed with the life story of one of the vanguard artists of the 1992 caravan, `Afaf Sho`ib, and analyze the ensuing public debates in the public sphere focusing on the different voices in the media. But first I situate the piety of artists within the religious landscape of Egypt at that time.

The piety movement and the ‘repentance’ of artists The Islamic revival in Egypt has persisted for more than 40 years. Although the political aspects of militant Islamism have drawn the greatest attention of scholars and the media, there has been a broad piety current beneath it. The revival movement, strongly influenced by Saudi Arabia through migrant workers and the inflow of money, has had a major effect on the reawakening of Islam in Egypt (Singerman 1995; Murphy 2002; `Issa 1993). The piety movement took many forms: veiling, the building of mosques, the foundation of Islamic organizations, Islamic banking, Islamic charities, growing attendance at sermons and for religious education, as well as the availability of religious artefacts (Mahmood 2005; Starrett 1995; Hirschkind 2001). In effect, Islamists developed a parallel Islamic sector (Wickham 2002).


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The relationship between the state and Islamists changed from a period of relatively peaceful accommodation and tolerance in the 1980s into confrontation and repression in the 1990s. Particularly during the period 1990–5, the conflicts increased dramatically (al-Awadi 2004). From ‘selective repression’ the government turned its policy into general repression of all Islamist activities, including those undertaken by the moderate Muslim Brothers. Several reasons relating to developments both on the side of Islamist groups and of the government account for this change in policy. On the one hand, the power and visibility of the parallel Islamic sector, increasingly translating its strength into political demands, combined with militant Islamist confrontations, constituted a threat to the state. On the other hand, the state’s strategy of accommodation and co-optation of moderate Islamists and its ‘Islamization policy’ which had failed to contain the Islamist movement, combined with the economic crisis, prompted the state to confront the Islamist opposition head on. The government changed its policies into overt confrontation and repression of all sorts of Islamist actors and activities. Beginning around 1992, Mubarak initiated attacks designed both to uproot the underground militants and to curb the power of the Muslim Brothers. Security forces brutally raided Upper Egypt, rounding up thousands of Islamists, injuring and killing several of them. In 1994, the minister of the interior, al-Alfi, mentioned that tens of thousands of detainees were held in prisons. Security forces raided assumed hideouts of al-Gama`a al-Islamiyya in different parts of Cairo, Asyut and near Aswan in 1994. Suspects were tried in quick military trials and six militants were hanged in 1996 (Sullivan and Kotob 1999: 86–9). During the first ten months of 1995, 333 people were reportedly killed in acts of political violence in Upper Egypt (al-Awadi 2004: 179). The line between militant Islamists and moderates became blurred and the Muslim Brothers and their powerbase were also attacked. In 1995 and 1996, the state arrested and imprisoned many leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Starting from the mid-1990s, after a period of violent clashes between militant Islamists and the state, the pious undercurrent came to the fore. Over the last decade, Egypt has witnessed a new wave of Islamization which scholars have labelled ‘neo-fundamentalism’ or ‘post-Islamism’, to distinguish it from the previous more overtly political and militant Islamist currents. The postIslamist movement is characterized as ‘thick in ritual, thin in politics’ and is more focused on the cultivation of a pious lifestyle (Bayat 2002). This trend has spread to the higher classes and, upon reaching these classes, it changed in form and content (Haenni 2002). I will discuss some notable trends of the new piety movement by which artists were influenced and on which they themselves exerted influence. These developments were already taking place during the early 1990s but only came to the fore after the crackdown on militant Islamism. The pious turn of some of the artists during the late 1980s and early 1990s foreshadowed these transformations. First, the emergent post-Islamist trend from the mid-1990s onwards tends to be non-political in nature. It is directed at turning nominal Muslims into

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good Muslims and not at attacking the state. Whereas the aims of the piety movement are not overtly political, it has political effects and is increasingly under siege by the Egyptian state. Second, the new piety stresses the cultivation of the virtuous self and can be characterized as a form of individualization of religion (Mahmood 2005). This turn from ‘religion’ into ‘religiosity’, as Roy has put it, means that the self is at the core of contemporary faith (Roy 2004). This trend is particularly visible in ‘repentant’ believers. Their stories of ethical self-making show their personal journeys from feelings of guilt to iltizam, religious observance and devotion to God. A new genre of books, ‘repentance literature’, has flooded the market. The earthquake of 1992, in particular, appears to have been influential in encouraging the development of this genre. Many penitents’ stories of remorse and guidance are published by the Islamist press for missionary purposes. The stories of ‘repentant’ artists are prominent and function as scripts. They are widely distributed and reprinted and form the backbone of repentance literature.3 Third, the quest for the religious self is not only intellectual but also of a strong emotional and spiritual nature. This spiritualization of religiosity is particularly clear in the stories of visions and dreams that accompany guidance and repentance. Weeping during prayer among men and women and telling moving stories of repentance during religious talk shows appear to play an important part in this new religiosity (Hirschkind 2006). Lastly, this moral revival is no longer solely a concern of the lower and lower-middle classes but has reached the higher echelons of Egyptian society too. The higher classes leave their mark on Islamic discourses and practices by combining them with more worldly concerns, whether in the form of appropriate Islamic recreation or the establishment of ‘Islamo-business’ (Haenni 2005). This trend of upper-class religiosity has also been described as ‘air-conditioned Islam’, or ‘casual Islam’ (Tammam and Haenni 2003). The combination of affluent comfortable lifestyles with piety is particularly marked in the pious turn of rich stars. They set an example for other people from well-to-do families. They have also been active in setting up the Islamic cassettes industry, filming companies and clothing factories. They have founded Islamic schools and charity organizations, and initiated ‘Islamic salons’ and Islamic lectures in the houses of the higher classes. Whereas the veiled artists are part and parcel of this piety trend, they have also been influential in spreading this phenomenon to the Egyptian upper-middle classes. These classes were until then mostly secularized and supported the government’s official secular policies. Their pious turn is seen as a dangerous development by the government.

Hala al-Safi’s story4 Through my prior research on popular artists, I met many performers who mentioned the former dancer, Hala al-Safi (Van Nieuwkerk 1995). Several had worked with her before she reached stardom, but no one felt ‘star’ enough to introduce me. I eventually went to her house with my former assistant.


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I expected that talking about her former activities, which she now considers haram, taboo or forbidden, would be a sore point to mention. Yet, Hala al-Safi spoke without any hesitation about her past as a dancer: I loved art from a young age, at school I participated in the theatre group. I sang and danced from an early age. ( … ) My father was a famous football player and he did not mind me entering the field. ( … ) I worked in all the famous hotels; I worked as an ambassador for Egypt and went to Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. The last trip was to London and then happened what happened. ( … ) I worked for about 18 years. I made beautiful and new shows. I added things to the existing repertoire of Oriental dance. I raised the level of Oriental dance. I was at the top of my fame. I had a good name and worked a lot for television. About her decision to step down at the pinnacle of her career, she said: I loved God more than art. Really, I always loved to be a good person and did charity; even as an artist I fasted the whole month of Ramadan. I did not work in that month. I distributed alms to the poor. I slaughtered, and went to Sayyidna Nafisa or to Sayyid al-Badawi in Tanta to give meat to the poor. I did this without knowing that this was a religious duty. But al-hamdulillah on a day God knew me. Although I was an artist, I loved God a lot. I loved him more than anything else. She claimed ignorance about religious matters and stated that she did not know that dancing was haram. She described a period of doubt, unrest and insomnia. She cried a lot and felt a sudden revulsion at wearing make-up or her belly-dancing costume. One evening she was no longer able to perform. She was touched by Umm Kalthum’s song ‘Call me to his house’ to which she usually danced, but now felt embarrassed. She dropped on the floor and felt very strange. She did her ablutions and prayed (Nasif and Khodayr n.d.). Knowing her story from booklets, I asked if something special happened that pushed her towards her decision to step down.5 She continued: By God I really was psychologically exhausted from my work; I did not want it any more. One day after work I went to take a bath and slept. I then had a vision. I dreamt that I was standing on a high spot from which I could see the ka`ba and all the people were wearing white. I wanted to go to them. I went to the ka`ba and went in. There were many people milling around. When I entered I saw a man and a woman from afar gesturing that I should come to them. I went to them wearing only my revealing pyjamas and my hair loose. I kept on walking … the man was sitting on his knee as if praying and had a towel on his lap. He told me to cover myself with it. After that we stood up and we prayed with him. I started crying and crying and felt happy. I was naked, he covered me and I felt so happy. I started

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trembling. I asked the woman where the man was. I finished praying and wanted to give him the towel back. He put his hand on my forehead and said: ‘Keep it and wear it.’ When I went out, I wept intensely. I asked: ‘Who is this man?’ People answered: ‘Muhammad rasul Allah.’ I woke up and screamed: ‘Sayyidna Muhammad, Sayyidna Muhammad!’ My mother came in and I told her it is over. ‘The Prophet Muhammad has covered me, I cannot reveal myself again.’ I took my mother’s galabiyya and said the Friday prayer.6 After that dream, Hala retired in 1987. Shortly afterwards, she went to Mecca for the first time. This was not easy because the Saudi authorities were not willing to give permits to dancers to go to Mecca. The phenomenon of artists going on hajj and afterwards happily returning to their ‘sinful’ activities was a thorn in their side. She managed to convince the Saudi consul of her genuine repentance and retirement. While putting on the white clothes for the pilgrimage she felt they were the most beautiful clothes she had ever worn. In the Holy Land she remembered the words of Umm Kalthum’s songs that had touched her so much. She wept incessantly in ‘his house’ and asked him to forgive her sins (Nasif and Khodayr n.d.: 27). Hala described the tremendous change in her life as a transformation from darkness to light, from evil to goodness, from unrest and doubt to calmness and happiness. Hala al-Safi, the person who liked travelling, dancing and going out, ‘had died; my name is Soheir Hassan `Abdin’ (Magazine Al Nur, 22 July 1990). She no longer understood how the devil had been able to steal her life during all those years. Hala al-Safi mentioned that she devoted her new life to her two children and tried to give them a religious upbringing. Her daughter also commented on the change she experienced after her mother’s repentance. From the ‘daughter of a dancer’, a heavy insult, she had become the daughter of Hagga Soheir and was finally respected (Nasif and Khodayr n.d.: 35). Hala al-Safi completely changed the rhythm of her life; instead of concluding her day after work in the early morning, she awoke early for the fajr prayer. She started reading religious literature, followed religious classes and met other ‘repentant’ artists. She went on hajj five times and did the `umrah, the lesser pilgrimage, three times. After staying at home for about four years, she wanted to start a new project. She went to sheikh Mitwalli al-Sha`arawi to ask his opinion on how to use her money. He told her that her money from dancing was haram. She could invest her money in a new project which would generate halal money. She decided to open a private religious school. She appointed religious scholars and supervised the management of the school (Magazine Shabab, November 1989: 48). The school was successful and she has now retired and terminated the project and lives off her halal money.

Pious role models ‘Repentant’ artists, such as Hala al-Safi, ultimately aim at individual piety, iltizam and nearness to God. To reach this ambition, they need to reconstitute


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their ‘moral selves’. In this reconstitution process, two stages are important: repentance and being reborn. Repentance is a differentiated process with regard to length and content: the amount of remorse can differ, feelings of sin and guilt vary, and the abyss between ‘before’ and ‘after’ can also differ. Some ‘repentant’ artists such as Hala al-Safi depict this abyss as wide. It needs a stage of being reborn because the previous ‘sinful life’ cannot simply change into a ‘life of iltizam’, religious devotion. The stories of repentance are spiritual journeys with strong emotional moments. They focus on the constitution of the moral and pious self through repentance and religious devotion. They are mainly centred on individual commitment and religiosity, rather than on political or ideological statements. As Malti-Douglas has also argued, these stories present a spiritual bent in a largely legalistic and ideological revival (2001: 177). Despite the fact that the narratives are mystical, emotional and embodied forms of ethical self-making by individuals, the stories have a larger social and political relevance. The artists’ ‘religious turn’ has been influential on many fans because of their fame and the wide circulation of their stories. They have helped to shape the piety movement and to move it towards the upper classes. The Islamization of these largely secularized classes is a highly disturbing development for the government. Some of the ‘repentant’ artists have become active in Islamic businesses, others in charities or the founding of private schooling. Some have taken Islamic lessons, entered da`wah institutes and started preaching themselves. They have joined the growing number of wealthy migrants who after their return from Saudi Arabia invested money in Islamo-businesses. These migrants have settled in well-to-do neighbourhoods, sent their children to expensive schools and universities, and become members of clubs such as the Shooting Club, which are also frequented by artists and the elite. They have started Islamic businesses, Islamic banking and investment companies. Retired artists have invested in Islamic projects as well. Hassan Yusif, for instance, set up an Islamic film company; others became active in the production of Islamic tapes with religious songs and sermons. Soheir al-Babli, an actress belonging to the second wave of penitents, started a company for Islamic clothing. Islamic schooling and da`wah were also central concerns of ‘repentant’ artists. Most of them took religious lessons in the mosque of Mustafa Mahmud. They sought religious knowledge from famous sheikhs and scholars and set up Islamic salons, inviting popular preachers to their homes. They founded Islamic private schools as Hala al-Safi has done, or became active in Islamic charities. One of the most striking developments from the 1990s onwards is the increasing number of women who have entered the field of da`wah. As Mahmood shows, there are sociological and theological reasons for women’s entrance into the field of da`wah. Women’s enrolment in university has increased tremendously since the 1950s. Since 1961, the Azhar has admitted female students and women have studied religious subjects (Mahmood 2005: 96). The establishment of da`wah institutes which offer diplomas to non-Azhar graduates

The ‘caravan’ of veiled actresses in Egypt


has encouraged this trend. Founded by the Ministry of Religious Endowment in 1989, these were mainly an instrument to combat ‘extremist’ Islamic ideas (Al-Ahram weekly, 28 November/4 December 2002, No. 614). Besides these sociological reasons, modern religious interpretations of da`wah hold that all individuals who are observant of Islamic rules are qualified to practise da`wah. A calling to the faith is thus not based on doctrinal knowledge or gender but rather on moral uprightness and practical knowledge of religious tradition (Mahmood 2005: 65). Women started to preach amongst themselves and the phenomenon of da`iyyat, female missionaries lecturing in mosques and in homes, emerged. Despite their retirement, i`tizal, from the public sphere, the stepped-down artists have remained influential on public opinion and on matters of ‘public concern’ (Fraser 1990). The veiled artists have set new models for pious womanhood by combining a conservative morality towards women with a modern enterprise in ‘Islamo-business’, charity and preaching. Due to their former visibility as TV stars, they are able to set new examples. They have always been trendsetters in fashion and lifestyles, watched by millions. They are accordingly able to spread their new religious lifestyle and piety among many Egyptian women, including the higher classes who had been less touched by the piety movement during the 1980s and early 1990s. Due to their fame and affluent lifestyles they are able to reach and attract upper-class women with their message of veiling and active pious femininity. As their influence was becoming more and more alarming to many actors, a fierce debate ensued in the Egyptian media. This was particularly the case after the 1992 earthquake that unleashed a ‘caravan’ of artists who took the veil.

`Afaf Sho`ib’s life story ‘Your decision to step down has shaken the earth.’ Thus Shahira, a former actress who stepped down and veiled in 1991, congratulated the actress `Afaf Sho`ib.7 `Afaf Sho`ib veiled three days before the earthquake of 12 October 1992, a fact she proudly stressed several times during the interviews I conducted with her in 2005.8 Whereas many actresses retired after the earthquake, leading to accusations that they stepped down out of spontaneous fear generated by the earthquake rather than deeply ingrained religious devotion, she was a special case and could not be accused of being motivated by panic. It gave her the feeling that she was ‘chosen’ by God because He had ‘guided’ her before He struck the nation with His wrath. The interviews were conducted in her spacious apartment in the well-to-do neighbourhood of Muhandisin. She recounted her story, starting with the sudden death of her brother: My eldest brother died in 1988. I had a lot of work at the time but when my brother suddenly died I asked myself ‘What is this world (dunya)? In just a second he died!’ He had phoned me at 10 p.m. and told me: ‘`Afaf I am going to die.’ I asked him: ‘Are you calling me just to tell me you are


Karin van Nieuwkerk going to die?!’ ‘Yes’, he replied, ‘I am going to die, ma`a salama! Good bye!’ Three hours later my other brother phoned and told me he had passed away. I told him: ‘That is impossible, we have just talked over the phone.’ So in just a few seconds he died without being sick. He was like jasmine! He came home, took a shower, prayed and read Qur‘an. He kept on crying and then his soul went to God. It was such a strange story. I am from a religious family, al hamdulillah, my father prays, my mother prays as do my brothers and sisters, but I did not pray regularly. There was no iltizam, commitment. At my brother’s funeral, I asked myself what is this dunya; it is just a second and then gone. I had a good name, was asked to act in many productions and earned a lot of money but I got the feeling that God wanted something from me. I then went with my mother, who was mentally tired due to my brother’s death, to America and considered plastic surgery for myself. My mother and brothers were against it and told me it was haram. I said I will do istikhara [a special prayer to ask God whether it is the right path to take] and see whether I should have the surgery or not. I then had a vision in which I saw my brother. He told me: ‘The dunya is trivial and just a big theatre in which people cheat on each other. The real world is the Hereafter. There is life after death. People think there is no life after death but there is; there is hell and paradise.’ I told my mother about the vision and she told me not to have this surgery. So I returned to Egypt and continued shooting for the serials in which I was acting.

Other spiritual moments were important as well in her journey towards religious devotion: I love art and the people I was working with, and a country without art is backward and lacking in civilization, but I did not want the fuss anymore. I wanted to do something which would make God very satisfied about me. I had followed several religious lessons with the veiled actresses and it was Friday, 9 October 1992. I prayed, read Qur`an and thanked God with the prayer beads in my hands. I asked: ‘God if the veil is the right dress, let me wear it quickly, if not, leave me like I am.’ I prayed salat il-ʾasr and then, as if hypnotized, I walked over to my cupboard and took out a headscarf. I told myself: ‘I now wear the veil and will not act again.’ During the personal interview she stressed her intense spirituality and closeness to God, even to the extent that it frightened her. In one of her visions she foresaw the earthquake, a few days before it actually happened. This vision is detailed – together with the one about her brother – in an interesting and contested video serial produced in Saudi Arabia about the ‘guided artists’. The serial was censored and the dreams and visions featuring in it were called contradictory to rational belief (iman `aqil).9 10 In the video, `Afaf tells the interviewer, the Islamist poetess `Aliya Go`ar:

The ‘caravan’ of veiled actresses in Egypt


I stepped down three days before the great earthquake. ( … ) Thursday evening I had a strange dream. Near our house, close to the university bridge, I saw many people. They looked very weird, their hair ruffled and they were naked. I was standing near the bridge and screamed: ‘What happens to our beautiful Egypt!’ I screamed and screamed, and woke myself up. What is this, people leaving behind their children and running?! It was exactly the image I witnessed during the earthquake a few days later. 11 The earthquake, her vision of it, and more importantly her being guided by God before the disaster, gave her the feeling that she was called and chosen by God to spread his message. `Afaf Sho`ib involved herself immediately in charity for the victims of the earthquake, a duty she shared with many volunteers among whom were several of the retired artists. Her other important mission was connecting to the importance of veiling. She had established close contacts with some of the veiled actresses and took religious classes with Hana` Tharwat. Her preaching on paradise, hell and the ‘agony of the grave’ influenced `Afaf, especially the knowledge that women are accountable for every hair they have left uncovered and every inappropriate ensuing word from their tongues frightened her. 12 After seven years, `Afaf decided to come back and act veiled roles. She claimed that she had never asserted that art was haram. During the interview with me in 2005, she stressed the responsibility of acting proper roles, not using improper wordings, dealing with religious or morally relevant topics, and sticking to Islamic dress codes as conditions for her return. ‘Producers are afraid’, she explained, ‘afraid that I will spread my religious messages. We want to teach people the morally right conduct, this is haram and this is right, we want to invite them to the faith. Art has a mission. Art, that is, the TV for many people, this small box is the central spot where many people gather around.’ So her returning to acting was also an extension of her self-image as a religious messenger.

Debating art in the public sphere In the 1990s, the ‘repentance’ of so many artists became a hotly debated issue. The debates about and by the ‘repentant’ artists are a good example of the emergent ‘public sphere’ in Egypt. The idea of a public sphere designates an arena in which political participation is enacted by rational and open debate. It is the space where people deliberate about their common affairs and develop a consensus about the ‘common good’. This space is distinct from the state and the economy. It is an arena of discursive relations that can be critical of the state (Fraser 1990). Habermas’ ideas have been applied and criticized by many scholars (Fraser 1990; Calhoun 1992; Gestrich 2006) whom I will not review here. I will deal particularly with the relevance of the Habermasian notion of the public sphere as elaborated and criticized by scholars working


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on the Middle East (Eickelman and Anderson 1999; Salvatore and Eickelman 2004; Salvatore and LeVine 2005). The concept of a ‘public sphere’ has become an important framework for analyzing the political dimensions and extent of democratic development in the region as well as for studying the emergence of ‘public Islam’ (Salvatore and LeVine 2005). In particular the role of new media, as facilitating debates in the public sphere about crucial public issues, has received wide attention (Eickelman and Anderson 1999). New communication media have enabled large numbers of people and not just the elite to have a say in issues related to the ‘common good’ (Salvatore and Eickelman 2004: xi). The ‘repentant’ artists are an interesting case study for observing some trends in this public sphere. First, art became an issue par excellence for debating notions of the ‘common good’ and the ‘good Muslim’. Second, the debates on the ‘repentant’ artists highlight the intense use of media.13 Because of the ‘dangerous’ mediatized publicization of their version of Islam, it is fiercely countered in official media but supported in other media. Third, there is a divergence of voices consisting primarily of secularists, conservative Muslims, Islamists, the state and ‘repentant’ artists. For all the voices concerned, religion becomes the way of framing the discussions on art. Lastly, conservative voices dominate the discourses of the early 1990s. Sheikh al-Sha`arawi and Mustafa Mahmud are, together with conservative preacher Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi, influential figures in the ‘repentance’ of artists. These conservatives are given media space by the government. Whereas the conservative voices are probably not to be analyzed as a counterpublic, that is, a sphere independent of the government, the case of the ‘repentant’ artists is more ambiguous. I will start my analysis with the reaction of the secular press and the general public to the growing amount of ‘repentant’ artists. The ‘repentant’ artists were accused of being only interested in money, before and after ‘their pious turn’. It was added that the ‘repentant’ stars were becoming older anyhow and this was the way to make a last big haul (Brooks 1998: 242–43). Shams al-Barudi was faced with repeated programming of her old seductive films, particularly the film produced in 1973 by Abu Saif, Hamam al-Malatili (The Malatili Bath) in which she appeared in a bathing suit. The films were said to be a greater success than at the time of their first release (Magazine Ruz al-Yusif, 7 March 1988: 52–53). The movie critic Kamal Ramzi (1994) wrote that it was easy to explain the phenomenon of retirement. Hala al-Safi had turned from being a quick moving dancer into a heavy and slow performer and her colleague Sahar Hamdi had ever mounting problems with the vice police. Soheir al-Babli should have retired long ago as she was approaching 60. The journalist Ibrahim `Issa commented on the stepping down of Shams al-Barudi, Hanaʾ Tharwat, Nisrin, Shahira and Soheir Ramzi that they were mediocre actresses anyhow and that no one would miss them. `Issa suggested that their retirement was a very clever way to remain in the spotlight because they were unsuccessful as actresses (1993: 86–90). These reactions confirmed the general

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image of artists as greedy for money and attention. The adversaries stressed the artists’ material desires and overlooked their spiritual accounts. A second reaction by journalists, commentators and performing artists emphasized personal circumstances and the earthquake as reasons behind their ‘repentance’. The religious turn of Hala Fu`ad, Shahira and Shadia was related to their illnesses. Opponents related the ‘repentance’ of `Afaf Sho`ib, Soheir al-Babli, Sahar Hamdi, Farida Seif al-Nasr and Soheir Ramzi to the earthquake and fear of the Day of Judgement. What several actors in the secular field detested most was the label ‘repentant’ artist. By using the term ‘repentance’, a general claim was made that art is haram. This position was unacceptable to those working in the art scene. If there was a reason to repent it might be because some of these actresses, singers and dancers lived a dissolute life but not because working in the field of art in itself made ‘repentance’ necessary (Nasif and Khodayr n.d.: 131–44). In a third response, several opponents drew attention to the dangerous political and religious aspects of the phenomenon of the veiled actresses. A straightforward connection was made between ‘extremism’ or ‘fundamentalism’ and the ‘repentant’ artists. Two different relations between the phenomenon and ‘fundamentalism’ were postulated: fear of extremist attacks and payment to veil and step down. At the beginning of the 1990s, a number of intellectuals and journalists were attacked, and artists could be the next targets. Hala alSafi’s dream was interpreted by the psychiatrist, novelist and feminist Nawal al-Sa`adawi as a reaction against pressure by religious extremists (Brooks 1998: 244). Yet, the most common and enduring accusation or rumour was the payment of artists to step down and veil. It was already rumoured in the late 1980s that ‘groups’ paid artists if they veiled and stepped down. In the early 1990s, the rumours were strengthened by TV presenters and actresses, among them Nagwa Ibrahim, who maintained that they were actually offered money to step down. An offer which they, of course, refused (Magazine Ruz al-Yusif, 11 October 1993: 12). More subtle accusations by journalists about payments were the allegations of rich oil sheikhs marrying Egyptian actresses. The sheikhs allegedly forced them to veil and to step down from acting and then shortly after divorced them in order to marry the next actress. Money invested by a Saudi company to produce a videocassette about the ‘repentance’ of artists was said to be used to spread the Wahhabi version of Islam throughout the Middle East (`Issa 1993: 35). Shams al-Barudi allegedly received financial assistance to buy her old seductive films in order to take them out of circulation. The veiled artists were accused of being actively used by outside forces, to wit Saudi Arabia, to spread their ‘Bedouin, desert version of Islam’ (`Issa 1993: 77–79). Particularly in the book al-Harb bi al-Niqab (The War by the Face Veil), the last-mentioned author made a strong argument analyzing the emergent hijab and niqab phenomenon among Egyptian women as a Saudi-tization of Egypt. The migration of many Egyptians and their year-long submergence in


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the Saudi way of life and thinking made many Egyptians susceptible to ‘Salafi extremism’. Saudi-influenced preachers such as sheikh Mitwalli al-Sha`arawi and Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi, the two sheikhs most influential on ‘repentant’ artists, rose to stardom through their mediatized appearances and their connections with artists. Their influence on artists catapulted their own fame and spread their Salafi ideology, according to Ibrahim `Issa. The same author also launched a massive anti Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi campaign in the weekly magazine Ruz al-Yusif in 1993. He argued that the preaching of sheikh alSha`arawi and Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi was destroying Egyptian art production – the basis of Egypt’s central position in the region and an important source of income. Besides, he accused them of preaching against the freedom of women (1993: 77–79). `Issa feared that the ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘Saudi’ campaign to veil artists and let them stay at home was a way of sending women back to ‘ages of oppression’. The secularist discourse against the ‘repentant’ artists invoked nationalist deliberations. Egypt and its national heritage should be safeguarded from foreign or false influences. The cultural nationalist discourse forwarded by Ibrahim `Issa and others warned against the ‘in-authenticity’ of ‘petro-dollar’ preachers and the veiled artists. They pointed to the danger of the Sauditization of Egypt and the loss of the cornerstones of Egypt’s civilization, particularly its art. Cultural and national identities are often expressed through gender symbolism. The call upon female performers to veil and return to the house were thus not only seen as ‘inauthentic’ ideas on art and religion but also on gender. The ideas on art and gender promoted by means of Egyptian penitents were seen as particularly powerful tools in the Saudi-tization of Egypt. They were not only perceived as pawns of ‘extremist’ Islamists but also as active missionaries of ‘fundamentalist’ discourses on gender and art.

The Islamist press The Islamist press came to the aid of the ‘repentant’ actresses. This was partly due to the ex-performers themselves. They chose the Islamist press to tell their stories. This did not necessarily mean though that the way they were portrayed in the Islamist booklets bore the approval of all the retired artists. The Islamist press consistently depicted the artists as sinners who had returned to ‘the right fold’. It attached the strong label of ‘repentance’ to the retired actresses, a label disliked by some of them. The Islamist authors enforced the idea of artists as sinners and non-believers, as opposed to ‘repentant’ artists who had seen ‘the light’ and became true believers. Not all stepped-down artists were comfortable with such a mono-dimensional view of their life stories. In the repentance literature, the depth and sincerity of the artists’ remorse, and particularly the divine nature of their guidance, was detailed. It was presented as the work of God since He chooses whom to guide and at which moments – whether before or after the earthquake, during a pilgrimage or after dancing and drinking in a nightclub. It was felt that linking their spiritual turn to

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illness or the earthquake obscured the direct hand of God in the artists’ guidance to the right path. For that reason the visions and moments of spiritual illumination were spelled out in the Islamist press. In accordance with the Islamist representation of the return of artists ‘to the right fold’ as divinely inspired, the accusation of payment was perceived as extremely false. However it proved difficult to counter the accusations of payment except for general statements that guidance is from God and is priceless. The limits of ‘obscenity and debasement’ were reached for the Islamist author Magdi Kamil, when the accusation of money paid for divine guidance was made in the secular press. He felt the need to defend the artists from this immoral campaign which put their true belief in Islam into doubt. He claimed that the campaign was the work of ‘the enemies of Islam’. That is, journalists who thrived on artists’ ‘scandals and degeneration’ feared for their income if the ‘caravan of repentant artists’ were to grow (1993: 18–19). In his portrayal of the artists he contrasted the former ‘dissolute lifestyle’ with the ‘total harmony and devotion’ of the ex-performers’ present life. Art was deemed to debase women’s virtue and the return to the home was presented as bliss (ibid.: 21). The Islamist press thus used the smearing campaign against ‘repentant’ artists to slander the scene of art. They defamed the art scene as a corrupt field, particularly for women. The ex-performers became useful models for pious women. Female artists who veiled and left art for the home were perfect tools for reaching the masses with a message of veiling and domesticity. Sheikh al-Sha`arawi and Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi were known for their conservative views on women and their great stress on domesticity (Abu Lughod 1998; Hatem 1998). They were influential in forging new ideals for Muslim women, images which were powerfully embodied and mediatized by the ‘repentant’ artists. The Islamist press claimed that it was precisely this Islamic role model for women and the family that the secular press feared most. The Islamist press thus also invoked a discourse of ‘cultural nationalism’. In their version however the source of ‘in-authenticity’ was not Saudi Arabia, but the West and the secularists. Besides the competing views on religion and art, there were rival views on gender. The conservatives and Islamists projected an image of the ‘good pious woman’ who veiled, stayed at home and cared for her house, husband and children. Work outside the home in general, but in ‘disreputable’ fields like art in particular, was singled out as un-Islamic. Paid labour in the name of freedom, liberating women by unveiling and leaving the house were seen as the views of ‘the enemies of Islam’. The female performer and the Muslim woman were depicted as diametrically opposed to each other. The veiled ex-performers bridged this antithesis through their repentance.

Government control and conservative morality The Islamist campaign against art used not only the written stories of ‘repentant’ artists but also other media that were partly under state control. Sheikh Mitwalli al-Sha`arawi promoted the ‘repentance’ of artists through his


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programmes on state TV. Authors who defended the pious turn of artists in ‘The Repentant Artists and the Sex Stars’ claimed that advertising for their book was refused by Egyptian censorship (Nasif and Khodayr n.d.: 15). This brings us to the ambiguous role of the government which tried to restrict the dissemination of Islamist views, but had a confusing and shifting policy. On the one hand, the state tried to project a modern image and was officially secular. On the other, it perceived itself as the moral guardian of the values of society and religion and tried to prove itself more religious than the ‘fundamentalists’ (Tadros 1994). It tried to encompass moderate forms of the Islamic revival movement but undermine militant or oppositional strands. It is therefore difficult to draw clear-cut boundaries between the state and a ‘counterpublic’.14 Not only conservatives and some strands of the Islamic revival were entangled with the state, this also held true for the secular cultural field. Hirschkind (2006) warns against analyzing the state as a single entity. It is not a monolithic bloc but comprises several agents, institutions and individuals influenced by the Islamic revival movement. As Samia Mehrez (2001) and Jessica Winegar (2006) argue, the state and the secular cultural field are closely related. The state has produced modern cultural institutions. These institutions are dependent on the government for their effectiveness and have become the protégés of the state. Yet, the state also depends on the cultural players to articulate its semblance of modernity to the world (Mehrez 2001: 10–15). This does not preclude criticism by secular artists, producers and journalists of the government, yet they converge in their defence against an ‘Islamization of the cultural field’. The interdependency between the state and the cultural field makes it reasonable to assume that the earlier-mentioned campaigns against Islamists and the ‘repentant’ artists were approved by the state. One obvious example of the state’s ‘modernity policy’ was the banning of the veil. During the period of armed conflict with militant Islamists, the government began to see Islamic dress as a political symbol and a threat. Veiled women were banned from the media as well as from the state and private educational institutions. The policy was eventually concretized in the controversial Unification of School Uniform Order in 1994 that forbade schoolgirls from wearing the hijab (Herrera 2001: 16–19). Several artists were forced to retire because the state would not allow them to work as veiled actresses or TV presenters. Kamilia al-`Arabi, for instance, wanted to resume her work as the TV presenter of a religious programme but was mocked and fired (Magazine Hiwar, 6 September 2001). So the anti-veil policy of the state hindered the return of the stepped-down actresses in the early 1990s. Those who wanted to work as veiled actresses were forced to work for foreign Saudi channels or in productions aimed at that market (Tartoussieh 2007). One of the few examples of a veiled TV presenter was the hostess Kariman Hamza (Malti-Douglas 2001). She was allowed to present a religious programme during Ramadan 1993, in which she invited Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi to explain his conservative views. Also, Mustafa Mahmud and sheikh Mitwalli

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al-Sha`arawi were given ample media space in the 1980s to spread their brand of Islamic thought. Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi was initially allowed to appear on TV until he was muzzled because his preaching was considered to be too militant. His tapes were however broadly consumed in the contestory Islamic revival movement. Depending on the state’s appraisal of the danger of individual preachers, they were allowed media space or were banned and forced to use the less controlled public sphere of cassettes. The amount of religious programming was generally expanding during this period. Besides outlawing criticism of religion and the erosion of national unity, many stipulations of the latest 1976 censorship law were connected to morality, such as forbidding the justification of immoral actions, images of naked bodies, emphasis on erotic parts, sexually arousing scenes and disrespect for the sanctity of family values (Shafik 2001a). Arising from the dependency of the cultural field on the state, self-censorship was strong. Besides, as Abu Shadi (1994), the artistic censor, noted, during the 1980s and early 1990s the censors were Islamic conservatives themselves. ‘Extremist religious’ influences had been allowed to infiltrate television programmes and artistic compositions. Coupled with the growing influence and space allowed to censorship by al-Azhar, the ambiguous position of the state became clear (Abu Shadi 1994; Engel 2004). Another factor conducive to the morally conservative programming was the influence of Saudi Arabia on the cultural field in Egypt. The financial investments from Saudi Arabia in the Egyptian art industry led to censorship and production in accordance with Wahhabi Islam (Ramzi 1994). Since movie theatres were not allowed in Saudi Arabia, it was particularly with the introduction of the VCR that a market for home videos opened up. The Gulf states became the main customers during this period and were thus able to enforce their censorship regulations. With the petrodollars, prudishness moved in, as Viola Shafik (2001b) aptly remarked.

Ambivalent responses by stepped-down actresses Islamists harshly judged the artists’ past and depicted them as sinners. Only by being born again could they start pious and clean lives as wives and mothers. Some ‘repentant’ artists shared this view, others had more nuanced views on their past activities and art in general. The fierce attacks by the secular press drove them into the arms of the Islamist press. The Islamist embrace was comforting but perhaps too warm and eager. The responses of the ‘repentant artists’ to the commotion they had caused were diverse. Shams al-Barudi was harassed by the repeated screenings of her old films. She eventually felt forced to publish an announcement in several newspapers because she feared people might think that she had resumed acting. She declared that she stepped down from art in February 1982 and that they were showing old films (Newspaper Ittahad, 8 August 1985). All ex-performers reacted vehemently to the accusations of payment. They mentioned several arguments as to why it was illogical to assume payment for veiling. If artists


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were after money they would have kept on working. Besides, they earned huge amounts of money as artists, who could pay such high salaries for many years to so many artists? And what about all other veiled women, the doctors, engineers, teachers, medical doctors? Were they all paid for veiling? they asked rhetorically. Hala al-Safi snapped that no one would ever pay for veiling, only for revealing. Other actresses reversed the argument and mentioned that they were offered money to resume acting and unveiling. In a collective letter they stressed that they left behind thousands and millions of pounds while they were still in their youth. They left the life of beauty and cheap enjoyment to devote themselves to God and paradise. They wished the slanderous press the same divine guidance as had befallen them (Magazine Kolenas, 9 September 1992). They were particularly stung by Nagwa Ibrahim’s story about groups paying large amounts of money and sent an open letter to several newspapers. Signed by 12 stepped-down artists they wrote a statement that if it was really true that groups secretly paid money, it was a dangerous development for the nation. It was therefore Nagwa Ibrahim’s duty as a citizen to protect the country and to bring forth the names of those who offered payment (Magazine Mawed, 1 October 1992). The names were never released. They thus played the card of vigilant citizens. They particularly emphasized that God’s guidance had no equivalence in money and no material gain was comparable to the ‘taste of the sweetness of faith and obedience’ (Magazine Kolenas, 9 September 1992). The retired artists thus rubbed along with the Islamic press. Yet not all of them had such gloomy views about their past activities and art in general. Especially in response to the secularist press’ discrediting their talents, they felt challenged to proclaim their successful careers. This claim was ill at ease with the concept of repentance, though. The complexity of their positioning between the secularist debunking of their talents and the Islamist discourse of repentance was revealed to me during the interview with Hala al-Safi. At the end of the interview, I asked if she only had a feeling of regret about her work or was also proud about her past performances. She then answered that regret was a necessary part of repentance and that of course she could not be proud about her past as this would question her sincere remorse. There appears to be a development in the discourse of artists, however, a development that coincides with a change in discourse and artistic practice more generally. Whereas most of the stepped-down artists of the 1980s such as Shams al-Barudi, Hanaʾ Tharwat and Hala al-Safi argued strongly for art’s unlawful nature, particularly for women, most artists who stepped down in the early 1990s were more ambivalent in their views or changed their ideas on art in the course of time. After an initial stage of strongly conservative views they turned to a more moderate discourse on art and gender. They had become important in stimulating a debate within Islamist circles on pious art or ‘art with a purpose’. All ‘repentant’ artists strongly advocated and publicized the veil. Women’s veiling was seen as of primary importance and the final step to iltizam, that is, to become observant pious Muslim women. Preachers like sheikh al-Sha`arawi and Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi made them aware that veiling was ‘obligatory’

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and a ‘commandment from God’, just like fasting and praying. They were not aware of its obligatory character and centrality for pious Muslims. Doing charity, praying, fasting and going to Mecca were in their view the quintessential conditions for piety. Yet through these preachers they became aware that veiling was a condition just as important for pious womanhood as the uncontested pillars of Islam. Putting veiling on the same footing as the recognized pillars of Islam was, according to its secular and moderate Muslim critics, a clear indication of the Saudi-tization of their Islam. Whereas they all advocated the veil, not all stepped-down artists completely shared the preachers’ ideals of womanhood and domesticity. The ex-performers who turned into preachers, such as Shams al-Barudi, Kamilia al-`Arabi and Hanaʾ Tharwat, shared sheikh al-Sha`arawi’s and Dr `Omar `Abd al-Kafi’s notions on gender and domesticity. Shams al-Barudi, for instance, considered motherhood a divine task that suits the female nature. Women are created to be mothers, not to be engineers or farmers. But if they fulfil the tasks of motherhood adequately they are allowed to work within the confines of the religious commandments. Women should not work if this results in the neglect of children and only if it is a matter of sheer necessity. Those women who leave their children in a kindergarten are not acting according to Islam. Yet, the ex-performers themselves did not necessarily practise these ideals. On the contrary, as we have seen, pious ex-performers have remained important public figures. Several have worked as preachers, or been engaged in Islamic charities, such as Kamilia al-`Arabi, Hana` Tharwat, Shams al-Barudi and Yasmin al-Khiyyam. Others started an Islamic business, such as fashion, video or cassette firms. Also, Islamic education and da`wah were new fields which they entered. Some eventually returned as veiled actresses or television hostesses. `Afaf Sho`ib initially lived off her mother’s inheritance but returned as a veiled actress. Most of them performed veiled and were influential in making veiling fashionable. Many returned out of conviction with the idea of producing purposeful art (al-fann al-hadif), a trend which became significant after the mid-1990s.15 The first group of retired performers has remained active in public life through preaching in homes and mosques. The veiled actresses from the beginning of the 1990s eventually returned to the screen and some of them have a religious programme such as Shahira, Mona `Abd al-Ghani and Miyar al-Bablawi. They all sought ways to combine an active public presence with piety and used their (mediatized) presence to publicize their ideas of pious womanhood. For all of them it held true that they remained influential public figures and influenced the concepts of piety for women. They were working out new models for active pious womanhood in which they combined veiling with public influence and visibility/audibility.

Conclusion The ‘repentant’ artists have thus turned from pious individuals into role models of great national concern. The ‘repentance’ of artists is an interesting


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case for analyzing the public sphere in Egypt. First, this issue forms a delicate matter because the artists left the world of secular art for that of piety. For that reason they have been important in starting the debate about Islam and art. Second, it is also a good example for analyzing the use of media in the public sphere because these former performers are public figures with high media profiles. All parties involved realize the enormous influence of their ‘repentance’ and veiling on millions. All voices use the media extensively in order to pull a massive public over to their side. Habermas expected the religious to retreat from the public sphere into the private sphere in the West, an assumption criticized by Salvatore and Eickelman (2004) for the Middle East. We have indeed seen that Islam is the dominant framework for discussing notions of the ‘common good’. The state, Islamists, conservative Muslims, liberals and secularists have all framed their ideas about art, gender and ‘cultural authenticity’ in religious terms. Instead of a retreat, it could be argued that the religious framework has extended its scope into the debates about such issues as art and culture, a sphere which is often considered the last stronghold of secularism. Religious notions entered the ‘cultural public sphere’ in the sense that they framed the deliberations on art and culture. Whereas in the early 1990s the Islamist discourse was predominately against art, these discussions paved the way for new ideas which were to sprout after the mid-1990s. The ensuing discourses about proper Islamic art, ‘pious art’ or ‘art with a mission’ evolved from the increasing enmeshment of Islamists within the ‘cultural public sphere’. A second expectation is that the new media would give the opportunity for new voices to enter the debate and, more importantly, that these new voices could be regarded as a counterpublic. Within the authoritarian climate of Egypt an implicit assumption is that these new counterpublics will be of a more democratic or anti-authoritarian kind. We have seen that the new media are used extensively and that new members have entered the public arena, in this case primarily the ‘repentant’ artists. Yet as to the question of whether the oppositional voices form a counterpublic the answer is less clear. Several problems have arisen. First, in this extremely tense period in which terrorist attacks and the harsh knocking down of Islamist opposition by the state spread across the country, the formation of publics is a contested process itself. Second, the notion of a counterpublic is not easy to hold in the Egyptian context. ‘Repentant’ artists were merged with the ‘Islamists’, which in turn were amalgamated with the ‘extremists’ in the campaign of secularists and the state. Secularists, performing artists and the state were combined as ‘the enemies of Islam’ in the Islamist press. The multiplicity of voices was dissolved into two competing blocs. Whereas there appear to be two clear-cut parties involved in the discursive arena, this is misleading. The state is not a monolith agent and includes several fractions of Islamists as well. Secularists are dependent on and entangled with the government but the same holds true for several fractions of the Islamic revival movement. The ‘repentant’ artists were crushed between opposite voices but were internally divided as well.

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Finally, what about the ‘new ideas’ of the ‘repentant’ artists? As women they were certainly new voices in the public deliberations on Islam and art, but how far did they express new ideas? They were not passive pawns of the Islamists’ agenda. They were willing partners in at least some of the Islamists’ notions on pious womanhood. Particularly with regard to the importance of veiling, the views of the veiled (ex)-artists and Islamists collided. They actively used their public prominence to promote veiling among women. They have eventually helped to make veiling fashionable, a trend not yet very visible in the early 1990s. With regard to art and gender a mixed picture emerged. Although in the early 1990s conservative views on art and gender prevailed, not all former performers shared this view. Even if they upheld ideas on the centrality of women’s domesticity and the Muslim family they did not live up to this ideal in their personal lives. They remained important public personalities, as preachers, businesswomen in Islamic businesses or involved in charity work. With regard to art there was ambivalence too, they did not all distance themselves from their art productions and several of them eventually returned. They have thus been influential in triggering a debate on Islam and art and eventually in the creation of new forms of pious art. They have thus been important in the emergence of a pious cultural sphere. Yet this materialized only after the mid-1990s when the climate in Egypt became less tense.

Notes 1 This chapter is written in 2011 and has developed from combining two previous articles I have written: (2008) ‘Piety, penitence and gender: the case of repentant artists in Egypt’, Journal for Islamic Studies, 28: 37–66; (2008) ‘Repentant’ artists in Egypt: debating gender, performing arts and religion’, Contemporary Islam, 2(3): 191–211. In the meantime, it has become part of a book on the role of singers and actors in Egypt’s Islamic Revival (Van Nieuwkerk 2013). 2 I mainly use veiled actresses for those who have remained active as artists or returned after a while. The label ‘repentance’ is not liked by all and is mainly used in the Islamist press. For that reason I will use the term in quotation marks. Stepping down or retirement is a more neutral term but is also not totally correct because, as I will argue, they have remained very active and visible in public life. 3 See, for instance, Abi ‘Abdallah Muhammad b. ‘Abdallah (2004); Magdi Fathi al-Sayyid (n.d.); Asma’ Abu Bakr al-Juhayna (1989); ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sangri (1999); Magdi Kamil (1993); ‘Imad Nasif and Amal Khodayr (n.d.); Sayyid Abu Dawud and Layla Bayumi (1994). 4 Date of interview, 3 February 2006; the translation of interviews is mine throughout the chapter. 5 See note 3. 6 Interview, 3 February 2006. 7 Interview in al-Mawed, November 1992: 24–28. I interviewed Shahira on 13 February 2006. 8 Cairo, 15 February and 8 March 2005. 9 The serial is made in Saudi Arabia and is entitled ‘Those who are guided’ (Elazee ahtado) (Sana Production Company n.d., probably around 1995). Because of the ban it was difficult to locate the serials. It was generously sent to me for free by the production company. The two videos also include lengthy interviews with former


10 11 12 13 14 15

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dancer Zizi Mustafa, actress Madiha Hamdi and actor Hamdi Hafiz. The interviews are conducted by Islamist poetess ‘Aliya Go‘ar who has also been influential in the veiling and retirement of the famous singer Shadia. Interview with censor Abu Shadi in Al-Kawakib, 17 December 1998. Video ‘Those who are guided’ (Elazee ahtado). Ibid. During the mid-1990s it was particularly the written press, TV, cassettes and video, and not as now the Internet. See Fraser (1990) and Hirschkind (2006) for two different views on the notion of ‘counterpublic’. This trend of returning to art, fashionable veiling and the production of pious art is very interesting and needs more space than is allowed within the context of this chapter. See van Nieuwkerk (2011 and 2013).

References Al-Awadi, H. (2004), Pursuit of Legitimacy. The Muslim Brothers and Mubarak, 1982–2000, London, New York: Tauris Academic Studies. al-Juhayna, A.A.B. (1989), Min `alam al-shuhra ila rihab al-iman, Cairo: Maktabit Ibn Sina. al-Sangri, ` (1999), al-`A’idun ila Allah, 5th edn, Beirut: Dar al-Basha’ir. al-Sayyid, M.F. (n.d.), Nisa’ `A’idat ila Allah, Cairo: Maktabit al-Tawfiqiyya. Abi `A.M. b.`A. (2004), Dumu` al-Ta’ibin, Cairo: Maktabit al-Iman. Abu Dawud, S. and L. Bayumi (1994), Hiwar ma`a al-Fannanin wa al-Fannanat al-ta’ibin wa al-ta’ibat, Alexandria: Dar al-marwa li al-tawzi`. Abu Lughod, L. (1998), ‘The Marriage of Feminism and Islamism in Egypt: Selective Repudiation as a Dynamic of Postcolonial Cultural Politics’, in L. Abu Lughod (ed.), Remaking Women, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 243–70. Abu Shadi, A. (1994), The Influence of Terrorism and Extremism on Official Governmental Censorship over the Cinema and Television in Egypt. Online. (accessed 18 November 1999). Bayat, A. (2002), ‘Piety, Privilege and Egyptian Youth’, ISIM Review, 10: 23. Brooks, G. (1998), De dochters van Allah, Amsterdam: Ooievaar. Calhoun, C. (1992), ‘Introduction: Habermas and the Public Sphere’, in C. Calhoun (ed.), Habermas and the Public Sphere, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1–48. Eickelman, D.F. and J.W. Anderson (1999), ‘Redefining Muslim Publics’, in D.F. Eickelman and J.W. Anderson (eds), New Media in the Muslim World. The Emerging Public Sphere, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1–19. Engel, R. (2004), ‘Book Ban Exposes Azhar Censorship’, Middle East Times, 10 November 2004. Online. (accessed 5 November 2006). Fraser, N. (1990), ‘Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy’, Social Text, 25/26: 56–80. Gestrich, A. (2006), ‘The Public Sphere and the Habermas Debate’, German History, 24(3): 413–31. Haenni, P. (2002), ‘Au-delà du repli identitaire. Les nouveaux prêcheurs égyptiens et la modernisation paradoxale de l’islam’, Religioscope, November 2002. Online. (accessed 20 May 2005). ——(2005), L’islam de marché. L’autre révolution conservatrice. Paris: Seuil. Hatem, M. (1998), ‘Secularist and Islamist Discourses on Modernity in Egypt and the Evolution of the Postcolonial Nation-State’, in Y.Y. Haddad and J. Esposito (eds), Islam, Gender & Social Change, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 85–99.

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Herrera, L. (2001), ‘Downveiling. Gender and the Contest over Culture in Cairo’, Merip, 219: 16–19. Hirschkind, C. (2001), ‘The Ethics of Listening: Cassette-sermon Audition in Contemporary Egypt’, American Ethnologist, 28(3): 623–49. ——(2006), The Ethical Soundscape. Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics, Columbia, NY: Columbia University Press. `Issa, I. (1993), al-Harb bi al-Niqab, Cairo: Dar al-Shabab. Kamil, M. (1993; 2nd edn 1994), Fannanat wara’ al-hijab, Cairo: Markaz al-raya li al-nashr wa al-i`lam. Mahmood, S. (2005), Politics of Piety. The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Malti-Douglas, F. (2001), Medicines of the Soul: Female Bodies and Sacred Geographies in a Transnational Islam, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Mehrez, S. (2001), ‘Take them Out of the Ball Game. Egypt’s Cultural Players in Crisis’, Merip, 219: 10–15. Murphy, C. (2002), Passion for Islam, New York: Scribner. Nasif, I. and A. Khodayr (n.d.), Fannanat ta’ibat, 3rd edn, Cairo. Ramzi, K. (1994), From Extremism to Terrorism: The Relationship between Religious Groups and the Arts. Online. www.geocities.comCapitolHill/Lobby/9012/Freedom/ introduction.htm (accessed 18 November 1999). Roy, O. (2004), Globalized Islam, London: Hurst and Company. Salvatore, A. and D.F. Eickelman (2004), ‘Preface’, in A. Salvatore and D.F. Eickelman (eds), Public Islam and the Common Good, Leiden: Brill, xi–xxv. Salvatore, A. and M. LeVine (eds) (2005), Religion, Social Practice, and Contested Hegemonies. Reconstructing the Public Sphere in Muslim Majorities Societies, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Shafik, V. (2001a), ‘Egyptian Cinema’, in Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film, London and New York: Routledge, 23–129. ——(2001b), ‘Prostitute for a good reason: Stars and Morality in Egypt’, Women’s Studies International Forum, 24(6): 711–25. Singerman, D. (1995), Avenues of Participation, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press. Starrett, G. (1995), ‘The Political Economy of Religious Commodities in Cairo’, American Anthropologist, 97(1): 51–68. Sullivan, D.J. and S. Kotob (1999), Islam in Contemporary Egypt Civil Society vs. the State, Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner. Tadros, M. (1994), Women: The Perspectives of Fundamentalist Discourse and its Influence on Egyptian Artistic Creativity and Cultural Life. Online. www.geocities/CapitolHill/ Lobby/9012/Freedom/marlynmain.htm (accessed 18 November 1999). Tammam, H. and P. Haenni (2003), ‘Chat Shows, Nashid Groups and Lite Preaching. Egypt’s Air-conditioned Islam’, Le Monde diplomatique, September 2003. Tartoussieh, K. (2007), ‘Pious Stardom: Cinema and the Islamic Revival in Egypt’, in Arab Studies Journal, 17(1): 30–44. Van Nieuwkerk, K. (1995), A Trade Like Any Other. Female Singers and Dancers in Egypt, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. ——(2008a), ‘Piety, Repentance and Gender: Born-again Singers, Dancers and Actresses in Egypt’, Journal for Islamic Studies, 28: 37–66. ——(2008b), ‘“Repentant” Artists in Egypt: Debating Gender, Performing Arts and Religion’, Contemporary Islam, 2(3): 191–211.


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——(2011), ‘Of Morals, Missions and the Market, New Religiosity and “Art with a Mission” in Egypt’, in K. van Nieuwkerk (ed.), Muslim Rap, Halal Soaps, and Revolutionary Theater. Artistic Developments in the Muslim World, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 177–205. ——(2013), Performing Piety: Singers and Actors in Egypt’s Islamic Revival, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Wickham, C.R. (2002), Mobilizing Islam. Religion, Activism, and Political Change in Egypt, New York: Columbia University Press. Winegar, J. (2006), Creative Reckoning. The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.


Wah wah! Meida meida! The changing roles of dance in Afghan society John Baily

This chapter looks at changes in the role and place of dance in Afghan society over the last 30 years, from the ‘pre-war’ period of 1970s Afghanistan, to the performance of dance in the Afghan diaspora, and dance in Afghanistan itself today. This is a complicated topic because it embraces issues of gender, changes in the political situation, migration, and the adaptation of Afghans in exile to different host cultures. It has become apparent that dance is in some respects more revealing than music in analyzing the transformation of culture in a migration situation, and that may be because it involves more people in performance. Most Afghans dance, or have danced, whereas rather few sing or play musical instruments. The chapter starts with an examination of dance in the province of Herat in the 1970s. We then turn to the matter of dance in the Western diaspora amongst Afghan communities in Fremont (California) and London. There follows a short section on what is happening in Afghanistan in the domain of dance today, with special attention to the most controversial type of dance, that performed by dancing boys.1

Introduction Although dance is certainly a contentious issue in many Muslim societies, there seems to have been very little scholarly writing about the ‘lawfulness’ of dance, in contrast to the situation of sound art, where a great deal has been written on whether ‘music’ is allowed or prohibited, and the grounds for making judgements about its lawfulness.2 Chapter 2 of Henry George Farmer’s classic A History of Arabian Music, first published in 1929, gives a good idea of the debates around music within the Arab world as seen by Western commentators in the early part of the twentieth century, discussing the differing interpretations of a number of Quranic verses and Traditions of The Prophet. But little has been written on the subject of dance. Various explanations for this anomaly could be suggested. Is it because dance is not controversial? Is dance so obviously questionable that it is not worth mentioning? Or is dance treated as synonymous with music, with which it is so closely related? One might expect there to be at least some debate about the merits or otherwise of different kinds of dancing, with the basic distinction between group dance and solo


John Baily

dance. It is the latter that gets mixed up with ideas about the moving body, sexuality and sexual arousal. According to Maulana Mohammad Ali Rizvi:3 There is a rule (Usool) in Islamic jurisprudence that ‘everything is allowed until proven wrong’, meaning until something is proven to be prohibited in the Qur’an or Sunnah it will be permissible in its origin. Therefore dance when performed for Eid or religious events will be permissible as long as there are no sensual moves made during the dance. Its permissibility or prohibition will be based upon the gathering or occasion in which it is performed. (personal communication by e-mail, August 2009) Nevertheless, despite the reservations about dance (or even perhaps because of them) Islamic societies are particularly rich in this domain of expressive culture. Adra (1998: 404) distinguishes four main categories of dance in the Middle East: combat dances, dances for entertainment, work-related dances and religious dancing. She also points out the importance of distinctions in terms of context, whether dancing is taking place in private or public situations, and economic specialization, concerning whether the performers are paid or not. All this is relevant to the Afghan situation, though the fit is not perfect.

Dance in Afghanistan in the 1970s Afghanistan does not have its own indigenous style of classical dance. In this respect it contrasts with some neighbouring countries, such as Pakistan/India, Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Recent research by Ahmad Sarmast suggests that in the eighteenth century solo court dance was performed in the Central Asian style, while in the later part of the nineteenth century we find dance troupes from India based in Kabul, with women dancers, and male musicians playing tabla, sarangi and rubab. There are probably connections here with kathak dance, which reached its zenith in Lucknow in the 1840s. These performers from India were the ancestors of many of the families in Kucheh Kharabat, Kabul’s celebrated musicians’ quarter, populated by hereditary musician families. Dance was important at the court of Amir Abdur Rahman (ruled 1881–1901), where troupes of dancing girls were to be found (Sarmast 2004: 201–7). When his son Habibullah came to power he banned women dancers at court except in the royal harem (ibid.: 203, 213). In the absence of an indigenous tradition of classical dance we have to rely on the domain of vernacular dance. The attan – the national dance of Afghanistan The attan is regarded by Afghans as the national dance of Afghanistan. As a generic dance it has acquired strong Pashtun connections, various Pashtun tribes dance different versions of the attan, and it is also danced by Pashtuns

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living in northern Pakistan. But it could well be of ancient ‘Khorasanian’ origin, even pre-Islamic, and by the 1970s it was certainly performed in many parts of Afghanistan. The attan is a group dance performed to a complex 14-beat rhythmic pattern usually provided by a large double-headed barrel drum, the doholak. The dance is characterized by pirouettes to the left and to the right, and the number of turns in each direction gradually increases in the course of a performance, cued by the drummer. The tempo of the dance gradually increases as it builds in ever more densely compacted pirouettes. It would be hard to overemphasize the sheer physicality of the dance. It is ‘manly’, requires great stamina and is highly skilled. The dance is not tightly choreographed; each man performs in his own personal style, an example of individuality expressed in community. Many societies in the Middle East, South Asia and Central Asia have equivalent group dances, which in Adra’s terms would be regarded as combat dances, and are often danced with weapons. Many examples of attan can be found on the Internet. In Herat in the 1970s, several varieties of attan were performed by men in the context of rural marriage celebrations, to music provided by a combination of sorna (shawm) and dohol (a double-headed frame drum). A second genre of dance performed in the villages was chub bazi, ‘stick play’, which was, as the name implies, a stick dance. As with attan, several varieties of chub bazi were performed, two of quite recent provenance. Attan and chub bazi were performed in the context of staging processions from the house of the bridegroom (damad) to that of the bride (‘arus), bearing trays of flowers, sweetmeats and gifts, mainly cloth and clothing for the bride. Before commencing a procession the dancers performed several group dances, then set off, dancing chub bazi. On arrival at the house of the ‘arus they again performed several of the group dances. On the return they danced chub bazi once more, and they might well carry a tray of gifts, usually clothing, from the ‘arus to the damad. The processions were a highly public spectacle, with loud music that advertised what was taking place. It was a ritual activity that was suitable for a community where damad and ‘arus lived close to each other, within 20–30 minutes’ walk.4 Such dances were usually regarded by Heratis with high esteem. The speed, stamina and personal style of the dancers were much admired, and the dances were not devoid of a certain element of flirtatiousness. But negative views might also be expressed. In Herat the sorna was sometimes spoken of as the ‘penis of Satan’ (Baghban 1977: 84).5 Urban male dance in Herat In the city of Herat in the 1970s (as in the villages) there were separate wedding parties for men and for women. Usually they would be in the courtyards of two adjoining houses. In the urban wedding party for men, music was provided by a singer with his band, starting with a long programme of ghazals, serious songs in the Kabuli classical music style. After eating there would be time for more light-hearted love songs, and then a period of dancing, before coming to


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the central ritual of the wedding. A space would be cleared in the carpeted area for dancing. Then, a group of male guests, mostly from the groom’s near kin, would dance an urban version of the attan. This had different music to the village wedding and was played by the band (rather than by the sorna and d.hol). There were three parts to the dance: it started with the rasm o gozasht, a ‘march’, in 4/4 time, in which the men walked around in a circle; then came the attan proper, played in 14/8 time, with circling movements by the dancers; finally aushari, in 6/8 time, also with circling movements. The spectacular progressive spinning of the village attan was not usually replicated in the urban context, but the music gradually accelerated in tempo and continued for five to ten minutes, by which time the dancers were exhausted (Baily 1988: 128). In the contemporary Afghan diaspora, dancing the attan has acquired a certain ritual significance at the wedding, perhaps as an affirmation of Afghan identity. The urban wedding was also an opportunity for young men from amongst the guests to perform short solo dances with names such as shishkebabi, turistsi and ghamzegi, dances that were also part of the repertory of young women and girls. These dances were performed with much hip wiggling, shimmying and pelvic thrusting, and were comically erotic. The musicians played sequences of dance tunes and song melodies that had been absorbed into the dance repertory, with liberal use of Logari and Uzbeki dance tunes (see later). Each dancer performed for only a few minutes before retiring. Guests did not volunteer to dance and were usually dragged to their feet by their young hosts. Often a dancer who had finished his turn would pull his reluctant successor onto the floor (ibid.). There was a certain amount of embarrassment on the part of the dancers, and a feigned reluctance to perform. One did not want to be seen to be too good at this solo dancing, which clearly had links with the performances of dancing boys. One wanted to do it well, but not too well. Women’s dance In the world of Herati women, dance had a rather different role to play. Here, data collected by Veronica Doubleday concerning the phenomenon of what may be termed ‘women’s domestic music’ are very informative (Doubleday 1982; Doubleday and Baily 1995). Women’s domestic music consisted of singing, either solo or in a group, usually accompanied by the frame drum (daireh). This drum was also used to play the rhythms of a number of distinct dances. Women performed this kind of music and dancing on happy occasions connected with weddings or the birth of a new baby. In the villages and amongst the poorer classes in the city, women themselves provided the music and dance at their wedding celebrations. And it seems they made the most of the opportunities provided by the succession of gatherings involved in the marriage process. As Mark Slobin comments concerning northern Afghanistan, ‘I have a strong feeling … that women make the most of their few occasions to legitimately indulge in music and dance … women stretch the ground rules

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of their ascribed musical role by maximizing their opportunities in socially acceptable ways’ (Slobin 1976: 30). Young girls usually joined in eagerly with the merry-making. Such gatherings gave them the chance to listen, watch, learn and actively participate with adult performers. Children, particularly little girls, played this kind of music and performed this kind of dancing as a game, on their own or under the supervision of older women. Playing to entertain the children at home was another way for women to legitimize performance. Drumming and clapping played an integral role in these singing and dancing sessions, and the various rhythms of Afghan music were learned at an early age. Little girls were encouraged to dance almost as soon as they could walk, and they were sometimes called upon to display their talents to entertain guests. These skills were learned largely through imitation, through observing the performances of others. It is evident that this domestic music and dance played an important role in the child’s enculturation process. Little boys also participated in these activities, but less than the girls, and did not usually play the frame drum, an instrument very much associated with women (Doubleday 2006). Before reaching puberty girls could devote a good deal of time to singing, playing the frame drum and dancing, and some became passionately involved with these activities. But as they grew older these activities were discouraged. While music and dance might be harmless for children, it was considered to be unseemly for older girls to express themselves in these ways, except when there was a valid reason for celebration. They would soon be married and older women were already judging them as prospective brides. A strong interest in musical performance was not generally seen as a desirable asset. At a wedding party for women amongst the wealthier classes in the city of Herat, a band of professional women musicians would normally be hired to entertain the guests, singing and playing harmonium, tabla and daireh. Dancing by women and girls formed an important part of such an event. Like men, women made a distinction between music for listening and music for dancing. But whereas at the men’s party there was a clear differentiation between these two kinds of music, they were more mixed up in the women’s party, and it is probably correct to say that dancing occupied much more time in the women’s wedding party than in that of the men. It was performed mainly by girls and younger women from amongst the groom’s relatives. The bride sat quietly in another room; her relatives were not expected to take a prominent part in the festivities. As with the men, nobody wanted to put themselves forward, and the girls and women usually had to be dragged to their feet to dance. Amongst the dances performed were: the attani, a group dance similar to that of the men; solo dances like turisti, ghamzeqi, Logari and shishkebabi; shelangi for two girls, seh chakegi for four girls, and kargazbadbazi (‘kite flying’) for little girls. Some of these dances were traditional; others were new and subject to fashion. Younger musicians in the women’s band might also dance if offered a tip, and then they sometimes performed a song-and-dance routine, miming as they sang, and dancing in the instrumental sections between verses.


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Dancing boys Dancing boys and their dance performances are subjects to be discussed with delicacy. The dancing boy usually performed at small private parties, to the music of dutar or rubab, accompanied by zirbaghali or tabla, or a small ensemble such as a dutar band. His face was made up with cosmetics; he was dressed in women’s clothes, with padded breasts, a long skirt, a lengthy scarf and ankle bells. In the popular stereotype, the dancing boy was a catamite, the younger passive partner in a pederastic relationship between a man and a teenage boy. The word bacha simply means ‘boy’, but in a narrower sense it can refer to a good-looking teenage boy, a bacha maqbul, a ‘handsome boy’, and in an even narrower sense it refers to a dancing boy, a bacha bazigar. The word bazi means play, as in chub bazi (the stick dance), karak bazi (quail fighting) or kaghazbad bazi (kite flying). The term bacha bazi refers to the total activity of the dancing boys’ performance, including adult men having sexual relations with boys. An interest in dancing boys goes back a long way in neighbouring Iran, from where so much of Afghanistan’s culture derives. There was a strong sexual aspect here. Willem Floor in A Social History of Sexual Relations in Iran offers a plethora of information. Apart from visiting brothels and picking up street walkers, those with a homosexual orientation frequented coffee-houses and taverns. They went there not only for the beverages and the ambiance, but also for the music and above all for the alluring and daringly dressed young 10–14 year old dancing boys with tresses (pesaran-e zolfdar), who were dressed in female clothing and wore make-up. They not only danced in a seducing, voluptuous and lewd fashion to divert and above all excite the customers, but were offered to patrons for their sexual gratification (‘eshq-bazi). (Floor 2008: 328) There was a connection with the poetic image of the saqi, the handsome young cupbearer in the wine house, the subject of many verses of classical Persian poetry. Western observers often expressed outrage at the activities of dancing boys. As long ago as 1629, Herbert referred to them as ganymedes (Floor 2008). The word comes from the Greek ganymede, an attractive Trojan boy who was abducted to Olympus to become the cupbearer to Zeus and later his homosexual lover. A penchant for boys has also been noted in Pashtun society. According to an article published in the Los Angeles Times (3 April 2002), Dr Mohammed Nasem Zafar, a professor at the Kandahar Medical College, estimated that about 50 per cent of the city’s male residents have sex with men or boys at some point in their lives.6 He said the prime age at which boys are attractive to men is from 12 to 16 – before their beards ‘grow in’. In the same article, Justin Richardson, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, noted that it would be wrong to call Afghan men homosexual, since their decision to have sex with

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men is not a reflection of what Westerners call gender identity. Instead, he compares them to prison inmates: They have sex with men primarily because they find themselves in a situation where men are more available as sex partners than are women. It is the extreme restrictions on sexual relations with women that lead to a greater prevalence of the behaviour in this society. But that is not perhaps the whole story, for many who enjoy sex with handsome boys are married men.7 In Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan, Mark Slobin provides important information about dancing boys (Slobin 1976: 116–20). He quotes the Swedish scholar Gunnar Jarring, who conducted fieldwork in the northern town of Andkhoi in the 1930s (ibid. 117). Jarring describes the local practice of dancing boys, and the common disappearances of teenage boys, kidnapped to be trained as dancers, and kept imprisoned until they grew beyond the age when boys are desirable. The practice was current all over Afghan Turkestan (that is, the northern provinces of Fariab, Jozjan, Balkh and Samangan). Slobin points out two separate types of dancing boy troupes to be found in northern Afghanistan in the late 1960s, local Uzbeks and visiting Pashtuns from the south. The area around Mazar-e Sharif in the north and the Logar Valley in the south were centres of local dancing boy traditions; both areas have given rise to distinct dance repertoires, known as Uzbeki (or Kataghani) and Logari, the latter being characterized by frequent breaks in the music, when the dancer is expected to ‘freeze’ until the music starts again after a brief pause. These dance pieces became well known all over Afghanistan, and remain very important in the ‘new’ Afghan music of the diaspora. Whatever one may think about the practice of bacha bazi, it is important to recognize that it was an important stimulus for musical creativity.8 In the popular imagination, bacha bazi was closely associated with homosexual practices. However, there were many who might be interested in watching bazi simply as a spectacle; there were ‘dancing boy fanciers’ just as there might be pigeon fanciers or dog fanciers. Slobin (1976: 23–24) brings to our attention the Afghan propensity for a man to have a shauq, something between a hobby and an obsession. Amateur musicians described themselves as shauqi, to avoid confusion with low status hereditary professional musicians. Herat was not especially noted for its dancing boys but it was not difficult to get some information about the scene from local musicians who occasionally played for this kind of dance event. Bacha bazi was illegal, and arrests were sometimes made. During my research in the 1970s I had only one opportunity to attend an actual dancing boy party. This clandestine session took place at night in a small room in a private house in a village near the city, with music provided by dutar and zirbaghali, the latter played by the dancing boy’s trainer, who had been a dancing boy himself a few years earlier. The evening’s performance was organized into a series of sets (chashni), each 20–30 minutes long, with all the pieces of music in a set being in the same melodic mode. The dancing was episodic, with sets of routines constituting the basic units of performance, each lasting for several minutes. In-between units of performance the dancer retired to a corner of the room, then flounced


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once again into the middle of the dance area for the next routine. Some routines consisted of a pattern of dance movements repeated over and over, with the constant stamping of the feet in alternation, percussing the ankle-bells. Others were more mime-like and communicated an idea or emotion, even ‘told a story’ (Baily 1988: 142). Some of these routines may well have been inspired by dancing in the Hindi films regularly shown at the cinema in Herat. The dancing was controlled by the zirbaghali player. He would call to the boy or signal in some other way what the next routine should be. The sound of ankle-bells (zang) would seem to have been a crucial element of dancing boy performance. They were also worn by dancing girls. They were like the bells worn by kathak dancers in India, sets of small pellet bells attached to broad leather straps buckled around the ankles, and may well have entered Afghanistan with the dance troupes brought to the Kabul court in the nineteenth century. The sound of such bells immediately suggests ‘dance’, and as such could be interpreted as inherently ‘mischievous’ or ‘naughty’. The ankle-bells were a crucial factor in discriminating between the performance of a dancing boy and solo dance by a non-dancing boy at a wedding party. The bells require continuous stamping movements to keep them sounding. Non-professional solo dancers do not move the lower body in this way. In Herat I occasionally came across a musical instrument called duzangha, a pair of rattles, each with a wooden handle projecting into a wider cylinder of wood, to which are nailed a number of small pellet bells. They are shaken or the handles are stamped on the ground, intended to imitate the bells worn by dancing boys and girls.9 Dancing boy parties were held in secret because the activity was illegal. But sometimes a dancing boy would be brought to dance at a city wedding. I was present at one wedding party in Herat city where the Kabuli singer Amir Mohammad and his band of Herati musicians were playing. When the time came for lighter entertainment and dancing, Amir Mohammad was asked whether the band would play for a dancing boy who had been hired. Amir Mohammad refused. His patrons persisted. He insisted he was honarmand, an ‘artist’, and did not play for dancing boys, a morally reprehensible activity. Finally the dutar player said he would play and Amir Mohammad left the bandstand. The dutar played the salami, the opening greeting; the dancing boy entered the courtyard and danced for several minutes to the music of dutar and tabla. The dutar player stopped abruptly at a signal from Amir Mohammad, seated amongst the guests, whereupon a crowd gathered round as he angrily denounced the infamy of what was going on. The boy left and Amir Mohammad returned to the bandstand, still muttering, and resumed playing for the guests themselves to dance. In this way Amir Mohammad retained his good name and reputation. Dancing girls If dancing boys were morally reprehensible, dancing girls were apparently even worse, both in the popular imagination and in terms of the punishments

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meted out by the police or the judicial process if dancer and musicians were caught at a clandestine party, as happened occasionally. We have noted how, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Amir Habibullah banned the performances of dancing girls at court (except in the royal harem). But the paradox is that in the Herat Nanderi, the theatre in Herat run by the local office of the Ministry for Information and Culture, there were sometimes performances by dancing girls, equipped with ankle-bells. Some of these dancers were from Herat, others were from outside, brought under contract for a residency in the theatre. There were also in the vicinity of Herat groups of Chelu, white-tented nomads whose profession was prostitution. The men played the sarinda (a bowed lute), daira (frame drum) and tal (cymbals) to accompany the dancing of the women. It is quite possible that some of the dancing girls in the theatre were in fact local Chelu. During the jihad period (1978–92) dancing girls were singled out for attack by the mujahideen. For a long time in the 1980s it was rumoured that the highly talented Herati dancer Setareh, who often appeared in the theatre, had been killed for her dancing, but this later turned out to be incorrect, she had escaped to Canada. Najaf Ali Mazari, in his book The Rugseller of Mazare-Sharif, tells the story of the famed northern dancer Kandhi Hazara. In the time of the communist government (1978–92) she was free to dance, and she earned a lot of money from her art. But a local mujahideen commander decreed that she should be killed, and deputed one of his men to commit the deed. She received a warning, but rather than escape she told the gatekeeper to admit the would-be assassin. As the assassin entered the courtyard she began to dance and so beguiled was he by the beauty of her dancing that he was unable to bring himself to fire, and turned tail. The commander tried again some days later, with another of his trusted followers. Again Kandhi Hazara received a warning but still ordered the gate to be open when the assassin arrived. Once more she danced, and again the beauty of her dance disarmed the assassin. Eventually the commander decided he would have to kill her himself. Arriving at the house with several of his men, he ordered then to start shooting as soon as the gate was opened, before she could start dancing. In this way Kandhi Hazara was murdered (Mazari and Hillman 2008: 62–65).

Dance in the diaspora In recent years Afghan dance has been observed in what might best be termed the Western Afghan diaspora, in Fremont (California), London, Hamburg and Dublin. In the present chapter we shall concentrate on Fremont and London, where the most significant dance practices have been observed. Fremont, California10 The attan is danced at many Afghan gatherings in the diaspora, at wedding parties, concerts and cultural evenings. There seems to be no great difference


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from the way the attan was danced at urban weddings in Afghanistan in the 1970s. The dance is informal and unchoreographed, and each dancer performs it in his own way. At a shirinikhori (engagement party) in Fremont in 2000, with music provided by a singer/keyboardist and tabla player, I videoed the attan danced by a group of women.11 The footage shows the dance being led by several older women, probably members of the bridegroom’s family, followed by a number of young women, and finally a line of young girls who had yet to learn the intricacies of the dance. Their performance overall was sedate and uncomplicated, lacking the many pirouettes to left and right as practised by the men. This engagement party followed the usual sequence of events for such an occasion but I was very surprised by the dancing that took place once the bride and groom, attended by several bridesmaids, had slowly processed into the large hall and taken their places on the bridegroom’s ‘throne’ (a massive sofa), surrounded by close family members. In front of them was a large dance space. In this, a great number of women and men, young and old, danced together.12 The men wore dark suits, the women their best evening dresses, while the younger women wore what looked like long graduation gowns. Men and women danced together, but not holding each other, in small groups of two, three or four. The dancing was comparatively free in style, with lots of raised arm movements. A shirinikhori is considered to be primarily a women’s party, and as such it was perfectly in order for women to dance, but for women and men to dance together in this way was (for this observer) quite unexpected. A very different dance event took place at Pleasanton, an open-air showground some miles from Fremont, where the Afghans were celebrating Now Ruz (Afghan New Year) on the occasion of the spring equinox. There was live music, with both traditional instruments (rubab, tabla, harmonium) and keyboards, and the sound was heavily amplified. The event was attended by a large number of family groups sitting on the grass, some on chairs. Many young women were there, dressed very casually, many in jeans and T-shirts. Most striking were the many children dancing in front of the bandstand, most of the girls in brightly coloured traditional Afghan (Pashtun) dresses, pantaloons and head scarves, while the boys were in casual Western clothing. Girls outnumbered the boys. The children were dancing in a very free manner, and not just playing about to music. It was evident that some groups of girl friends had worked out dance routines together. At one point a mother brought a very young girl and placed her in the midst of the dancers. The child stood as though bewildered, then appeared to try out a few steps; she stamped her feet, walked a few steps forward, then a few steps back.13 The only adult dance was an attan performed by eight men, two of them wearing traditional dress, with turbans. They exhibited very different ways of doing the attan. The tempo of the dance increased but there was no progressive build-up in the number of circles.14 Their casual dress notwithstanding, mature girls and women did not dance at all. To do so would have been unseemly.

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London15 In 2006 I attended a number of events where dancing took place. One concert was given by Habib Qaderi, one of the big stars of the new Afghan music, who was over from California. The stage itself was, as is usual at such events, elaborately decorated, with coloured fabrics and strings of lights, powerful amplification and professional cameras at the front on moving tripods, to make a DVD of the concert. The audience was seated in long rows, men and women, with many young women. Most notable was the large number of young Afghan men on the dance floor, aged 18–25, between a 100 and 200 of them. They were dressed in street clothes, jeans, leather jackets, etc. and sported the particular configuration of facial hair favoured by Asian youth in the UK. There was no sign of national dress, though one dancer was draped in the Afghan flag. The dance floor was very crowded, with not enough room to accommodate all those who wanted to dance at one time. The young men seemed to be dancing mainly in couples or small groups, with frequent changes of partner. There were lots of waving hands in the air and much making of hand gestures. My research assistant told me that many of them had probably been drinking and warned me that fights on the dance floor were not uncommon. I videoed this dancing while the band played Logari dance tunes, very familiar to those from Afghanistan, with frequent short breaks.16 What I have just described could be termed an ‘open concert’, open to anybody with the price of a ticket in their pocket. It can be understood why such events are considered undesirable, even dangerous, by better-off Afghans, who want to take their children to enjoy displays of Afghan culture in a safe environment. So we encounter the innovation of the ‘family concert’, where to gain admittance you have to come with a family group, or be the guest of a family. This effectively cuts out what ‘respectable’ Afghans might consider to be the ‘riff-raff’. The set-up is more like a wedding party. There is an elaborately decorated stage, people are seated at round tables, ten to a table, where they eat their meal, which may well be included in the price of the ticket. Massed dancing in front of the stage does not occur in this setting. What we do find is solo or small group dancing of the type already described for wedding parties in Afghan cities. At a family concert I attended in London the music was provided by female singer Sima Tarana, over from Toronto, supported by Shahna from Hamburg, with London-based keyboard and tabla players. At one point two young Afghan men started dancing as Sima Tarana was singing. They wore jeans, sports shoes, and danced very much as a couple, interacting with each other though without body contact. The gestures were flirtatious, circling around each other, with clicking fingers and shimmying shoulders. Their foot movements revealed a left-right alternation, but these movements were not exaggerated, and not the stamping motions of the dancing boy.17 The last example from London is a performance of the attan at Goldsmiths, University of London, a free concert given as part of my research project and attended by a mixed audience of Afghans and non-Afghans, including the local


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Member of Parliament, Joan Ruddock. A group of young men turned up and did some dancing, ending with the attan.18

Dance in Afghanistan today Rather few data are available about dance in Afghanistan today, except in certain cases of conflict, as detailed later. In general, one might assume that old patterns have been restored. So in general one would expect ordinary weddings to have separate but adjacent gatherings for men and for women, with a certain amount of interaction between them, such as bringing the groom to the women’s majlis (gathering) in the later part of the ritual. Traditional wedding protocol has presumably been reinstated. The fashion for massed free dancing by groups of young men that takes place at big concerts of the super-stars in Western cities, like Fremont, London or Hamburg, seems to be emulated in Afghanistan. Footage of a concert given by Wahid Qassemi and his band in the Kabul stadium shows a sea of young men dancing together.19 It seems most unlikely that the mixed dancing that occurs at concerts and wedding parties in California could happen in Kabul, let alone in other Afghan cities such as Herat. The Afghan Star incident Sensitivities about dance were evident in the Afghan Star programmes organized by the independent Tolo TV company in Kabul. This is an Afghanowned enterprise, established in 2004 and run by members of the Mohseni family, which is settled in Australia. Tolo has many of the values of a Western commercial television company, depending upon advertising to generate revenue. Afghan Star is modelled on programmes like Pop Idol, and creates a great deal of interest. The third series was particularly popular, attracting an audience of millions from all over Afghanistan. It had all the fervour of an election campaign, with audiences voting via sms messages on their mobile telephones. A documentary film, also called Afghan Star, allows one to follow the action as the competition draws towards its conclusion. The four finalists, two of them women, came from different parts of the country and received massive support from their regional communities. One of the four finalists, a young woman, Setara Husseinzada from Herat, outraged some of the audience by moving in a slightly dance-like manner as she sang, and received wide condemnation and a number of death threats from people in Herat, who felt she had brought shame and dishonour upon them. A second film, Silencing The Song: An Afghan Fallen Star, has been made about the aftermath. Here we have echoes of the killing of women dancers detailed earlier. The resurgence of bacha bazi One of the most noteworthy aspects of dance in Afghanistan at the present time, and strikingly in contrast to the outrage provoked by Setara, is the

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resurgence of bacha bazi. During the Coalition era (1992–96) it seems that many warlords and other powerful men kept boys as catamites, reverting to a longestablished pattern. This was a practice that the Taliban were openly against when they came to power. It is reported that the Taliban movement was established by Mullah Mohammad Omar in the spring of 1994 after he heard about the abduction and repeated rape of two girls by the forces of a Kandahari warlord in their military camp. Mullah Omar gathered a number of men from a local mosque, freed the girls and executed the commander responsible. Several months later another incident occurred, this time an armed dispute between two commanders over a handsome boy. Mullah Omar and his followers freed the boy. This was the moment when the Taliban started to receive further requests to resolve local disputes (Rashid 2000: 25). Misdaq (2006: 175) and Griffin (2001: 35) give slightly different versions of the events but the point is clear, the Taliban were established as exemplars of moral fortitude, and being fiercely against bacha bazi must have been part of their policy. Not only did it involve child sexual abuse but it also involved music, something that was itself prohibited and outlawed (Baily 2001: 34–43).20 In the post-Taliban era it appears that bacha bazi is rife, especially in those northern regions of Afghanistan that were noted for it in the past by commentators such as Jarring and Slobin. Several UK-based journalists have exposed an epidemic of the sexual exploitation of teenage boys. In an article entitled ‘Slaves to the rhythm’ (Guardian Weekend, 12 September 2009), Gaith Abdul-Ahad wrote, ‘in modern Afghanistan the practice has evolved into a lucrative and expanding business. In a country ravaged by war, orphaned boys are being openly targeted by paedophiles. Some families are so poor that they are willing to sell their sons into slavery. Official reports now suggest thousands of children are at risk.’21 Documentary filmmakers Jamie Doran and Najibullah Quraishi made the disturbing film The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan for Channel 4 in the UK (screened in 2010). The boys are represented as sex slaves, orphans or from vulnerable families, who are kept as catamites by their rich and powerful patrons. The overall message is strongly ‘anti-paedophilia.’22 The ‘aesthetics’ of bacha bazi tend to be ignored by these journalists, who roundly condemn this as rampant child sex abuse, although one of Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s dancing boy informants made the point about his own dancing, ‘I love it. No one forced me to do it – I love it … People accuse us of being homosexuals and transsexuals, but we are not … We are not trying to be women, we are just dancers. Some men like my dancing and give me tips, but other men like to do other things with me. I have to be careful – they can be dangerous.’ The Western journalists note that abuse of minors is against the law in Afghanistan and complain that the authorities take very little interest in prosecuting anybody. It is also noted that the CD and DVD outlets in Kabul, and no doubt other towns and cities, have lots of dancing boy recordings on offer, and that DVDs of bacha bazi are shown in tea houses. There is also lots of bacha bazi on YouTube (see, for example, Maruf Jan Logare). This epidemic of child


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abuse is related to other severe social problems in modern Afghanistan, such as the thousands of orphans and street children, widespread heroin addiction, and the general brutalization of society after so many years of war. With the resurgence of bacha bazi in Afghanistan itself, the question arises of whether this kind of dance performance is also happening amongst diasporic Afghan communities in the West. There seem to be no reports of bacha bazi in North America, Europe or Australia. Discussion of the subject with Afghans in exile usually provokes embarrassment and denial. Research in Fremont in 2000 showed some of the ways in which Afghans had found it hard to adapt to life in the USA, where all sorts of rules and regulations confronted them, many concerning the welfare of children, such as leaving minors unattended at home, the administration of corporal punishment, and smoking in a house where there are young children. Newly arrived families sometimes lived in fear of transgressing unheard-of and unimagined US laws, enforced by officious social service agencies (Baily 2005: 223). There are no data but it is easy to see that an awareness of strict laws about the sexual abuse of minors is part of the package, and this would apply also to Canada, Europe and Australia. Bacha bazi might be part of one’s culture but it is not something to bring into exile, not something to boast about, not something to uphold as part of a cultural heritage.

Conclusions This chapter has been concerned with changes in the role and place of dance in Afghan society since the 1970s. When we look at dance as it was in the city of Herat and surrounding villages 30 years ago, and at dance as it is performed today in the diaspora, we see that the rural repertory – the four kinds of attan, the four kinds of chub bazi – has largely disappeared. There has been a diminution of repertoire. On the other hand, there has been a great expansion in social dancing, at wedding celebrations and concerts amongst diasporic Afghans. The institutions of the ankle-bell toting dancing boy and dancing girl have vanished in the diaspora, while in Afghanistan itself there has been an ‘explosion’ of dancing boy practices that can be understood as an aspect of the general lawlessness prevailing at the present time. Interactions with host culture Some of the changes noted can be interpreted in terms of the interactions between Afghan culture and Western culture. The values and practices of the Western ‘host’ culture encourage some tendencies and discourage others, effectively filtering them out or at least marginalizing them. In Western society, dancing is, generally speaking, regarded as a perfectly normal activity, a normal part of social life, though one can certainly find many examples of puritanical condemnation of dance. Men and women dancing together is an accepted part of many kinds of social occasions, and we are familiar with the institutions of the dance and the ball, where dancing itself is the

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main activity. Dance is part of the curriculum in many schools; ours is a dancing society. It seems that Afghans exiled in the West have adopted some of these relaxed views about dance, have discovered the pleasures of social dancing and found a new freedom in expressing themselves through highly skilled aesthetically pleasing movement. Perhaps, indeed, they could be said to have ‘discovered their bodies’. This new freedom of expression applies not only to men and women dancing together, but also to the massed dancing by young men at concerts. At the same time, Afghans in exile in the West have adopted the very negative views of child sexual abuse that now prevail, and it is this which explains why and how bacha bazi has not been transferred to the sexually permissive life in the West. Matters of identity The much overworked analytical notion of identity has some application here. It is commonplace these days to understand dance as a way of performing one’s cultural identity, a way of creating a direct personal experience of identity and exhibiting that identity to others. The children dancing in California at the New Year party can be interpreted in these terms. Clearly, they are having a good time dancing to the live music in a very conspicuous manner, little girls in national dress, little boys in American attire. In that sense they are treating dance as a children’s game, just as it was in the domestic situation in Afghanistan (Doubleday 1982). Their parents, looking on, can take some pride in the fact that although now in California, these children are learning about Afghan expressive culture. And for the children themselves, they are learning to experience and perform their ‘Afghanness’. In that sense they are acquiring their Afghan identity, or perhaps more precisely, the Afghan component of their new Afghan–American identity (see Baily 2005: 230). The massed dancing of young Afghans in London is especially interesting. What is happening when 200 young Afghan men are dancing en masse in front of a stage from which very loud dance music is played? Several possible answers to this question may be suggested. For example, many of these young men live in very difficult circumstances, they are asylum seekers, and some are young unaccompanied minors. They are cut off from their families, surviving through taking on menial jobs, living in poverty. One could argue that the open concert is a rare moment when young male Afghans living in these circumstances can experience and perform their Afghan culture anew. On the other hand, this dancing could be interpreted as a challenge to the traditional rules that regulate ‘good behaviour’ in Afghan society, through excessive and uncontrolled dancing and ‘bad behaviour’ on the dance floor. The two explanations are not necessarily incompatible. Massed dancing is perhaps just another way of expressing another important aspect of Afghan identity: Afghans as non-conformists, as people who ‘break the rules’. It is surely important that young Afghan men living in exile should be able to express themselves in this way. Wah wah! Meida meida! Let them dance!


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Glossary of instruments Dholak A large double-headed barrel drum, struck with hands or sticks, or a combination of both. Dhol Double-headed frame drum beaten with a heavy stick on the upper head and a thin flexible stick on the lower one. Duzanga A pair of rattles, each with a wooden handle projecting into a wider cylinder of wood, to which are nailed a quantity of small bells. They are shaken or the handles are stamped on the ground. Intended to imitate the bells (zang) worn by dancing boys (or girls). Dutar A long-necked plucked lute. The type of dutar alluded to in this chapter has a number of added sympathetic strings. Harmonium A small portable ‘Indian’ harmonium, a free-reed aerophone, with bellows pumped by one hand, the keyboard fingered with the other. Rubab Short-necked, double-chambered plucked lute, with sympathetic strings. Considered to be the national instrument of Afghanistan. Sarangi Bowed lute with skin belly and many sympathetic strings, fretless, usually used to accompany vocal music or dancing in Pakistan and India. Sarinda Double-chambered bowed lute, strongly associated with Pashtun music. Sorna Double-reed aerophone of the oboe family. Played with the dhol. Tabla Pair of small kettle drums, played with the hands. Very common in Pakistan and India. Tal Pair of small metal cymbals.

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Zang Set of ankle-bells worn by a dancing boy or dancing girl. Zirbaghali Single-headed goblet drum, usually made of pottery. Widespread throughout Afghanistan.

Notes 1 The research on which this chapter is based was largely undertaken in Afghanistan in the 1970s with Social Science Research Council (SSRC) post-doctoral funding, and then in a series of fieldtrips to Pakistan, Iran, USA, Europe and Afghanistan, with British Academy, Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Leverhulme funding. Dance was never the main focus of my research, but the importance of the dance element in musical performance was often apparent. Some of the dancing described here can be seen in several of my ethnographic films, and these are referenced in the text. The films are The Annual Cycle of Music in Herat (1982), Tablas and Drum Machines: Afghan Music in California (2005) and Scenes of Afghan Music. London, Kabul, Hamburg, Dublin (2007). 2 I place the word music in inverted commas here because some types of sonic art, such as singing without musical instruments, is not considered to be music within the local definitions of what is and what is not music. 3 Maulana Rizvi is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council/ Economic and Social Research Council (AHRC/ESRC) Society and Religion Programme on Performance, Politics, Piety: Music as Debate in the Muslim Societies of North Africa, South Asia, West Asia team. He lives in Leeds, is an expert on Sufism, and embraces the tolerant attitudes of the Sufis. 4 Examples of attan and chub bazi can be found in The Annual Cycle of Music in Herat, 24–20, 32–06 and 33–50. 5 In contrast, in parts of Yemen, the mizmar (also a shawm) is sometimes known as ‘the cock of Paradise’ (Adra 1998: 402). 6 (accessed 10 July 2013). 7 A well-known Pashto verse goes: Across the river is a boy With a bottom like a peach Alas, I cannot swim 8 The name of Ustad Durai Logari is particularly associated with the composition of dance tunes. 9 The instrument can be seen in the dutar band playing at a spring country fair in The Annual Cycle of Music in Herat, 15–10 minutes from the start of the film. The singer in this sequence was well known as a former dancing boy. He had recently given up this role and was now making his name as a singer and dutar player. Many ex-dancing boys become musicians, which is not surprising given that they receive a great deal of exposure to music as boys. 10 Research on Afghan music and dance in Fremont was conducted in 2000. 11 This sequence starts at 23–57 on Tablas and Drum Machines. 12 This sequence starts at 22–35 on Tablas and Drum Machines. 13 This sequence starts at 42–54 on Tablas and Drum Machines. 14 This sequence starts at 40–12 on Tablas and Drum Machines. 15 Research in London was conducted in 2006. 16 This sequence starts at 9–22 on Scenes of Afghan Music.


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17 18 19 20

This sequence starts at 7–16 on Scenes of Afghan Music. This sequence starts at 1–29-51 on Scenes of Afghan Music. This sequence starts at 9–19 on Scenes of Afghan Music. The book (and film) The Kite Runner tells a different story about the Taliban (Hosseini 2003: 244–45), but the book is a work of fiction and makes the most of improbable circumstances. 21 (accessed 10 July 2013). 22 It may be that paedophilia is not the appropriate term here, though it does carry a strong emotional message to the readership/audience. ‘Pedophilia (or paedophilia) is a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents (persons aged 16 and older) characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children’, (accessed 10 July 2013). Dancing boys are pubescent, aged from about 12 to 18, and an interest in them is better labeled as pederasty.

References Adra, N. (1998), ‘Middle East’, in Selma Jeanne Cohen (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Dance, vol. 4, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 402–13. Baghban, H. (1977), ‘The Context and Concept of Humor in Magadi Theatre’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, IN: University of Indiana. Baily, J.B. (1988), Music of Afghanistan: Professional Musicians in the City of Herat, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ——(2001), Can you Stop the Birds Singing? The Censorship of Music in Afghanistan, Copenhagen: Freemuse. ——(2005), ‘So Near, So Far: Kabul’s Music in Exile’, Ethnomusicology Forum, 14(2): 213–33. Doubleday, V. (1982), ‘Women and Music in Herat’, Afghanistan Journal, 9(1): 3–12. ——(2006), ‘The Frame Drum in the Middle East: Women, Musical Instruments and Power’, in J. Post (ed.), Ethnomusicology: A Contemporary Reader, New York and London: Routledge, 109–33. Doubleday, V. and J. Baily (1995), ‘Patterns of Musical Development among Children in Afghanistan’, in E. Warnock Fernea (ed.), Children in the Muslim Middle East Today, Austin, TX: Texas University Press, 431–46. Farmer, H.G. (1929), A History of Arabian Music, Reprinted 1973, London: Luzac and Co. Floor, W. (2008), A Social History of Sexual Relations in Iran, Washington, DC: Mage Books. Griffin, M. (2001), Reaping the Whirlwind. The Taliban Movement in Afghanistan, London: Pluto Press. Hosseini, K. (2003), The Kite Runner, London: Bloomsbury. Jarring, G. (1939), ‘An Uzbek’s View of His Native Town and its Circumstances’, Ethnos, 4(1): 73–80. Mazari, N. and R. Hillman (2008), The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif, Elsternwick, Vic.: Insight Publications. Misdaq, N. (2006), Afghanistan. Political Frailty and External Interference, London: Routledge. Rashid, A. (2000), Taliban. Islam, Oil and the New Great Game in Central Asia, London: I.B. Tauris.

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Robson, J. (1938), Tracts on Listening to Music, London: The Royal Asiatic Society. Sarmast, A.N. (2004), ‘A Survey of the History of Music in Afghanistan, from Ancient Times to 2000 A.D., with Special Reference to Art Music from c.1000 A.D.’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Monash University, Melbourne. Slobin, M. (1976), Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan, Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology, 54, Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.


The manifest and the hidden Agency and loss in Muslim performance traditions of South and West Asia Richard K. Wolf

This article focuses on how ritual drummers and other coparticipants in Muharram relate the meaning of drumming to themselves, to others and to aspects of Islam in the wake of the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947.1 These participants are concerned with the ‘connotations’ (in Barthes’s sense [1967: 89]) of music, both socioculturally and theologically.2 Connotational meanings arise not only from differences in perspective, but also from differing motivations of participants to present their actions as meaningful in one or another context. Some actors perpetuate performances whose meanings are accessible at one level and veiled at another; others strategically resist commonplace forms of meaning; and some aspects of meaning are not so much hidden as lost, owing to social changes that have impeded the transmission of knowledge. The following analysis of case studies from Delhi, Karachi and Hyderabad (Pakistan) is, in part, an attempt to reveal the broader political context in which actors negotiate what should be manifest, visible or external (z.āhir) and what is, or could be, concealed, invisible, or internal (bā Entering into this world requires careful consideration of the statements of performers, the contexts in which particular utterances are made, and representative details of the local ‘musical’ systems. The structure and naming of the repertoires, and what performers say about their repertoires – whether elaborating or suppressing semiotic possibilities – support larger claims about how their social groups gain prominence in complex urban settings. The ritual context is the annual observance of Muharram, a commemoration of the battle of Karbala in 680 CE in which the grandson of the Prophet, Muhammad, and his small party, were slain by the henchman of the Umayyad Caliph Yazid. The emotionally powerful narratives and visually and aurally elaborate rituals associated with Muharram draw spectators and participants from many communities in South Asia. Drumming figures prominently in some of these rituals through its commonplace battle associations. It is frequently controversial, however, because it could signal the triumph of the enemy, excite celebratory emotions associated with weddings, or implicate other interpretations that run counter to the values of a participating group (see Wolf 2000).

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The ethnography and arguments are presented in three parts. Part I opens with a descriptive account of my attempt to track down, in Delhi, drumming texts I had been told about in Karachi ten years before; this case study links followers of Nizamuddin Auliya in India and Pakistan and serves as an important reference for the Hyderabadi case studies in Parts II and III. The case of hidden texts precipitates a discussion of the ‘manifest’ and ‘hidden’ as named categories in the Muslim world and, more broadly, as phenomenal categories of human experience. Following this, a brief historical note situates the ethnography that is to follow in Hyderabad, Sindh. Then two attitudes, termed ‘integrative’ and ‘disjunctive’, are introduced with regard to the ensuing discussion of the drumming interpretation. Part II comprises two Sindhi case studies: one centring around views of a caretaker of a shrine (per.h) and one involving the views of Manganhār musicians who play at such shrines. Part III, somewhat longer, considers three case studies of Urdu-speaking muhājirs who migrated to Sindh from India. The concluding paragraphs draw on aspects of Peircian semiotics to distinguish ‘integrative’ from ‘disjunctive’ attitudes and to relate these attitudes to manifesting and hiding – both as general concepts and as ones contextually grounded in the drumming traditions of Hyderabad.

Part I: the manifest and the hidden Nizami drummed texts At night, on the 9th of Muharram, 2009 (27 December), I stood waiting in an Imāmbār.ah shrine as adults decorated a Mughal-period ta‘ziyah with flowers, jewels and other ritual items. The ta‘ziyah, a float representing the mausoleum of Imam Husain, was to be carried in a procession through the narrow lanes of Nizamuddin Basti by descendants and followers of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya (d. 1325) who make their home in that New Delhi neighbourhood. I hoped one of those descendants, Ghulam Hasnain Nizami, could shed light on questions that had been bothering me for about a decade: did anyone know the texts associated with the Nizami drumming patterns played for Muharram, and, if so, how did those texts actually function? Problems of knowledge regarding these texts were exacerbated by the migration to Pakistan of many members of the Nizami family during the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Sarir Ahmed Nizami, one of these migrants, had presented me with fragments of a few poems in 1997, but could not explain technically how they related to their corresponding drum patterns. The words, he said, ‘come out’ of the drums (d.hol tāshe se jo āvāz nikalegı-), provided, of course, one was already familiar with the texts. As S. A. Nizami put it, ‘if you say [the words] in your heart, the d.hol says that’. One needs to recite the words internally to make the text-drum-pattern relationships felt. For many of those present, however, the affective bond with one pattern, dhı-mā, did not depend on detailed knowledge of the poetry – or at least not on


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declarative knowledge; rather it depended on their sense of the drum rhythm as poetic and on their knowing the poetry’s subject: the battle of Karbala. In 1998 and 1999 I tried to pursue the details of this tradition in Delhi; but the lead drummers, Hindu professional musicians, knew of the texts only vaguely. Yet they played the very same drums rhythms far better than their Karachi counterparts, who were non-professionals and performed only during Muharram. Clearly, knowledge of the texts was not necessary in order to produce an effective auditory result – or, put another way, possessing inner knowledge of this kind was not a prerequisite to generating aesthetically satisfying and ritually effective outer appearances. Over the decade prior to my return to the Nizamuddin shrine complex in 2009 I had grown suspicious of some of the relationships between text and drum patterns suggested by the Nizamis in Karachi. Perhaps their insistence on the textual basis of some drumming patterns was a fiction aimed at legitimizing the practice as ‘textual’ rather than ‘musical’. Since I had pressed them for specifics, they felt obliged to provide me texts; but were all of these actually connected with the drumming? I approached Ghulam Hasnain Nizami, whose family who had been in charge of the processional drumming tradition for generations, with cautious enthusiasm. Amid the commotion, he recited the single stanza he remembered. It was associated with the dhı-mā pattern and, much to my surprise and delight, was exactly the same as S. A. Nizami had recited in Karachi.3 The Nizamis in Karachi are linked with their Delhi counterparts, and with the Chishti order to which Nizamuddin Auliya belonged, in many publicly accessible respects. The poetry of the drums is not one of those respects; rather, this inner knowledge separates close participants from the throngs who involve themselves in the public spectacle. Although details of the hidden information are not well-conveyed even to insiders, participants describe their experience of the drumming tradition as being guided by an awareness that this hiddenness exists: the hiddenness is apparent. Participants know that the external, public side of Nizami Muharram rituals – loud drumming – encodes an intimate, poetic narrative, whose texts were composed long ago by the poet Fas.-ıh. (b. 1780) and others.4

*** My focus in the remainder of this chapter is the situation of native and immigrant drummers/musicians in Hyderabad, Sindh, a city less cosmopolitan than Karachi and about 90 miles away. In Hyderabad, local Sindhis vie with a significant internal diaspora of muhājirs (Muslims of Indian origin), all of whom compete for resources and recognition in the public sphere. ‘Music’ and other activities during Muharram tend here, as elsewhere in urban South Asia, to be controversial. Views on music in this context convey significant aspects of a person’s sense of relatedness to others and to one’s historical home. But these attitudes towards ‘music’ are

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not straightforward: performers equivocate or disagree over the significance of what is being played – its aesthetic status, its status in relation to Islam, and its consonance with a modern, South Asian Muslim subjectivity. The fact that drumming and music in Islamic contexts may be, on the one hand, dismissed as mere show or attraction, and on the other, imbued with meanings accessible only to those who dig beneath the surface, raises the familiar distinction in Arabic between z.āhir (visible) and bā (hidden). The terms are used in many languages spoken by Muslims – including Urdu, Sindhi and Persian in the present study – to describe a range of phenomena, mundane and mystical, in a vast array of contexts, historically and in contemporary Islam. However, it would be a mistake to think of z.āhir and bā as limitlessly variable in application – at least for the analysis of culture and religion. Of more significance is what the motivations might be for using related concepts in particular contexts, regardless of what names are used for those concepts. Also significant are visibility and hiddenness (and related semiotic sets) as phenomenal categories in the world; their metaphorical potentials have been explored in many cultures.5 By linking the Islamically coded categories of z.āhir and bā, and their correlates in local action, to broader phenomenological considerations of manifesting and hiding, I hope to bring this local study of music in an Islamic context into a larger consideration of social action. The implications of philosophical, ethnographic, literary and other works thematizing hiddenness and concealment are far-reaching. A few themes are particularly relevant. One is the idea that hiddenness is a phenomenal given in our world: our perception of objects in space presupposes an understanding of what we can see in our field of vision and what we cannot; the far side of an object, for instance, is hidden to us from one vantage point. But we are aware of its presence from prior experiences of probing the three dimensionality of other objects using our physical senses. Hiddenness is in this sense given; and yet we must nevertheless actively engage with our surroundings to constitute the outer as outer and the inner as inner, to understand the visible in relation to the invisible: we must turn objects around to see their dimensions; our eyes are in constant motion, and need to be, in order for them to retain ‘receptive power’. More generally, Alva Noë argues, ‘the perceiver’s ability to perceive is constituted (in part) by sensorimotor knowledge (i.e., by practical grasp of the way sensory stimulation varies as the perceiver moves)’ (Noë 2004: 12–17 and passim). Perception of sound as organized sensory data also requires active engagement. The sound of drums during Muharram, according to some, invites questions (what do the sounds mean? what lies behind the surface?) and has the capacity to draw followers. It is perfectly possible to hear the drums and not reflect on them, or to refuse to reflect on them, or to deny significance beyond what is apparent. Most of these possibilities involve an act of will and often constitute significant statements about the relationship of an individual with one or more constituencies.


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Hiddenness is not merely a by-product of human perception of the physical world. As James Mensch writes, concealment – i.e active hiding – comes about through intersubjective engagement, where each person ‘exceeds’ the possibilities afforded them by their training, their interactions with others, their history; and yet it is never possible to ‘exhibit all that we are capable of ’. This ‘results in the necessary concealment of each self to its others’. But at times this concealment is denied, or concealed, as in the case of stereotyping, ‘the reduction of the other to an object having no hiddenness’ (2005: 10). An Urdu-speaking group of drummers denies the interpretations of native Sindhi performers regarding their musical performances, saying that Sindhis don’t know the difference between Shı-‘ı- and Sunni approaches to Islam, they merely wish to ‘show their majority’. A third theme, which puts forth other agentive aspects of the manifest and the hidden, is the idea that that which is concealed, veiled, or masked, carries the potential for agency. Several writers have argued, for instance, that the veil is not always a sign of oppression but can also serve as a means of empowerment and resistance (Grace 2004: 128ff; El Guindi 1999: 159ff). The ritual mask has a similarly double identity: Gerard Aching shows how certain forms of carnival masking ‘call attention to rather than hide their practitioners’ (2002: 2); ‘masking practices negotiate degrees of recognition, misrecognition, and nonrecognition between masked subjects and viewing subjects’ (2002: 4–5). And Ronald Grimes identifies concealment in ritual as one of four ‘moments in the masking process’, in which ‘otherness is generated and used by the masker … [who] may stand outside roles and use them to control those who observe. Masking … is a deception for socially desired ends’ (1995: 83). Hiding and related acts may function, then, in terms of presence rather than absence. Another example foregrounding the power of absence relates to Twelver Shı-‘ı-sm. The belief in a hidden Imam is linked to his future potency: this Imam will eventually return to the world and guide humanity. Members of the ta’jilı- sect of Shı-‘ı- Muslims – including the President of Iran (at the time of this writing), Mahmud Ahmedinejad – seek to ‘hasten’ the arrival of the hidden Imam by their actions on earth. Concealing and manifesting, then, may be both religiously coded and politically activated processes. The mystical z.āhir–bā relationships and the contemporary political versions of presenting and hiding are related inasmuch as they presume a kind of oppositional relationship between those who are denied knowledge and those who have it, those who don’t belong to a social group and those who do, those who remain distant and those who maintain intimacy. In all these cases, the differences between these groups are not prediscursive or essential, but are forged through such activities as music-making, debate, and discourse surrounding so-called traditional activities. Moreover, these differences also imply a set of actors who maintain an awareness of the distinction, perhaps because they control who receives what information, or because they themselves (like those on the Sufi path) seek knowledge presented to them as hidden.

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These kinds of social tensions, while existing in all societies, become particularly trenchant in situations of social upheaval and when controversial ideas take hold that are seen as ‘foreign’ by those who would prefer to maintain the status quo. That is to say, in Islamic contexts, when translocal Islamic trends are at odds with localism; and in the Pakistani context, when Indian migrants become a sizeable population and subdivide among themselves by region of origin and religious affiliation. Among the aims of the workshops leading to this publication have been to examine the role of music and other performance forms in the emergence of Muslim collective identities in different locations and in situations of diaspora; to understand the potential of music both to ‘unleash’ debate and dissent, and to be subsumed within a framework of sanctioned activities such as recitation. Examining the place of ‘music’ during Muharram in Hyderabad addresses these aims in several respects. Sindh Studying large-scale urban events such as Muharram is particularly interesting in Sindh because of the population mix. After Partition, many Indian Muslims fled to the city of Karachi, which had been chosen as the capital, in part, because of its location on the coast. Before Partition, Karachi’s population was about 200,000; as the population swelled, it became a cosmopolitan, rather than markedly Sindhi, centre of the new nation. Muhājirs banded together to form the muhājir Qaumi Mahaz, or MQM, in 1984 under the leadership of Altaf Husain. Early on the MQM supported the Pakistan People’s Party led by Benazir Bhutto; initially the MQM was able to create a link between the muhājirs and indigenous Sindhis, who together opposed those Pathans and Panjabis who had migrated to Sindh in the 1960s (groups who had migrated in much earlier times became incorporated into the ‘Sindhi’ population). In time, the relationship between muhājirs and the PPP broke down; so too did the alliance between Sindhis and muhājirs; as of this writing the four groups remain largely distinct, and violence along ethnic lines continues (see Burki s.v. Sindh, 2006; Bose and Jalal 2004: 196). The different perspectives regarding Muharram and music adopted by the muhājir and Sindhi groups with whom I worked in 1997 need to be understood in this contemporary political climate; they are not necessarily longstanding views maintained from one generation to the next. Hyderabad, another important destination for Indian immigrants, had deeper historical roots than Karachi. Ghulam Shah, one of the Kalhoras who ruled Sindh in the eighteenth century, began to construct a fort for what he envisioned as the future city of Hyderabad in 1768 (Memon 1994: 4). Succesive governments held the Hyderabad fort as a stronghold until the British took over in the mid-nineteenth century. According to Lala Gul Sanubar Pathan, the head of a Sunni per.h (imāmbār.a) in Hyderabad, the practice of performing the kettle drum naqāra and the double-reed gazı- dates back to the Kalhora period; the connection of these instruments with Sindh before the arrival of


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muhājirs grounds a Sindhi perspective on musical otherness: those who play the d.hol (cylindrical drum) and tāshā (shallow kettle drum) are not Sindhi.6 Some Sindhis also draw upon an oral tradition that establishes a pre-Islamic, Sindhi identity for the hereditary Manganhār musician community (qaum). Some Manganhārs trace their ancestry to the Samma people, who are said to have welcomed Muhammad bin Qasim when his army defeated Sindh in 711 (the Samma dynasty actually ruled Sindh in 1351).7 Manganhārs in Hyderabad appear, in some contexts at least, to self-identify first as Sindhis and then as Muslims. While this may be a by-product of the fraught interactions between Sindhis and immigrants, it may help explain the relative flexibility of their religious identity. Wherever I went, I heard it repeated that among Sindhis, Sunni and Shı-‘ı- customs are thoroughly mixed; moreover, Manganhārs themselves are composed of both Shı-‘ahs and Sunnis. While different communities join together to a limited extent in other parts of South Asia for the observance of Muharram, by and large they represent themselves as distinct with respect to a few key practices: Sunnis and Hindus, among Urdu and Panjabi speakers, make up most of the ranks of drummers – although Shı-‘ahs do still drum for Muharram in a few locales (see Wolf 2001). Shı-‘ahs are generally the ones to weep openly and do mātam (lit. mourning), a form of self-mortification ranging from mild striking of the chest to severe actions that draw blood or cause burns. In the following case studies of Sindhi and Urdu speakers I will focus on how performers (and in one case a shrine caretaker) view themselves, their art, and the set of practices within which they see their art (e.g. Islam, Shı-‘ı-sm, family tradition, etc.). I will argue that their explanatory frameworks and their other uses of language in relation to ‘music’ support, in different ways at different moments, two opposing positions: one, which I will call ‘integrative’, seeks to include music in a neat bundle with a number of other cultural practices that, together, make cultural sense in relation to Muharram and Islam. The other, which I will call ‘disjunctive’, resists frameworks involving representations of religion. I’m aware that disjunctive does not describe a particular position with any precision: the term is meant to highlight how some speakers stress a world of relatedness more than others. At one extreme, speakers deny any connection at all between drumming and Islam, despite the copresence of their own drumming and an Islamic commemoration. Although these seem like mutually exclusive alternatives, the case studies show ways in which these different positions combine; music may be connected to one aspect of Islamic practice in one moment of a conversation and not in another (see Ewing 1997). Moreover, the disjunctive positions are interesting in that they imply a denial of a bā dimension to Muharram drumming; understanding music as possessing inner meaning related to Islam or Muharram would be, by my definition, integrative. And yet it is through denial of meaning in their drumming (in this case) that some of these groups articulate what they view as being modern Muslims. The terms z.āhir and bā fit with ways in which Muslims from many traditions talk about music.

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But, as mentioned earlier, the manifest and hidden are also descriptive, logical categories, not comprehended exclusively by Islam. The more general usage aids us in thinking more broadly about how positioning oneself in relation to music constitutes a form of jockeying for power in a forum of competing ethnic and religious groups.

Part II: Sindhi cases Case I: Lala Gul Sanubar Pathān, head of Per.h Muh.ammad One of the jobs of Lala Gul Sanubar Pathan, the Sindhi caretaker of the Per.h Muh.ammad shrine, was to preside over rituals connected with Muharram.8 His family had been in charge of that shrine since its inception during the Kalhor.a period, in the eighteenth century. Every year Pathan would invite a particular group of 12 Manganhārs to perform at the shrine; he paid them 2,000–3,000 rupees out of his own pocket to play for as long as was necessary – about 11 hours. For the most part, Pathan presented the ritual activities taking place at his shrine as unmarked, Muslim activities whose precedence lay in pious activities of great people in the past. He rehearsed widely told, unverified stories of origin: Zainab initiated the institution of the majlis-e-‘aza (mourning assembly) to mourn the loss of her brother Husain; the Turkic Mongol ruler Timur, strongly attached to the Prophet’s family, introduced the practice of involving ta‘ziyahs in Muharram ceremonies. Though Sunni himself, Pathan emphasized that the practices of Sindhi Shı-‘ahs and Sunnis are identical. The range of activities associated with the shrine supported that assertion because it included not only the performance of naqāra, d.hol, and gazı-, the chanting of nauhah, and the carrying of ta‘ziyahs and other items that physically remind the participants of the events at Karbala, but also mātam, both on the head (with the hands) and on the body with knives and chains (zanjı-r kā mātam). Nevertheless, the fact that per.hs are identified as Shı-‘ı- or Sunni suggests that the two groups also identify themselves separately. The participation of Sunnis in mātam is unusual – indeed, to to some, unthinkable – in the South Asian context. Pathan, alert to the issue, justified some of the practices without prompting. Mātam by walking over hot coals, for example, he explained, was performed so that participants might feel the pain that Husain’s sister, Zainab, felt when she had to step through fire to find her children after the battle. This ‘integrative’ explanatory framework is what one might expect from a Shı-‘ah, a view justified in the received wisdom about the battle of Karbala. A ‘disjunctive’ view might have been an apologetic one, claiming ignorance on the part of practitioners, or a criticism that the participants were engaging in a form of local culture that did not have its roots in Islam. Since Pathan denied any difference between Shı-‘ı- and Sunni Sindhis, he expressed no reservations about zanjı-r kā mātam or any other kind of mātam


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at his shrine – except for mātam that involved swords and sword play; he opposed this because of its association with Urdu speakers and not on moral or religious grounds.9 Language and naming strategies The important of language use in defining the meaning and appropriateness for actions associated with Muharram is not limited to the identities of language speakers. The status of Muharram performances as ‘music’ or ‘musical’ itself often turns on delicate treatment of terminology in local languages. The Arabic term mūsiqı-, of Greek derivation, is usually used in Indo–Muslim contexts to refer to instrumental music, especially in association with entertainment and not religious ritual. South Asian Muslims would probably associate the Urdu (or Sindhi, Panjabi, etc.) word mūsiqı- with its roots in Arabic (not Greek), and along with it the Islamic discourses surrounding the term. As such, for some, the word mūsiqı- was more problematic when applied to religious genres than the English word, music. Pathan and some of my other consultants would term groups who played drums and double-reed instruments such as the sharnāı- (the Sindhi term for shahnāı-) ‘music parties’. They also occasionally let the English word ‘music’ slip out in other similar contexts. In a more focused context, Pathan explained that the same group that performs mūsiqı- for weddings and other functions on drums and reeds is not playing mūsiqı- when they perform on these kinds of instruments for Muharram. The differences, besides the context, involve specific items of repertoire as well as instrument subtypes: the gazı-, a smaller double reed than the sharnāı-, is used only for Muharram. The use of certain instruments exclusively for Muharram is common to many parts of South Asia and helps distinguish Muharram performances from ordinary musical ones. And yet, when Pathan referred to the popular, tuneful reciters of Sindhi, Seraikki and Persian poetry on Karbala, such as Nadeem Sarvar and Hasan Sadiq, he encouraged us to go to any ‘music centre’, where audio cassettes of these star reciters and video cassettes showing bloody mātam were freely available. While Pathan and others refrained from using the word mūsiqı- for performances associated with Muharram, they seemed to treat the English word ‘music’ as more neutral and appropriate for encompassing categories – the music group and the music store, both of which include Muharram-related, non-mūsiqı-, sound production. If that which Sindhi ‘music parties’ perform for Muharram is not mūsiqı-, what is it? Pathan used the word, which is, from his distal perspective, metonymic for the whole Muharram repertoire. More technically, is the name of two drumming patterns, one with ten mātras (counts) and one with four. Example V-1 on the webpage for this chapter includes a portion in the ten count performed in the context of Muharram rituals at a Pathan’s per.h. Pathan explained that was sad, g̱ ẖam, which is appropriate for Muharram. [‘d.hol me kehlātı- hai. jo g̱ ẖam kı- bajā’ı- jātı- hai.’].

The manifest and the hidden


The use of a single name for two or more patterns is common in South Asian drumming traditions. It is also common in cases where the patterns are connected with Muharram, for the pattern name (or analogously, melody name) to be metonymic for the whole Muharram repertoire. Some other examples are, māru (‘striking’ or ‘warlike’), the name for the two Muharram drumming patterns in Multan, and mātam (‘mourning’), a name for one or more patterns in many parts of Pakistan and India, as well as the physical act of striking the body and performing other forms of self-mortification. On the gazı-, also exemplified in V-1, players perform marshyo, the Sindhi version of the elegiac poetry, mars̱ iya; this poetry is analogous to the drummed texts described in the Nizami case. Just as some Muharram participants claim their drum patterns encode texts, while themselves remaining unable to recite those texts, so too is it common in South Asia for those who play melodies on wind instruments for Muharram to claim they are playing the tunes of elegiac poetry, even though they cannot recall the text. Some examples provided by Manganhār musicians will be presented later. What is a little bit unusual in the broader South Asian context is Pathan’s stance that Muharram performance is strictly sad. Non-Sindhi Sunnis tend to soft-pedal the sadness of Muharram and focus on themes such as the triumph of virtue and true Islam. This is not universally the case, but even in Delhi in 2009, where one of the Nizami pı-rzādas (the Nizamis are Sunni) was emphasizing the tragic aspects of the Karbala narrative and said explicitly that Muharram was sad, hardly a tear was to been seen in the whole Nizami neighbourhood. Pathan used his emotional perspective on the observance to distinguish between what he called the mātam style of and the raqs, or dance, style associated with weddings (he used the English word ‘style’ in both cases). The implications of instruments Pathan’s view partakes of a widespread perspective among Shı-‘ahs in Pakistan and India regarding the role of musical instruments in articulating the tension between Muharram and weddings. The sharp attack of the tāshā, some feel, makes it appropriate for ‘happy’ occasions such as weddings, whereas the inclusion of muted timbre and bass on such instruments as the naqāra make them more appropriate for ceremonial mourning. Urdu-speaking Sunnis seemed less troubled by the use of tāshā during Muharram, in part because their view of Muharram stressed the triumph of good over evil. The drums were seen capable, thereby, of conveying a message that was not marked by inmitigated sadness. Pathan said that tāshā was not performed in connection with the per.h because it was a drum of Urdu speakers, that is muhājirs, not Sindhis – like his view of sword-play as a type of display, his view of tāshā playing as a kind of drumming depends on social–cultural distinctions and not on religious philosophy. He could embrace tāshā playing as appropriate for another community because, in his view, in the end (āḵẖirı-) the ‘memory’ (yād) (of Karbala, etc.) is all the same.


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Pathan was aware of the historical association of the naqāra with war and viewed the significance of playing the naqāra in the per.h as welcoming (ḵẖosh āmadı-d) the war party of Husain. The function of the naqāra is slightly different from those of the d.hol and gazı-. Each year, Pathan would invite a Manganhār group of ten to 12 gazı- players and three d.hol players to lead a procession from shrine to shrine. When they arrived at the shrine, two pairs of naqāra drums would already be on location; community members, whether they were Manganhār or not, would play on them. The naqāra and d.hol draw from the same repertoire of rhythms, but the improvisational core of the genre is limited to the naqāra alone. Accompaniment is called pahlūdārı-, which means something like ‘acting from the sidelines’, or ‘supporting’. The musically substantive portion of the performances takes place when the procession is standing still – this is common in musical practice because it is difficult to improvise extensively or play virtuosically while walking. Surprisingly, however, this potentially difficult musical role can be assumed by anyone, not just Manganhārs. The idea of free participation in Muharram drumming is one that pervades many local traditions in South Asia and is usually connected to the notion that playing is primarily functional – a means of expressing one’s own attention and respect for the occasion – and not judged on the basis of artistic merit. Pathan also noted that the halts at each shrine give the Manganhār drummers a chance to rest. Manifesting and hiding Three points emerge from this case study with respect to the ‘integrative’ perspective and matters of manifesting and hiding. The notion that performances associated with Muharram are music in a general sense, and particularly with respect to the English word – but not in the specific Muharram sense – suggests a kind of grudging acknowledgement that what takes place is musical; there is a tacit agreement that the musical-ness of the performance be withheld from discourse, and perhaps this is also why the most musically challenging part of the performance can, in the case of Muharram, be performed by non-specialists. This is not simply a matter of discomfort with music in general, it pertains to attitudes towards Muharram rituals. Second, the perspective represented by Pathan reveals no cultural discomfort with the range of public activities, from drumming to mātam, that normally divide Shı-‘ı- and Sunni communities in South Asia. There is no attempt to explain away, shy away from, or conceal Muharram practices such as self-flagellation about which much debate has taken place elsewhere. And third, the drum and gazı- performances are seen to be tied in directly with the themes of Muharram, the drums through the named genre of and the gazı- through the articulation of melodies of poetry on Karbala themes. One might argue that Pathan would feel compelled to justify the use of these instruments in very specific ways, otherwise why would he accept their usage in his shrine? This argument falters in light of the fact that some Urdu-speaking

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muhājirs considered later on in this chapter do not rely as heavily on details of the Karbala narrative, or on hidden texts, to justify their drumming. Moreover, Pathan’s proclivity to view Muharram musical activities as integrated into this Karbala-related world-view extends to many other activities – the majlis, mātam with fire, and the use of ta‘ziyahs – which are eschewed by some of the Urdu-speaking groups. Pathan probably lacked detailed technical knowledge about musical performance, but was confident on the essential semiotic points that made performance sensible in the context of his shrine. For more technical details on Manganhār performance, we turn to perspectives offered by musicians themselves. Case two: Manganhārs Pathan placed me in contact with the Manganhārs who perform at his shrine; they happened to be Shı-‘ı-.10 How did they view their performance in light of this religious affiliation? Some Manganhārs saw their function in utilitarian terms – they were there merely to announce the procession. Performance was a duty. None viewed performance as akin to worship – an explanation I occasionally encountered in Sufi contexts. One Manganhār did express the integrative view that performing Muharram genres was an expression of protest against tyranny. This idea, though freely circulating in the public sphere now, draws from a pool of political ideas espoused especially by the Iranian revolutionary Ali Shariati (1933–77), whose collected works of 35 volumes stressed that ‘the true essence of Shi‘ism is revolution against all forms of oppression’ (Abrahamian 2008: 144). Their knowledge of the musical tradition depended, in part, on their musical function. Knowledge, categories, roles The gazı- players with whom I spoke were not particularly voluble, probably because the gazı- is not a focus of musical variation in the Muharram repertoire – unlike in most South Asian classical music, where the main melodic instrument carries the primary musical interest. The gazı- is, in effect, an accompanying instrument when the performer plays a repeating melody.11 Although gazı- tunes are said to be in Hindustani rāgas, the practice of having ten or more players performing the same tune together militates against creative variation. However, as seen in V-1, there are opportunities for musicians to play creatively, on an individual basis, while they are parked at a per.h. One of the sharnāı- and gazı- players, Faqir Husain Baksh, began studying at the age of 8 with the local master, Vasant Faqir, and gained proficiency in four or five years. This brevity of training itself suggests that the scale of information associated with the instrument is not vast. Commenting on repertoire and contexts, Baksh and his d.hol-playing father described three playing styles: one for Muharram, one ‘classical’ style for music-focused concert programmes,


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and one wedding style – the most lucrative. Contradicting Pathan, Baksh said that Manganhārs participate in Muharram out of their own volition, receiving payment only if someone happens to give it to them; they participate out of a respect for Imam Husain. Classical-style performance is presumably more demanding than the others, but the limited audience and financial remuneration it draws have not encouraged sharnāı- players, and the few with whom I spoke with did not seem particularly concerned with cultivation of the art for its own sake (further study is needed on this aspect). Double-reed players tend to know less about the repertoire than naqāra players, who are said to perform the real musical ‘work’. Baksh and others use musical terminology that applies to all the repertoire they command. Their term for rhythmic pattern, vajat, in Sindhi derives from the verb ‘to beat or strike’, just as the English word ‘beat’ refers to both an individual strike and groove in the more general rhythmic sense. Musical knowledge involved the ability to name the vajats and know the occasions for which they were appropriate.12 For Muharram, Baksh could only name a few, including, Ya Husain and tā’ū (see V-1). Another vajat, shāh panjatan, is played only on the naqāra. Baksh and his father described a small range of contextually appropriate vajats for weddings and other occasions, and the name of some three or four Hindustani classical tāls. As for the question of ‘music’, Faqir Husain Baksh and his father, like Pathan, while fully aware of the musicality of what they performed during Muharram, said they did not use the word mūsiqı- because the context involves the sadness of Husain’s martyrdom. They would, instead, employ terms specifying particular repertorial items – just as Pathan used, rather than music, to refer to Muharram drum performance collectively. The manner of speaking about Muharram performance was marked at a more technical level as well. For genres outside the Muharram context Baksh and his associates would refer to the word ‘melody’ as ‘dhun’ (generic term for tune in north India and Pakistan) and to certain kinds of songs associated with happy occasions as ‘kalām’ (from the word ‘word’). In relation to named items in the Muharram repertoire they referred to the vocal poetic genres, nauhah khvānı-, mars̱ iya, and a kind of short nauhah called zārı-. The musicians recognized that pieces have melodies, or tarzes, in both the Muharram and ¨ to distinguish these repertoires non-Muharram contexts, but make efforts through their uses of language. Reflecting his more extensive, instrument-linked knowledge (see Blum 2009: 207–8), the naqāra player Muhammad Qasim provided a more extended list of vajats for Muharram and demonstrated each of them with his group. Muharram vajats played in Hyderabad Sindh: 1 tabl and osāro (introduction on drums and double reeds) said to be in Husaini rāga 2 Ya Husain t.hekā (4 mātras) 3 Shāh Panjātan (8 mātras)

The manifest and the hidden 4 5 6 7 8

135 (10 mātra) (4 mātra) ‘Husain Husain’ (2 mātra) tā’ū (4 mātras) lolı- (14 mātras)

This is an elaborate repertoire for Muharram, especially for Shı-‘ı- performers in South Asia. These vajats are played in sequence when the procession enters the precinct of a per.h. Although I do not know how variable a given sequence can be, it is clear that musicians begin by playing the drum-roll-like tabl pattern, while the gazı- players perform introductory material that musicians likened to the ālāp of classical music (Ex A-1) – probably because it is not confined to the metricity of a song. In their own language they used the term osāro for this non-metered gazıpart; osāro, which means lamentation, is an act traditionally associated, here, as in many parts of South Asia, with women. The act of doing osāro is not only to express sorrow, but explicitly to make others feel sorrow, a role the gazı- extends by instigating sorrow in the public processional sphere. According to Mir Kazim Talpur, the noted poet of Khairpur (personal communication with Abdul Haq Chang, 4 October 2009), is a name for the kinds of drum patterns that were, from pre-Islamic times, used to announce a death. Osāro can be understood as a response not only to the object of sadness itself, but more directly, to the announcement of the sad event on the drums. It is perhaps significant that the drums begin the tabl pattern first and only then the gazı-s join in. After the introductory tabl and osāro the musicians perform ‘Ya Husain’ (accompanied by the shouting of this slogan), followed by the ten-count version of Tā’ū, which means ‘disperse, or move ahead’, is played when the procession proceeds to the next location.13 ‘Husain Husain’, like ‘Ya Husain’, is a pattern linked with the rhythms of chanted slogans; and the two versions of are played during the procession and at halting points. The name ‘Shāh Panjatan’ refers to the ‘five pure ones’ (panjatan pāk), the Prophet, Ali, Fatimah, Hassan and Husain. The last vajat, 14 matras, is called lolı-, which means lullaby in Sindhi. The use of ‘lullaby type’ poems/songs and the emotional theme of a mother’s love for a child is associated with women’s versions of the Muharram ritual across a range of areas (see also Aghaie 2005). The poems may be in the voice of one of Husain’s wives singing a lullaby to Husain’s infant son, Ali Asghar, who had been killed by an arrow shot through his neck. The musical interest created in performing this range of material derives in part from the changing melodies played along with each drumming pattern, and in part from the alternating improvisations of the two naqāra players. One naqāra will hold the basic pattern, or t.heko, and the other will improvise using a denser combination of strokes; the denser improvised section is called t.hā dhunı-.14 The naqāra will conclude his t.hā dhunı- section with a tripartite cadence called a t.iko. He manufactures this on the spot by combining a set of


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more-or-less stock phrases, just as tabla players and others perform tihāı-s in Hindustani music. Muhammad Qasim was well-versed in classical north Indian music and could communicate the structure of his music to me using technical concepts his local tradition shared with the broader north Indian and Pakistani tradition, and terminology in Sindhi. He intimated that the representation of Muharram performance as ‘not music’ was something of a façade. Indeed, not only was the drumming based on the same principles as classical Hindustani music, the melodies on the sharnāı- (gazı-) were, at least in their local system, rooted in classical rāgas such as Malkos, Puriya Dhanasri, Pahari and Jaunpuri. In another example of the Muharram context calling for a shift in terminology, they call rāg Jaunpuri ‘Husaini’ when using it during Muharram. While Husaini is a legitimate rāg name in itself, its use here might also be related to the text of the poetry associated with the osāro section. I was unable to locate musicians who remembered the poetry in any detail.15 As in Karachi and Delhi with the Nizami drummers, I was referred from one person to another. I finally met Sayyad Alam Shah Bukhari, aged 55 at the time, who could offer a few words along with the associated tune. The sung fragment ‘momin karyo mātām (o allah … ) karyo karbala jo’ (A-2) does share a general resemblance in contour with the melody that is performed along with the Ya Husain t.hekā (A-3). However I found it difficult to hear the melodic fragment sung to the words ‘husain ‘e husain-e ‘’ (A-3) as a version of what was performed as the osāro (A-4) on this recording; it is simply too short, and it is unclear at what point the representation of the words is actually supposed to begin. The fact that they call the rāg of osāro Husaini might, I suggested, stem from the use of this text. At some point in the future it may be possible to delineate the poetry–music connections more precisely. For the moment suffice it to say that Sayyad Alam Shah Bukhari was in the presence of Qasim and the other performers on the recording, and there was general agreement that these sung fragments corresponded to the instrumental sections in question. Implications: musicality and integration This case study suggests that the degree to which particular agents regard their own performance of Muharram repertoire as ‘music’ (and not merely musical) might depend on the status of those agents as musicians more generally. As musicians, Qasim and others could consciously relate the melodic and rhythmic procedures associated with Muharram to their whole range of musical activities; the separation of Muharram repertoires as ‘non-music’ is a fiction to which they are willing to subscribe. But they do not need to alter their playing – they do not have to avoid, for example, the trappings of music, sounding like they are playing in rāgas, improvising, and so forth. The fact that the musicality of the repertoire is technically substantial does not lessen the degree to which the pieces are tied to the context of performance:

The manifest and the hidden


through verbal texts, different ones for the drums and for the melody; through indicating the order of activities associated with the procession; by embodying some of the ‘emotional contour’ (Wolf 2000, 2001) of Muharram (here the subtle move from general lamentation to pity and love for a child); and by incorporating references to two genres of female vocality: the lament and the lullaby. One needs to be familiar with the terminology of the repertoire to understand, in detail, the ways in which the performances are tied to Muharram. The femaleness of the hidden voices, for example, is not apparent from the surface of the public performance. To the extent that the performances fit together in a particular person’s mind to create a cohesive notion of Muharram, that person could be said to hold an ‘integrative’ attitude; the Manganhārs in this case appear to hold such attitudes. This does not mean their ideas are entirely identical, nor does it mean the intentions behind any given sound are communicated. One person viewed drumming as a protest against tyranny, for instance. In order for such a protest to be effective, it requires listeners, real or imagined, to recognize the gesture as antagonistic. One can well imagine the energy expended in generating the substantial sounds of the drums and reeds as flowing forth from a sentiment of anger and outrage, carried down through the centuries. But because the loud sounds can be read in many different ways, the message of protest is potentially obscured among the other semiotic possibilities. Sindhi Manganhār musicians, then, may hold a variety of integrative attitudes, some of which stem from specialist knowledge. The knowlege musicians hold, and their social roles, combine to distinguish musicians from other participants. Manganhār performance during Muharram lies at the cusp of professionalism and religious duty. Even though musicians receive remuneration for participating in Muharram, livelihood is not necessarily their primary motivation for playing. And yet, musicians cannot really afford to let themselves get overwhelmed with the kind of emotional engagement of those who participate in processions as mātam performers. As functionaries, their attention needs also to be focused on the execution of the correct pieces at the appropriate moment. The distinction between musicians and others gets blurred in practice, however, because some community members get a chance to take their own turn on the drums. This aspect of practice crosses Sindhi–Urdu lines.

Part III: Muhājirs in Hyderabad Several muhājir groups perform on the drums only during Muharram and do not consider themselves musicians. All of the following consultants identify themselves as Sunni and speak Urdu as a mother tongue. Unlike the Manganhār groups, which may be attached to Sindhi per.hs, these muhājir groups coordinate their performances only in joint street processions. They do not interact with Sindhis or attend their per.hs, nor do they, to my knowledge, visit Urdu-speaking-Shı-‘ı- imāmbār.a.


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One local patron, a man named Abdul Samad, headed a muhājir family of some 250 persons. His wealth amassed from his satellite-dish business enabled him, as of 1997, to be a regular sponsor of Muharram processions in his neighbourhood. One group reported that they would make about 6,000 rupees in a night – quite a bit more than Pathan said he would pay Manganhārs – but without further evidence this payment differential cannot be taken as normative. Nevertheless, some members of the Urdu-speaking groups are less culturally or spiritually motivated to maintain the drumming practices than their Sindhi counterparts; their payment for services is more than token. Three different muhājir drumming groups would alternate or combine with the others – and with a marching band with whom I did not speak – during the first ten days of Muharram. The seventh day of Muharram is one of the most important days for drumming and band processions throughout South Asia. According to local tradition, Imam Hasan made his younger brother Husain promise to honour his dying wish that his son Qasim be married. As the battle of Karbala commenced and it became clear that Qasim was destined to be a casualty, Imam Husain arranged for Qasim to be married to his daughter Fatima Kubra. One of the themes of elaboration in South Asian Muharram ceremonies is ceremonial application of mehndi, or henna, on the occasion of the wedding. Wedding bands sometimes play on the seventh day of Muharram and the wedding theme is expressed in various genres of poetry, ritual and music. This musical and other wedding-related activity creates, along with lullabies, a set of emotional tones that contrast that of unmitigated grief; at the same time, for Shı-‘ahs, this change in emotional shading sets up the sense of dread and tragedy even more dramatically. For some Sunnis the wedding celebrational context has the potential to boost their more general impulse to celebrate with drums on Muharram; for others, the questionable historicity of the wedding of Qasim is one basis for criticizing local practices such as drumming. Ajmeri One group, some of whose members trace their origin to Ajmer in Rajasthan, gathers to perform on the seventh day of Muharram on a huge naqāra, some 5 feet in diameter. At times several people play together, at other times they alternate. Performers also take turns playing on the d.hol and the tāshā; one person plays the cymbals, called jhānjh, and one person plays metal shakers. Of the groups I encountered in Hyderabad, this was the group with the smallest repertoire. It consisted of three cāls, or rhythmic patterns; the patterns were simple enough to accommodate the most rudimentary performance skills. Cāl, a common term for rhythmic groove in Hindi/Urdu, derives from a verb meaning ‘to move’. Although some players are paid, the drumming is meant to invite the participation of the whole community; all should get involved and make sound. Correct execution is, by default, secondary to participation. Ajmer in Rajasthan is the site of the shrine of Muı-nuddı-n Chishti, founder of the Chishti Sufi order in India. Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, whose shrine

The manifest and the hidden


figured in my opening discussion, was the fourth in this lineage of saints. The Chishtis in South Asia celebrate Muharram itself as something of a wedding, for the day of a Sufi saint’s death is considered the day of marriage of the saint’s soul to the divine; that is why death anniversaries are observed as ‘weddings’ (Ar.‘urs). The ‘urs and the seventh day of Muharram reduplicate the wedding symbolism; though the historical agents involved are quite different, both contexts are legitimate causes for celebration. The members of the large naqāra group did not specifically mention any alliance to Chishtis; however they or their parents grew up in an environment in which musical sound held a privileged spiritual place and in which both death anniversaries of saints and Muharram were publicly celebrated. Muhammad Shafi, age 80 at the time, spoke for the group and provided a strikingly direct philosophical connection between drumming and Islam: ‘This is to keep the drum of religion continuing … to keep our name illuminated, the drum of religion keeps playing.’16 He also provided one of the few specific origin stories of the drumming practice – a directive received in his father’s dream. Most drummers only knew that their forefathers had played, but nothing further. Yet when it came down to discussing individual motivations and experiences of playing, Shafi carefully evaded suggesting that playing the drums was a religious (mazhabı-) activity. He said that participants played out of individual interest (shauq). Unlike Shı-‘ırespondents, for whom activity associated with Muharram is, by definition, tinged with sadness, Shafi repeatedly resisted any suggestion that the performers would experience sadness when they played; no markers of sadness were evident in their appearances either. Instead Shafi emphasized their ‘passion’ for performance: ‘they are excited and lost in their feeling (dhun).’ Another person reiterated the idea that the ‘passion’ was directed only toward playing the drums. Their emphasis on “interest” (shauq) and lack of “purpose” ( underlines the idea that the emotionality of the player is not goal-oriented; drumming among the Sunnis described here is unlike the acts of mourning in which Shı-‘ahs engage, which are supposed to earn them merit. Cāls A variety of terms denote the notion of ‘rhythmic pattern’ in South Asia. In some cases, the term refers to strikes, hits or ‘beats’, as in Sindhi, vajat, Tamil, at.i, and Hindi, tāl.17 Although cāl derives from a term meaning to move, and a cāl could be likened to a gait, it shares with the ‘beat’-terms the possibility of having two kinds of modifiers: numbers or names (usually refering to a context or a dance). In the case of numbers, the question arises of what is being counted. Unlike time signatures used to specify units of measured duration in Western music, and unlike the process of mātra and aks.ara counting in north and south Indian classical music, the form of counting associated with cāl numbers tends to focus on stressed drum strokes. So “ek cāl” (one cāl) is a pattern with one stressed stroke on the d.hol. T -ın cāl has three stressed strokes, and so


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forth according to number. The Ajmeri group used patterns called ek cāl and tı-n cāl. The third pattern used by the Ajmeri group is modified by the noun mātam. Mātam could refer here to the practice of self-flagellation or more generally to mourning. The fact that mātam is a pervasive name for Muharram drum patterns in south Asia, however, could also mean that any individual instance, such as this, refers not to the meaning of mātam in Muharram, but rather to the system of naming in ritual drumming for Muharram. In that case, the name mātam merely indicates that this cāl is a Muharram pattern; it is a token of a type rather than an index of a specific mourning function. Whatever the specific referent might have been originally, the names of this and the other two patterns provide contrast with the Manganhār repertoire. The Ajmeri group plays only a small number of rhythms, only one of which is marked in relation to Muharram. The social inclusiveness of this tradition militates against musical specialization. In contrast, the Manganhārs held high levels of musical, specialized knowledge and integrated their musical terminology and processes at multiple levels with the themes of Muharram. Agra Lead members of one of the other muhājir groups traced their heritage to Agra. This ensemble consisted exclusively of d.hols. The rhythmic patterns were more numerous (eight or nine) and more systematically differentiated than the patterns performed by the Ajmeri group; however unlike the multipart patterns of the other groups discussed thus far, the Agra group’s patterns were supposed to be played in unison.18 This case is interesting both for the ideology associated with drumming and for the principles at work in the drumming patterns themselves. Muhammad Ikramuddin was the apparent authority of the group and, at age 60 in 1997, would have been 10 when he migrated from Agra to Hyderabad at the time of Partition. He belonged to a Muslim caste called ‘Sheikh Siddiqi’, which is a kind of residual category of Muslims whose families had converted from Hinduism in recent generations.19 In Agra (and in Hyderabad) his community consisted mainly of butchers (but also other merchants), and he grew up observing his family members constructing drums and playing them during Muharram.20 He described picking up the drumming tradition rather unreflectively – not considering much about what it meant or drumming was done; he merely imitated his relatives.21 He remembered miles-long lines of d.hol players during Muharram on the streets of Agra; in Hyderabad of the late 1990s he estimated there was about 10 per cent of this participation. In Hyderabad, his group (of unspecified number), like the group with the enormous naqāra, would be invited and paid to play each year by Abdul Samad. Like the naqāra group from Ajmer, members of this Agra group expressed a kind of generic interest in playing, but didn’t attach any significance to it (‘hamārı- ḵẖālı- shauq muharram kā’). One 48-year-old man (whom I’ll call

The manifest and the hidden


Ahmad K.), in the presence of his fellow players, expressed what he took to be the sentiment of the group: We play in Muharram because we received this training (ta’l -ım). As [Muhammad Ikramuddin] said, his elders used to make the drums, so when he saw them make and play the drums during Muharram [he too would play]. Just as some people do mātam because of their faith, there is also the custom (ravāj) of playing d.hol during Muharram. Noone knows about its being good or bad or about its benefits (fā’ida) and defects (nuqs.ān). They play out of interest (shauq), as a pastime (shugẖl). (Excerpted and translated from a speech passage that was slightly longer) This mention of benefits and defects is significant because it represents a resistance to interpret drumming in the context of Islam at all; this is a bit different from the leader of the Ajmeri group, for whom it was possible to consider the drum as sounding the beat of religion. Mentioning benefits and defects suggests that one might argue one way or the other. Rather than stake a position, Ahmad preferred to put forward an argument of ignorance – or rather, an argument that playing has no meaning. In effect drumming was its own reward, providing personal satisfaction. It was connected with the family’s past, perhaps with its history in India, but not in any meaningful way with Muharram specifically: People say many different things [about the meaning of drumming during Muharram], but there is no authentic evidence that would give the answer as to whether people actually play (bajāte haiṉ) to mourn the Karbala matter or not. This speaker is relying on an idea of what is appropriate to observing Muharram that reflects the views of a familiar ideology in South Asia; in this case, local practice is valued, so long as it is not construed as belonging in any way to Islam. Unlike the Manganhār group discussed earlier and some Shı-‘ı- and non-Shı-‘ıparticipants in Muharram in India, the Agra group members put forth a disjunctive view towards drumming and such other Muharram-related activities as chanting and mātam: There are three ‘categories’. One is d.hol players. They have their own way (rujh.ān), Then there is separate (category) of mars̱ iya (reciters), and then there are the ones who do mātam. The d.hol players have no connection with mars̱ iya (reciters). Since recitation and mātam are often side-by-side activities, I wanted to know if, in India or in Hyderabad, members of this community would yell ‘Ya Husain’ or any other related slogan as they played the drums. According to M. Ikramuddin, only Shı-‘ahs engage in such activities, although as Ahmad


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K. indicates later, other Sunnis do as well in some cases. As for his own group, Ikramuddin said, ‘we just mind our own business, play d.hol, and keep walking straight.’ To stress the point, when I wanted clarification on how his group differed from some of the others, Ahmad K. said: [there are Shı-‘ahs and] and there are Sunnis who call out Husain, (thinking of) his brave name. They are taught that Husain is brave. Like that, one category is such that they express [the idea] that Husain was oppressed. Because he was wronged they do mātam. But d.hol playing comes in none of these [categories]. Ahmad K.’s brief statement lays out succinctly some of the ideological positions of those who participate in Muharram. Each position could potentially be associated with a view on drumming, but Ahmad explicitly denies any such association. Even in the Ajmeri example, where the distance from the Karbala narrative was already evident, at least one of the drum patterns was nominally connected with Muharram through the pattern name mātam. The two positions to which Ahmad K. is opposed are integrative, even though they are distinct in their emotional implications. Shı-‘ahs and Sunnis usually recognize both of these views as valid, but place emphasis on them through different means and at different times. The oversimplified association is Shı-‘ahs with the tragedy of Karbala and Sunnis with the bravery of Husain. His interpretation did not allow for an inner (bā, spiritual meaning, of the kinds musicians imply when they say that the music conveys the texts of religious poetry and express the belief that the martyrs of Karbala are, in spiritual form, their audience. Rather he saw public Muharram activities as performing partisan political work in the public sphere: I’ll tell you the reason. In India, before Pakistan came into being, the British government used to favour the majority. The rich people [nawābs etc. who would pay people to turn out in large numbers], in order to prove their majority to the British government, divided people into two sections; each [constituency] claimed to have a majority. Some [Sunnis] were among the d.hol players and some [Shı-‘ahs] joined as performers of mātam. For example, these Shı-‘ı- people do mātam here in Pakistan and the Sindhi people [also started doing it]. Sindhis don’t know what mātam is but they do mātam, they don’t know what Muharram is but they do mātam. They have no connection with either Shı-‘ahs or Sunnis. According to this view, the apparent harmony between Shı-‘ahs and Sunnis among the Sindhis is a result of complete ignorance about Muharram, and represents merely an adoption of external practices (z.āhir – although he didn’t use the word). Sindhi sharing of practices such as mātam only appears to index an inner resolution to Shı-‘ı- and Sunni approaches to Islam, but in fact, in

The manifest and the hidden


Ahmad K.’s view, actually masks the Sindhi lack of understanding. As Ahmad K. continues to explain, it becomes clear that Muharram activity signifies for him the power of Shı-‘ahs to operate effectively as a political presence. Shı-‘ahs make up about 20 per cent of the population in Pakistan: just because of opposition in order to show its majority. The category of those who did mātam was smaller in India. When they came to Pakistan [they gathered others to perform in public to make it look like the Shı-‘ıpopulation was larger] … the Sindhis are not Shı-‘ahs but the vaderas (feudal lords) fed them charas (hashish) and asked them to do mātam. They don’t even know what mātam is but they make zuljinnahs (horses representing Husain’s riderless steed) because they got training from [the muhājir Shı-‘ahs]. They grew in number. In short, this group does not espouse the notion that drumming or other conspicuous activity during Muharram has a secret, hidden, intimate or otherwise valid spiritual meaning. If anything is hidden, it is the potential of public, ostensibly religious, demonstration to enable real-world political power. This power lies behind activities such as drumming and mātam that are only superficially justifiable by a story linked to Karbala. Cāls Although there is no evidence for how the drumming repertoire of this community actually came into existence, it is perhaps significant that none of the pattern-names bear any connection whatsoever to either Islam in general or Muharram in particular. Whereas the Ajmeri repertoire consisted of three patterns, two numbered cāls plus one called mātam, the Agra group’s rhythmic patterns consisted exclusively of numbered cāls. One can hardly find a terminology more distanced from religion and society than that based on sequential numbers. I recorded seven cāls labeled sequentially one to seven and one cāl labeled 1 ½. I was also told of a cāl named 2 ½ but the performers were unable to execute it. As in Ajmeri examples, the names of most of the patterns were based on the number of emphasized bass strokes on the d.hol. Musically the sequence is built on generative principles that are recognizable in other South Asian genres; but many of the rhythmic patterns themselves are rare or unique in the area. The building blocks are two kinds of asymmetrical units and two kinds of tag or coda. Each pattern consists of one kind of asymmetrical unit paired consistently with one kind of tag. The patterns get longer by adding asymmetrical units and, in some cases, making adjustments to the tag. Summary: structure and disjuncture Members of the Agra group willfully resist the notion that their drumming has any organic connection to Muharram. Their justification for playing is


Richard K. Wolf

the pleasure it gives them and the sense that they are continuing a tradition that was passed down, without comment, by their forefathers in India. In order to play a part in the noisy and impossible-to-ignore outer manifestation of Muharram practices, it was necessary for the Agra group to disavow any explanation that might link them to Muharram itself. It is not appropriate to posit an inner meaning of this drumming for the group, but it is worth considering whether an understanding that might once have been held by the community in India was, in the new Hyderabad context, and under the influence of international, literalist readings of Islam, squelched. The repertoire must have been carefully constructed by individuals with a relatively sophisticated musical sense. The generative procedure correlates abstractly with the ways many kinds of rhythms are constructed in South Asia – i.e. augmenting a rhythmic pattern by adding fixed rhythmic units derived from a basic model. The naming of patterns based on the number of stressed strokes also fits into a South Asia–wide system. As such, it would appear those who devised this system had access to knowledge that belongs in the realm of the explicitly musical. And yet, the specifics of these rhythms fall into their own, self-contained micro-system which is distinct from anything I have observed in South Asia. It is not unreasonable to speculate that this distinctiveness was intentional, as was the decision to organize and name the repertoire mathematically rather than contextually. In this way, the repertoire provides a means for this group to intervene loudly in the proceedings and yet do so while professing, as they hope to, nothing at all regarding the occasion or the place of either drumming or Muharram in the observance of Islam. Bharatpur The muhājir group whose members and families hailed from Bharatpur, Uttar Pradesh, was the most virtuosic d.hol-tāshā group I found anywhere in Pakistan. This was surprising considering that they – like their counterparts from Ajmer and the Agra – performed only for Muharram. The Bharatpur group’s repertoire is based on the functional division of labour between d.hol and tāshā. This group’s style is more complex than that of the Ajmeris, however, and involves improvisation on the tāshā. Their repertorial naming practices are hybrid, including both contextually relevant names and analytically relevant ones (combining names and numbers). The names of patterns in repertoire of d.hol-tāshā group with roots in Bharatpur, India are: kalmah das kı- gintıbı-s kı- gintıek kā mātam do kā kairvā tı-n kā mātam

The manifest and the hidden


cheh kā mātam daur. chautāla ek tāla chaltā hūā kairvā The names contain unique items and items of which there are several types or subgenres. Kalmah and daur. are nominally unique, whereas there are two each of patterns called gintı-, mātam, tāla and kairvā (or kehervā). This kind of sub-generic division was evident in the Sindhi examples as well, in which two types of were distinguished by their number of mātras. I met Allaudin, the 80-year-old and seniormost musician in the group, in the process of arranging for the interview and recording session. At that time he revealed to me something he was later to deny, namely that he had learned this complex repertoire from a Hindu when he was growing up in Bharatpur. This is significant not only in terms of the Hindu–Muslim relationship that once existed and is now lost in Pakistan, but also in terms of how a group that performs so infrequently could have acquired such a relatively elaborate repertoire. The other seven group members, who ranged in age from 25 to 65, were either born in Pakistan or would have left India at a rather young age. Like the Agra group, the Bharatpur group identified themselves as Sheikh Siddiqis – i.e. as Muslims whose families had converted from Hinduism relatively recently. When I returned with a tape recorder to interview Allaudin and his group members, Allaudin attempted to deflect my question about his training by recounting a version of the story of Timur lang (Pathan, the per.h caretaker, also alluded to this story). This was not completely off subject because many Muharram drummers consider their practice as part of a set whose master signifier is the ta‘ziyah. The origin of the ta‘ziyah is, by this logic, the origin of the drumming, and in this extended sense, the source of any drummer’s training: King Timur lang had great love and respect for Imam Husain. When visiting Husain’s tomb, he beheld a vision (beshārat), ‘You [Timur] always come here, you can take a copy/image (tas.vı-r) of this tomb back to your place and do ziyārat [visit it as if making a pilgrimage to the original tomb] of the copy.’ So he made a replica of the tomb at his place and began to do ziyārat of that replica. It is history not a false story (jhūt.-ı bāt nahı-) that people came there for ziyārat! After some time a problem arose: a big crowd of visitors (‘rush’) started pulling and pushing because space was lacking. Because of this they started to take the ta‘ziyah out with a procession and walk through different neighbourhoods so that the followers (could see it). Now (there was another problem) when the procession went by many people weren’t aware of its presence. They heard the slogan (na‘rah bāzı-) but didn’t realize it was a procession. They solved the problem (nikāla) with an instrument, a d.hol, so that by hearing its sound (āvāz) people [could know to] come to the processsion of Imam Husain’s ta‘ziyah.


Richard K. Wolf Moreover in those days, all people who had love and respect for Imam Husain used to play. We have been fulfilling this h.āz.rı- (offering) until today. But we play only during Muharram because it is not our profession (pesha).

Although drummers often allude to the origin of ta‘ziyah practices in their versions of the history of Muharram drumming, their strategies for linking the two vary. Moreover, ta‘ziyah processions do not necessarily involve musical instruments. For Allaudin to link Muharram drumming to ta‘ziyah practices, then, is ‘integrative’. It is a creative attempt to make sense of what he does as a drummer in relation to ‘common understandings’ (Wolf 2006) of Muharram. This does not mean, however, that he approaches Muharram as a Shı-‘ah would, nor does it mean that he is entirely comfortable with the notion that what they play is music. The function this story assigns to drumming, as mere announcement, leaves it entirely unnecessary to do anything artistic with the drumming whatsoever. Allaudin did refer to drumming as an art (fan), however. But rather than calling it music (or mūsiqı-), he referred to it as a h.āz.rı(offering), as something ‘presented’ (pesh karna), and, less often, as ‘playing [instruments]’ (bajāna). In response to my asking how this group maintained the art at such a high level, while playing hardly ten days a year, one of the drummers invoked the power of ‘faith’ (‘aqı-dat) (‘sirf ‘aqı-dat ke tah.t’). In strong contrast to the Agra group and somewhat in keeping with what the Ajmeri leader Muhammad Shafi said about the ‘drum of religion’, the Bharatpur group members tie their drumming tradition strongly to their general faith and identity as Muslims. The first repertorial item, called kalmah, is a drummed version of the first part of the shahādat (also called the kalma) – ‘there is no god but god’: ‘lā illāha illā’llāh muh.ammad rasūl ’allāh’ (Wolf 2000). As Allaudin put it: As I just told you we are Muslims and one becomes Muslim only after reciting (par.hna) the kalmah. If one doesn’t say the kalmah one can’t be a Muslim. So during our art (fan) we first present (pesh karna) the kalmah. This rule/ principle (us.ūl) will be kept up so long as we are Muslims. The fact that Sheikh Siddiqis are generally from families recently converted to Islam might help explain why Allaudin and others would want to prove that they are Muslims, or emphasize the process of becoming a Muslim. Combining this with their involvement in quasi-musical activity helps to explain why they might find it important to begin every performance with the kalmah. What they actually play is a drum pattern on the d.hol based on the rhythm of the verbal text. It is identical to the pattern with the same name performed in conjunction with the Nizami observance of Muharram in Delhi and in Karachi. This piece of repertoire has some staying power across regional traditions. The Xs in the following chart show the basic outline of the kalmah pattern on the d.hol; counts are indicated by numbers in the row above.

The manifest and the hidden






















The final, bolded X is the return to count one and may be followed by a variable gap of time. The d.hol players return to the kalmah signature pattern after the tāshā players perform a version of the following cue:









Rr r r Rr r r Rr r r Rr r r x . . x . . x . . x . . x . . .

The ‘R’s stand for the emphasized stroke in a roll, or some other variation of a roll; ‘r’s stand for varieties of rolled strokes on the tāshā; ‘x’s represent discrete strikes of the tāshā; dots represent rests or filler. A lead tāshā improvises while the other tāshās play a standard holding pattern. When the lead tāshā player wishes to conclude his solo, he cues the d.hol players to play the kalmah pattern using the cadential phrase. The interval between successive sets of kalmah phrases is entirely dependant on the dynamics of interaction. The kalmah serves as something akin to the head of a jazz tune. It is interesting in the context of South Asian drumming because it is not a pattern that pervades the drummed performance like an ostinato. All the other examples of vajats, cāls and so forth outline a consistent metric structure; they are equivalent to t.hekas in classical Hindustani music (Sindhi, t.heko). The kalmah operates as a set of riffs, not as a t.heka. This may be significant. The kalmah, as a statement of faith, deserves a kind of individuality and unpredictability, just as the recitation of the Qur’an should not attain too much of a fixed form in its oral expression. Its significance as a separate kind of musical procedure linked to the meaning of the text is tempered by the fact that the two gintı- patterns are also like cued riffs rather than t.hekas. But they appear to be deformations of the kalmah pattern; the performers transitioned into das kı- gintı- without a break, bringing similar musical resources and procedures to bear on a pattern that is no longer linked in name to the kalmah text. As the Nizamis played an identical kalmah, it followed that this group might have other text-based rhythms. Allaudin’s response to my query about this expressed conscious distancing from what he saw as a Shı-‘ı- domain of activity was: ‘they know their art; we have nothing to do with that.’ This disjunctive stance also characterized Allaudin’s view on the itemname, mātam, which, as suggested earlier, may be more a token of a Muharram type than a sign of mourning. ‘These are [merely] the names of the cāls,’ he


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said. ‘This mātam is not that mātam, the lamentation mātam (sog vāla mātam), rather this is the name of the cāl.’ As for the origin of these names, he said, ‘they are mine’ (ye to merā). Did he invent them? He responded: No sir, the art of singing (gāyakı-) was started by Tansen but now there are thousands of singers. This is how it goes. First some people use some art, then (others take it up). Like now we have learned a little bit but we are nothing in comparison to the people who had these in the past. Allaudin was purposely evading questions regarding his training in the presence of the other drummers, many of whom had learned from him or looked up to him as a leader. Each time I asked about his learning of this music he turned to some generalized story about distant historical origin of Muharram practices, or classical music, and so forth – nothing to tie him to a teacher, nothing to tie him too closely to Shı-‘ı- practice. As mentioned, the day before this recorded interview, Allaudin had reported to me and my assistant that he had learned drumming from a Hindu. I don’t recall if he also said something to the effect of, ‘but I’ll never admit it in public’, but it appears that was his attitude. My assistant, Aftab Pathan, called him on his inconsistency: ‘Dear old man, you said the other day that you had learned from some Hindu.’ Allaudin replied, ‘There is no question/issue (mas’alah) [of learning] from a Hindu … If I had learned from a Hindu then why would I have come here the next day? It is our religious matter.’ By religious matter he reinforced what he had said earlier, that they play the kalmah to demonstrate that they are Muslims. Here he used the term z.āhir explicitly: I told you you this, didn’t I? that before everything we present the kalmah. We play the kalmah. No? So that before everything we make manifest (z.āhir karte he) that we are Muslims. Maiṉ ne āp ko ye batāyā nh kh ham sab se pahale kalmah pesh karte haiṉ – kalmah bajāte haiṉ. to ham yeva sab se pahle yeih z.āhir karte haiṉ kaiṉ ham musalmān haiṉ He reiterated that his connection with Muharram was a matter of faith, comparable to the way Timur used to show his faith by making a pilgrimage to Imam Husain’s tomb, and then later effected the same end by attending to a replica of the tomb, the ta‘ziyah. According to this same logic, Allaudin likened the passion (jazbāt) the drummers experience while playing to the passion the people in the time of Timur experienced when they would play. While others may feel they are on the battlefield and so forth, Allaudin, speaking for his own group only, described the feeling as one of standing before the tomb of Imam Husain. Allaudin’s group did not play for any function other than Muharram. They remained neutral as to the appropriateness of playing for other occasions: ‘We don’t play. We don’t know as to whether it will be considered bad or good, but

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anyway, we don’t play (at weddings).’ This profession of ignorance of how drumming might be considered echoes one of the Agra drummers’ views; it is a stance of caution in light of potential criticism. In some places the matter of whether the same instruments played for a wedding should be played for Muharram has become something of an issue, and so either different versions of instruments are used or musicians do not play for both occasions (see Wolf 2000). I asked Allaudin if they had encountered any public resistance to their drum playing during Muharram, since this has been a recurrent issue in parts of Pakistan among muhājirs especially. Allaudin’s response was to frame the performances to which some Islamic reformers objected as ‘music’ – using the Urdu mūsiqı- and not the English term. The argument that the Bharatpur group did not perform music (despite Allaudin’s earlier allusion to Tansen) could be sustained mainly because of the item, kalmah: That music is something different. I told you that first of all we present kalmah. Kalmah is not a music item. But we play it because of faith. There are those who think of this as within [the realm of] music. Those who understand this art [of music] understand this thing [that we play] also [as music]. In any case, it is our faith to present kalmah the first of all. Finally, after hearing them play, I noticed that some of the patterns sounded like they were drawn from Hindustani classical music; indeed, a close analysis of ek tāla and chautāla reveals that they are structured analogously to the tabla t.hekas in Hindustani classical music with the same names. Clearly somebody with knowledge of the classical tradition, perhaps the concealed Hindu teacher, created a version of these tāls for the d.hol. The knowledge was transmitted to these players in isolation: they have no conscious knowledge of the classical system. Allaudin’s response to my observation once again underplayed the recognition of any significant musical content: … there is classical also in it. Those who understand classical [music] consider this classical also. Those who don’t understand classical, they think it only a noise or clattering. We consider it only a faith. Otherwise, to us, it is neither classical nor any other thing. We do it only out of faith. This attitude is somewhat surprising considering the difficulty of the repertoire. While analysis of further details of the repertoire will be presented elsewhere (Wolf, forthcoming), it is worth noting here that the following rhythms adhered to the numbering principle outlined earlier. That is, in each case the number modifying the name of the pattern corresponded to the number of metrically aligned, stressed bass strokes on the d.hol: ek kā mātam (one); do kā kairv (two); tı-n kā mātam (three); cheh kā mātam (six, made up of three heavy plus three light, metrically aligned bass strokes). This seemed to make up a set, because these patterns were played together sequentially for the demonstration.


Richard K. Wolf

Summary: art and moderate integration The Bharatpur group engages integratively with both broadly Islamic and narrowly Muharram-related themes through the practice of drumming. The kalmah and the diffuse notion of ‘faith’ (‘aqidah) index the broad Islamic assocation and the Timur story indexes a Muharram-related belief complex. But Allaudin stops short of identifying specific parts of the repertoire with rituals or practices that might be considered marked as Shı-‘ı- – namely the rhythmic pattern mātam, which they see as equivalent to neutrally termed patterns such as kairvā or tāls. The collective term for the patterns is cāl and the modifier for the subgenres are often numbers which correspond with the number of accented bass strokes. The kalmah is qualitatively different from the numbered cāl patterns in that it a) refers to a specific text and Islamic performance of identity and b) is performed according to the tāshā players’ cue rather than according to a regularly recurring cycle. For both these reasons, one may consider the kalmah to have an ‘inner’ meaning of the sort that might be labeled bā in the conventional philosophical sense. In the broader social–political sphere one might also suggest that a meaning below the surface has to do with the need of Sheikh Siddiqis to proclaim (literally, ‘make z.āhir’) their Muslim-ness in a new country, where they continue to be regarded as outsiders (as muhājirs), and of a class associated with recent conversion. Connected with the proclaiming and reclaiming the status of being Muslim is the rejection of a specific learning process – the deemphasis on Hindu teachers, the disavowal of knowledge that the rhythmic patterns are connected intimately with a highly developed system of music found throughout north India and Pakistan.

Concluding thoughts on manifesting and hiding Cultural–religious debates among Muslims in South Asia and elsewhere generate diverse views on a variety of practices in Islamic contexts. Such views locate music and other forms of sound within a broader set of potentially controversial actions that include self-mortification, dancing and the use of artifacts such as ta‘ziyahs. Many of these activities are interpreted as mimetic, but not all actors acknowledge the legitimacy of specific forms of mimesis. The distinction between ‘integrative’ and ‘disjunctive’ attitudes can be understood in terms of two related semiotic sets, one that involves the mimetic process itself, and one that involves mimesis as a sign of group identity. Each of these sets includes an element that is ‘manifest’, namely the sign as it presents itself to any given observer, and an element that is potentially ‘hidden’, sometimes the interpretant and sometimes the object of that sign. In Charles Sanders Peirce’s (1955; 1960) well-known tripartite formulation of signs, any sign refers to an object by means of an interpretant. The ‘interpretant’ is itself a sign, embodied in a perceiving subject, which makes sense

The manifest and the hidden


of the relationship between the first sign and its object. Because Peirce, who developed his theory of signs over the course of his career, used elements in his framework in more than one way, it is not possible, nor is it my intention, to adopt a unitary ‘Peircian approach’. However, aspects of what Peirce describes are fundamental to human processes of understanding, not particular to one cultural or philosophical tradition; his formulation is also theoretically useful for the issues raised by the Muharram material in particular. It is important to realize that the realm of the z.āhir is that of the sign (the first sign encountered); the realm of the bā is that of the object in some cases and the interpretant in others.22 Debates about the aesthetic appeal of popular practices in many religions often stem from anxieties that surface appearances might obscure what the learned or liturgical elite regard as doctrinal core. Accessing bā, inner meanings, of Muharram practices, however, does not not involve any one doctrine straightforwardly. Indeed, ideas of Muslim law and verifiable evidence are often used to contradict the validity of some inner meanings. Ahmed K.’s emphasis on the lack of ‘authentic [mustanad] evidence’ for the validity of certain Muharram practices echoes a wider trend that gained currency in the nineteenth century and drew upon the reformist views of Delhi-born Shah Walliyullah (1703–62). The potential for literalist readings of Islam to eclipse aspects of spirituality gained through mystical or emotional experience is perhaps why, in some schools of thought, jurisprudence itself was relegated to the realm of the z.āhir. Although different in substance, concrete practices of those who participate in Muharram are also instances of the visible, the outward, the z.āhir. They are signs. One of the keys to understanding their meaning lies in being able to recognize some of them as mimetic (or iconic) and therefore, potentially accessible vehicles for understanding their source models; at the same time, some practices, depending on the perceiver, are more salient as indexes – especially of social groups. Individuals or collectivities become habituated to identifying signs such as ta‘ziyahs and drum patterns with their associated objects. Imam Husain’s tomb and war drumming are two of the obvious objects of these two signs, respectively, at least with respect to their iconicity. The resemblance between these signs and objects seems natural, but the mediation of signs always involves Peirce’s interpretants. This is why those who draw upon Peirce’s semiotics usually locate ‘meaning’ in the interpretant. However, inasmuch as an interpretant allows one to identify a sign with an object, that object also forms part of the sign’s meaning. This aspect of meaning may seem shallow when the sign is iconic of something widely known: the ta‘ziyah means Imam Husain’s tomb for those many who have the requisite background knowledge. But the meaning of an iconic sign seems deeper when its object is regarded as more hidden, when its details are less accessible. Such is the case with texts that underlie gazı- melodies and drum patterns. What resemblance means in a larger sense, for each case, belongs to another level of semiotic analysis.


Richard K. Wolf

Peirce identified interpretants of at least three kinds, physical (‘energetic’), emotional, and intellectual (‘logical’ – an idea or thought). Mātam (as breast beating), for example, is an energetic interpretant of ta‘ziyahs, Muharram drumming, and many other related sights and sounds – at least when it is more-orless reflexive and instinctual, a gut-level bodily response, and only secondarily an emotional or thoughtful one. These aspects of interpretants are difficult to disentangle, or place in temporal order, however, for they tend to be copresent. Emotional interpretants of drumming could involve sadness, but this is relatively rare in South Asian Muharram. More often the emotionality associated with those engaging in drumming is described as ‘passion’ (josh, dhun, jazbāt) or ‘pleasure/eagerness/interest’ (shauq). The gazı- performs an important emotional function in the Sindhi case because of the potential of the instrument’s sound itself to resemble crying, in a general sense, and the melodies of mournful songs more specifically; it is no coincidence that the unmetered introduction on the gazı- is called ‘lamentation’ (osāro). Recognizing the ta‘ziyah as an iconic representation of Imam Husain’s tomb does not require much thoughtful effort on the part of most Muslims – it is obvious.23 The issue is not merely the recognition of likeness, however, but rather how different groups define aspects of themselves or others through their attitudes toward this likeness. Recognizing the texts behind drumming patterns or melodies is not something everyone can do, but holding the idea that such sounds have certain kinds of textual objects is tantamount to identifying with Nizamis, Manganhārs, and so forth. Attitudes toward likeness, then, fall in the realm of logical interpretants, and they also serve as indices of social groups. Groups differ on the extent to which they view mimesis of this sort as appropriate devotional activity during Muharram. The fact that mimesis in Muharram can itself be reflected upon and evaluated indicates that it functions as a sign. It has its own set of possible objects, which could include aggregates of people involved in Muharram. Ahmad K.’s typology of three social categories identifies three such aggregate objects: 1) Shı-‘ahs and Sunnis who associate with Husain’s bravery, 2) others who associate with his oppression, and 3) his own group who play the d.hol, ‘which does not come in any of these [categories]’. In each case, a certain notion of ‘meaning’ (interpretant) connects acts (signs) with the identities of agents (objects). In the last case, though, the interpretant merely connects the drumming practice, indexically, with the Agra drumming group; it does not link the semiosis of likeness (drumming as encoding texts, re-enacting battle actions, and so forth) with the semiosis of identity (linking the significance of likeness with one’s own social group). The absence of this link is key to what I have been calling the disjunctive attitude. Those who adopt an integrative attitude, by contrast, recognize not only the likenesses of practices (for these are also recognizable by the disjunctiveattitude-holders), but also the significance of those likenesses. To break this down further and then expand: the two semiotic sets (1: ‘likenesses’ and 2: ‘significance

The manifest and the hidden


of likenesses’) are related via the interpretant of the ‘likenesses’ set, which becomes the first sign of the ‘significance of likenesses’ set. The logical interpretant of set 1, ‘mimesis at level X is appropriate’ becomes, at minimum, an indexical sign of the object in set 2, the people for whom ‘mimesis at level X is appropriate’. Once again, a new interpretant is needed to make this connection. ‘Significance of likenesses’ pertains to the individual’s notions of appropriate devotional conduct and correlates with his or her self-identification. The likenesses themselves pertain to different hierarchical levels (‘level X’): e.g. Islam writ large, the Karbala narrative, or something more local. All these factors together show how integrative and disjunctive attitudes can potentially coexist without being in conflict: they may apply to different dimensions of an individual or group’s social–cultural engagement with Muharram. For example, Muhammad Shafi could understand Muharram drumming as propogating ‘the name of faith (dı-n)’ because it fulfilled the directives of his father’s dream or vision – it was mimetic in the sense of actualizing a blueprint. That blueprint was, however, extremely local – emanating from his very own family. At the same time, he insisted that drumming was not religious (mazhabı-) – perhaps because it is more an advertisement of religion than religion itself. This made it possible to separate the deeply emotional involvement of the drummers in their performance from, it would seem, the emotionality that is legitimately associated with Islamic piety. In the Bharatpur case, the integrative idea of playing for Muharram ‘out of faith’ is tied strongly to the textual basis of the kalmah drum pattern. This integrative view functions with respect to a dimension we might label, from the Bharatpur group’s vantage point, ‘Islam, general’. This view coexists with the disjunctive view that the rest of the drumming, even patterns called mātam, have nothing to do with specific themes of Muharram or poetic texts on Karbala. This view functions with respect to the dimension of ‘Karbala narrative, Shı-‘ı- use of ’. These discursive attempts to integrate and be disjunctive involve different ways of manifesting and hiding. They involve recognizing some of the repertorial names as significant and others as insignificant, and recognizing the patterns themselves as having specific relevancy in some instances but not in others. One possible aspect of a disjunctive attitude is to deny the significance of likeness, while at the same time recognizing that such interpretations are available to a more-or-less common pool of participants across ethnic, linguistic and religious lines. The ubiquity of sharbat (sweet juice) offered on the street during Muharram, to offer one of many examples, is widely known to respond to the ‘thirst’ of Muharram participants. Just as Husain’s party was dying of thirst on the dusty fields of Karbala, so too those who enter into the spacetime of Muharram also require liquid sustenance. One could presumably debate about the worthiness of this ritual activity in terms of its value now (truly relieving thirst, helping fellow Muslims in a manner consonant with a broader ethos of generosity) versus its value as one of the many forms of mimesis in Muharram. Ahmad K.’s criticisms did not deny that participants


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were engaging in mimetic activity, he was questioning whether the objects of that mimesis were historically accurate and the value of mimesis itself. This raises the much larger issue of creativity in religious performance. To what extent is involvement in dramatic public performance embraced within a broader framework of religion and identity and to what extent is it bracketed off, excused, or criticized as local innovation? The issues running through these case studies are not limited to localism versus global Islam or Islamism, but rather involve the traversing of space, physically or mentally. The sense that a group originated in such Indian places as Ajmer, Agra and Bharatpur provided a basis for maintaining differences in drumming practices and attitudes toward those practices. The sense that Sindhis live where their ancestors lived and continue to practice music, as they did since pre-Islamic times, legitimizes a view that incorporates Sunnis and Shı-‘ahs, musicians, and so forth, into a body that opposes others more on the basis of their status as immigrants than on their specific religious affiliation. Practices such as sword fighting or tāshā playing during Muharram were not rejected on religious grounds – they could easily be subsumed in the integrative picture Pathan and others presented. They were simply seen as the practices of Urdu speakers. As suggested earlier, the part of the model that reveals ‘disjunction’ is in the interpretant from the first set functioning as the first sign in the second set. This requires further refinement. Those who hold a disjunctive attitude deny the significance of mimesis with respect to a notion of religiosity connected to themselves as the object of the second sign system. But they may well recognize the significance of mimesis to the religiosity of some other, who would be the indexed object of that second sign system. In the case of Pathan, he recognized the significance of tāshā playing as belonging with a larger set of related practices, including drumming, in terms of mimesis; in the second sign system the mimesis still stood as an index of his own group. However, tāshā playing in particular stood out not only as an iconic sign but also directly as an index of Urdu speakers, without reference to the mimetic sign system (#1). In this way, Pathan could distance himself from others on the basis of specifics, while maintaining an ideology that, in theory, could embrace a wide diversity of mimetic Muharram practices. He could affirm that the ‘memory’ (yād) is one and the same for Sindhis and muhājirs. The perception of iconicity was significant throughout these case studies with regard to what was being played during Muharram. Names such as mūsiqı-, ‘music’,, osāro, lolı-, nauhah khvānı-, mars̱ iya or zārı- constitute interpretants of such sounds in relation to, among other things, their roots or origins. As in the earlier mentioned double triadic systems, the name (interpretant) also serves as the primary sign in a second semiotic system involving the identity of the self or other agents. Muhammad Qasim, recognizing Muharram performance as part of a larger system of Sindhi music (i.e. originating in Sindhi music), speaking from his own position as a musician, used the term mūsiqı-. At the same time he could step out of his shoes and recognize the dominant ideology that separates

The manifest and the hidden


music from the Muharram context and names genres individually. Pathan too could recognize the iconicity of with music (first sign system), but because his naming practices are linked to who he is as a person (second sign system), he would not use the category of mūsiqı- as an encompassing one. The closest he came to this was using the English word ‘music centre’ to refer to the shop in which one could acquire recordings. The Sindhi Muharram repertoire’s names are significant in themselves, referring indexically to funerals (, symbolically to lamentation and lullabies (osāro, lolı-), and iconically to Muharram-appropriate chants and names (Husain-Husain, Shah Panjatan), but these are hierarchically organized under a single term – particularly for those less acquainted with the details of the repertoire – This served as a stand-in cover term for Muharram-specific repertoire while at the same time indexing a specifically Sindhi set of musical practices connected with funerals. Another originary scenario to which Muharram performance referred (for Pathan, Allaudin and many others not discussed here) was the story of Timur lang and the invention of the ta‘ziyah practice in South Asia. The image of Timur making a likeness of Imam Husain’s tomb in order to make a virtual pilgrimage (being too lame to make a pilgrimage himself) seemed to capture the imagination. Linking the drumming indexically with the story of Timur was one way of grounding the practice outside of music and outside of (or in addition to) Karbala, but still within the realm of Islamic cultural identity in South Asia. Allaudin’s unwillingness to admit that his teacher was a Hindu further reinforced the idea that even if drumming was not a religious act in the manner of a Shı-‘ah, the notion of this drumming originating from Hindus would have been disconcerting to his juniors. The musical repertoires themselves are the bases of some of the most suggestive findings in this set of case studies. The organization and naming of rhythmic patterns by numbers of stressed beats are shared by other traditions across linguistic lines in South Asia. Striking here is the possibility of a preponderance of such rhythms in one repertoire – the Agra group being the extreme example – to reinforce a more general claim that disconnects the organization of musical sound from its associated context. The case of the kalmah and the two patterns closely related to it, das kı- gintı- and bı-s kı- gintı-, point to forms of pattern identification in South Asia that are not based on ostinato variations, but rather on the occasional insertion of a cued signature pattern. In this case, the emphasis on kalmah as a uniquely significant pattern within a comparatively substantial and varied repertoire of other Muharram repertoire, suggests a concrete connection between the pattern organization and its semiotic salience. Finally, the fact that all the patterns are either explicitly part of, or draw principles from, Hindustani classical music suggest that the Muharram repertoires, no matter who play them now, were formed over generations during which skilled professional musicians interacted with those who eventually cut themselves off from their musical sources and went on to pass down the tradition, in whatever form, as if it belonged to a more


Richard K. Wolf

narrowly conceived group – from Agra, Bharatpur, or wherever. In these latter cases, it is the dynamic sources of these traditions that remain hidden – to many of the performers themselves. The realm of the manifest is the realm of the public sphere, where performers have political stake in having their voices heard, or as Ahmad K. put it, ‘show[ing] their majority’.

Notes 1 This is one of a series of publications I have been preparing on ritual drumming in south Asian Islamic contexts (See Wolf 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, and forthcoming). The research for this article was conducted over the period December 1996–February 1999, during which I was based in Lucknow and Lahore, and has continued over briefer intervals in Pakistan, north India, south India, and Iran until the present. I gratefully acknowledge the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the South Asia Initiative at Harvard University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies for funding parts of the research and writing of this project. In Pakistan, I would like to thank Qamar Jalil for countless hours spent teaching me Urdu, accompanying me on field expeditions, and transcribing and translating interviews. Many excerpts from these transcripts are included in this article, with my own attempts to correct or clarify the material. In Hyderabad, Sindh, I would like to thank Aftab Pathan for his tireless efforts assisting me. 2 In Barthes’s formulation, drawing on Hjelmslev, ‘a connoted system is a system whose plane of expression is itself constituted by a signifying system’ (1967: 89–90). Here the connoted system is the range of meanings drumming may hold in a given context; the signifying system is the repertoire of patterns and the arrangement of temporally and timbral contrasts that distinguish different patterns, drums, or parts. 3 A technical treatment of the Nizami drum repertoire will appear in a future publication. See Wolf (2001) for more discussion of the 1997–9 fieldwork on ritual drumming and for a transcription of the rhythmic pattern, kalmah. 4 According to Madhu Trivedi, Fas.-ıh. wrote his poetry ‘not for recital from the pulpit but for the mourning processions’ (2010: 80); it is not clear whether the use of poetry in processions included drumming in Fas.-ıh.’s time. 5 Another is the akam-puṟam categorization of cankam poetry in south India, which has been taken as a form of native classification and applied to folklore of contemporary south India (see Ramanujan 1986). 6 All these instruments have cognates that extend beyond the borders of Pakistan to the east and to the west, but this history is not my present concern. 7 The origins of the Samma people are not agreed upon by scholars. The idea that the Sindhi people greeted Muhammad bin Qasim with music was put forth in print by N.A. Baluch in his 1978 book on Sindhi music (Balocu 1978). It is difficult to say whether that idea was already in circulation before the book appeared or whether Baluch himself popularized the notion. I thank Abdul Haq Chang for alerting me to mention of this in Baluch’s book (2 October 2009). Other Manganhārs offer an Islamic lineage, dating to the time of the Prophet, and involving an ancestor, Mullah Nuru, who was said to have been the last waiting in a line to be given gifts and assigned means of livelihood. The Prophet, having nothing left for Nuru, gave him a daf (frame drum) and said that, hereafter, he would play daf and collect money from passersby in the name of god. Māngna means to beg; the name of the profession was changed from a version of the word that implied the musician was a beggar to the apparently less-pejorative manganhār by Bibi Fatima, the wife of the Prophet and mother of Hasan and Husain. She

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8 9 10 11 12

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23


changed the name of Nuru’s profession after he came to her door singing of the birth of her sons. The Manganhār added a second drum head to increase the sound output, thereby creating today’s d.hol (version by Nathan, Thatta district, near Jaro village, 20 May 1997). Pathān’s name indicates that his family once hailed from the Northwest Frontier Province, but this was likely many generations back; he was not part of the wave of Pathān migrants from the 1960s. Many Sindhis carry the name Pathān. In the Nizami tradition in Delhi, described in the opening pages, the mock sword battles form part of the communal Muharram activities. The son of Ghulam Hasnain Nizami himself participated in these public spectacles. The Manganhārs with whom I spoke called themselves maulā’ı- – followers of ‘Ali and Imam Husain; this is equivalent to Shı-’ı- in the Sindh context. Its classical analog is the lehrā, used as a melodic ground when a tabla player or dancer engages in intricate manoeuvres. The knowledge of knowing what piece to play at what time is related to a broader pool of knowledge Manganhārs in some parts of Pakistan are said to hold. Manganhār d.hol player Nathan, whom I interviewed near Jaro village in Thatta district, said it was his job to remember all the customs (rasm) and to communicate that knowledge when called upon. In situ I noted only these three items performed in this order. The order of the more elaborate sequence of vajats demonstrated for me and listed earlier may or may not be variable. See Kippen (2006: 144) regarding the possibly related term in Urdu and Panjabi, t.hā dūn, meaning ‘single-double’ and referring to the performance of the same pattern in one speed and then doubling the tempo. This may be due to the fact that the sharnāı- players are somewhat less involved than naqāra players as musicians; they do not improvise much in these rāgas and the sung poetry from which the melodies derive are old (they said). ‘Ye dı-n kā d.ankā chālu rakhne ke liye. … ye hamāra nām roshan rahe, dı-n kā d.ankā bajtā rahe.’ Tāla derives from the root tād. to beat or strike (Monier-Williams s.v. tāla). Owing to the complexity of the rhythms, the performers had difficulty demonstrating them and so I suspect that during Muharram the performers also have trouble maintaining the unitary ideal. Some of the other members of the group identified as ‘Khan Sahib’ and ‘Rajput’, which I took to be rather generic labels they adopted, and not evidence of membership in historically constituted communities using these labels. In India, they would make bamboo frames for the skin on each side and then affix it to a wooden shell. In Pakistan, they would cut a chemical drum (maybe 2.5 feet in diameter) in half, bolster it with a metal rod, and affix the skins. Although family members were butchers, they would buy the female goat skins used for the d.hol from other Muslim slaughter houses (only Muslim, halāl) and not use skins from animals they had killed themselves. This is largely in keeping with the place of ‘meaning’ more generally in Peirce’s model – usually meaning is associated with the interpretant, but Peirce also ‘at least once … identified a sign’s meaning with its immediate object’ (Short 2007: 263). Hindus involved sometimes view ta‘ziyahs in their own way, as temple chariots carrying deities; for them the identification may be equally obvious.

References Abrahamian, E. (2008), A History of Modern Iran, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Aching, Gerard (2002), Masking and Power: Carnival and Popular Culture in the Caribbean, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. Aghaie, K.S. (ed.) (2005), The Women of Karbala: Ritual Performance and Symbolic Discourses in Modern Shii Islam, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Balocu, N.B. (1978), Sindhı- mūsiqı- jı- muḵẖtas.iru tārı-ḵẖa, Bhit. Shāh: Shāha ‘Abdullat-ıf ¨ Bhit. Shāh S̱ aqāfatı- Markazu. Barthes, R. (1967), IV. denotation and connotation. In Elements of Semiology, Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 89–94. Blum, S. (2009), ‘Modes of Theorizing in Iranian Khorasan’, in R.K. Wolf (ed.), Theorizing the Local: Music, Practice and Experience in South Asia and Beyond, New York: Oxford University Press, 207–24. Burki, S.J. (2006), Historical Dictionary of Pakistan. Third edition, Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press. Bose, S. and A. Jalal (2004), Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy. 2nd edn, New York: Routledge. Ewing, K. (1997), Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis, and Islam, Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Grace, D. (2004), The Woman in the Muslin Mask: Veiling and Identity in Postcolonial Literature, Sterling, VA: Pluto Press. Grimes, R.L. (1995), Beginnings in Ritual Studies. Rev. ed., Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. El Guindi, F. (1999), Veil: Modesty, Privacy, and Resistance, New York: Berg. Kippen, J. (2006), Gurudev’s Drumming Legacy: Music, Theory and Nationalism in the Mr.dang aur Tablā Vādanpaddhati of Gurudev Patwardhan, Aldershot: Ashgate. Memon, S.G. (1994), The Tombs of the Kalhora Chiefs in Hyderabad, Karachi: Oxford University Press. Monier-Williams, M. (1990), A Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Reprint, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Noë, A. (2004), Action in Perception, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Peirce, C.S. (1955), ‘Logic as Semiotic: The Theory of Signs’, in J. Buchler (ed.), Philosophical Writings of Peirce, New York: Dover, 98–119. ——(1960), Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. 2 vols, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Ramanujan, A.K. (1986), ‘Two Realms of Kannada Folklore’, in S. Blackburn and A.K. Ramanujan (eds), Another Harmony: New Essays on the Folklore of India, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 41–73. Short, T.S. (2007), Peirce’ Theory of Signs, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Trivedi, M. (2010), The Making of the Awadh Culture, Delhi: Primus Books. Wolf, R. (2000), ‘Embodiment and Ambivalence: Emotion in South Asian Muharram Drumming’, Yearbook for Traditional Music, 32: 81–116. ——(2001), ‘Emotional Dimensions of Ritual Music among the Kotas, a South Indian Tribe’, Ethnomusicology, 45(3): 379–422. ——(2003), ‘Return to Tears: Musical Mourning, Emotion, and Religious Reform in Two South Asian Minority Communities’, in E. Wilson (ed.), The Living and the Dead: Social Dimensions of Death in South Asian Religions, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 95–112.

The manifest and the hidden


——(2006), ‘The Poetics of ‘Sufi’ Practice: Drumming, Dancing, and Complex Agency at Madho Lāl Husain (And Beyond)’, American Ethnologist, 33(2): 246–68. ——(2007), ‘Doubleness, Mātam, and Muharram Drumming in South Asia’, in S. Coakley and K.K. Shelemay (eds), Pain and its Transformation, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 331–50. ——(Forthcoming), The Voice in the Drum, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.


‘Muslim punk’ music online Piety and protest in the digital age Dhiraj Murthy1

The presence of young diasporic Muslim musicians in new media is already significant, but also continually rising. The explosion of MySpace and Facebook pages for diasporic Muslim bands is a case in point. It is tempting to stop at this moment, basking in this concrete new media presence. However, presence does not always beget position. And in this case, young Muslim males continue to be othered, exoticized, otherwise marginalized online and offline. The online presence of ‘Taqwacores’, a transnational diasporic punk music scene, serves as a space where these marginal essentialisms are contested. In the face of post-9/11 and 7/7 Islamophobia, Taqwacores’ cyberspaces have been viewed as ‘safe’ outlets for progressive activist Muslims to discuss and organize. Though the Internet’s role in growing Muslim musical youth subcultures is important, it is critical not to let this overshadow the role of these virtual spaces as cocoons where young Muslim males (especially marginalized ones) can creatively and freely express themselves. This chapter explores the continuing circulation of pejorative essentialisms of diasporic Muslim males (especially as ‘terrorist’/demonic ‘other’) and underlines the possibility of cyberspaces to function as meaningful and progressive Muslim social worlds which challenge these essentialisms both online and offline (a case in point for the anti-Islamophobic leanings of the Taqwacores). Almost a decade after 9/11 and some years after 7/7, Islamophobia in the UK, US and other Western states sadly continues to flourish. Fuelled by the ongoing Anglo-American ‘War on Terror’, Muslims, especially young Muslim males, continue to be othered/marginalized at best and demonized/violently attacked at worst. Furthermore, the diverse cultures and cultural products of diasporic and non-diasporic Islamic cultures are reductively conflated with stereotypical invocations of an imagined, homogenous ultra-Orthodox Islam. This chapter examines the case of one subcultural scene in which young diasporic South Asian Muslim males are resisting these essentialisms through music which they term ‘Muslim punk’. This scene, known as the ‘Taqwacores’, began its life in suburban Boston, USA, but its most critical ‘spaces’ are mediated by the Internet. This chapter explores the online presence of the Taqwacores on social networking/social media sites – especially Facebook and Twitter – to understand

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how new digitally mediated collective Muslim youth identities combine piety and protest in deterritorialized spaces within the Internet. Post-9/11 and 7/7, Islamophobia has been on the rise in the West (Ashencaen Crabtree et al. 2008; Dunn et al. 2007; Malik 2006; Popoviciu and Mac an Ghaill 2004). Muslim men have been specifically demonized as being terrorist/ extremist (Virdee et al. 2006; Dwyer et al. 2008) or uncontrollably sexually aggressive (Hubbard 2005). In Britain, this has also resulted in institutional racism, including a sharp increase in the number of house arrests of Muslim men (Brittain 2009). In the US, violent and sometimes lethal attacks against Muslim men have risen sharply (Curiel 2008). The positioning of Muslims as a dangerous/unwanted ‘other’ has become pervasive, embedded within dominant Western media, political and religious discourses. Notably, Pope Benedict XVI in a speech at the University of Regensburg in 2006 framed Islam as a violent religion in stark opposition to the enlightenment of Western religious traditions.2 This construction of Islam as an essential dichotomous other has real consequences for young Muslims (Malik 2006). Media portrayals, as Poole and Richardson (2006) observe, continue to demonize Muslim males. In April 2009, the popular American TV show ‘Lie to Me’ ran an episode in which a Washington, DC-based mosque was accused of being home to an AlQaeda splinter cell. In the episode, all young Muslim males were sharply essentialized as terrorist/fanatical extremists. This Islamophobic gaze in America continues to retain staying power. As Curiel (2008: xii–xiii) observes, a Gallup poll in 2006 revealed that almost a third of those polled felt American Muslims were sympathetic to Al-Qaeda and a 2007 Newsweek poll showed that 41 per cent of those surveyed believe that ‘Muslim culture glorifies suicide’. The post-9/11 gaze grew to such a level that Mahmood (2002) felt compelled to write an anti-essentialist book entitled Islam Beyond Terrorists and Terrorism. In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten controversially published comics depicting the prophet Mohammed, including clear references to Islam as a religion of terrorists (Brun 2008). The publication of these led to widespread protests by Muslims around the world. Hoskins and O’Loughlin (2007: 154–7) argue that these media depictions of Islam collectively constitute a ‘mythology’, in which Islam and terror become conflated. Writing in the wake of the urban disturbances in the northern British cities of Oldham, Burnley and Bradford in 2001, Louise Archer (2001: 81) argues that ‘Muslim young men are increasingly being defined as militant and aggressive, intrinsically fundamentalist, ultimate Others’ (cited in Dwyer et al. 2008: 117). Following Foucault’s (Foucault and Sheridan 1972) theory of discursive relationality, Western Islamophobia has become constituted as a system of discursive statements, relationally networked and maintained through complex hegemonic structures of power. In this discursive system which continues to propagate ‘demonizing mythologies’ (Gómez-Peña and Peña 2005), Taqwacores, a transnational diasporic Muslim punk subculture, has served as one avenue for young Muslim


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men to challenge dominant Islamophobic discourses and forge new identities which go beyond modes of binaristic thinking. Taqwacores’ cyber-spaces have been viewed as ‘safe’ outlets for progressive South Asian Muslims to discuss and organize. Though the Internet’s role in growing South Asian musical subcultures is important, it is critical not to let this overshadow the role of these virtual spaces as cocoons where South Asian youths (especially marginalized Muslim youths) may feel they can creatively and freely express themselves. In this research, respondents were interviewed through online methods, face-to-face ethnographic interviews and participant observation. A sample of interview participants was collected from Facebook and MySpace groups on Taqwacores, whose membership is published publicly on the Internet. The largest of these groups is ‘Taqwacore’ on Facebook, which has 462 members (at the time of writing) and of which I became a member. Respondents were also recruited through Twitter as well as through gatekeepers in the field. Thirty-seven face-to-face interviews were conducted in eight metropolitan US cities. In terms of the digital ethnographic component of this research, the interactions of members within Facebook/MySpace groups such as Taqwacore (text discussion, uploading of video/audio, etc.) have been observed. Both in offline and online interview work, respondents’ viewpoints on participation in Taqwacores through online spaces have been elicited. Respondents were asked to reflect on issues of identity, social marginalization, religious marginalization and ethnicity. Though membership of Taqwacores can be seen online, i.e. publicly, it remains a sensitive and marginalized subcultural scene. My research into the Taqwacores project has also involved maintaining a Twitter account through which I regularly send out tweets regarding my research – whether it is material I am reading, videos I am watching, research questions I am grappling with, or hypotheses I am investigating. Through Twitter, I also ‘follow’ individuals involved in the Taqwacores scene and read their tweets regularly. I maintain a project website which includes photographic images related to the project, visualizations and an archive of my tweets.3 Through this process, I quickly realized that youths involved in Taqwacores are using this viral, instant and ubiquitous medium to bring a wide array of individuals both into Taqwacores as well as to keep interested individuals informed of the scene. The scene’s use of Twitter also enables Taqwacores to reach out to groups of individuals who may not feel comfortable attending concerts or events taking place in the scene (or who may face socio-religious barriers). For example, there are many more women Twittering about Taqwacores than you would see at most of their concerts. This use of Twitter highlights specific examples of how Taqwacores is challenging pejorative normative stereotypes of young Muslim Americans. This chapter is especially interested in how particular music websites, discussion forums and social networking websites are facilitating the growth of the Taqwacores scene. By way of background, I will briefly introduce the punk scene and the Muslim diaspora before examining the Taqwacores scene.

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Muslim diaspora in the US It is estimated that there are approximately 2.35 million Muslims in the US (Ewing 2008: 3). Some scholars of the Muslim American diaspora have felt a need to break down this population by ethnic origin, mosque affiliation, etc. For example, Mohammad-Arif (2002: 34) begins by describing the population as follows: 24.4 per cent are of ‘South Asian’ descent, 42 per cent are ‘AfricanAmericans’ and 12.4 per cent are ‘Arabs’, ending her book with pages of tables listing approximate populations by city, numbers of mosques, mosques by religious sect, etc. Mohammad-Arif’s statistics, and those like hers, seem useful only to those who seek to understand Muslims in the US as terrorist/dangerous ‘others’. Furthermore, they elide the diversity within limited meta-categories. For example, ‘South Asian’ Muslims include individuals who identify with Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and belong to a variety of Muslim sects including, but not limited to, Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis, Wahhabis and Salafis. Not all of these groupings are mutually exclusive either. As Suárez-Orozco (2008) argues, post-9/11 Americans negatively associate all Muslims, regardless of divergence in class, language, country of origin or religious practice. Furthermore, she adds that existent misunderstandings, misperceptions and misrepresentations of Muslims have made them ‘targets of reflexive hatred’ in America (ibid.: xiv). Ultimately, there is a significant population of Muslims in the US, which large-scale census data suggests is around 0.5 per cent (Ewing 2008: 3) and President Obama in his historic speech at Cairo University put at seven million (Fisk 2009). Unlike the marginal socioeconomic position of Muslim populations in Western Europe, the median family income among American Muslims is $60,000 – a figure comfortably above the national median (Barrett 2007: 9).4 Or, as Peter Skerr (cited in Muedini 2009: 39–40) sees it, Muslims who are considered to be ‘guestworkers’ in Europe have remained ‘working-class’ while American Muslims are generally considered ‘well-educated profession[al] and business people, far more affluent than their coreligionists in Europe’. Though some Muslim groups in America have and do face significant economic marginalization (e.g. Muslim taxi drivers in New York City (Mathew 2005), it is the racialization and demonization that haunts young diasporic Muslim men the most. As Malik (2004: 179) argues, the US remains at best ‘indifferent’ and at worst ‘totally hostile’ to the realities of diasporic Muslim American lives, a view echoed to some extent by Abdo (2006: 7). Additionally, certain groups of diasporic Muslim youths, especially those who deviate from dominant sectarian/community norms, have neither been embraced by Muslim diasporic cultures nor ‘American’ ones – leading to their position as ‘strangers’ (Simmel 1971) caught in between. As Kibria (2008: 246) notes in her study of new Bangladeshi–American Islamic youth movements, some diasporic Muslim American youths have ‘limited exposure to the homeland’ and are ‘unable to relate meaningfully to the ethnic culture of their parents’. Simultaneously, they ‘feel distant from and unaccepted by the dominant society’ (Kibria 2008: 246).


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Diasporic Muslim American men face unique issues in terms of gender and identity. There exists a reasonable corpus of literature on British Muslim masculinities (Archer 2001; Dwyer et al. 2008; Alexander 2004; Din and Cullingford 2006; Hopkins 2004, 2006, 2007). However, as Enloe (2006: vii) highlights, ‘there has been a stunning lack of curiosity about [Muslim] masculinities’ in the United States. Rather, the very diverse Muslim masculinities that exist in the diaspora have not only been collapsed, but naturalized as violent and subsumed by discourses of terrorism, patriarchal backward cultures and religious fanaticism. Though an interesting subject of study in itself, the production of these discourses is beyond the remit of this chapter (for more discussion on this, see Hunt and Rygiel 2006). But the impact of these discourses cannot be overstressed. For example, Shahjehan, a member of the band The Kominas, was bluntly asked by a fellow student at his university (who was mixed race – half white and half Indian), ‘Would you say that most of the problems in the world have to do with or are caused by Muslims?’5 Peek (2003) similarly found that young Muslim male college students in New York challenged the authenticity of video footage showing crowds celebrating 9/11. Nonetheless, these media images (e.g. cheering crowds of Muslims with machine guns) are powerfully embedded into the American psyche, as exemplified by the question posed to Shahjehan. As Smith (2008: iii) observes, ‘Young, Muslim, male’ constitutes a ‘package of attributes’ which has become pejoratively imprinted into (geo/socio) politics. Or, as one of Muedini’s (2009: 51) young Muslim American respondents poignantly puts it, media outlets portray Muslim men as ‘animals’.

Punk Muslims? Punk music has been traditionally associated with ‘scruffy’ working-class antiestablishment white British youth (Hebdige 1979). Given the music’s trajectory in racist skinhead movements (Hebdige 1979: 54–59), its appropriation by ethnic minority groups highlights the complexities of punk’s rerouting. A strong example of punk music as activist music for marginalized ethnic minorities can be found in the Puerto Rican punk music scene in New York. As Mateus (2004: 263) argues, ‘New-Nuyorican’ punk bands such as Ricanstruction have ‘resignified and reconfigured’ punk rock’s anarchist and anti-establishment aesthetic (Moore 2007) to express progressive Boricua (i.e. Puerto Rican) socio-political aims. Furthermore, punk is not restricted to production in the West as Baulch (2007) demonstrates. Indeed it first appeared in the 1990s in countries with large Muslim populations such as Indonesia. In Bali, for example, performances by metal and punk musicians have served as a form of resistance to dichotomous essentialisms of ‘Indonesianness’ and ‘Balineseness’. Similarly, an activist punk scene in Bandung, Malaysia has, according to Pickles (2007), facilitated new progressive activist identities and ethnicities. In a different

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vein, a Basque nationalist youth identity movement, as Kasmir (2002) notes, has emerged and been maintained through a punk music scene in Basque bars. In a radio interview, Michael Knight, author of the Taqwacore novel, was asked how punk and Islam could possibly be compatible (Prescott 2009). Knight responded succinctly that the Prophet Mohammed resisted unjust power in his time and that Muslim punk strives to replicate this vein of hegemonic resistance. As will be discussed later, many individuals involved with the Taqwacores scene have echoed this sentiment. Ultimately, punk is a musical form and, like any music, can be (and has been) reinscribed with a wildly divergent set of socio-political agendas (from eco-punks to racist punk skinheads). Though an assertion of hegemonic resistance is forwarded, punk scenes have historically been male-dominated and it should be noted that the Muslim punk scene is no exception. Women have been conspicuously involved in global punk scenes – dyeing their Mohawk-shaped hair and wearing leather bodices, fishnet stockings and pointed stilettos (Hebdige 1979: 107–8). However, despite this visibility, their participation has been as a minority (Leblanc 1999). The punk scenes in Britain and the United States in the 1970s and 1980s played host to a variety of new masculinities: ‘teddy boys’, ‘skinheads’, and ones fusing bondage and sexual fetish subcultures. However, these masculinities, unlike those of the Muslim punk scene, are not born from religious engagement. Most relevant to Taqwacores are the masculinities associated with Straight Edge (sXe), a movement of vegan/vegetarian, teetotal and monogamous/sexually abstinent punks (Wood 2006). The scene started in the early 1980s in the UK and US and peaked in the late 1990s as vegetarianism and thrift store shopping gave way to millennial hyper-consumerism. Haenfler (2006) argues that the nearly two decades of sXe developed masculinities which both answered Messner’s (1997) ‘crisis’ of masculinity and challenged punk’s traditional association with aggression, emotional distance and drugs/ drinking. The masculinities of Taqwacores parallel those of sXe in that they are similarly derived from the subculture as a site for promoting perceived ‘healthy masculinities’ (Haenfler 2006: 121) which integrate some feminist and social activist values. This distinguishes them from the much larger historical punk scenes which were more broadly based with anti-establishment or anarchist aims. Taqwacores also stands distinct from predecessor Muslim punk scenes in Indonesia and Malaysia. Though the Balinese scene was also male-dominated (Baulch 2007: 8–9), it, unlike Taqwacores, retained negative views towards women participating in punk. Interestingly, as Baulch (ibid.: 9) highlights, if a band began to accumulate a female fan base, they were accused of selling out and becoming too commercial. Retaining a hard masculinity was viewed as critically important by the musicians in the Balinese scene. Ironically, this hard masculinity was ultimately a sanitized middle-class corporatemediated one with some punks going to eat at McDonalds at a local mall (Baulch 2007: 24). Though women are few in numbers in Taqwacores, the scene claims one all-women Muslim punk band, ‘The Secret Trial Five’, and


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Taqwacore bands have noticed the high turnout of women at their events in New York City.

Muslim punks online Because the Internet is a transnational space where people from all over the world can converge [ … ] it is a space where [ … ] community building can occur in a more efficient manner. (Ignacio 2005: 3) Similarly, Muslim students in the United States have been actively building transnational communities on the Internet. These ‘cyberMuslims’ (Mohammad-Arif 2002: 209) have taken advantage not only of the transnational reach of the Internet, but of the speed of propagating information. The Internet has specifically facilitated transnational Muslim communities (e.g. surrounding activism or identity construction) through social networking websites, Internet chat rooms and Web-based forums. Maira (2008) found that young South Asian Muslims in America (re)constructed their identities through engagement with Internet-based transnational e-communities. She gives the example of a young diasporic Bangladeshi girl, Jamila, who lives in a city in New England and, through Bangladeshi Internet chat rooms, identifies with like-minded youths in London. In this case, the Internet creates a Muslim space which, though not free of difference or hierarchy, can (but not always) escapes both the confines of geography and offline Islamophobia. These youth groups are part of a broader engagement of Muslims with online spaces which Bunt (2003) terms ‘Cyber Islamic Environments’ (CIEs). In these CIEs, online khutbahs (sermons) are delivered in real time, religious ‘authorities’ make pronouncements, and Web pages chronicle the activities of dominant and marginal opposition Muslim groups. Bunt’s (2009) newer work updates CIEs to include blogs, social networking sites and other Internet spaces. Bunt (2009: 7) makes the distinction between ‘Muslim-only’ web spaces, such as MuslimSpace and IslamicTube, and those with ‘an Islamic footprint’, such as MySpace pages and Facebook groups. Bunt (ibid.: 8) ultimately concludes that: Online, new virtual groupings and affinities develop beyond traditional boundaries, drawing upon multiple identities. These challenge and mutate previously conventional understandings of Muslim identity, transposing familiar elements within a digital interface. CIEs provide opportunities for those from nonconventional Muslim backgrounds to promote their own worldviews. These challenges to the status quo have drawn attention from traditional institutions, some of which have sought to prescribe such sites with varying degrees of success. The same mechanics of online debate in identity creation have been targeted as potentially subversive by governmental organizations unable to censor or regulate Internet pronouncements and activities that conflict with their policies.

167 Conten developmen

Historica model

enthuslasts in nowovators advocates

Authority fieure

S o m I networking

geeks professlonals

Interpretative models


Regional Isla

Political Islam Community centered

Milita rùstie jihad

Globalized Islam

Figure 7.1 From iMuslims: rewiring the house of Islam by Gary R. Bunt. Copyright © 2009 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

Therefore, these CIEs can facilitate activism, marginal Muslim identities and diverse formations of transnational Muslim communities. These CIEs have even displaced the role of mosques for some youths. Bunt (2009: 10) notes that some Muslims now identify their worldviews with particular Islamic webt t l s sites rather than a local mosque or specific religious network. This is a phes nomenal change which should not be underestimated. Ultimately, Bunt (2009: 282) concludes that ‘[s]tudying Internet activities relating to Islam should form part of any equation that seeks to approach contemporary Muslim discourse’. My study of Taqwacores echoes this conclusion in that, if you exclude the CIE m element of Taqwacores, one is merely left with a partial account of the scene. Taqwacores uses non-Islamic webspaces, such as Facebook and MySpace, to create a CIE which is critically important to the functioning of their scene. The MySpace page for a band called ‘The Kominas’, who describe their music as ‘explosive Pakistani punk rock’, has been one important gateway for indii viduals to become exposed to the Taqwacores scene.6 The Kominas’ MySpace presence consists mostly of album track samples, tour dates and corresponding images from their debut album, Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay. Their music and visual aesthetic, like that of the UK-based band Fundamental’s most recent album All is War, is a response to post-9/11 and 7/7 Islamophobia.

The Taqwacores The Taqwacores scene was inspired by a novel of the same name written by the white Muslim convert Michael Muhammad Knight. His book is set in Buffalo, New York and centres on a house shared by a group of ‘punk Muslims’. The novel chronicles their negotiation/reconciliation of punk music and Islam and has become a coming of age novel for some progressive young Muslim Americans. The fiction of Taqwacores became fact through bands such as


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The Kominas, Vote Hezbollah, Al-Thawra and Secret Trial Five (an allwomen band), to name but a few. Vote Hezbollah, the name of one of the bands in Knight’s novel, was brought to life by Kourosh Poursalehi, a Sufi Muslim teenager in San Antonio, Texas. In 2004, he put to music a poem at the start of Knight’s book entitled ‘Muhammad was a punk rocker’, unwittingly sowing the seed for the Taqwacores scene in the US. Poursalehi sent the track to Knight. Around the same time, a young diasporic Pakistani Muslim in the Boston suburbs, Basim Usmani, had been in touch with Knight, impressed by his novel. Usmani also loaned the book to his close friend Shahjehan Khan. Knight visited them both and brought along Poursalehi’s track. Listening to it on repeat in Knight’s car, Khan was shocked that ‘there was this kid down in Texas writing this music’ (cited in Crafts, 2007). Khan and Usmani, deeply inspired by Knight’s novel and Poursalehi’s track, were later to start ‘The Kominas’, the most recognized of the Taqwacores bands. Though the Taqwacores scene was initially spawned by Knight’s book and the physical exchange of tracks (e.g. CDs in the mail), its recent exponential growth has been largely mediated by the Internet, which has been a prime breeding ground for Taqwacores. The Kominas’ MySpace page provides tracks from their album alongside photographs and information regarding performances. Similarly, the embedding of YouTube videos in Facebook groups alongside textual dialogue has provided a highly expressive space for the anti-essentialist politics of the Taqwacores. The rough DIY aesthetic of blogs (with images and text sometimes quickly thrown together) often oozes a quasi-punk aesthetic, which is reminiscent of early (offline) punk ‘zines’ (home-made fan magazines). Interestingly, the ‘zine’ for the Taqwacore scene is not a taped together affair handed out at the back of clubs, but rather a crisp and professionally rendered blog, The Taqwacore Webzine.7 Furthermore, Facebook groups discussing Taqwacores have enabled old and new scene members to critically discuss both the novel and its offshoot music scene. The Punkistani Live Journal, for example, comments on The Kominas’ album and the Taqwacore Forum showcases posts ranging from the scene to a critique of popular orientalist imagery.8 9 This blog is maintained by Usmani and serves as both a site to showcase the Kominas’ music but to also engage readers with his politics. Take this post from 7 February 2009 for example: I’m so frustrated with Muslims online, and in Pakistan. None of them can talk about the Taliban with any sort of conviction, I find myself having the same conversations about the great game, Soviet’s [sic.] in Afghanistan, and CIA/ISI trained mujahideen. It’s like Pakistani Muslims are stuck talking about the 80s. [ … ] Yeah, but what about the people of Swat, Bajaur, Waziristan, or dare I say it (dare! dare!), Kabul? Are they worth less than Palestinians? It is this melange of discursive multimedia which facilitates both the functions of piety and protest which Taqwacores espouses. Social networking

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websites – especially MySpace and Facebook – have played the greatest role in this process.

‘Taqwatweet’ Walk Tall,kickass,learn2speak Arabic,love music& never4get u come 4rm a long line of truthseekers,lovers-H.S.Thompson Twitter post by a #taqwacore member The micro-blogging website Twitter, however, seems to be partially displacing Facebook in the day-to-day happenings within the Taqwacores scene. I will come back to social media later in the chapter. However, to give a specific example, Usmani’s Punkistani Live Journal mentioned in the preceding section is now updated very infrequently. Contrast that to Usmani’s presence on Twitter in which he posts updates several times a day. Contributions to Taqwacorerelated groups on Facebook or similarly Twitter posts are not just focused on textual commentary, but rather on individuals uploading their own images/ videos. Furthermore, their textual contributions may be an exegesis of the multimedia material contributed by other individuals. Basim Usmani’s Punkistani blog became a conduit for like-minded Pakistanis, both on the subcontinent and in the diaspora, to connect. Usmani’s own experience highlights how his online interactions shaped his offline interactions: My first interactions with sympathetic Pakistanis who I went on to meet afterwards started online.10 After The Kominas had gained a measure of success in the US, Basim moved back to Lahore (where he was born) from suburban Boston. He soon met these ‘sympathetic Pakistanis’ in person and started a new Lahore-based Taqwacores band, Noble Drew. This band also used the Internet to spread their music and its progressive politics. For example, Noble Drew posted a video on YouTube for their track ‘Thaliyon vi chimero’, which explores the dissonance between de jure and de facto gender issues in Pakistan (including the inability of women to participate in many aspects of the Pakistani public sphere).11 In Usmani’s case, the Internet was critical to the transnationalization of Taqwacore and its politics. He recounted to me how The Kominas’ MySpace page attracted punks from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.12 Similarly, the editor of the Taqwacore webzine Marwan (who is in the band Al-Thawra), emphasizes that Taqwacore was ‘born as an Internet phenomenon’ and the scene was made possible through the global support of ‘friends in far-flung places’.13 Usmani has now shifted his posts from the Punkistani blog to Twitter. He posts messages regularly (many times a day when the band is on tour). Twitter is a micro-blogging service via which users can post updates which are of 140 characters or fewer, approximately the same length as a cell/mobile phone text message. Known as ‘tweets’, short messages can be sent by individuals in a


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variety of ways – by text message from a cell/mobile phone, through the Twitter website, from smart phones such as the iPhone or Blackberry, and from other mobile devices. Twitter marks a profound shift in media use in that it produces a certain constancy, or at least a perceived constancy, of information. For example, if you search for ‘Taqwacore’ at any given moment, someone will have ‘tweeted’ something about it in the previous few hours or on that day.14 This is distinct from the sparser comments on the Taqwacorerelated Facebook and MySpace pages. This is not to say that the discussions on Facebook and MySpace pages are not important or are insignificant in any way. Rather, the immediacy of Twitter has made it a preferred venue for communicating information about the scene. At the time of writing, one Twitter user involved in the scene has compiled a wiki page of Twitter users interested in Taqwacore.15 There is an active group, which marks its tweets with ‘#taqwacore’, allowing members in the scene to cultivate a niche Taqwacore community on Twitter.

Piety and protest offline and online In a previous section, I quoted a controversial entry from Usmani’s Punkistani blog. Similarly, many of the tweets sent within the #taqwacore group openly and freely express political positions which are either marginalized or explicitly censored offline. Printed books regarding Muslim subcultures are subject to particularly stringent scrutiny. The British printing of the novel Taqwacores was censored as the UK publishers, Telegram Books, feared some of the actions and words of Muslim punks in the novel might spark another Rushdie Affair. However, the American publisher of the book, Autonomedia, used the Internet to allow British readers access to the censored sections.16 The section of the passage below in square brackets was censored in the British imprint: You have to stop trying to make sense of Punk – what it’s for, what it’s against. It’s against everything. [The singer from Vote Hezbollah pissed on a Quran.] Everyone loved it. Then he picked up the kitab, shook some drips off, carefully turned the frail wet pages and recited Ya Sin with absolute sincerity. Somehow the whole thing made sense. (Knight 2007: 231) This graphic portrayal of a negotiation of piety and protest by the singer of a Taqwacore band, Vote Hezbollah, critically interrogates individual and group identity discourses amongst some subcultural diasporic Muslim youths. Though contentious, it portrays an assertive Muslim (male) identity which is neither orthodox nor violent. No call is made to jihad. Rather, the censored passage reveals a frustration with the identity of being Muslim and American post-9/11. This negotiation of piety and protest in Knight’s fiction and in reality

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in the live performances of Taqwacore has been invaluable to the scene. The censorship of the section where a Muslim punk urinates on the Qur’an also serves as a reminder of existent orthodox boundaries of public Muslim identities. Most importantly, it has pushed progressive young Muslims involved in Taqwacore deeper into the fold of online forums and groups rather than offline ones. Several of my respondents emphasized that they would not be able to protest against dominant Islamic identities through offline venues in the same ways that they do online, as powerful orthodox groups patrol these physical spaces (e.g. one respondent emphasized that ultraconservative factions of Wahhabi Muslims would become aware of these forms of offline protest). Twitter, for the most part, is an uncensored space and so the discussion of Taqwacore is relatively unfettered. Scene members send their 140 character tweets without too much thought as to whether a message is blasphemous or otherwise offensive. Of course, part of this open flow of messages is a product of the medium of Twitter (and other social networking sites). But, part of Taqwacore’s embracing of online spaces stems from the inability of Muslim youths to be similarly expressive in offline ways. The literature (Gottschalk and Greenberg 2008; Kaplan 2006; Semati 2007; Sirin and Fine 2007) shows that prominent media outlets continue to portray Muslims as dangerous terrorists. One byproduct of this is that not all public spaces for discursive representation (e.g. community centres) are accessible to Muslim youths. Online spaces face no such barriers.

Post-9/11 and 7/7 … we go to [a] church and we sit down. And it gets mentioned again that I’m Pakistani, and [someone] pulls out this long knife. Like about that long (gestures), and waves it around my face. And I’m totally in the back and awkwardly I start smiling, like ‘What the fuck, why do you have a knife on me?’ [ … ] I mean it was a knife pointed in my face. And that was after 9/11. (Basim Usmani)17 Usmani’s experience is powerfully moving. Many of my respondents described incidents of violence, harassment and extreme discrimination, post-9/11. These personal experiences have directly fuelled the politics of Taqwacore. One respondent, Marwan, a 23-year-old orderly and musician (in the band Al-Thawra), talked about the discrimination he faced at airports and how the paranoia of Muslims as terrorists was an issue he felt he had to address in his music.18 Along with Shahjehan Khan, another respondent, they started a ‘Terror Schtick’ joke band, ‘Box Cutter Surprise’, to challenge pejorative essentialisms of Muslims. In the words of Marwan, ‘that [stereotypical] shit is stupid’ and had to be challenged.19 For example, a track by The Kominas entitled ‘Suicide bomb the Gap’ simultaneously protests against American corporatist imperialism and the essentialism of Muslims as suicide bombers. The


Dhiraj Murthy musiteka New on Musiteka: Taqwacore. el Punk Islamico ¡ Tue Sep IS 1S3S 07 20&9 kaltfoley: li anyone planning on going to the #Taqwacore documentary screening In October? Tue Sto 15 15 11 58 2O09 SaggSyndicate: Musi make the drive to BC for the Taqwacore doc Tue Sta 15 10 13.18 2009 ihecopyninja: And now for some Muslim Punk Metal http : / /taq wac Tue Sep 15 09Ì1 31 2009 ThorsProvonl. Joachim Manilio: [Mideast Youth] Sagg Taqwacore Syndicate: an unlikely taqwacore?: A primary J.. Tue Sep IS OA S3: S3 2009

Figure 7.2 ‘Taqwacore’ tagged posts on a selection of tweets with the hashtag or keyword #taqwacore.

lyrics and titles of The Kominas’ tracks (and this holds true for other Taqwacore bands) rise to the resistant activism of the punk music genre by challenging religious, gender and national stereotypes. ‘Rumi was a homo’, another Kominas track, encompasses all three. As mentioned previously, the extreme progressivism of some of this music ends up drawing fire even in offline venues assumed to be ‘safe’. In 2007, several Taqwacore bands (including the all-women Secret Trial Five) were scheduled to perform at The Islamic society of North America (ISNA) annual conference. The ISNA was born out of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) in the 1980s (Malik 2004: 178). It today serves as an umbrella organization which organizes activities and conferences for Muslim professionals and students. It is perceived as being relatively progressive due to its core focus on Muslim students. It was this belief that led Taqwacores bands to sign up to perform at ISNA in the first place. Indeed, as the Taqwacore bands performed, the crowd began to respond to their lyrics and sounds positively. This is well conveyed by the words of one female poster on the TAQWACORE Facebook group page: ‘All of the hijabi girls were going gagaaa [sic.] over you guys!’ Perhaps the ululations of hijabi women were too much for ISNA’s organizers as they called in the local police to eject any Taqwacore scene members. In response, Muslim punks smashed a guitar on thesidewalk outside the conference venue while shouting ‘music is haraam (forbidden)’. Barrett (2007) believes that ISNA is ‘predominantly immigrant’ and this has sometimes led to a failure to understand some of the nuances of diasporic

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Muslim identities. He also notes ISNA’s historical lack of a moderate Muslim leadership. Barrett’s conclusion provides one explanation for why Taqwacores was marched offstage by police officers at the request of ISNA conference organizers.20 Because of Taqwacores’ philosophical goal of challenging dominant Muslim orthodoxies and the marginalization of diverse Muslim identities, members of the scene worked to organize a side event during ISNA 2009, featuring The Kominas and other bands. Though the event was not at the conference site, some ISNA attendees did participate. Predictably, despite its efforts, Taqwacore was only able to lie at the periphery of ISNA, performing in, of all places, a Roman Catholic church. That said, discussion on Taqwacore-related Facebook and Twitter group pages relating to ISNA does indicate future possibilities to infiltrate the prevalent orthodoxy of the conference, an act which would signal a watershed in post-9/11 Muslim American identities.

Conclusion This chapter has investigated the rise of Muslim piety and protest in the digital age. I have used the emergence and growth of Taqwacore, a transnational, predominantly South Asian, diasporic ‘Muslim punk’ music scene to explore the roles which new media play in the development of post-9/11 and 7/7 diasporic Muslim identities. Specifically, this chapter has argued that marginalized diasporic Muslim youths have been unable to use traditional offline outlets to express their negotiations of post-9/11 identity as Muslims and Americans. The case when Taqwacore musicians were ejected from the 2007 ISNA conference by police is a case in point. The Internet, however, has proved a critical medium that allows these Muslim youths to express their progressive politics. The Internet has played more than a role as mere mediator in this diasporic musical scene. Rather, Taqwacore was made possible by the Internet. Because the offline Muslim public sphere disallowed discursive engagement by Muslim punks, the Internet was the only real way to create a national and later transnational subcultural movement. The case of one of my respondents, Marwan, who started the band Al-Thawra in Chicago, is a good example. Marwan had been writing music critiquing powerful orthodox Islamic currents. He decided to create a MySpace page and the first track he uploaded was centred around ‘questioning the clergy in Islam’.21 His rationale for putting the track on MySpace was that he ‘wanted to put it out there to the world’.22 Interestingly, shortly after he uploaded this track, Michael Knight, the author of the Taqwacore novel, contacted him through MySpace’s messaging function. Marwan read the book and attributes his decision to join the Taqwacore movement to these contacts with Knight through MySpace. Besides connecting geographically distant (and potentially invisible) marginal Muslim voices, Taqwacore’s accessible presence on the Internet has allowed many non-Muslims to participate meaningfully in the scene. One respondent, Kaitlin Foley, a non-Muslim white woman involved in organising Taqwacore


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events and blogging about them, has played a central role in Taqwacore’s presence on Twitter. She described to me that she views Twitter as ‘the Red Light district for ideas, a place to be open and share thoughts, regardless of how polished and complete the thought is’, making it a perfect medium for connecting the socioeconomically and ethnically diverse (though progressive) individuals involved in Taqwacore.23 Also, as discussed in this chapter, the Internet (and especially Twitter) simultaneously facilitates the growth of the medium as ‘Muslim punk’, while encouraging non-Muslims to participate actively in the scene. Ultimately, Taqwacore’s digital negotiations of piety and protest have not only articulated new diasporic Muslim youth identities, but are also (re)creating these vis-à-vis meaningful engagements with like-minded non-Muslim activist youths, processes which often meet with limited success offline.

Notes 1 I am grateful to the AHRC/ESRC Performance, Politics, Piety workshop participants for their useful comments on an earlier version of this chapter and to Nyle Usmani, my research assistant, who conducted some of the interviews referenced in this chapter during July and August 2009. Fieldwork conducted for this research was funded by a Bowdoin College faculty development grant. 2 Christian organizations in the US have been following a similar strategy. Florida Christian University, for example, supported the publication of Gabriel’s (2002) Islam and Terrorism, a book which crassly attributes terrorism with Islamic theology and paints Christianity as noble and pacific. 3 (accessed 15 March 2009). 4 There is, of course, diversity amongst Muslim groups in the US, including many working-class Muslim communities in the US. The Arab community in Dearborn, Michigan, for example, is dominated by those working at nearby auto manufacturing plants (Abdo 2006). 5 Interview with Shahjehan Khan. 6 (accessed 15 March 2009). 7 (accessed 15 March 2009). 8 (accessed 15 March 2009). 9 (accessed 15 March 2009). 10 E-mail interview with Basim Usmani. 11 (accessed 15 March 2009). 12 E-mail interview with Basim Usmani. 13 (accessed 15 March 2009). 14 A demonstration of this can be seen in an embedded visualization on my research website (accessed 15 March 2009). 15 (accessed 15 March 2009). 16 (accessed 15 March 2009). 17 Interview conducted with Basim Usmani. 18 Interview conducted with Marwan. 19 Interview conducted with Marwan. 20 (accessed 15 March 2009). 21 Interview conducted with Marwan.

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22 Interview conducted with Marwan. 23 E-mail interview conducted with Kaitlin Foley.

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Haenfler, R. (2006), Straight Edge: Clean-living Youth, Hardcore Punk, and Social Change, Piscataway, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press. Hebdige, D. (1979), Subculture: The Meaning of Style, London: Methuen. Hopkins, P. (2007), ‘“Blue Squares”, “Proper” Muslims and Transnational Networks: Narratives of National and Religious Identities Amongst Young Muslim men Living in Scotland’, Ethnicities, 7(1): 61–81. Hopkins, P.E. (2004), ‘Young Muslim Men in Scotland: Inclusions and Exclusions’, Children’s Geographies, 2(2): 257–72. ——(2006), ‘Youthful Muslim Masculinities: Gender and Generational Relations’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 31(3): 337–52. Hoskins, A. and B. O’Loughlin (2007), Television and Terror: Conflicting Times and the Crisis of News Discourse, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Hubbard, P. (2005), ‘Accommodating Otherness: Anti-asylum Centre Protest and the Maintenance of White Privilege’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 30(1): 52–65. Hunt, K. and K. Rygiel (2006), (En)gendering the War on Terror: War Stories and Camouflaged Politics, Aldershot and Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Ignacio, E. (2005), Building Diaspora: Filipino Cultural Community Formation on the Internet, New Brunswick, NJ and London: Rutgers University Press. Kaplan, J. (2006), ‘Islamophobia in America? September 11 and Islamophobic Hate Crime’, Terrorism and Political Violence, 18(1): 1–33. Kasmir, S. (2002), ‘“More Basque than You!” Class, Youth, and Identity in an Industrial Basque Town’, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 9(1): 39–68. Kibria, N. (2008), ‘The “New Islam” and Bangladeshi Youth in Britain and the US’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 31(2): 243–66. Knight, M.M. (2007), The Taqwacores, London: Telegram. Leblanc, L. (1999), Pretty in Punk: Girls’ Gender Resistance in a Boys’ Subculture, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Mahmood, I. (2002), Islam beyond Terrorists and Terrorism: Biographies of the Most Influential Muslims in History, Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Maira, S. (2008), ‘Citizenship, Dissent, Empire: South Asian Muslim Immigrant Youth’, in K.P. Ewing (ed.), Being and Belonging: Muslims in the United States since 9/11, New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 15–46. Malik, I.H. (2004) Islam and Modernity: Muslims in Europe and the United States, London and Sterling, VA: Pluto Press. Malik, R. (2006), ‘British or Muslim: Creating a Context for Dialogue’, Youth & Policy, 92: 91–105. Mateus, J.A. (2004), ‘Everything You’ve Ever Heard, and Nothing You’ve Ever Heard: Ricanstruction, new-Nuyorican Punk Activists’, Centro Journal, 16(2): 248–71. Mathew, B. (2005), Taxi! Cabs and Capitalism in New York City, New York: New Press. Messner, M.A. (1997), Politics of Masculinities: Men in Movements, Thousand Oaks, CA and London: Sage. Mohammad-Arif, A. (2002), Salaam America: South Asian Muslims in New York, London: Anthem. Moore, R. (2007), ‘Friends Don’t Let Friends Listen to Corporate Rock: Punk as a Field of Cultural Production’, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 36(4): 438–74. Muedini, F. (2009), ‘Muslim American College Youth: Attitudes and Responses Five Years After 9/11’, The Muslim World, 99(1): 39–59.

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Peek, L.A. (2003), ‘Reactions and Response: Muslim Students’ Experiences on New York City Campuses Post 9/11’, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 23(2): 271–84. Pickles, J. (2007), ‘Punk, Pop and Protest: The Birth and Decline of Political Punk in Bandung’, RIMA: Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, 41(2): 223–46. Poole, E. and J.E. Richardson (2006), Muslims and the News Media, London: I.B. Tauris. Popoviciu, L. and M. Mac an Ghaill (2004), ‘Racisms, Ethnicities, and British NationMaking’, in F. Devine and M.C. Waters (eds), Social Inequalities in Comparative Perspective, Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell publishing, 89–115. Prescott, V. (2009), ‘Taqwacore: Punk Meets Islam’, Word-Of-Mouth, Concord, NH: New Hampshire Public Radio, 25 February 2009. Semati, M. (2007), ‘Culture, Difference, and Islamophobia in the Age of the Global’, Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, San Francisco, CA, 23 May 2007. Simmel, G. (1971), ‘The Stranger’, in D.N. Levine (ed.), On Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago, IL: The University Of Chicago Press, 143–9. Sirin, S.R. and M. Fine (2007), ‘Hyphenated Selves: Muslim American Youth Negotiating Identities on the Fault Lines of Global Conflict’, Applied Developmental Science, 11(3): 151–63. Smith, S.J. (2008), ‘Foreword’, in P. Hopkins (ed.), The Issue of Masculine Identities for British Muslims after 9/11: A Social Analysis, Lewiston, NY and Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, iii–v. Suárez-Orozco, R.C. (2008), ‘Forward: “Designated Others”: Young, Muslim, and American’, in S.R. Sirin and M. Fine (eds), Muslim American Youth: Understanding Hyphenated Identities through Multiple Methods, New York: New York University Press, xiii–xv. Virdee, S., C. Kyriakides and T. Modood (2006), ‘Codes of Cultural Belonging: Racialised National Identities in a Multi-Ethnic Scottish Neighbourhood’, Sociological Research Online, 11(4). Wood, R.T. (2006), Straightedge Youth: Complexity and Contradictions of a Subculture, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.


Devotion or pleasure? Music and meaning in the celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora Natalie Sarrazin

The incorporation of qawwali in Indian film requires critical attention and analysis. This chapter analyzes the affective transmission of Muslim musical genres, most particularly qawwali, focusing on the identification of difference in cinematic adaptations between traditional qawwali and filmi qawwali in terms of musical aesthetics, picturizations, thematic sentiments, general narrative contexts and overall representations. Other areas addressed include the transformation of the Muslim social from the 1950s in terms of its musical content and picturization; and the reconciliation of sacred and secular issues and their representations. While the Indian film industry may represent, sublimate or co-opt Sufi tenets embodied in the on screen qawwali performance, the diaspora consumes these images. The chapter, therefore, also looks at the affective transmission of these musical representations and how qawwali is altered by a cinematic experience geared for Muslim and non-Muslim diasporic audiences. In some sense, the imprint of Muslim and Sufi identity onto the Indian film industry is so pervasive as to be indistinguishable from the film genre itself. Lyricists such as Gulzar, Nida Fasli, Mehboob and Jaan Nisaar Akhtar explored Sanskrit and Arabic poetic expressions of shringar and ishq syncretically, creating film’s signature melodramas set to poignant melodies of music directors such as Naushad and Khayyam. Contemporary music directors such as A. R. Rahman altered melodies and rhythms to incorporate Sufi elements into songs such as ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from Dil Se, in which the incessant repetition of ‘Chaiyya’ in the refrain serves as a simulacrum of the zikr chanting breath required for trance and spiritual union with the divine.1 One of the most powerful musical representations of Muslims in Indian cinema, however, is the Sufi genre of qawwali, which has undergone substantial musical transformations to conform to the demands of commercial film music industry audiences accustomed to filmi songs. Filmi music (Indian popular music written for Indian cinema) is the most powerful and commercially successful genre of music in India, and one that influences and co-opts other musical genres into its soundtracks (filmi folk, filmi ghazal, filmi disco, filmi bhangra, etc.). Filmi music has become so powerful that, quite often, its aesthetics, in turn, influence the original co-opted musical genre outside of the cinemas,

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and qawwali is no exception. As Manuel discusses, commercial filmi music has greatly influenced modern qawwali, incorporating more ‘melodic variety and sophistication than the old khanqahi qawwali’ with its traditional and more narrow tune repertoire (Manuel 1993: 124). The incorporation of this particular genre, however, retains an aura of controversy, as qawwali is fundamentally sacred. Qawwali’s inclusion in Indian film, therefore, requires critical attention and analysis. How are issues of the sacred and the secular represented and reconciled through film? For whom are the musical representations devotional and for whom are they pleasurable? How are issues of religious and musical authenticity negotiated both musically and visually? This chapter examines qawwali’s transition to the screen, focusing on adaptations of traditional qawwali into filmi qawwali along with their musical aesthetics and overall picturizations, as well as general narrative contexts and representations. The popular consumption of these images by the diaspora requires further examination of the affective transmission of these musical representations and how qawwali is altered by a cinematic experience geared for Muslim and non-Muslim diasporic audiences.

Early Muslim influences and musical hybridity Islamic, and more particularly Sufi musical and artistic sensibilities are a permanent and inseparable fact of life, music and culture in North India, co-existing comfortably alongside a classical music history that touts the Hindu/Vedic origins of music and sound on the subcontinent. Indeed, it was the Muslim–Hindu musical confluence that hybridized musical traditions in North India to various degrees over a millennium, from dhrupad, qawwali, khyal and ghazal, to the folk music of the Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat, to all forms of popular music. In the twelfth century, for example, Amir Khusrau, a Sufi mystic and devotee of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya, was considered notable, not only for his moniker as the father of qawwali, khyal and tarana styles of singing, but as someone who introduced Persian elements into North Indian classical music. Amir Khusrau along with Muinuddin Chisti, a thirteenth-century saint who settled in Ajmer, Rajasthan, helped to ‘Indianize sama’ [audition] ‘through languages, instrumentation, melodies and rhythms’, resulting in an even broader cultural acceptance of the form (Boyk and Munis 2006: 12). This Indianization increased qawwali’s impact on Hindu musical genres, such as the bhajan and other forms, further embedding the Persian elements into the forms. The musical influences were of course mutual, as the revered place of music in Hinduism greatly mediated the Islamic controversy forbidding the performance of music or the belief that making music was somehow sinful (Bailey 1990: 154). Further Muslim–Hindu musical relationships continued in the fifteenth century. Mughal Emperor Akbar supported the arts through his court’s nine jewels (navaratna), the star of which was a Hindu boy adopted by a Sufi faqir. The hybrid identity of this Brahmin Muslim, later renamed Miyan


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Tansen (‘master of an army of notes’), is believed by some to be the greatest musician who ever lived (Massey and Jamila 1993: 50–51). It is through centuries of musical interaction between Muslims and Hindus that generations of musicians, styles and meanings established hybrid forms across all musical realms – from classical, to traditional to popular. Cultural and musical crosscontributions continue unabated into the twenty-first century, and into the diaspora in all forms of media in South Asia, particularly through the most powerful genre of Indian film. Muslim identities have heavily influenced the Indian film industry. Muslim characters, themes, histories and musical genres were incorporated into its stories for over six decades, with Muslim-inspired emotions and sensibilities long influencing the dominant Hindu Indian cinema narrative and providing stories and plots based on iconic romantic figures and tropes. According to an online box office receipt website, the most popular grossing Indian film of all time (tied with Sholay [1975]) is Mughal-e-Azam (1960), the story of Emperor Akbar’s son Saleem and his ill-fated love affair with a court dancer.2 Heroes and heroines of thousands of romantic films are based on centuries-old classical and regional epic love stories, poetry and imagery from both Muslim and Hindu sources, exploiting and exploring a range of emotional love endemic to Sufi poetry. Romantic couples such as the Punjabi Hir–Ranja and Sohini– Mahiwal, Afghani/Pakistani Siri–Farhad, Rajasthan’s triumphant Dhola–Maru and tragic Moomal–Mahendra (or Romeo and Juliet) explore the flavours of different types of love (tragic, joyous, worldly, mystical, devotional, transcendent) and experiences (suffering, pain, separation, union, pleasure). For example, the Hindu Radha–Krishna represent love in the present, tender and joyous, rather than tragic, while the Sufi Laila–Majnu depict the essential desire for man’s union with God; ‘earthly love is regarded as a preparation for heavenly love’ (Gokulsing and Dissanayake 1998: 26).

Muslim musical representations While contributions from Muslims and the incorporation of Muslim and Sufi sensibilities are important characteristics of Indian films’ behind-the-scenes culture, on-screen representations of Muslims as characters and in musical performance prompt different concerns altogether. On-screen representations of any particular segment of society and its musical practices are often controversial and can even become political, as they involve myriad decisions about the construction and perpetuation of identity. With Muslims as a minority population within India, and within the diaspora, such representations are often sensitive. As Alagh and Malhotra discuss, films post-1990 in India have seemed to offer narrow representations of Indian identity, conflating Hindu and wealth to create a convenient identity ‘byproduct’ if you will, and one that is subservient to larger forces of rapidly developing globalization and nationalism (hindutva). Outside India, in the Middle East or the UK–US diaspora for example, consumption of these celluloid performances is imbued

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with more significance as new identities must not only negotiate mythologies and imagined narratives about life in the homeland, but must do so in the midst of sometimes contentious and hostile sociocultural situations. Even a stereotypical representation, therefore, has the ability to become both refuge and prison, a comforting albeit reductionist yet symbolic version of the complex lives of Indian Muslims. Accompanying film music, no less stereotypical in most cases, can be decontextualized from film, and serves as long-lasting iconic or indexical representations serving to cement these negative images. Muslims were marked early on in films by a certain ‘otherness’. When writing about Muslims in Hindi film, film critic Iqbal Masud defines the Muslim ethos in India in general as ‘“Classical” or high culture – a mix of Arabic-PersoTurkish elements in historical work, fiction, music and painting such as in the work of poets and novelists like Ghalib (or today Ms. Qurratulain Hyder), artists like Abdur Rahman Chughtai, or the Ustads in the field of music’. Masud also describes elements of the Muslim social as containing ‘the elegance of speech and surroundings which became a marked feature of Muslim social’ – meaning films dealing with Muslim families and social problems along with an emphasis on Hindu–Muslim ‘harmony’ (Masud 2005). Cinematic focus on the ‘elegance of speech’, elaborate sets and ‘Middle Eastern’ elements attributes two sensibilities to the place of Muslims in film – an otherworldly quality, which might even be construed as an orientalist perspective within Indian cinema. Themes focused on major historical events featuring extravagant sets and often historically revisionist scripts, creating a revivalist fantasy of the past. This exoticization and even eroticization continued in representations about Muslim women and the historical re-imagining of courtesan culture. Films such as Umrao Jaan (1981) and Pakeezah (1972) revelled in sensuality, particularly in the exploitation of the female form in the song and dance sequences featured in the mehfil spectacle number where form-fitting, veil-laden attractive costumes framed the tawaif as she sang and danced to a romantically oriented ghazal before her gazing and adoring admirers. These films were replaced in later decades (1970s onwards) with more reality-based portrayals of Muslims and their struggles, centred on more serious themes such as the Partition narrative in Garam Hawa (1973). By the 1990s and 2000s, Muslim-based stories in film resorted to other extremes, capitalizing on heightened violence and drama such as Partition and domestic terrorism in films such as Mission Kashmir (2000), Zubeida (2001) or Fiza (2000), while others continued the exploration of love themes and fantasy as exemplified in Veer-Zara (2004). The musical genres used for these more serious soundtracks relied more closely on Sufi music, particularly traditional qawwali and ghazal forms, to support the Muslim-based themes and narratives.

The filmi qawwali dilemma: identity and authenticity Although Sufi music is a powerful and historical marker of Muslim identity which is drawn upon in Indian films with Islamic themes, it does not explain


Natalie Sarrazin

the context for how and why the qawwali genre became implemented in a wide variety of filmi soundtracks, and why it is flourishing, albeit in often subgenred forms, in the digital music world throughout the diaspora. Muslimcentred narratives were not alone in incorporating both qawwali and ghazal, as many films without a strong Muslim storyline also began to include them. The contrast in different films between qawwali picturizations and musical adaptations of qawwali in film is striking in its unevenness of treatment. The film Garam Hawa (1973), for example, includes an essentially traditional qawwali while qawwali in most other films is usually pop songs inflected with qawwali idioms (Boyk and Munis 2006: 22). What, therefore, is meant by traditional qawwali, and how is it then transformed and ‘read’ in non-Muslim filmic contexts? In order to be recognized, labelled and accepted as qawwali, filmi qawwali as a genre must resemble ‘traditional’ qawwali enough to insist on a continued association, albeit perhaps a tenuous one in some circumstances. Traditional, khanqahi qawwali (qawwali associated with a Sufi shrine) is the most popular genre of Sufi music in South Asia, noted for its power in affectively engaging with and inciting arousal in the listener. Qawwali is rooted in the Sufi spiritual practice of sama or audition in which the listener experiences the divine. Qawwali is a devotional practice which, for the Sufi participant, is described as ‘a method of worship … a means of spiritual advancement and … a feast for the soul’ (Qureshi 1995: xiii). It is the arousal of emotions and the experience of divinity that helped propagate Sufism across the subcontinent, bringing new people into the mystical realm. For centuries, the general musical and poetic appeal of qawwali moved uninitiated listeners in a variety of contexts. Ironically, qawwali’s sacred objective and accessibility enabled not only its influence on many different types of music in South Asia, but its successful transition into the secular venue of film. Musically, it is these same powerful texts and sonic aspects – the high energy and incessant momentum of the rhythmic theka, and commanding vocals of the soloist and chorus – which make them attractive to both directors and audiences. The qualities of excitement and arousal are precisely what attracted music directors and what has sustained qawwali as a musical centrepiece in Indian cinema soundtracks for over 60 years, as well as its ability to draw upon the exotic contexts mentioned earlier. Qawwali’s success on screen reignited several points of contention, namely, what is the moral permissibility of forms of music (known as the sama controversy) and should listeners without proper knowledge be allowed to listen to this powerful music? As Boyk states, ‘given the tension or disjuncture between the fact of qawwali’s secular and ecumenical popularity and its theoretical grounding in reactions to the sama controversy, there is substantial negotiation between the impulse for legitimacy and the need for popular appeal’ (Boyk and Munis 2006: 12). What, if any, are the differences between ‘authentic’ qawwali used for devotion and trance, and ‘popular’ qawwali used for entertainment? In discussing qawwali’s authenticity, Qureshi distinguishes between ‘authentic spiritual

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song’ of the Sufis and ‘popular versions’ of secular qawwali for a concert or film. Qureshi makes a distinction between different types of qawwali in the very first sentence of her seminal book on the subject, which states that ‘all over South Asia there is qawwali, for all over South Asia there are Muslims; where there are Muslims, there are Sufis; and where there are Sufis, there is qawwali – not the popular version of qawwali adapted for entertainment in clubs and on the screen, but the authentic spiritual song that transports the mystic toward union with God’ (1995: 1). Popular versions, however, are sometimes not easily identifiable, as many borrow extensively from the authentic Sufi versions used for spiritual awareness as will be discussed later. Qureshi also hints at the cross-substantiation and audience blurring of these categories when she describes ‘an elderly Sufi who went into a state of hal (mystical ecstasy) in the cinema on hearing a romantic film song’ (1992: 119). To the extent that we are discussing a ‘popular’ medium, it is important to assess the audience’s perception of on-screen authenticity. As entertainment, the listener’s affective response and cognitive awareness of performance components and limitations, and the extent of the listener’s understanding of traditional qawwali forms, lyrical poetry and tropes, must be considered. Sakata’s article entitled ‘The Sacred and the Profane’ draws attention to the issue of identification and acceptance as qawwali by the audience. Sakata notes that popularized qawwali, sung in any style (i.e. filmi), seems ‘not to lessen its identification as qawwali’ due to the ‘ambiguous nature of the qawwali performance’ which ‘can be at one and the same time a religious, ritual genre, and a popular, secular genre’ (1994: 91). Sakata maintains that qawwali’s authenticity is sustained through repertoire, performer (state of mind), audience behaviour and connection to the past (hadith) – text, poet, music and musician (Sakata 1994: 91). Audience acceptance and enjoyment of qawwali music in film, therefore, relies on the polysemic nature of the genre – i.e. capable of multiple readings.

Musical contexts: filmi vs ‘authentic’ qawwali There are, of course, a number of musical differences between qawwali intended for sama and spiritual revelation and qawwali to be enjoyed as popular entertainment. ‘Spiritual’ qawwali contains an instrumental introduction (naghma), with a raga-based melody, qawwali ka theka rhythm and sthai antara form. Improvisation is significant and often includes classical fireworks and cal, such as taans, boltaans and bolalap. Morcom adds several more characteristics in her analysis of film qawwali, including layakari (rhythmic play with lyrics) as a type of improvisation, instrumentation (use of harmonium, tabla or dholak) and the inclusion of unmetered ‘inserted’ verses (2007: 73). In filmi qawwali, many of these musical characteristics are truncated or dispensed with altogether, as shown in the case studies later. Accompaniments often referenced the romantic ghazal with large instrumental string instrumental ensembles (Manuel 1988: 106). Filmi vocal timbres often took on a more ghazal-like ‘crooning’ style for males and the high light


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playback singer stylings of Lata for females, rather than the more chestvoiced based sound of the Sufi singer (Qureshi 1992: 117). In terms of vocal timbre, Qureshi observes that the ‘crooning’ vocal styles that emerged for filmi qawwali were influenced by the ‘essentially romantic stereotype of the film hero’, for qawwali was becoming an increasingly common element of film (ibid.). Regarding vocal timbre, Boyk notes that in ‘Hamen to loot liya’, from the 1958 film Al Hilal, few flashy filmi (film-related) elements are apparent; in contrast to Kaloo Qawwal though, Ismail Azad Qawwal exhibits no vocal strain – perhaps an undesirable change from the point of view of religious ecstasy, but more palatable to secular listeners. Furthermore, the qawwali is clearly composed, with distinct verses, choruses and an easily identifiable tune with very little improvisation (Boyk and Munis 2006: 21). But the most important musical alterations remain merely symptoms of an underlying cause – the cinematic decoupling or disconnection between audience and performer. Film qawwali is devoid of the live performer–audience interaction critical to create wajad or trance, resulting in a more sterile and detached quality with little extended textual repetition critical to qawwali’s spiritual success. Unlike live performance, filmi qawwali represents a ‘closed-loop’ system, disallowing any influence or feedback from the audience on the performance of the singer. Improvisation emanating from a singer’s spontaneous connection to a listener or personal reaction to the text itself is, of course, non-existent. While the playback singer may perform certain short improvisations for the purposes of recording and to approximate a type of authenticity, they are staid and static, and of course pre-composed. This non-responsive form as well as a time limitation of 6 to 8 minutes also renders the filmi qawwali rather ineffective from an affective spiritually authentic musical response. Textual and musical repetition, likewise, are not possible for the same reasons, hence the rather standard ‘verse-refrain’–like quality to the song. How might audiences read and perceive the parameters of traditional qawwali when assessing qawwali in a filmi context? Since the ‘live performance’ aspect is missing, characteristics such as musical authenticity (song texts, repertoire, musical form – repetition, improvisation, etc.), and the representation of the singer’s state of mind must be adapted and simulated by other means in order to be convincing to an audience. The film world must compensate for musical authenticity with affective elements (mood, emotion, theatrical props, drama, costume), which become more relevant than in live performance, and often enhanced. It is in the dramatic enhancement, however, that characteristics may emerge as exaggerated stereotypes. The live-performer setting, which is crucial to the concept of sama in which the listener hears and understands the call of the divine, is simulated, if not replaced, by on-screen factors. Audience members, for example, partially respond to the qawwali through collective memory as a sacred performance or, as Sakata notes, connection to the past (hadith). Audiences not only hear the music, but also consume the visual world of the film and the mise-en-scène’s construction must be convincing.

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Much of what might seem to be absent must be supplied by the picturization itself. The audience’s judgements of and affective responses to the qawwali authenticity are influenced by all of the off- and on-screen production factors. The contribution of the mise-en-scène enhances the appearance of authenticity through costumes, lighting, set design, choreography and location. Whereas a traditional sacred qawwali event may take place at a shrine, it is now the on-screen representation of a shrine which must suffice. Audiences also assess the personality, fame and general authenticity of the on-screen actor playing the qawwal as well as the voice of the playback singer – do they have the proper timbre? Are they classically trained? Also significant are the behaviours of the back-up group, any non-qawwali dancers and their costumes and movements, any narrative elements that would be spliced into the number, and of course the film and music directors’ interpretation of the place of the qawwali in the narrative. The most important factor, however, will be the genre of film itself and the director’s approach regarding Muslim representation in the rest of the film narrative. Is this a serious qawwali in the film or a spectacle/item number? All of these factors significantly impact on how the audience receives the qawwali picturization and accepts or rejects it. In terms of text, the metaphor of spiritual love as embodied in human love, the central theme of serious qawwali, is more readily transferable to film. Traditional qawwali lyrics are often rooted in human experiences of intoxication, drinking and the mad lover clothed in layers of the traditional poet’s Persian/Urdu couplets, allegory and metaphor, delineating a model goal for the mundane lives of humans and lighting a pathway to the divine. Treatment of these traditional verbal art forms as well as performance behaviours, however, varies as widely on the screen as the music does. While some music directors pay superficial heed to the sacred nature of the poetry, others, as is the case of music director Bahadur Khan and lyricist Kaifi Azmi’s ‘Maula Salim Chisti’ from Garam Hawa (1973), pay tribute to the Saint Chisti at the Ajmer shrine both lyrically and musically. The picturization contains elements of authenticity in that the footage is real footage of the shrine, complete with intercuts of shots of actual qawwali musicians playing harmonium, dholak and clapping (of course the footage used of the shrine musicians is not of them performing the qawwali ‘Maula Salim Chisti’, as the visual track does not line up with the audio, thus delivering, at best, a documentary-type feel to the number). Musically, the introduction is sufficient in length to satisfy the criteria of a naghma (instrumental prelude), and the tempo is also of an authentic slow feel – serious and purposeful in its intent. There is also a sufficient improvisatory section in the middle so that, overall, one has a feeling of listening to a recording of a qawwali rather than a staged filmi qawwali. However, this is precisely why this song works so well in terms of its recreation of the authenticity of spirituality. It is used as a background score, which does not feature onscreen musicians, does not require reinterpretation of the behaviours, actions, etc. of a qawwal, and can instead concentrate on advancing the narrative of


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the story as the song continues. This use of qawwali as a background is significantly different in its production value and outcome when compared with other filmi qawwalis in which the entire picturization is intended as foreground sound. Of course not all qawwali picturizations strive to recreate authenticity. Boyk classifies film qawwali into two types – those that are sincere in their approach and those that rely more on pop idioms and catchy tunes. In the former category he cites the 1955 Guru Dutt film Mr. and Mrs. 55, the qawwali ‘Meri duniya loot rahi thi’ where Dutt wanders into a mehfil-e-sama, and the qawwali in the 1973 film Zanjeer, ‘Yaari hai imaan mera yaar meri zindagi’. In the second camp, he places ‘Parda hai parda hai’ from the 1977 film Amar Akbar Anthony with its wild colours and gesticulations (2006: 22–23). Yet as in the example of ‘Nahin hona tha’, also cited later, great license can be taken musically and visually while still maintaining an overall identification as film qawwali.

Indian film and popular music in the diaspora Audiences for Indian cinema are spread across a wide range of geographic locations. While the largest market for film viewers and consumption remains South Asia itself (India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), about 30 per cent of film viewers now live abroad, in the UK, the US, Canada, UAE, Australia and other overseas locations.3 According to the 2001 British census, the South Asian population is 2.3 million, with just over one million from India, three-quarters of a million from Pakistan and a quarter of a million from Bangladesh. The majority of those from Pakistan and Bangladesh are Muslim, as are 13 per cent of those from India, while 50 per cent are Hindu and 30 per cent are Sikh.4 Both resident and non-resident Indians (NRIs) as well as non-Indians are watching Indian cinema at an unprecedented rate of about four billion people worldwide.5 This number is expected to continue to rise, with double-digit revenue increases in the near future.6 Indian cinema has never been healthier, and although Slumdog Millionaire is not a product of Indian cinema per se, but more of a Western etic production with a rather violently exoticized perspective, its 2008 Oscar wins have served to increase global awareness and interest in India as a cinematic subject. Just after Slumdog’s success, the Motion Picture Association of America opened its first office in India, in February 2009, according to Business Week.7 Slumdog’s existence provided yet another opportunity for audiences to ‘discover’ India, while simultaneously providing a momentary opening for an Indian identity global reinvention. Slumdog’s music director, A. R. Rahman, immediately took advantage of the opening, capitalizing on his two Oscars and newfound fame with a 2010 world concert tour entitled Jai Ho: The Journey Home. In it, Rahman borrowed heavily from megaconcert aesthetics, engaging the creative director Amy Tinkham, who worked for the likes of Britney Spears. Jai Ho’s ‘world’ reach attempts to underscore

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and build upon the imagery of new and fluid transnational Indian identities – Rahman, a South Indian Hindu turned Muslim, composes from Western musical sensibilities, while appropriating Indian musical tropes, in an attempt to cross over to Western audiences. Regardless of the extent to which films such as Slumdog or their spin-off products fulfil the needs of the commercial culture industry writ large, such crossovers are well-publicized within the diaspora, thus increasing interest and consumption while also bringing India and its cinema to the attention of media conglomerates (Hollywood, Sony, Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount). While there is a thriving local/regional film industry in India, mainstream Indian cinema is aimed at middle-class Indian audiences and the diaspora in order to reach audiences with more disposable income. The subject matter, themes and issues of these diasporic films have changed along with the rise in box office receipts. An increase in issues of interest to those living abroad includes obtaining employment overseas (Swades 2004), negotiating with family members living in different countries (Monsoon Wedding 2001, Pardes 1997), or a love relationship between a foreigner and an Indian (Rang de Basanti 2006, Kisna: The Warrior Poet 2005). Other outcomes include a change of perspective regarding the West as a foe, as well as an increase in on-screen representations of diasporic populations (Punjabis, Pakistanis, etc.) in films such as Bend it like Beckham (2002) and East is East (1999). Since almost 95 per cent of Indian films contain song and dance sequences, the influence and popularity of film music as a critical component cannot be ignored. Any song and its picturization have the potential to become influential, popular and culturally iconic. Despite the appearance and rise in the 1990s of Indipop as a new pop music genre appealing to both South Asia and abroad, filmi songs remain the primary genre of popular music in India, dominating over 70 per cent of the popular music market. Indipop’s success, however, caught the attention of international record companies, who cited ‘identity’ as the main reason for introducing cash into Indipop artist development. By 1999, it was estimated that Sony, HMV, Virgin and Polygram had invested nearly $50 million since 1997 to develop Indian pop musicians with overseas appeal. The associate director of artistic development for Sony Music International emphasized India’s exoticism when stating that ‘for many Westerners, Indian music provides a link to a world of spirituality and authenticity which is often missing in the more frenetic, secular West. This is a big part of what Western artists seek to identify with when they use Indian musicians and sounds in their work.’8 As Indipop markets failed due to economic conditions, film songs once again came to dominate the market.9 By 2009, therefore, the pop music industry in India was dominated by the film song industry. Indipop styles were not lost, however, as film music directors such as Himesh Reshammiya and A. R. Rahman began to incorporate Indipop sounds, dance music styles along with Indian musical elements into their soundtracks, thus attracting some of the Indipop market, and reinforcing filmi git’s dominant role.


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Qawwali consumption and diasporic identity Viewing on-screen representations of traditional values and ties associated with filmi qawwali music affects South Asian viewers in the diaspora differently than audiences in South Asia. On what terms is filmi qawwali consumed vis-à-vis tradition, devotion or pleasure? As a staple in the filmi git soundtrack, audiences in India and abroad purchase, download, and consume filmi qawwali, spanning decades of Indian film soundtracks, compiled chronologically or by playback singer. Qawwali resonates not only among members of the Muslim umma (diaspora of believers), through memory and genre it has a much broader appeal among most South Asians in the diaspora. In his study delineating the musical heterogeneity of traditional Muslim communities in Britain, Bailey concludes that contemporary immigrant consumption and perceptions towards music remain grounded in traditional values. Bailey discusses immigrant origins in various parts of India and Pakistan and their varying attitudes towards music and music making. In carrying their beliefs with them to Britain, he found that the communities retained and perpetuated music’s ‘ambiguous place within the Muslim value system … the subject of theological debate within the Islamic world for many centuries’ (Bailey 1990: 153). Bailey examined music attitudes and music making in two different Muslim communities in England. One community, the Mirpuris, are known for not making music while the Khalifas are known for their music making. He noticed that the ancient controversy over whether it is allowed to perform music at all followed the communities to their new homelands. Bailey notes that the most accepted forms of music in Islam use only vocals, and qawwali contains both. The orthodox religious view of music as worthless and even sinful is counterbalanced by the ‘popular and Sufi traditions of music which emphasize the positive spiritual values of music’ (1990: 154). Music’s ‘revered place within Islam’ gives music-making communities like the Khalifas, who perform classical qawwalis, the ability to ‘reconcile the conflicting worlds of music and religion’ and avoid the condemnation of non-musicmaking communities in Britain (Bailey 1990: 165). ‘Qawwali combines highly revered religious and mystical poetry with an overtly emotionally powerful music, and follows the precedent of hundreds of years in the subcontinent, traced back to the “founder” of Qawwali, the thirteenth-century courtier, poet and Sufi – Amir Khusro Balkhi, who is buried in Delhi’ (1990: 156). The Mirpuris, however, did not make music traditionally, but were not averse to listening to or consuming music. Qawwali is particularly popular in Pakistan and in the Punjab (a state that is bifurcated and lies in both India and Pakistan). Since a large section of the diaspora in Britain originated from these areas, the cultural associations with Sufi music are poignant and likely to include personal memories. Musical memory is a powerful emotional trigger, which resounds with audience members. In discussing the Sikh Punjabi diaspora in Britain, scholar Ananya Kabir argues

Qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora


that such music expresses a neo-ethnic Punjabi post-memory that recalls prepartition Punjab. She further suggests that this neo-ethnic post-memory, which can manifest through musical recall and participation in genres such as and qawwali, has a ‘certain subversive potential that resides in its ability to undo territorial, religious, and other competitive nationalisms’ (Kabir 2004). Qawwali and ghazal, genres which are neither particularly Sikh nor tied to Kabir’s notion of ‘Punjabiness’ outside of India, ‘gain that sense in certain contexts’ in the diaspora (ibid.: 2). The larger ethnic identification with such musical forms ‘facilitates [a] cross-border mourning with other Punjabis’ not possible within South Asia itself (ibid.: 7). Qawwali, which lent authenticity and religious poignancy to film scores with or without Muslim narratives, continues to be popular in Indian films marketed for the Indian diaspora. One reason, as previously mentioned, pertains to its ability to project a specific identity. Qureshi suggests that secular qawwali, containing as many authentic qawwali elements as serious popular religious qawwali, ‘served both as a medium for religious tolerance, and as an icon of the distinct Muslim identity within the public realm’ (Qureshi 1992: 8). The musical popularity of qawwali, as she describes it, takes form in the hybridity of qawwali with Indian popular music to create space for an acceptable place for Muslims in society. Qawwali and ghazal musicians have maintained a presence in the international pop music world for several decades. By the mid-1990s, singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan crossed into the global pop scene with Peter Gabriel, reaching millions abroad with his voice on the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking (1995), and an experimentation with qawwali-fusion albums. Singer Ghulam Ali, the ghazal king known for both filmi and the semi-classical ghazal form, epitomizes another venue of the crossover genre. More contemporary examples include singers such as Altaf Raja, the son of professional qawwals, who considers himself to be a techno and fusion qawwali singer and who is proclaimed as the modern qawwali king. Altaf, however, takes advantage of technological advancements and networking to advance his career. With a Facebook page, five pop albums to date and video clips on Youtube, Altaf is reaching another segment of the global population – and bypassing Indian cinema’s grip on the recording industry to send Sufi music out to another generation. It is through such extensive technological access that qawwali creates and retains a certain cache as a particularly South Asian music that resonates with Hindu, Sikh and Muslim populations abroad. While Indian film directors may not be aware of the full implications described earlier, they are, nonetheless, attempting to capture the attention of an audience abroad through use of these associations in film. As a result, the musical formulaic inclusion of qawwali is not without its rewards at the box office.

Filmi qawwali picturization In addition to the identity issues mentioned earlier, came significant musical changes which adapted to the increasing desire for novelty and change.


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Beginning with A. R. Rahman, popular music directors dramatically changed the sound of film songs and film qawwali as well, updating them with the latest dance styles, digital instruments and timbres that appealed to more sophisticated and globally oriented diasporic audiences willing to accept even more non-traditional qawwalis. In the following sections we look at the transformations and adaptations of qawwali from its earliest incorporation in the Muslim social through to its contemporary reincarnations.

Qawwali in the Muslim social Indian cinema embraced the genre of qawwali in the 1940s and 1950s after its success in Pakistani films. The earliest known inclusion of the qawwali genre occurred in the 1945 film Zeenat. Qawwali appeared thereafter mostly in films of the Muslim social genre, which were contemporary secular narratives of South Asians who happened to be Muslim, directed by both Hindus and Muslims alike. The 1960 Muslim social Barsaat ki Raat (One Rainy Night) included several notable qawwali picturizations. Initially, these early picturizations retained traditional performance settings and attempted to represent audience–performer interaction which was crucial to the development of serious qawwali. Included were a group of singers (mohri), lead singer, avazia and back-up singers using relatively standard seating arrangements and traditional instrumentation, such as tabla, harmonium, benjo (or in this case sitar) and handclapping. Qawwal singers employed reserved and appropriate kinesthetic movements, and the musical form included instrumental introduction, truncated alap, qawwali ka theka rhythms, sthai antara forms, and improvisational effects during interludes, including taans, boltaans repetition and other classical techniques. Attempts were made to picturize performance authenticity. In the song ‘Na to karvan ki talash’ from Barsaat ki Raat, for example, the two lead singers interrupt each other’s taans, bol taans and bol alaps as if they are improvising on the spot. Vocals were provided by a star-studded list of playback singers: Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle, Sudha Malhotra, Mohamed Rafi, Manna Dey and S. D. Batish, all lauded for their vocal abilities in this difficult genre. The relatively authentic musical qawwali in Barsaat ki Raat was offset by a rather novel device – the gendered performance duet, which consisted of a male and female couplet competition. This cinematically created performance style then became fashionable on college campuses in India in the 1950s. The three culminating qawwalis of Barsaat ki Raat and particularly the final song ‘Ishq Ishq’ were executed as a male–female duet in which groups try to outdo each other with ever more clever shers (couplets). The shot of the radio is used as a culminating plot device in which the hero’s voice is transmitted into his lover’s living room. She hears his call and feels compelled to go to the competition and confirm her love for him. This mediated ‘voice’ highlights a central context and metaphor for the film’s narrative and foreshadows the visual disconnect which changed the qawwali genre.

Qawwali in South Asia and the diaspora


Qawwali as transcendent wisdom Qawwali’s popularity quickly ensured its adoption in films both with and without Muslim narratives, and it became a film song staple. Morcom outlines several contexts in which qawwalis are used in films in lieu of typical film songs. These contexts include use in celebratory scenes, as spectacle, and as denouements – high drama combined with spectacle (2007: 82–3). Qureshi mentions that they create an ‘islamicate atmosphere’ supporting Muslim narratives, characters and situations (1999: 82). However, even when there is no particular Muslim focus in a film, the qawwali seems to be a substitute for the folk song. Because of its hybrid nature, which emulates and overlaps with so many traditional genres, and due to the folk-like rhythms and instrumentation, qawwalis were easily adopted into film soundtracks as they fit into pre-existing narrative contexts occupied by the ‘traditional’ or ‘folk’ song categories, and were often re-signified as such. From an audience perspective, qawwali was generally accepted in this role as a logical substitution for the folk song number, one category of song that fits into the larger film song formula. The film song formula for a typical romantic film consists of three to four songs relating to the romance (first glimpse, meeting, etc.), as well as several item or spectacle numbers, which include a courtesan (mehfil) Busby–Berkeley inspired showstopper or disco number. Also included in the formula is a folk song or traditional number which, in more recent films, takes on a particular regional flare (i.e. Bhojpuri, Punjabi). Traditional or folk songs function as a type of musical social conscience by warning or admonishing the couple regarding their actions or lack thereof (Sarrazin 2008: 402). Such a qawwali can be found in ‘Nahin hona tha’ (‘It shouldn’t have happened’) from the film Pardes (1997). ‘Nahin hona tha’ is an atypical qawwali, including a ‘bewildering patchwork of qawwali and other musical and vocal styles’ (Morcom 2007: 110). Visually, the main ‘qawwali-like’ group picturized is equally baffling, sporting highly stylized, almost stereotypically Islamicized, facial hair (mutton-chops) and Rajasthani turbans drawing on the tradition of Muslim semi-classical folk singers, the Langas, and particularly Manganiyars, whose musical style of singing qawwali is reminiscent of those at Muslim shrines (Jairazbhoy 1977: 58). However, they lack the typical Langa/Mangaiyar folk instruments such as kartal and kamanche. The group’s narrative function and lyrics comment on the dramatic situation and chastise the protagonists, mostly the heroine for having fallen in love with the friend of her betrothed. This traditional advice can uphold or sometimes subvert the social order, depending on the narrative situation. While the music and its picturization are at best an amalgamation of styles, cultures and sources, they continue to fulfil their function in the narrative, which in this case acts as a type of Greek chorus voicing communal disapproval. It is precisely the subservient role, however, that the music takes to the more powerful picturizations that reinforces its niche as a sub-genre subservient to the film song formula, along with filmi ghazal, filmi bhajan and so forth. This hyphenated identification


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thus further distinguishes it from sacred qawwali, as it subsumes the song’s identity within the world of the film. When qawwali is used in a folk song context or even in the other narrative contexts mentioned earlier, it usually appears diegetically, further authenticating and framing it as a ‘traditional’ or folk number, since the folk song is usually the only point in a romantic film where instruments and singers appear together. When voices are embodied through the musicians singing on screen, they are more powerful and more moving to audiences. Framing the musicians along with the hero and heroine places them within a larger social context – an often jarring juxtaposition that informs the audience and acts as a plot device. Songs typically mediate or speak on behalf of a couple, helping them to express their own emotions when they are unable or unwilling to do so themselves. The refrain or sthai mukhra of the qawwali now becomes the choral response. The folk group’s wisdom echoed in the choral response is often transcendent, drawing on sources from beyond the film’s world – similar to a vocally embodied Greek chorus, and taking advantage of the role of qawwali’s traditional adages which serve as commentary on the human condition. In Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (1977) (We Are No Less than Others), with music by R. D. Burman, the qawwali duet ‘Hai agar dushman’ performs the couple’s intimate expression of love and the defiance of love against the disapproval of the world, in this case her parents who have not accepted their relationship due to differences of class. ‘Let the world be our enemy; there are no regrets; let anyone come; we are no less than others.’ The lyrics then reference the Sufi trope of the intoxicated or ‘crazy’ lover as referenced in the classic Arabic love story Laila Majnun, alluding to the ensuing madness of Majnun when he could not marry Laila. The hero and heroine sing about their defiance in the face of a disapproving world, and their willingness to give up their lives for each other. A trace of the song duet remains in the female lyrics describing the beauty of women, but unlike the previous duet in Barsaat ki Raat where the male and female singers were recognized qawwalis authorized to be on stage, the heroine, Zeenat Aman, is a member of the audience, and must leap onto the stage before a waiting group of female backing singers. This performance references earlier challenges and duets, but also foreshadows fantasy and ever more glamorous picturizations.

Film stars as qawwals The mass-audience appeal of filmi qawwali continued to have an impact in the form of on-screen changes in the genre. The addition of more eye- and earcatching displays sublimated nuances for spectacle. Since qawwali’s musical ‘fireworks’ consist of classical taans and improvisation that require time and a sophisticated audience, substitutions were required such as over-exaggerated kinesthetic displays while singing or playing instruments, choreographed backing singers clapping out different rhythms, and elaborate costumes

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(Amitabh and Dharmendra in ‘Dekh lo ishq ka’, Charandas 1977). Devotion and zeal are repackaged in rock star–like movements as Amitabh and Dharmendra’s flailing arms demonstrate an attempt to over perform. In this case, the authenticity of the qawwal is conflated with the on-screen persona of Amitabh, who was brought in solely for this number. The authentic connection with the qawwal is Amitabh’s stardom.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the popularization of traditional qawwali Additionally, qawwali has been able to keep up with the times; it was absorbed into many different themes and underwent a litany of musical transformations, as illustrated later. Indeed, such transformations fit easily into Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s own personal musical behaviours and beliefs, given his wide popularization of qawwali into unchartered world music territories and his conviction that it is the ‘responsibility of musicians to make music for the people of their time’ (Abbas 2002: 143.) In the 1980s and 1990s, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan musically transformed qawwali with his infusion of Punjabi ang (style) and experimentation with fusion. In the hyper-traditionalist revival of Hindi film in the early 1990s, the new energetic qawwali ushered in a transformation for filmi qawwali. Folk song numbers began simulating more traditional songs and performance settings. Qawwali numbers once again invoked significant religious sources of narrative intensity in Muslim situations, serving to enrich on-screen tension and meaning with metaphor and commentary. In Yash Chopra’s Veer-Zara (2004) for example, a qawwali group sings: ‘a besotted lover has come to your door’ (aaye tere dar par diwana) in a mosque which the heroine, Zaara Khan, played by Preity Zinta, is visiting with her betrothed while she is in love with someone else, Veer Singh played by Shah Rukh Khan. During the song, the muddled hero, Veer, who is Hindu, shows up at the mosque, ostensibly to take away the heroine as all the onlookers witness this shocking intervention. The text invokes tropes such as a moth to the flame, nazar, and glancing, which are visually depicted in the picturization, turning abstract metaphor into embodied action. The heroine’s back is towards the hero as he walks into the shrine, and the singers sing ‘just glance at me once’. The qawwal acts as a disembodied voice-over to what Veer Singh is thinking and feeling. Although his goal is earthly love, the mise-en-scène at the mosque and the qawwali group evoke the sacred, but their attention to the couple underscores the romantic. At the very climax of the song, the couple is framed, with the qawwali between them, as they improvise on the refrain ‘aaye tere dar par diwana’. The more traditional/authentic musical nature of the qawwali itself and the qawwal’s voice are being used to subvert the traditional order, offering a transcendent pathway to pursue a love union despite the dictates of tradition or societal objections. The subject of the lyrics and the object of the singer’s attention are at odds, as the qawwals direct their metaphysical attention to the physical world embodied by lovers.


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Techno-qawwali’s rhythmic intensity and violence The qawwali performance form was changed dramatically by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan who infused the Punjabi qawwali ang style with experiments in instrumentation to revive and take qawwali into a new direction. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s popularity rests on his ability to ‘eclipse his predecessors … by orienting his musical style to audiences unable to understand his texts’ (Qureshi 1992: 10). Nusrat’s convictions and work on fusion albums such as Mustt Mustt (1990) coupled with Indian cinema and the diaspora’s unquenchable thirst for new styles sparked the ethno-techno movement, thus paving the way for the most recent qawwali reincarnation, the techno qawwali. Arising out of an era of increased recording digitization, the frenetic pace of world music sampling, and inter-genre borrowing and interaction, techno has made its mark in creating several new sub-genres in South Asia, including techno qawwali and techno bhangra (Punjabi-based folk music turned into popular music), as well as ethno-techno, a flourishing genre that samples world music, often traditional repertoires, layering them over a techno beat. One of the early examples of ethno-techno was rooted in a collaboration between composers Michael Brook, Peter Gabriel and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.10 Often criticized as yet another form of musical colonialism, techno genres are nonetheless able to speak to a wide global audience, flourishing particularly among UK-based Asian artists in the form of remixes for use in dance halls. Although pop albums account for only a small share of the market in India, film playback singers such as Kailash Kher and Sonu Nigam have performed many of the most recent techno qawwali in films as well as releasing successful albums. Techno qawwali is controversial because of its trance-dance association and the substitution of traditional instrumentation with synthesizers, hyped-up bass and other sampled sounds. On-screen interpretations of techno qawwali emphasize not only a modernizing pulse-like enhancement of the rhythmic line, but zikr-like repetition, this time emerging from newly exploited globalized trance folk rhythms. Mahesh Bhatt’s Gangster (2007), ‘Ya Ali (O Savior, all are willing to lay down their life for you)’, features the gangster hero defending himself and killing his gangster father and a group of thugs while trying to escape and create a new life with his lover. The on-screen qawwali is set at a shrine and features a traditionally seated group of young men, accompanied by a guitarist and techno beat, with long extended techno dance passages during the interludes. The beat, however, is emphasized by trance-like zikr headbanging. The metaphor of giving one’s life for Allah is played out in the next scene as the lover betrays the bloodied and broken gangster by turning him into the police. The deeply haunting cries from the hero emulate true passion from the depths of his soul, albeit a secular love, but a heart-wrenching example of laying down one’s life for someone nonetheless.

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Film qawwali has found ways of embodying the sacred to varying degrees. Repetition is more emphatically graphed onto contemporary qawwali. Frenetic and repetitive physical movements referencing the Sufi’s sublime pathway to Allah now manifest as trance-dance head banging, a musical kinetic that, coupled with audition, enhances the power of the sound for the viewer. In traditional qawwali, the intensification of emotional arousal and mystical love in the listener is enacted through the repetition of a strong drumbeat emphasizing the stress pattern or pulse and through handclapping (Qureshi 1995: 60). Rhythmically short repetitive and rhythmic vocal ostinati and trance-like techno beats that intensify, and in some cases substitute for, handclapping are further enhanced by overpowering deep bass woofers sending sound waves into the body. The essence of repetition is moved to the body in the form of re-imagined re-embodied zikr, if you will.

Qawwali as Hedonism In a less serious contemporary setting, film qawwali exploits not only the passion of Sufi texts but also extends it to a fantasized reworking of desire. Narrative situations, devoid of any sacred pretext, draw upon distant notions of poetically bridled passions. In a very Westernized free-love college setting, Farah Khan’s 2006 film Main Hoon Na (I’m Here Now) contains an elaborately staged Busby Berkeley Qawwali production number entitled ‘Tumse milke dil ka jo haal’ (‘Woes of my heart have glimpsed you’). The picturization includes a highly modified staged setting of qawwali. In an effort to include a college atmosphere from the narrative into the fantasy, dozens of qawwali backing singers costumed in bright purple satin and sequins are arranged on stadium-like seating complete with several lines of qawwalitype cheerleaders, in pink, on the top row. Major Ram Sharma, played by Shah Rukh Khan, is the authentic qawwal figure for the number, even though he does most of the singing in the second half of the song. He is seated amidst the backing singers and is seated at a harmonium that he never touches. Traditional instruments are rather spuriously placed in the scene, harmonium and tabla, they are used blatantly as props, as is the faux Moghul palace. This hedonistic sexualized fantasy includes the essence of helplessness in love and overworked metaphors such as a moth to the flame. Major Ram Sharma, who is too old to be in love with the college-aged heroine, instead leads the backing singing, ‘oh, what can I tell you of the state my heart’s been in since I met you?’, while the younger hero, his brother Lakshman Sharma played by Zayed Khan, sings to the younger heroine, Sanjana (Amrita Rao). Again the madness trope appears, but the pagal this time is depicted somewhat more lustfully in nature. The song functions as a revised glimpse song in which the hero recognizes his love for the heroine due to her reversed Cinderella-like transformation from tight clothes and mini-skirts into a range of traditional Indian dresses. The amazement, kamal, of ishq or love represents the hero’s amazement for the kamal of her transformed physical appearance. Tarana-like repetitive


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vocals (dum tana) in the first interlude are choreographically matched with quick repetitive physical movements as Major Ram Sharma and the entire group of backing singers ogle the heroine literally from top to bottom. As the song draws on a cache of qawwali images, a rather extensive narrative plays out within the song’s frame as it contains the fantasy of not just one couple, but two. Towards the end of the number, Ram Sharma includes his fantasy girl – a chemistry teacher in the school named Chandni – who happens to be Shushmita Sen, Miss Universe, 1994. In a cinematic triple whammy at the end of the song, the Sufi, Hindu and Hollywood overworked clichés of the moon are used in one shot as the heroine descends on a slowly lowered oversized crescent. Cinematographic attention to the heroine’s physical appearance dismisses any lyrical subtlety or nuance of the romance–divine metaphor, which requires the listener to go to great lengths to extrapolate the reference to the divine. In this case, the song becomes a site not only for expressing the hero’s physical forbidden lust for the female, but a cite for the realization of denied passion.

Conclusion Qawwali may be a film mainstay, but its incorporation remains controversial and problematic, with many questions still remaining regarding the resemblance of the filmi form to its authentic spiritual version. Visual and aural spectacles overpower traditional poetic sentiments, which are reduced to secondary importance as there is a tendency in many qawwali picturizations to co-opt or subsume the primacy of audition to fulfil ever more demanding and elaborate visual picturizations for ever more demanding and global audiences. Directors resort to the mass appeal and stereotypes of qawwali’s more exotic aspects, hedonism, violence and transcendent wisdom, while others rely on more traditional tropes and musical authenticity. Filmi contexts have transmogrified subtle nuance into sites of earthly passion or heightened emotional contexts particularly involving revelations of the private and deep-seated desires of the soul in a public setting. Filmi qawwali strips away many transcendent qualities of Sufi poetry, thinly veiling or unveiling the metaphor completely. This, of course, results in a more marketable practice, and one that appeals to a changing diasporic audience. The original Sufi tropes might still be powerful, but the desire for more sensuality and innovation has sewn the seeds of change – for the moment, filmi qawwali is still recognizable as Sufi, but it is increasingly far removed from its original sacred intent. From the preceding discussion, however, we see a remarkable flexibility in the filmi qawwali genre to the extent that audiences continue to read the picturization as qawwali despite ridiculous costumes, exaggerated displays, seriously curtailed or altered musical forms and improvisation and music directors who continue to utilize qawwali with various degrees of seriousness. Musically, film qawwali’s popularity is aided by its ability to absorb hybrid elements, its

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immediate appeal to the uninitiated listener, the use of familiar folk rhythms, Hindustani classical improvisations, ragas and talas, and a longstanding cultural acceptance of the qawwali genre in India among Hindu audiences. In recent decades, the South Asian music scene has exploded. Initially a way for the diaspora to keep in touch with their South Asian heritage and roots, it is now popular and fashionable both for those related to the subcontinent and those who are not to associate with the multiplicity of genres that have emerged from the music and dance scenes, particularly in Britain. The fractionalization of music genres and sub-genres such as qawwali is a result of issues of transnational identities and exoticism, both in the subcontinent and abroad. Not only diasporic audiences, both Hindu and Muslim, but now nondiaspora listeners are taking pleasure in the sounds of des. Over decades now, popular South Asian genres (filmi, bhangra, qawwali) have become part of the soundscape in Britain and beyond. Instruments such as the sitar and especially the tabla are increasingly common in Hollywood and in international movies and television drama soundtracks, and even mainstream companies use genres such as bhangra to promote their wares. Beginning with Apache Indian and Colonial Cousins, perpetuated and given local meaning through the vast array of international South Asian DJs, and extending to international tours of playback singers such as Sonu Nigam, Hollywood films, global advertisements and ringtones, Muslim and non-Muslim diasporic consumption of the subcontinent is standard fare. For diasporic audiences, filmi qawwali’s musical and visual flexibility as well as its ability to incorporate various degrees of ‘Sufi-ness’, and in some respects the common ground of ‘South Asian-ness’, seems to allow the simultaneous consumption of both pleasure and devotion. The cinematic gaze itself frames the qawwal, drawing on the primal and spiritual connection to the sacred and reinforcing the voice as the central instrument so that the sounding of the word is the one sound that is capable of enabling unification with the divine. As performance, even the most fantastic on-screen qawwali represents, albeit tenuously, transcendent and enduring Sufi concepts. A traditional qawwal sings: ‘You made me dance like a fool in the market’, ‘Tere ishq ne nachaiyya’, expressing the total abandonment of social strictures and an abdication and annihilation of the self sublimated into flesh and blood form. Resonances of Sufi poetic passions are powerful, and decades of film picturizations retain the semblance of metaphor even as they subvert them to support earthly unions rather than divine ones.

Notes 1 Rahman himself credits his inspiration for the song to a Sufi song from Bulleh Shah, a seventeenth-century Sufi poet, and sung by Abida Parveen, a noted female Sufi singer from Pakistan. Author’s interview with A. R. Rahman, Stanford University, 14 February 2006.


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2 For more information on box office receipts in Indian Cinema: Online. www. (accessed 20 August 2009). 3 Online. (accessed 20 August 2009). 4 United Kingdom National Statistics Hub. Online. html (accessed 22 August 2009). 5 Voice of America News (31 December 2006) India’s Hindi Movie Industry Booms in 2006. Online. (accessed 16 September 2010). 6 Yahoo News (29 July 2009) Price Waterhouse Cooper Predicts Double Digit Growth for Entertainment and Media Industry. Online. news-detail/61148/PWC-predicts-double-digit-growth-entertainment-media-industry. html (accessed 18 August 2009). 7 Business Week (20 February 2009) ‘Hollywood Meets Bollywood as India’s Movies go Global’. Online. 330804.htm (accessed 24 August 2009). 8 Business Week (5 July 1999) ‘The South Asian Music Invasion’. Online. www. (accessed 24 August 2009). 9 According to one Indian pop singer in the past year, because of the economic slump, most record companies are no longer signing new and unproved talent, they prefer to stick with established playback singers and soundtracks (personal interview, June 2009, Bombay). 10 See Nusrat’s qawwali fusion album Mustt Mustt, Real World (1990), and also the 1997 posthumously released Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan tribute album Star Rise produced by Brook on Real World and featuring the Asian Dub Foundation, Talvin Singh and Fun^Da^Mental.

References Abbas, S.B. (2002), The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual, Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. Arnold, A. (1988), ‘Popular Film Song in India: A Case of Mass Market Music Eclecticism’, Popular Music, 7(2): 171–88. ——(1991), ‘Hindi Filmi Git: On the History of Commercial Indian Popular Music’, unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. ——(2000), ‘Film Music: The Northern Area’, in A. Arnold (ed.), South Asia: The Indian Subcontinent. Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. V, New York: Routledge, 531–41. Bailey, J. (1990), ‘Qawwali in Bradford: Traditional Music in a Muslim Community’, in P. Oliver (ed.), Black Music in Britain: Essays on the Afro-Asian Contribution to Popular Music, London: Taylor and Francis, 153–65. Boyk, D. and F. Munis (2006), Qawwali and Social Change, Readings on Islam and South Asia. Online. (accessed 13 August 2011). Gokulsing, K. and W. Dissanayake (1998), Indian Popular Cinema: A Narrative of Cultural Change, London: Trentham Books. Hutnyk, J. (2000), A Critique of Exotica: Music, Politics, and the Culture Industry, UK: Pluto Press. Jairazbhoy, N. (1977), ‘Music in Western Rajasthan: Stability and Change’, Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council, 9: 50–66. Kabir, A.J. (2004), ‘Musical Recall: Postmemory and the Punjabi Diaspora’, Journal of Comparative Poetics, 24 (January): 172–89. Karim, K.H. (2003), The Media of Diaspora, Routledge Research in Transnationalism, London: Routledge.

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Kavoori, A. and A. Punathambekar (2008), Global Bollywood, New York: New York University Press. Leonard, K. and L. Sakata (2005), ‘Indo-Muslim Music, Poetry, and Dance in North America’, Amerasia Journal, 31(1): 81–102. Malhotra, S. and T. Alagh (2004), ‘Dreaming the Nation: Domestic Dramas in Hindi Films post-1990’, South Asia Popular Culture, 2(1): 19–37. Manuel, P. (1993), Cassette Culture: Popular Music and Technology in North India, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ——(1988), ‘A Historical Survey of Urdu Gazal-Song’, Asian Music, 20(1): 93–113. Massey, R. and Jamila (1993), The Music of India, New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. Masud, I. (2005), ‘Muslim Ethos in Indian Cinema’, Screen, 4 March. Online. www. (accessed 12 August 2009). Morcom, A. (2007), Hindi Film Songs and the Cinema, UK: Ashgate Press. Qureshi, R. (1992), ‘“Muslim Devotional” Popular Religious Music and Muslim Identity under British, Indian and Pakistani Identity’, Asian Music, 24(1): 111–21. ——(1986; reprinted 1995), Sufi Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context and Meaning in Qawwali, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Sakata, H.L. (1994), ‘The Sacred and the Profane: Qawwali Represented in the Performances of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’, The World of Music, 36(3): 86–99. Sarrazin, N. (2008), ‘Celluloid Love Songs: Musical Modus Operandi and the Dramatic Aesthetics of Romantic Hindi Film’, Popular Music, 27(3): 393–411. Toor, S. (2000), ‘Indo-Chic: The Cultural Politics of Consumption in Post-Liberalization India’, SOAS Literary Review, 2 (Summer): 1–36. Vasudevan, R. (2000), Making Meaning in Indian Cinema, London: Oxford University Press.


Multicultural harmony? Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford Thomas E. Hodgson

National and international politics have an important bearing on Britain’s Muslim populations, but the increasingly pejorative and partisan nature of news stories tends to focus on the puritanical sobriety of orthodox Islam, often obscuring the positive richness of South Asian culture. Bradford’s Pakistani ‘community’ has often found itself in the media spotlight. It became the centre of the world’s attention in 1989 when Pakistani Muslims burned copies of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in the city centre. Culminating in Ayatollah Khomeini’s infamous fatwa calling for the author’s death, the Rushdie affair sparked heated debate about the limits of liberalism and secularism in Britain. Media focus came to Bradford again in 1995 and 2001 following periods of civil unrest within the predominantly Pakistani areas of the city. Indeed, 2001 marked a time of particular uncertainty as media interest in Islam following 11 September intensified. Muslim youth were now considered a ‘ticking time-bomb’ by the media; their ‘regressive’ and ‘fundamentalist’ religiosity threatened to constrict and challenge Britain’s secular values. The Bradford Mela is UK’s largest South Asian music and arts festival. The festival is ostensibly ‘South Asian’, and yet the largest population of South Asians in Bradford are Mirpuri-Muslims who have previously been identified as ‘orthodox’ in their attitudes to music. By examining the relative parts played by the different threads which weave into the cultural tapestry of the festival, this chapter shifts the spotlight away from recent political antagonisms in order to observe the potential of music to open up a more neutral space of debate and contestation. The Mela is a focal point in the year for music in Bradford, where multiple identities, ethnicities, faiths and traditions are performed and enacted. Active encounters and interactions generate amity amongst strangers, enabling them to reconfigure their social and political orientations before re-engaging with everyday life. This is demonstrated by suggesting that the festival is reflexive and responsive to surrounding politics, its boundaries permeated by those who attend. Through fieldwork conducted at the Mela this chapter studies the extent to which the festival represents a site for a (re)configuration of attitudes towards Pakistanis, and explores some of the possible implications of this for recent political events in the city.

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Introduction I arrived at Mr Khokhar’s barbershop for the first time on a cold and dark winter night. The shop was still busy with customers so I took a seat between two gentlemen whilst Mr Khokhar and his son finished cutting hair. Mr Khokhar is from the Mirpur district of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan and came to the United Kingdom in the 1960s to work in the textile industry.1 I was, by this point, several months into my research, and yet I had not come across any Mirpuri musicians. A few weeks earlier, when asked why this was the case, a local Pakistani music producer laughed, saying: ‘They’re not interested in music. We call them “MPs” [short for Mirpuri]. They’ve got this village mentality, you see. When you said you were doing a Ph.D. on MPs I thought you were joking! I’ve seen everything now.’ This dismissal jarred with my own experiences of Mirpuris and music in Bradford. The city’s curry houses have the constant hum of bollywood music in the background; a mixture of Imran Khan and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan will, more often than not, accompany a late night taxi ride; and the Bradford Mela, Europe’s biggest South Asian music and arts festival (and the main subject of this chapter), draws over 150,000 visitors to the city every year.2 And yet, the dismissal also did something else. It highlighted a tension that had been preoccupying me for several months: I was in Bradford to learn more about Mirpuri Muslims’ discourses and practices of music, but three months down the line and I had been met with incredulity among South Asians and blank looks at the local city council. In terms of population size, Mirpuris account for by far the largest number of any South Asian group living in Bradford.3 How could it be that such a large number of people were supposedly without music? What, if any, musical activities are Mirpuris engaged in? It was only after extensive enquiries that I was told to go and see Mr Khokhar who, as well as being a barber, is also a musician.4 With a full head of jet-black hair and a bushy moustache, Mr Khokhar was dressed in a traditional army-green kurta and pyjama bottoms. Cutting hair next to him stood his son, Muna. Muna cut a very different figure to his father. He was dressed in casual but smart jeans and t-shirt, had a shaved head and sported a thin close-trimmed ‘designer’ beard. He was much more extrovert than his father and seemed to be delegated the younger clientele in the barber’s shop. It wasn’t just appearances where father and son differed; they also had very different feelings about music, as I began to find out. Mr Khokhar and his friends enjoy performing and listening to a form of Punjabi folk music called Patwari. His friend, Mohammed, explained to me that Patwari music is played on the ghara and sitar, and takes its name from the Patwar area of north-east Pakistan and south-west Kashmir.5 I asked what a ghara was and, as the elders struggled to find the words, his son, Muna, said, ‘It’s like a clay pot, you know, a water pot that they hit.’ Mohammed agreed and elaborated that in the villages of the Punjab and


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Kashmir they have lots of water pots (ghara) lying around and they use them in their music.6 His son Muna, on the other hand, showed little concern for Patwari music. As his father continued cutting hair next to him, he explained: ‘I’ve got no interest in it whatsoever. I can’t stand it.’ I asked what he liked, to which he shrugged his shoulders and replied, ‘I dunno, like R& b and that, you know, Tupak, hip hop.’ When I asked Muna where Patwari music was performed, he looked at his friends who were waiting to have their haircut and, under his breath, joked, ‘Tokyos.’ His friends all laughed, as Tokyos is a popular R&B nightclub in the city centre, an unlikely venue for traditional Punjabi folk music. A young customer then came into the shop and sat next to me. Around 12 years old and of Pakistani descent, he wore particularly smart clothes and a cravat. He didn’t have a locally definable accent, rather that of a middleEngland public school. He was quiet, but confident enough to engage with me about music (indeed, out of everyone there, he was the only one who wanted to offer up information without being prompted) and impress on me that he played the electric guitar to Associated Board Grade 3 standard.7 The meeting in itself highlighted some interesting dynamics. There were three generations of Mirpuris present: Mr Khokhar (who had come to the UK aged 15) and his friends, who were very interested in performing what they described as ‘traditional’ Patwari music; his son and his son’s friends, who declared that they had ‘no interest whatsoever’ in Patwari music, only R&B and hip hop; and the young customer who was being trained to play the classical guitar.89 The differing tastes in styles of music were not, in themselves, completely surprising; many teenagers will listen to different music than their parents and grandparents. However, the meeting belied the idea that ‘MPs aren’t interested in music’ and quite clearly showed that Mirpuris were interested in a variety of different music. As the opening quote by the music producer hinted, however, Mirpuris are often stereotyped by other British Asians as being somehow ‘backward’ and of a low social status due to their rural heritage in Pakistan.10 Moreover, in academia, Mirpuri Muslims have also been identified as particularly orthodox in their notions of piety, with little currency afforded to music. Whilst researching Gujarati musicians in Bradford, John Baily commented that ‘as a community the Mirpuris had little interest in music … The prejudice against music and musicians associated with some orthodox forms of Islam could be seen at work here.’11 The contradictions between these assertions and my experience in Mr Khokhar’s barbershop raised significant questions. What processes are in place that put Mirpuris in this narrowly defined box? In the broader context of Bradford, why are Mirpuris, more than other migrant groups, constantly identified as uneducated and backward? How and why are these assertions maintained and perpetuated? Using The Bradford Mela as a case study, this chapter is an attempt to approach and explore such questions.

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Mirpuris and the Bradford Mela The Bradford Mela is a music and arts festival, held annually in Bradford over a two-day period. Over the course of its 23-year history, the nature of the event has transformed from being, ostensibly, a South Asian festival, to one that now attempts to encapsulate more broadly Bradford’s various cultures. This shift in the festival’s ethos is tied up with, and informed by, a variety of discursive, yet connected, political, social and economic developments in Bradford. The first festival began in 1988 at a time when Bradford was at the centre of national debates about multiculturalism and Islam in Britain.12 In response to the experiences of racism that South Asians were being subjected to in Bradford, and the negative publicity the city was attracting, a group of students and youth activists decided to hold a small music and arts festival on playing fields above the city’s university. The event had the dual purpose of being both something for the city’s South Asian population to celebrate, and a way of engaging the wider public with multiculturalism by introducing them to aspects of South Asian culture that existed beyond newspaper headlines, curry houses and taxi ranks. Within a few years the mela had become the city’s flagship multicultural event and, due to its burgeoning popularity, had moved to the much larger Lister Park, in the Manningham neighbourhood. As the event grew in size, so too did the involvement of the Bradford Council. With this came not only increases in budget through sponsorship levels, but also an increasing awareness of its social and political potential. What began as a local ground-level event, organized by a small disparate group of people, quickly became absorbed by the hegemony of the local council. In other words, it soon became a means of expressing policies of multiculturalism as imagined and interpreted by the council. As such, over the course of two decades, the mela has been subjected to, and guided by, an evershifting interpretation of what multiculturalism ‘is’ and how it should be expressed within the confines of a festival in a fixed space over a fixed period of time. This chapter focuses, in detail, on the 2009 and 2010 Bradford Melas. Based on ethnography conducted at both events, the chapter explores some of the implications these two events have had for Mirpuris and multiculturalism in Bradford. It does this by first outlining how multiculturalism is understood by the council, and then by identifying how this is articulated and implemented by the festival’s production team. This is what I term a ‘top-down’ version of multiculturalism and is, as such, one that is carefully planned, funded and politically invested. The ways in which Mirpuris experience and, in some cases, transgress this top-down multiculturalism are then explored. It is argued that these experiences and acts of transgression have a profound reactive impact on how the event is programmed and organized from year to year, but that little attention has been paid to how Mirpuris themselves understand and experience multiculturalism. The chapter thus asks: what kinds of performances privilege and prioritize what groups of people? What does musical performance ‘do’ in this kind of context? What happens to


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music and culture that are excluded? What are the implications of this for Mirpuris in Bradford? In asking these kinds of questions, I hope to identify some of the transformative ways in which politics, culture and music have collided, conflicted and combined over the course of the festival’s history and attempt to untangle some of the complex power relations therein. Recognizing that power, and taking into account all its benefits and destructiveness, will go some way to understanding some of the processes by which Mirpuris are marginalized.

History of the mela The greatest advantage of the melas was that the multicultural people could see you. (Bhangra artist, Channi Singh, from Alaap, in Qureshi 2010: 83)

Whilst the Bradford Mela was the first of its kind in the UK, it follows a long tradition of melas held across the Indian subcontinent. The word ‘mela’ stems from the Sanskrit verb ‘to meet’ and is widely used to identify gatherings and fairs. In rural areas of India and Pakistan, melas are held at harvest time as both a means of religious and secular celebration, and to exchange goods and food. In more populated areas, melas have expanded to vast proportions. The Kumbh Mela in India, for example, attracts over 60 million people who gather and bathe in the Ganges at Hardwar, a Hindu city in the Himalayan foothills. It has been argued that festivals and celebrations are important to migrant populations, as they constitute, symbolically, a renewal of the past in the present. Indeed, Métraux has suggested that festivals provide a means of recalling origins, whether mythical or historical, and are opportunities when cultural, religious, local and national identities can be re-asserted and feelings of selfawareness and participation in common experiences reaffirmed.13 On one level, the Bradford Mela demonstrates this functionalist description of festivals and celebrations. Indeed, ‘participation in common experiences’ is one of the explicit goals of recent government policies for multiculturalism (often expressed as ‘common values’), and is strongly emphasized by the festival’s organizers: according to the Bradford Mela website, the event ‘provides an opportunity for communities to come together to celebrate and share their cultures’.14 However, whilst the city council promotes the Bradford Mela as a unifying event and a celebration of the city’s cultures, the reality is that the festival is a space wherein a complex set of interactions takes place, with different meanings for different people. Each generation and each individual will attend the event shaped by their own experiences that have occurred throughout their lives. How these historical and everyday experiences interact and, at times, contradict the ‘multicultural harmony’ of the festival is of

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central importance if we are to understand better the impact of multicultural policy on the lives of marginalized minority groups, such as Mirpuris in Bradford. At the same time that the Rushdie affair was enveloping Bradford, another event was beginning to take shape and gather momentum.15 A year earlier, in 1987, a small street festival was organized in the Little Germany area of the city.16 The small festival, organized by Allan Brack (a former art gallery curator) and Dusty Rhodes (a local artist and outdoor stage specialist), was intended as a celebration of Bradford’s history and cultures and to reinvigorate the area. As Rhodes explains, the motivation for the festival was strongly influenced by the local peace movement: We’d both been campaigners against racism and fascism and, in a way, doing the Festival and then the Mela was a continuation of how we saw the city politically and what the threats to the city were – the constant fascist threat, not just the organised fascism but also the low level racism. We lived through a period where black and Asian people on the streets of Bradford were being physically attacked. (Dusty Rhodes in Qureshi 2010: 15) The following year, Brack and Rhodes were asked by Bradford Council’s Economic Development Unit to expand the event and make it a citywide celebration. By this point Champak Kumar, founder of Oriental Arts, had also become involved with anti-racist campaigns.17 At Bradford College, Champak was an active member of the Bradford Asian Youth Movement, which was organized to challenge the growing threat of racism and to oppose the activities of the National Front.18 The Bradford Festival was, predominantly, a street arts festival but, through their contact with Champak and the city’s anti-racist movements, Brack and Rhodes had become aware of the popularity of live South Asian music. They said, ‘we want to do a huge outdoor event. What could it be?’ And of course I said, ‘A mela!’ When people in India and Pakistan celebrate Diwali or Vaisakhi or Eid, they always call it a mela. And I used to see a lot of Bollywood films, and when they mentioned a mela in the films, you would see a fair, you would see colours, and you would see artists dancing in the films, and I thought mela is the key word to use. (Champak Kumar Limbachia in Qureshi 2010: 16) The early festivals were designed to be a ‘multicultural celebration’, which included music, dance, visual arts, theatre, cabaret, film and poetry.19 Artists who performed at the mela were a mixture of local musicians and established international artists. Skinder Hundal, who has been involved with melas in Britain since they began, believes that the melas held in 1988 and 1989 were crucial because, for the first time, they created a public space which countered


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the backlash against multiculturalism by celebrating the cultures of the city’s different communities: The communities were taking ownership of their own destiny in promoting the arts and culture and making sure there was something there for the communities to enjoy and be proud of. There were only the day-timers, or the commercial shows, but there wasn’t a collective space where all the communities came together, of all Asian origins – Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan – that was the point of the mela. It was a connecting point for all the South Asian communities to come together as a creative voice. (Skinder Hundal in Qureshi 2010: 12) Following the success of the first mela in 1988, the event moved to the larger Lister Park in the Manningham area of the city. Faced with limited funding, the organizers relied on local volunteers to help build infrastructure, manage the site, arrange stewarding and, after the event, dismantle the stages and clear up litter. Local Pakistani-owned businesses, such as Mumtaz restaurant and Bombay Stores, sponsored the event, whilst Bradford College art students volunteered to help build structure and stages, and to provide decorations. Rhodes recalls: We used to go into [Lister Park] a week or two before the event and start building the thing, and people that we didn’t even know would come with huge tubs of curry and feed us because we were working to build the Mela. These were spontaneous gestures. There was just a real sense that the event was by and for the community, and anyone who had an idea could come along and join in. (Dusty Rhodes in Qureshi 2010: 17) Over subsequent years the festival grew in scope and popularity, moving to larger venues in the process. In 1998 the mela relocated to Peel Park and by the turn of the century was attracting over 150,000 visitors from home and abroad, making it the largest mela in the UK and one of the biggest in Europe. As a focal point in the year for music in Bradford, the modern mela provides both a consolidated (and, in many ways, limited) picture of the city’s music scene and a temporal public space within which the city’s various ethnicities can come together. Because of this, the mela has also been used in the political arena in attempts to attract European funding. Paul Brookes led Bradford Council’s European Capital of Culture 2008 bid, in which the mela played an active role: The Mela was most certainly seen as a demonstration of something that brought together communities in a celebratory way. ‘Europe’s biggest and best Mela’ is how we described it. The multiculturalism that the

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Mela represents, the way the Mela was a symbol of some of that multiculturalism, was absolutely at the centre of the bid. (Paul Brookes in Qureshi 2010: 18) Over the course of the two-day mela, over 16 hours of music and entertainment are programmed. The modern mela site is designed in such a way as to articulate the local council and Arts Council England’s policies of multiculturalism. During the course of my research I was privy to meetings with funding bodies, Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police, wherein discussions took place and decisions were made as to what acts should be booked for what groups of people and, perhaps more importantly, what acts should not be booked for fear of attracting the ‘wrong’ sort of people.20 These meetings, particularly with the council and other funding bodies, were directed under the rubric of multiculturalism, as decisions were made based on what acts should be booked using public money that could best articulate multicultural policy. Discussions and decisions in the meetings were based on and around the city council’s cultural strategy, the ‘Only Connect’ manifesto, as well as Arts Council England’s NI11 target to engage communities with the arts.21,22 This was a highly selective process, whereby migrant groups in Bradford would be identified, and then music to be performed at the mela would be selected for them, on behalf of them, to represent them. The Bradford Mela is, in this sense, the implementation of multiculturalism, over a fixed period of time, within a predefined, enclosed space. The festival’s producer, Ben Pugh, explained to me that the festival site itself is designed in such a way as to be an idealized articulation of multicultural policy: ‘From the moment they walk into the gate the audience should feel like they’re being transported into a different world. They’re at a festival, a celebratory moment … So when they go from the Mango Stage, they walk through the avenue of stalls towards the Sunrise Stage. And along the way, they pass a samba band playing and they see in the corner a guy doing a plate balancing act.’23 Meetings between the production team and West Yorkshire Police also had a profound influence on the types of acts that were booked, as well as the general layout of the festival. These meetings were shaped less by government policy towards multiculturalism and more by certain demands made by the police based on their experiences of past melas. The police’s main concern in these meetings was public order. Mainly, these concerns were centred on how the festival’s producers would prevent large groups of young Pakistani Mirpuri men from gathering in one place. The language used during the meetings was predominantly that of ‘prevention’ rather than any tangible pieces of intelligence that had suggested a large-scale social transgression was due to take place. An example of the impact of these meetings between the police, the city council and the festival organizers came in 2002. Having taken overall charge of the festival for the previous decade, in 2002, Bradford Council made the


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decision to pass the organization of the Bradford Mela to a private contractor. This represented a significant shift in the production of the event. Up until that point, it was local people – such as Alan Brack, Dusty Rhodes, Champak Kumar and Katherine Cannoville – who had, for the large part, organized the production of the Bradford Mela. Once the production of the mela was handed over to a private contractor, however, many of the event’s local community initiatives were discontinued. Instead, the contractor outsourced the organization to a team of programmers and organizers from outside Bradford, and built a festival programme that was more heavily centred on bhangra-rap and R&B. The Bradford Mela still attracted over 100,000 people throughout this period; however, over the next two years there were many complaints made specifically about the programming of the festival. The strong emphasis on contemporary R&B and rap attracted much larger numbers of young Mirpuris, who came to watch artists such as Juggy D and Imran Khan perform on the large open-air main stage. This led to public complaints being made to the council that the Bradford Mela had become ‘mono-cultural’ in that its programming was focusing almost completely on Pakistani pop music. Reports in the media also alleged that, rather than representing the tastes of Bradford’s various populations, the festival was pandering only to the tastes of young Pakistanis. In this sense, people were not only concerned with it becoming mono-cultural, but also mono-generational. In the eyes of many festival-goers and the media, the Bradford Mela was, in effect, becoming increasingly partisan, reflecting one demographic rather than all. The backlash against this new way of programming the Bradford Mela can be read in several ways. In one sense, it provides a counter argument to the ‘multiculturalism backlash’ identified by Vertovec and Wessendorf that has occurred in the UK over the past two decades.24 The underlying framing of the complaint – that the mela was pandering only to the tastes of young Pakistanis – was one of representation. As far as the complainants were concerned, the mela no longer ‘represented’ all of Bradford’s cultures. Or, in other words, the event was no longer multicultural enough. This counters the prevailing discourses against multiculturalism by politicians and the media and demonstrates that, for people living day-to-day lives in multicultural cities like Bradford, the policies of multiculturalism are issues that shape, affect and organize their social lives.25 This shows that, for people in Bradford who attend the mela, music plays a more generally important role in representation. A good Bradford Mela represents all of Bradford’s cultures; a bad mela represents only one. In this sense, multiculturalism is understood to be about equanimity and impartiality towards any given culture. However, another, important, way to read this historical juncture is to move Mirpuris closer to the centre of the discourse. In many ways, Mirpuris live both socially and economically on the periphery: the margins of society. The neighbourhoods that a large proportion of Mirpuris live in are inner-city suburbs that have traditionally suffered from lack of investment and

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underdevelopment. The main businesses that Mirpuris work in and/or own – such as restaurants, clothes shops, taxi ranks, etc. – are not to be found in the town centre, but in areas such as Manningham, Girlington and Little Horton (all on the outskirts of Bradford). In a cultural sense, too, they are not included in the planning process of the Bradford Mela and are not represented in the production team. All these factors contribute to the marginalization of Mirpuris. And yet, despite this, there is a certain paradox with this discourse. The paradox lies in the fact that, whilst this discourse has emphasized the marginalization of Mirpuris, they are, concurrently, at the centre of the public’s imagination (highlighted by the complaints outlined earlier) and, often, at the centre of debates on multiculturalism.26 There is a tension, then, between centre and periphery. How can we talk about marginalization and multiculturalism when, paradoxically, Mirpuris are at the centre of these debates? Indeed, it could be argued that the way in which this chapter has been written, thus far, also excludes Mirpuris (by not allowing them a voice) whilst, paradoxically, placing them on centre stage. In order to redress this balance and work through the tension between this duality of centre and periphery, focus must now be turned to the ways in which Mirpuris themselves think about and experience the Bradford Mela. It will be argued that this switch in emphasis is crucial if we are to understand better and more broadly what multiculturalism ‘means’ for people, on the ground, on a day-to-day basis, and that it is from this starting point that multicultural policy should be informed and shaped.

The 2009 and 2010 Bradford Melas As our point of departure, then, we will return, once more, to Mr Khokhar’s barbershop. The evening was wearing on and most of the customers had left. Whilst Mr Khokhar was downstairs in the kitchen, I sat with two of his friends, Muhammad and Asif. Muhammad was busy telling me about Patwari music: ‘You know, Tom, this is traditional music. From Punjab. This is what we grew up on back home. This is what we like to listen to, not this modern rap – that’s for the young ones.’ At this point, Mr Khokhar’s son, Muna, who was busy sweeping up the cuttings of jet-black hair from the floor, raised his eyebrows slightly and made a barely perceptible shake of the head. I asked Muhammad where he listened to Patwari music. ‘I’ve got some CDs that I listen to in the car. I’m a taxi-driver over in Keighley, you see, so I have a lot of time to listen to music.’ Mr Khokhar returned from the kitchen holding a tray of steaming hot tea. The tea was served in a china teapot and thin teacups, which were all decorated with gold leaf and floral patterns.27 As Mr Khokhar poured the sugary tea, I asked whether there were many Patwari music performers in Bradford. ‘There are some,’ Mr Khokhar replied, ‘but the best performers are in Pakistan. Sometimes, you know, they come over and we put on concerts. Not just here, but all around. Rochdale, Birmingham,


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Keighley – all over. If not, then there are maybe two or three concerts a year. But in Pakistan there are lots of concerts. All the time concerts.’28 ‘How about at the mela, do you get to see much Patwari music there?’ ‘Oh yes, there’s lots of music at mela. You know, in Pakistan, there are lots of mela, and always lots of music [laughs].’ ‘Ah I see,’ I replied, ‘but what about over here? Do they have much Patwari music at the Bradford Mela?’ ‘Over here, not so much. I think, last time there was a Patwari music at [Bradford] Mela … 2000. We had [a] singer from Pakistan come over and he give [a] big performance at mela. I sponsored him.’ ‘Did lots of people come to watch?’ I asked. ‘Lots of people. Big performance.’ ‘So that was quite a long time ago, ten years, have you been to the mela since?’ Mr Khokhar thought for a moment and rubbed his jawbone. ‘No, I don’t think so. You know, I am working here all the time, every day [laughs]. I went for Patwari music, but the rest aren’t real players. I work here every day. Muna takes a day off. I work every day and save money for Pakistan. One month every year I go Pakistan. Only top players are from Pakistan.’ To which Muna smirked. Before asking Muna what he thought, I asked Mr Khokhar whether one could compare the melas in Pakistan with melas in the UK, like the Bradford Mela. Mr Khokhar and Mohammad exchanged glances and rocked their heads slightly. Mohammad answered. ‘Not really. You see, in Pakistan the melas are different. The music they have there … It’s music that people listen to – very traditional. Over here they have all different kinds of music, you know? Rap music, reggae … It’s not really stuff we listen to.’ I suggested to Mr Khokhar that, for the past two years, there have been qawwali groups performing at the Bradford Mela that he might like to have seen. He pondered this for a moment but then shook his head and said that these were not ‘real’ players, only people from London. He said that the best players were from Pakistan or, to a lesser degree, places like Birmingham, Keighley and Rochdale.29 Despite Mr Khokhar’s reputation as a musician in Bradford, and the popularity of Patwari music among Mirpuris, he has never been asked to perform at the mela. When asked why this was, Mr Khokhar replied, simply, ‘I don’t know why.’ A few months previously I had put the same question to Champak at Oriental Arts, whilst he was in the process of programming the 2010 Bradford Mela. Champak was surprised. ‘They [Mirpuris] listen to Patwari music,’ he had said before putting me in touch with Mr Khokhar. Champak knew, in a broad sense, that Patwari music was popular among Mirpuris, and that Mr Khokhar was the man to speak to, but he was not aware that Mr Khokhar himself was a musician. Indeed, despite Champak’s expertise in South Asian musics, he was not clear exactly what Patwari music ‘was’, nor what it meant for Mirpuris in Bradford. Over a combined total of 32 hours of performance time, only four 30minute slots were allocated to music that might, loosely, be described as best identifying with the musical tastes of elder Mirpuris. These were The Hussain Brothers and Haji Ameer Khan – both of which are professional qawwali groups that are based outside of Bradford.30 There were no Patwari ensembles.

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This represents a great disparity – or inversion – between the size of the relative South Asian populations and their musical ‘representation’ at the mela.31 However, it is not only the elder generations who are seemingly left out. It is through looking at younger generations of Mirpuris and their tastes in music that the programming of the mela and its relationship with multicultural policy can best be critiqued. Indeed, the programming of the 2009 and 2010 Bradford Melas provides particularly interesting cases in point. Again, a good point of departure is the barbershop. I had called into the barbershop to pick up two suitcases that Mr Khokhar had asked me to take to Pakistan.32 Whilst Muna’s sister went to retrieve the suitcases, I took the opportunity to chat with him briefly about his own tastes in music. ‘I don’t really like all that traditional stuff,’ Muna said flatly. Then, with pride in his tone, he continued, ‘but when you get to Pakistan and meet my cousins … Some of them are the best musicians. All of them. Dhol players … What’s that keyboard called?’ ‘Harmonium?’ I offered. ‘Yeah, harmonium. They’re top top players.’ ‘So are they the same age as you?’ ‘Yeah yeah, same age as me. Some older, some of them younger. You’ll get to meet them all. They’re gonna swarm you [laughs]!’ ‘[Laugh] I look forward to it. But kids over here don’t seem to play that kind of music, do they?’ ‘No, everyone here listens to Tupak and Imran Khan and stuff like that. Jazzy B.’ ‘Why do you think that is?’ ‘I dunno,’ Muna replied ‘it’s just what’s on the radio and that, isn’t it?’ I wanted to press him further on the issue, but at that point half a dozen customers entered the shop and Muna had to get back to work. ‘Have a good time in Pakistan,’ Muna bade me as I left the shop, ‘say hello to my cousins.’ On the surface, Muna appeared indifferent to the reasons behind this disparity in tastes. But the generally low interest in traditional forms of music among younger generations of Mirpuris was something I observed throughout my fieldwork; in many situations, but especially in secondary schools, this was the case. The most dominant styles of music that young Mirpuris listened to during my fieldwork were R&B, bhangra-rap and hip-hop. The arenas for listening to these musics varied, including hi-fis in their rooms, youth clubs, iPods in school, YouTube, nightclubs and on their mobile phones. But perhaps the most noticeable space within which the latest R&B music could be heard was from car stereos. A short walk through the Manningham or Little Horton areas, and the chances are you will hear the low rumble of bass, as a car with tinted windows drives past. Occasionally, raps would also be performed on street corners and filmed on mobile phones, which would subsequently be disseminated around the area. I have given this brief overview of musical proclivities to give an indication of the types of music that would be most appealing to teenagers at a live event, such as the Bradford Mela.

The 2009 Mela The 2009 Bradford Mela began at 12.00 noon on Saturday, 13 June. I will give an overview of the festival site in the form of a walking tour. As we walk


Thomas E. Hodgson

around the mela, I will provide descriptions of all the different food and retail stalls, music and dance stages as well as the various street artists that roamed the site over the festival weekend. More detailed accounts from my fieldwork diary and excerpts from various interviews I conducted over the weekend will also complement the walking tour. The aim of this highly textual account is to build up a more nuanced impression of the interactions that took place throughout the festival weekend and to be able to relate them more closely to the planning of the site. The tour of the festival site begins at the pedestrian entrance to Peel Park on Cliffe Road, which can be seen at the very bottom of Figure 9.1. The entrance to the park was decorated with signage and large notice boards detailing the various events scheduled around the park. At each entrance point to the park were information points staffed by two Event Ops. The tasks of these Event Ops were to assist the public with any queries and also to hand out programmes for the festival. Once inside the park the footpaths diverged in three directions. During the afternoon the paths became progressively busier as they were the main method of travelling around the site. In between the paths were areas of open grassland on which most of the stages, market stalls and food areas were situated. Heading down the right-hand side of the park, the first activity area was The Hive. The Hive was an area specifically designed to be a ‘child friendly’ zone. The producer of the festival, Ben Pugh, explained to me that during the period when the Mela was outsourced to a private production company, there were SurulM Stag e


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Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford


growing concerns that the event was not a safe place for families to go. The Hive was thus created as an area that only parents with their children could enter. Situated near the entrance of the site it was sealed off from the rest of the festival by metal fencing. As children entered they were led through a rose-lined tunnel into an outdoor area. Once inside, activities included face painting, arts and crafts, music workshops and dancing. Designed as a ‘safe haven’ for families with young children, away from the bustle of the main event, The Hive was introduced to the festival in 2008. Opposite The Hive to the east of the path (as seen in Figure 9.1) was the Guava Stage. As a medium- to large-size open big top, the Guava Stage claimed to showcase ‘exotic, fusion and global sounds’.33 With more of a leaning towards an encompassing ‘world music’ genre than elsewhere on-site, the Guava Stage included a variety of acts, both local and international, such as Kwame D from Ghana, Metz & Trix from Manchester, England, and the Annapurna Dance Company from India. The tent was open-sided and varied in popularity throughout the weekend. The stage was near a large area dedicated to food-stalls. This allowed people to sit and watch music and dance from around the world, whilst also eating curry, falafel or fish and chips. This close proximity to the food area fostered not only fusions of sound but also sensorial transportation of taste, sight and smell. As the pathway moved north from the direction of The Hive and the Guava Stage, it was flanked on the right-hand side by the main food area described earlier whilst, on the left, a small series of alleyways speared off to form a retail area. These avenues were carefully planned to feel like a village bazaar and acted as channels and shortcuts for people to walk along and through between stages and marquees. This also had an obvious economic benefit for the stallholders as, for much of the festival weekend, the bazaars were full of people bustling between the stalls. A typical retail stall was essentially rudimentary, consisting of two or three wooden desks, covered by a gazebo. Items for sale included shawls, headscarves, dresses and jewellery. One of the larger marquees on the site was reserved for a large South Asian retail store that is located on the outskirts of the city. The sponsorship and occupation of this space by Bombay Stores, along with the sponsorship of the Sunrise Stage by its radio station namesake, show that as well as being a festival of culture there is also a strong emphasis on commercial enterprise. As well as the sights and sounds of the mela, the smell of food permeated the air. In the main food area you could find the usual festival mix of burger vans and pizza stalls, but the dominant cuisine on offer was South Asian. The food area itself formed a large semi-circle of food stalls that arced around from the right-hand side of the path. In the centre of the semi-circle were a number of picnic benches, some of which were shaded by young trees. The picnic tables were in constant use as families sat down with trays of freshly cooked Kashmiri food. One of the largest food stalls was run by Islamic Relief, which sold plastic trays of curry for 5 pounds, with all proceeds going to charity. Throughout the day, the attention of passers-by was drawn to the


Thomas E. Hodgson

Islamic Relief stall, run by an MC, who interacted with the crowd with a number of quips and jokes. Indeed, the comedic MC provided a form of light entertainment for the whole area and made satirical observations on a range of recent sporting and political events. Continuing north from the bazaar and food area, a large area of grassland opened up on the right-hand side of the path. This area was known as the Village Green. The area was named the Village Green by the organizers in an attempt to create a communal open space area wherein interactions could occur between performers and the public. As such, a variety of ‘street artists’ performed here throughout the weekend. Removing barriers between performers and audience, many of these acts actively encouraged crowd participation. Music acts included steel-drums, bag-pipe ensembles and a one-man band. There were also stilt-walkers, dancers, a puppet show and a Rajasthani circus. Surrounding these acts were frequent moments of interaction as boundaries between performers and audience were crossed. On several occasions a number of street artists from different traditions came together on the Village Green and gave spontaneous collaborative performances. When this happened, the musical habits and traditions of different cultures were suddenly brought together and played in one place – at the same time – creating spontaneous and temporary fusions of musical traditions. On the north edge of the Village Green was the Kala Sangam stage. This medium-large rainbow-coloured tent was run by a local South Asian arts organization, Kala Sangam. On its website the organization, which is based in Bradford and funded by Bradford Council and the Arts Council England, describes itself as ‘encouraging and promoting community interaction through South Asian art collaborations’.34 Outside of the festival the centre teaches classes in classical South Asian music and dance, promotes music and instrumental lessons in schools and offers work experience for young people. Their ideology is to ‘deliver art and cultural activities that bring communities together by promoting understanding and mutual respect’.35 In this sense, they are also guided by the city council’s multicultural policy which, they suggest, ‘embraces the city’s rich cultural heritage as a legacy for the future generations’.36 During the mela, the centre created a programme of North Indian classical music, traditional bhangra dancing, comedians, workshops and poetry recitals. The tent was located at the centre of the festival site and was particularly popular with families and elder generations. The entire front ‘wall’ of the tent was removed, creating a very open space; people could casually enter and leave as they pleased. Most would sit on the grassy floor in front of the stage, whilst those just outside the tent’s perimeter could stand looking in. The openness of the tent also encouraged participation from groups of people who might not normally be inclined towards a particular act or performance. An example of this came during a comedy show by an Indian comedian. Sitting on the grass in front of the stage were families with their children. Halfway through the show a small group of Mirpuri boys entered the tent, sat at the

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front of the stage and began to heckle the comedian. At one point, one of the boys jumped up and shouted into the microphone. The audience shifted uneasily while the comedian said, ‘Alright, lads, calm down now.’ After a few minutes the boys jostled their way out of the tent and moved on and, as they did so, the gentleman next to me muttered, ‘fucking typical’. Heading on northwards from the Village Green, the path crossed through The Avenue – another food and retail area – which ran along the top of a ridge that slopes sharply downhill to two more stages that sat back-to-back in an area called The Valley. The largest of these stages was named The Sunrise Stage. The Sunrise Stage was the 2009 festival’s only large open-air stage and was sponsored and run by the local South Asian radio station, Sunrise Radio. Throughout the weekend, the stage was MC’d by the radio station’s DJs while being broadcast live over the radio and the internet. Situated towards the top of the festival, facing away from the main site, the stage looked out towards a natural amphitheatre with the valley rising away from it. Crowds could stand either on a flat area directly in front of the stage or sit high up on the banking that provided an ideal view. Performing on The Sunrise were predominantly young South Asian bands and dancers, including the bhangra dancers Nachda Punjab, alongside bhangra-fusion artists, 2 Steps Ahead. Watching these performances was a mixed crowd: young families, groups of teenagers, passers-by and elder generations gearing up to go home for the evening. At one point, the young families and elder generations were sat high up on the natural amphitheatre that looked down on the Sunrise Stage, whilst immediately in front of the stage was a large crowd consisting, mainly, of young men. During the performance the crowd surged forward, bringing down three segments of barrier. The crowd spilled through and some climbed up onto the stage, interrupting the performance. Security quickly intervened, restored the barriers and the performance continued. In a physical sense, this social drama was a subversion of boundaries between performer and audience. The physical barrier between the stage and audience had been broken and crossed and, in the minds of many festival-goers, a social barrier had also been broken. The social rules that denote what behaviour is acceptable, and what is not, were suddenly brought into discourse as various people around me condemned the actions of the teenagers. Shortly after this had happened, a mother, with her young family at her side, lamented to me, ‘I’m not racist, but they [the organizers] knew that if they let them [young Mirpuris] get together like this then this would happen, but they didn’t stop it’. As news of the event spread around the site, the story of the drama changed and metamorphosed. At its most perverted, the drama was described to me as a full-scale riot with mounted police charging through the crowd to suppress the unruly teenagers. When this incarnation of the drama was put to a security guard who was there at the time, he simply replied, ‘Nah, it was nothing. Some fences came down, that’s all.’ The disparity between interpretations is indicative of some of the low-level tensions that exist in Bradford, but that are papered over at the festival by its multicultural and


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communal ethos. It shows not simply that, as a social drama unfolds, people feel able to articulate some of their more entrenched value systems and beliefs, but that the performance of identity itself is always contextual. Sitting with its back to The Sunrise Stage was its counterpoint, The Sunset Stage. As its name suggests, what it had to offer was in contrast to the bhangrarap of the Sunrise. The idea behind this tent was to create a mehfil-style atmosphere.37 As such it was situated in a Bedouin-style tent with low-level lighting and a floor covered with cushions, which aimed to create a more intimate atmosphere. Intended to be an area where people could come and relax, audiences were encouraged to sit up close with the performers. Najma Akhtar, who performed on the Sunset Stage, explained: It brings the audience to me and I like a little bit of closeness. There’s more of a connection. There isn’t that distance and I think it’s to do with spirituality and it’s to do with calmness and it’s to do with listening and it’s to do with quality and clarity of the music. There’s more control on the sound quality if you have a limited space. If melas have that in place then I can easily go and do a set even without my band, but just as a semi-classical ghazal traditional thing. (Najma Akhtar in Qureshi 2010: 50) The Sunset Stage attracted an older crowd as well as young families. In general, people came and listened intently with many elder generations gently rocking back and forth in rhythm with the music. The music was predominantly of the South Asian classical tradition, with an emphasis on Sufi qawwals and ghazals. Alongside these traditions were fusion ensembles that included tabla, qanun, sitar and flute. Moving back up the hill and through The Avenue, the path led to the westhand side of the Village Green. On the right was a small stage called The Peel Stage. This small-medium size stage was reserved primarily for unsigned Bradford-based bands that are supported through the Forum for Arts in Bradford and the council’s Music Development Department.38 The stage was a counterpoint to many of the other stages as the acts were predominantly grass-roots indie, rock and punk bands. In front of The Peel Stage was a large open area of grassland with a number of marquees that formed The Learning Zone. Environmental groups and charities, exhibiting their causes and raising awareness, occupied these spaces. Charity tents included The British Heart Foundation, The Red Cross, Oxfam, the Blood Donor Service and Consumer Direct. Volunteers ran tents from differing backgrounds and religions, and it provided visible evidence of what the organizers described as a ‘multicultural activity’ at the festival. One example of this occurred at the 2006 Bradford Mela. Prior to the festival, two charities had registered for stalls in order to campaign for ‘Drop the Debt’ and climate-change awareness. The two charities were Christian Aid and Islamic Relief. The organizers saw this as an opportunity for the two groups

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to come together and campaign for the same causes side by side. Ben Pugh explained: By partnering them up they exhibited together, they campaigned together. The impact of that was phenomenal in terms of broadening people’s understanding about the event and what it meant in terms of cohesion. And there were some other tangible things like Christian Aid writing in their national magazine about what a great time they’d had at Bradford Mela. You’ve got three quarters of a million people that would never even think about coming to Bradford Mela reading about the organisation they support having a wonderful time there, campaigning alongside Islamic Relief. (Ben Pugh in Qureshi: 58) At the foot of this area was the mela’s main stage, The Mango Stage. This large blue big-top was the biggest of the stages at the Mela with a capacity of around 10,000–15,000 people. Despite it being the largest of the stages at the 2009 festival, at previous events it was much larger and not contained within a big-top tent. The move to smaller stages was part of a push by the festival organizers to reduce the audience sizes that a single large stage encourages, and increase variety and diversity across the site. Consequently, The Mango Stage was popular throughout the weekend and attracted a variety of audiences. The stage promised, ‘tasty national and international music flavours’, with performances from prominent South Asian musicians, including, Jazzy B, Adeel, Bombay Rockers and Channi from Alaap. The walking tour has, thus far, aimed to give a feel for the layout of the site, the stages and the types of music and events on offer. In other words, the aim has been to provide a textual and pictorial description of a site that is, in many ways, the implementation of the city council’s policy on multiculturalism. This description, of the mela being a physical manifestation of policy-level multiculturalism, has been supported by quotes from the festival producer, Ben Pugh, whose ‘something for everyone’ approach was a direct result of directives from the city council. Furthermore, Pugh’s ‘crowdengineering’, as he terms it, demonstrates that within this open and inclusive approach are underlying concerns with controlling the ways in which people move around the site. The move from large open stages to smaller but more numerous tents stems not only from the council’s desire to ‘include more communities’, but also from a fear of large groups of young Mirpuris gathering in one place. This crowd-engineering shows that, despite the overtones of inclusivity and openness emanating from the production team and council, there is, nevertheless, a clear idea of how people are expected to behave, interact and move around the site. Indeed, it could be argued that the layout of the site is specifically designed to encourage a kind of cultural world tour, whereby festival goers move around and sample little tasters of Bradford’s different cultures.39 Implicit in this layout, then, is an ordering of culture. Each culture is neatly


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placed at various points around the site, ready to be encountered by the general public.40 The second purpose of this tour, however, has been to provide snap shots of how young Mirpuris have responded to and, in some instances, transgressed this careful layout of (multi)culture. To move the discourse forward, therefore, focus will now turn to the following year’s Mela. The following account of the 2010 Bradford Mela will attempt to demonstrate how the actions of young Mirpuris at the 2009 festival – bringing down fences, interrupting performances, etc. – had a direct impact on the way the subsequent festival was organized and programmed.

The 2010 Mela The 2010 Bradford Mela took place on Saturday, 12 and Sunday, 13 June, and came at a time of particular economic difficulties in the UK. The economy was pulling itself out of recent recession with an unprecedented amount of fiscal support from public funds. Amidst this economic crisis a new Conservative–Liberal Democrats coalition government came into power and immediately began implementing deep spending cuts in the public sector. Bradford Council alone faced funding cuts of 67 million pounds, over two years, to its budget. As the main sponsor of the Bradford Mela, this had an immediate impact on the budget for the 2010 festival. Ben Pugh explained to me that budgeting for the mela had always been a difficult process. In most years, the official budget would not be approved until April, some two months before the festival weekend. This created huge logistical problems as artists and site contractors required contracts to be signed by the production team well before this official budget approval. Such late approval had always created a degree of uncertainty for the production team, but Pugh explained that, normally, the council would eventually approve a budget of approximately 300,000 pounds. This would then be augmented with title and stage sponsors, and retail space hire. The recession that preceded and led into 2010, however, created a particular set of difficulties. The city council indicated to Pugh at an early stage that he should expect cuts of 66 per cent (200,000 pounds), which would effectively reduce the festival budget to 100,000 pounds. Pugh explained that, for an event that attracts audience figures of over 150,000 people (over two days), simply putting the infrastructure in place would absorb much of that revised figure. Aware that more money would have to found from elsewhere, the production team nevertheless went about finding ways to deliver the 2010 event with a massively reduced budget. In a meeting with Bradford Council, the production team and Oriental Arts (who are responsible for much of the music and dance programming), it was decided that ways to make cuts in the music budget would have to be found. In the months after this meeting, it was left to Oriental Arts to decide how to implement these cuts and what types of music should be prioritized. It was

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subsequently decided that ‘big name acts’ would have to be dropped from the programme. This was, ostensibly, because such acts can cost up to 10,000 pounds to book and there simply was not enough money to accommodate these levels of fees. Instead, it was decided that more emphasis should be placed on local music acts, as this would allow the production team to both save money and meet their NI11 targets. Despite this resolution, however, a number of ‘big name’ bands were booked and, for the purpose of this analysis, it is worth noting which types of music survived the cuts versus the types of music that did not make it into the programme. I will draw attention to these acts and their significance both through simple reference to the event programme lists of the 2009 and 2010 melas, and through conversations with the programming team throughout the 2010 festival weekend. The overall site size of the 2010 mela was significantly reduced, compared to the previous year. The biggest spatial change was the removal of The Valley area to the north of the site, behind The Avenue. The loss of The Valley also spelled the end of the two stages that were situated there in 2009: The Sunrise Stage and The Sunset Stage. The loss of The Sunrise Stage, in particular, left a large gap in the programming as this had, traditionally, been the stage on which big name bhangra-rap groups performed. The children’s area was also reduced, with The Hive being replaced by a smaller marquee. It was with music, however, that the biggest changes were made. The loss of The Sunrise Stage meant that much of the music that appealed to young Mirpuris was cut from the programme. In 2009, a long list of big-name bhangra-rap artists performed on both The Sunrise Stage and the main Mango Stage. The artists who performed included, among others, Jazzy B, Adeel, AG Dolla, Bombay Rockers, Jaz Dhami, Integrity Beatz and RDB. At the 2010 festival, not one big-name bhangra-rap artist was programmed. The only artist to appear on the programme who fit that genre was Sham D – a young, up-and-coming singer from London – who performed on the small Kiwi Stage in the corner of the festival site.41 In terms of programming then, virtually an entire genre was cut from the 2010 Bradford Mela. This represents a big change in programming compared with the previous year, particularly if one considers that this genre – bhangra rap – includes the type of music that most appeals to young Mirpuris. Interestingly, one big-name bhangra-rap artist did perform at the 2010 mela. Late on Saturday afternoon, Preeya Kalidas feat. Mumzy, appeared on the Mango Stage as a surprise guest. I asked Champak why Preeya Kalidas had not been advertised in the programme, and he replied: ‘You know, Tom, we’ve had them booked for a while and Mumzy said he would play as a favour to me. But you see, Tom, if we advertised him on the programme, then he would attract a big crowd of youngsters, and they thought that sometimes they can get a little over excited [laughs]. So we thought, “OK, we’ll have him as a surprise guest”.’ I asked Champak who ‘they’ were, to which he replied: ‘I think it’s the council and the police, you know. They are always worried [laughs]!’42


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It was clear from pre-festival meetings that cuts to the programming had to be made, but it is interesting to note that those cuts fell almost exclusively on music that appeals to young Mirpuris. Whereas the big names of the bhangra-rap genre were cut from the 2010 festival, a number of more established bhangra groups were sustained over both years. The 2009 mela, for example, saw a headline performance by Channi Singh, lead singer of Alaap, a group who pioneered the bhangra genre in Britain the late 1980s.43 The 2010 festival, again, gave its headline slot to this genre, with the return to the stage of Alaap’s rivals from the 1980s, Heera. Mr Khokhar’s son, Muna, gave short shrift to these bands when he described them to me as ‘old timers’ music’. This change in programming towards what can, roughly, be described as music that appeals more to elder generations, was also reflected in the timings of the acts. Whereas at the 2009 festival the programme built throughout the afternoon, with the main acts performing in the early evening, the 2010 mela saw the headline act appear at 3.00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. Thereafter, the acts that followed were slower paced, with a less broad appeal. This resulted in crowd numbers gradually reducing as the afternoon progressed. The changes in programming from one year to another demonstrate a subtle move away from music that directly appeals to young Mirpuris. The move was ostensibly made under the guise of cuts to funding, but the sustentation of other genres and big-name acts, such as Alaap and Heera, suggest that there were also other factors. The reluctance to advertise the surprise guest, Preeya Kalidas feat. Mumzy, suggests a concern over what might happen should large numbers of their fans – young Mirpuris – gather to watch. As Champak explained, this concern lay primarily with the city council and the police, but also pervaded the production team, as demonstrated through the layout of the site. Indeed, the police’s fear of large crowds was based not only on incidents at previous melas but also on an assumption that large groups of young Mirpuris will inevitably cause trouble and panic will ensue. As Elias Canetti notes, it is ‘the destructiveness of the crowd [that] is often mentioned as its most conspicuous quality … It is discussed and disapproved of but never really explained’ (Canetti 1973: 19). The police’s concerns about large groups of Mirpuri youth gathering in one place thus had a profound influence on the layout of the festival site. More stages were added and spaced out around the site with the aim of encouraging more movement and diversity. Pugh explained: In recent years we’ve moved away from a large outdoor arena-type stage, to something that is a more intimate environment. People don’t want an event which is an intimidating pop concert/arena type environment. You put a crowd of 90,000 people in front of a stage and however positive and happy they are there’s still something intimidating about that; it’s not an environment for family audiences. So what we’ve done is taken away the

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big structures, made the structures less intimidating, and it changes the atmosphere on site. (Ben Pugh interview with the author, June 2009) In a sense, therefore, the way in which the festival site is organized is deeply influenced by police’s concerns about large groups of Mirpuri youth.44 As this aspect of festival design is put into effect, a different set of language is employed by the festival organizers to describe the layout. It becomes less about Pakistani youth hell bent on causing trouble, and more about being part of the council’s broader multicultural policies of inclusion and a ‘something-for-everyone’ approach. It demonstrates how, in many ways, the concerns of the police and the concerns of the council’s multicultural policy coincide. Indeed, crowd-engineering at the mela highlights the tension between the council and organizers’ ambition to create multicultural spaces within which people of different ethnicities and faiths can congregate, and their fear of what might occur when they (i.e. the people) do so. Tia DeNora highlighted this organizational power of music, saying that, ‘if music can affect the shape of social agency, then control over music in social settings is a source of social power; it is an opportunity to structure the patterns of action’.45 The inclination to fragment and disperse Mirpuri youth in the name of ‘multicultural harmony’ demonstrates a more fundamental essentialization of culture and faith that is manifested through increasing methods of control. However, these increasing methods of control only represent one side of the story. The active crowd-engineering also reflects some of the underlying power dynamics between the festival organizers and the audience. For Abner Cohen, the Notting Hill Carnival represents a creative expression of dynamic power relations, embodying the tension between subculture and dominant culture.46 From a young Mirpuri’s point of view, the Bradford Mela is still an event to go to and, with its overtones of inclusivity and ‘something-for-everyone’, they would be justified in thinking that the mela was also something for them as Bradfordians. Indeed, Champak expressed this tension to me thus: ‘You see, Tom, the problem is, whatever you are programming, they [young Mirpuris] will still come, but there is nothing for them! So they go around, cause trouble. It’s sad.’ The ‘trouble’ that Champak referred to was visible, and often audible, throughout much of the weekend. Large groups of teenagers – mostly boys but also a number of girls – wandered around the site in a train-like formation. The teenagers, who carried vuvuzelas, air horns and had the flag of Pakistan tied around their necks, moved around the site, stopping at each stage for a few minutes before moving on.47 Their dissatisfaction with the music on offer was marked not only by their moving on after only a few minutes, but by a mass chorus of Bb notes emanating from their vuvuzelas. Whereas at the 2009 mela a number of teenagers were heavily criticized by festival-goers for transgressing the physical barrier between stage and audience because they interrupted a bhangra-rap performance, the same teenagers now came under renewed criticism for a different type of transgression. With


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a lack of music that appealed to them, young Mirpuris expressed their dissatisfaction by interacting with performances in a different way. The loud resonant monotone of the vuvuzela cut across the crowd and the stage – in some cases overpowering the sound system – before the teenagers moved on.48 The antagonistic way in which the public reacted to the teenagers was reinforced by the presence of a significant number of police officers, who stood nearby. On several occasions the police, holding large video cameras, followed the teenagers around the site, recording their behaviour. Whilst there was little on offer for young Mirpuris on stage, they were nevertheless often the focus of attention off the stage – be it through the watchful gaze of the police, or through the castigation of other members of the audience.

Conclusion I began this chapter by giving an outline of the social and political history of the Bradford Mela. I then moved on to look in more detail at the 2009 and 2010 Bradford Melas, in order to answer four broad questions. These were, namely: 1) What kinds of performances privilege what groups of people? 2) What does music ‘do’ in this kind of context? 3) What happens to music and culture that is excluded? And, 4) What are the implications this has for Mirpuris in Bradford? I approached these questions by beginning with an analysis of the Bradford Mela from a perspective of what I termed ‘top-down multiculturalism’. The starting point thus looked at the way the mela was planned and implemented by the production team, under the guidelines of Bradford Council’s policies on multiculturalism. These guidelines moved the mela away from a South Asian festival per se, to one that aimed to represent more broadly Bradford’s various cultures and ethnicities. In other words, the remit of the production team given by the council was to deliver a multicultural festival that would represent each of the cultures that live in Bradford. Ben Pugh’s ‘something for everyone’ approach to programming encapsulated this ethos. However, by comparing the 2009 and 2010 festivals, the chapter has demonstrated that, beneath this specious veneer of multiculturalism, a number of decisions were made in the planning process that undermined this something-for-everyone ethos. From one year to the next an entire genre of music – bhangra-rap – was cut from the programme: music that directly appeals to young Mirpuris. This shows that the so-called freedom and openness of the festival nevertheless occurs within a strictly defined framework. The multicultural ‘dream’ of an event like the mela is only one side of the story.49 Subsumed under this formal ideology are complex social and historical interactions. As has been shown, the Bradford Mela has been promoted as the city’s flagship ‘multicultural event’. The festival is the one event in the Bradford calendar where multiple identities, ethnicities, traditions, generations, musics

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and cultures compete and, often, overlap on shared ground. It has even been hailed by the council as a ‘symbol of multiculturalism’. Furthermore, the organizers’ something-for-everyone approach has seen the mela transform from a South Asian event to one which celebrates difference and diversity within a broader framework of shared citizenship and national identity: all central themes of recent central government multicultural policy. On the surface, then, the mela articulates multiculturalism in many ways. There is live music from many parts of the world; fresh food from Pakistan, England, Italy and the USA; dance workshops from Japan and southern India; not to mention the great variety of cultures of the people who attend the two-day festival. But therein also lies a problem. By attempting to represent many cultures, the mela also defines them. This presents rigid and fixed notions of culture and group-belonging that risks excluding certain groups, whilst informing and perpetuating essentialized stereotypes. As Philip Lewis has noted, Bradford ‘offers a case-study of how local Muslims are able to work with multiple identities … At different times Muslims have been able to negotiate resources on the basis of a shared “black” identity, a national identity – Pakistani/Bangladeshi – or multiculturalism.’50 This chapter has demonstrated that, rather than providing something for everyone, the choice of music at the 2010 festival actively excluded young Mirpuri Muslims. This was ostensibly done because of funding cuts to the festival’s budget, but comparison of the two years’ programmes showed that other genres of music were prioritized and survived from one year to the next. Indeed, this process of prioritization and exclusion pervaded other aspects of the festival, such as the site layout. Following complaints made at previous festivals, and meetings with West Yorkshire Police, stages were reduced in size in order to prevent large groups of young Mirpuris from gathering in one place and thus reduce the risk they were perceived to pose. By looking at the mela from the perspective of young Mirpuris, the chapter then sought to examine the ways in which teenagers themselves experienced multiculturalism at the mela. The chapter showed that, despite the organizer’s efforts to prevent large numbers of teenagers gathering in one place, a significant number of young Mirpuris still attended the festival. With a distinct lack of music on offer for them, groups of teenagers roamed around the site and sonically interrupted performances with choruses of vuvuzelas. The police, who followed them around with video cameras, also contributed to putting the teenagers under the spotlight. Young Mirpuris’ experience of multiculturalism at the 2010 mela, then, was certainly not one of inclusion and openness. The choice of music excluded them from the council’s vision of multiculturalism and, in doing so, also contributed to their marginalization. The teenagers’ subaltern oppositional praxis challenged this marginalization by cutting across the council’s carefully laid out articulation of multiculturalism, transgressing boundaries between performers, audiences and cultures.


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Notes 1 The history of migration from South Asia to the UK stretches back to the early nineteenth century. As the British Empire extended its control over the Indian subcontinent, local men, in particular from areas such as Mirpur in modern-day Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, were recruited into the merchant navy. The Mirpur District of Azad Kashmir lies in the foothills of the lower western Himalayas. Azad Kashmir (or Free Kashmir) represents the western portion of the historic state of Kashmir that was occupied by the Pakistani army following the partition of India. Substantially higher rates of migration, however, occurred after World War II. The UK had sustained heavy losses of life during the war which left large employment gaps in its textile and manufacturing industries. This particularly affected northern industrial towns such as Bradford, Birmingham, Burnley and Oldham. As such, invitations in the form of work visas and permits were offered to people from countries in the new commonwealth. With a history of recruitment to the merchant navy, men from Mirpur took up the invitation in substantial numbers. 2 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948–97) was a popular and influential qawwali singer from Faisalabad, Pakistan. Imran Khan is a Dutch Pakistani rap singer/songwriter and producer. 3 According to the 2001 census data – Online. (accessed 9 September 2010) – there were 85,465 people of South Asian descent living within the city. Of this figure, 67,994 were Pakistani, 12,504 Indian and 4,967 Bangladeshi. In an overall population of 467,665 people, this means that 15 per cent of the city’s inhabitants are of Pakistani heritage, the majority of whom have roots in Azad Kashmir. In terms of religious affiliation, the vast majority of Pakistanis are Muslims of the Sunni sect. In total, there were 75,188 Muslims living in the city, compared with 4,748 Sikhs and 4,457 Hindus. It has been predicted that by the 2011 Census the Pakistani population will have risen to 102,350 (21 per cent), and by 2021 it will be 132,950 (26 per cent). 4 For some initial insights into the connection between barbers and musicianship in the Muslim world, see John Baily (2006). 5 There does not seem to be much consensus on the correct spelling of ‘Patwar’. As a transliteration of the Urdu script, there is no set way to spell the term. The Urdu script suggests that ‘Potwar’ is perhaps more appropriate, however, YouTube videos of the music are listed as ‘Patwar Sher’ or ‘Patwar Poetry’, hence my adoption of the ‘Patwar’ spelling. Alternatives include ‘Pothwar’, ‘Pohotwar’ and ‘Potwar’, amongst others. The name stems from the geographical topology of the area known as the Potwar Plateau – which, again varies in its spelling. The Potwar Plateau is a vast area that lies between the Jhelum and Indus rivers and is bounded in the north by the Hazara Hills and in the south by the Salt Range. Its cities include Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Attock and Mirpur, and much of the surrounding Punjab province. 6 A ghara is similar in shape and sound to a south Indian ghatam. 7 The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) is an educational body that provides practical and theoretical examinations in music. Practical examinations are based, primarily, on a recital of classical (i.e. baroque, classical, romantic or contemporary classical) music. In addition, candidates are tested on scales and arpeggios, sight-reading and aural skills. 8 Qawwali music performed by artists like the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is also popular in the barbershop. Qawwali music is extremely popular in Pakistan and India and, as Baily (2006) has shown, its appeal has continued through their respective diasporic communities, including Bradford. Qureshi (1986) and Waugh (1986) both focus on the traditional form of qawwali played at Sufi shrines. Qureshi, like Baily, makes use of video-recording techniques in order to analyze the

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9 10 11 12 13 14 15

16 17 18 19

20 21


23 24


performances of qawwali in-depth. This allows her to write about the ‘musical experience’, taking into account performers, Sufi leaders and audience response. The book provides an excellent ethnographic account of qawwali music, taking in the musical principles involved, the performance setting and the event itself. This enables her to make more concise, but by no means simplistic, observations of the social importance of music within a cultural context. Mr Khokhar’s son and the young customer were both born and bred in Bradford. This categorization of Mipuris as low-caste backward farmers has also been noted by Sean McLoughlin (2006: 113). See John Baily (1986). The Rushdie affair, in particular, placed Bradford and its Pakistani population at the centre of national focus. For more on these debates, see Ruthven (1991), Rushdie (1992) Lewis (1994), Parekh (1990). See G. S. Métraux (1976). Online. (accessed 14 February 2011). The Rushdie affair refers to a period in 1989 when Pakistani Muslims in Bradford burned copies of The Satanic Verses, in protest at the way Salman Rushdie had portrayed the Prophet Mohammad. The affair sparked heated debates about the limits of multiculturalism in the UK. The area of Little Germany is comprised, for the main part, of nineteenth-century industrial warehouses and offices. Since the decline of the textile industry, many of the historic buildings lay abandoned and in a general state of disrepair. Oriental Arts is a publicly funded South Asian arts organization based in Bradford. The National Front is a far-right whites-only political party based in the UK which was particularly active in the 1970s and 1980s. The melas that took place in the 1990s included performances by Nachda Punjab, Naseeb, Holle Holle, Alaap, Asian Dub Foundation, Fun-Da-Mental and Jazzy B. In the build up to the mela, the Bradford Festival also organized music and arts workshops in various local parks in and around Bradford, and in schools and community centres. These events culminated in the Lord Mayor’s Parade, in which a series of floats built by community groups and schools wove their way through the streets of Bradford to the city centre, much akin to London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Details and rationale of these decisions will be made explicit later in the chapter, but for now it is enough to say that these ‘wrong’ people were Pakistani (Mirpuri) youths. According to the manifesto, ‘the purpose of “Only Connect”, Bradford District’s Cultural Strategy, is to link the work of all the individual people, organisations, agencies and services who have a bearing on the quality of life here and to focus on delivering together the shared goals’. Online. (accessed 9 July 2010). In 2008 the Arts Council England, in collaboration with other funding councils, began an initiative to work with local councils with the aim of developing a framework for the improvement of community-level culture and sport. As part of this framework a number of targets, NI11 (National Indicator 11). were set, which usually comprised percentage increases in certain groups of people engaging in council-sponsored cultural activities. Online. (accessed 9 July 2010). See Ben Pugh in Qureshi (2010). Steven Vertovec and Susan Wessendorf (2010) suggested that, within the last decade, multiculturalism has been subject to a vociferous ‘backlash’ by politicians and the media, who claim that it stifles debate, fosters separateness, refuses common values, denies social problems, supports reprehensible practices and harbours terrorists.


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25 Indeed, drawing on Krims, imagining the mela in this way, ‘affords the observer one way to observe changes in the cultural feel for the city, as cities are described and projected throughout great swathes of musical history, across numerous genres’ (Krims 2007: xxxv). 26 Events such as the Honeyford affair, the Rushdie affair, the Bradford Riots, 11 September 2001 and the 7/7 London Bombings have often put Mirpuri Muslims at the centre of debates on multiculturalism. Indeed, it is precisely these events that have traditionally been cited as evidence of multiculturalism’s failure. 27 This kind of crockery is extremely common in houses around the Mirpur area of Kashmir. A typical house will have shelves lined with crockery and glass sets. 28 It is worth noting that Rochdale, Birmingham and Keighley are all areas with significant Mirpuri populations. 29 It should be emphasized, at this point, that as well as being a hairdresser, Mr Khokhar is a musician. Indeed, on several occasions, when the last of his customers left, Muhammad would bring out his sitar and Mr Khokhar and Asif would sing Punjabi poetry in the Patwari style. Some of the time, he would sing wellknown poetry but, for the most part, he would sing his own verse – eliciting cries of ‘waa-ji-waa!’ from Muhammad and his friends. He is an extremely competent poet and singer, and I have witnessed his performances being met with strong approval both in Bradford and in Pakistan. 30 Both The Hussain Brothers and Haji Ameer Khan are originally from Karachi in southern Pakistan, but are now based in London. 31 I have put ‘representation’ in scare quotes here because, whilst it is impossible to represent completely an entire group of people (there will always be cases of crossinterests, tastes, identifications and loyalties), there is, nevertheless, a clear imbalance between the amount of Indian classical music at the festival and the relative paucity of qawwali and Patwari music. This is contrary to the relative population sizes (see Introduction). For more on previous debates on representation, see also: Clifford and Marcus (1986); Geertz (1988); Baumann (1996). 32 Mr Khokhar had set off a week before I was due to join him out there. It is customary when visiting family in Pakistan to take gifts. The process of giving and receiving gifts (‘lena-dena’ in Urdu) is an important ritual that reaffirms levels of status within the biradari and thus serves to reinforce family ties. The politics of lena-dena among Pakistanis living in Oxford has been explored by Alison Shaw (2000). For a broader critique of gifts and their social meaning, see Mauss (1990). 33 Online. (accessed 12 September 2010). 34 Online. (accessed 12 September 2010). 35 Ibid. 36 Ibid. 37 A mehfil is a gathering historically found in Mughal courts. Traditionally, poets, musicians and dancers performed in mehfils for their Muslim patrons. For more on mehfils in Pakistan see Magnus Marsden (2005). 38 The Peel Stage was, ostensibly, named after the founder of the park, Conservative Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. However, it also has strong resonances with The Peel Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, which was named after the late BBC radio DJ, John Peel. The Bradford Mela version had previously been called the New Bands Stage, and championed emerging and unsigned acts. 39 The 2001 Bradford Mela, for example, was promoted by the organizers as ‘The World in a City’. 40 This ordering of culture is reminiscencent of the way Tim Mitchell (1988) described the World Fairs of the nineteenth century, in cities like London, Paris and New York. Rather than deconstructing the physical power relations between the colonizer and the colonized, Mitchell seeks out the more subliminal structures behind the means of colonial domination. In a departure from previous scholarship, he asserts

Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford

41 42 43 44 45 46 47

48 49 50


that ideologies of colonialism are as much ‘internal’ as they are ‘external’. Through processes of standardization, regulation of the market place, careful re-planning of living quarters and educational systems in nineteenth-century Egypt, Egyptians were ideologically driven into a subjugated position by British occupation. The Kiwi Stage was a scaled down version of The Sunset Stage from the previous year. The police’s concerns about young Mirpuris will be outlined later in the chapter. See also Banerji and Baumann (1990); Hyder (2004); Baumann (1996); Sharma, Hutnyk and Sharma (1996); Din and Cullingford (2004). This analysis of the festival layout has strong resonances with the way in which William Weber used the development of the concert hall in the nineteenth century as a way of identifying patterns of class organization. See Weber (2004; 2008). See Tia DeNora (2000: 20). For more, see Cohen (1993). The vuvuzela is a type of horn thought to originate from South Africa, where it is also known as lepatata mambu. Modern vuvuzelas are usually made out of plastic and produce a loud single note, Bb below middle C. The instrument became particularly famous after the 2010 South Africa Football World Cup, where they were played en masse at football matches and dominated the soundscape. Both the vuvuzelas and the Pakistan flags were on sale at many of the mela’s retail stalls. There are some resonances here, perhaps, with Christopher Small’s assertion that ‘to music’ is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance. For more, see Small (1998). The following draws on Cohen (1993). See Lewis (1994: 25).

References Ali, A., V.S. Karla and S. Sayyid (eds) (2006), A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain, London: C. Hurst & Co. Anwar, M. (1979), The Myth of Return: Pakistanis in Britain, London: Heinemann Educational Books. Asad, T. (2003), Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Back, L. (1996), New Ethnicities and Urban Culture: Racisms and Multiculture in Young Lives, London: UCL Press. Baily, J. (2006), ‘“Music Is In Our Blood”: Gujarati Muslim Musicians in the UK’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(2): 257–70. ——(1986), ‘Study Guide’ to Ethnographic Film, Lessons from Gulam: Asian Music in Bradford. Online. (accessed 28 March 2011). Baily, J. and M. Collyer (2006), ‘Introduction: Music and Migration’, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32(2): 167–82. Banerji, S. and G. Baumann (1990), ‘Bhangra 1984–88: Fusion and Professionalisation in a Genre of South Asian Dance Music’, in P. Oliver (ed.), Black Music in Britain, Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Banerji, S. (1988), ‘Ghazals to Bhangra in Great Britain’, Popular Music, 7(2): 207–13, The South Asia/West Crossover, May. Baumann, G. (1996), Contesting Culture: Discourses of Identity in Multi-ethnic London, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Canetti, E. (1973) Crowds and Power, Harmondsworth: Penguin.


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Clifford, J. and G. Marcus (1986), Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, London: University of California Press. Cohen, A. (1993), Masquerade Politics: Explorations in the Structure of Urban Cultural Movements, Oxford: Berg. DeNora, T. (2000), Music in Everyday Life, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Din, I. and C. Cullingford (2004), ‘Boyzone and Bhangra: The Place of Popular and Minority Cultures’, Race Ethnicity and Education, 7(3): 307–20. Finnegan, R. (1989), The Hidden Musicians: Music Making in an English Town, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Geertz, C. (1988), Works and Lives: The Anthropologist as Author, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Grillo, R. (2010), ‘An Excess of Alterity? Debating Difference in a Multicultural Society’, in S. Vertovec (ed.), Anthropology of Migration and Multiculturalism, Abingdon: Routledge, 19–38. Hall, S. (2002), ‘Political Belonging in a World of Multiple Identities’, in S. Vertovec and R. Cohen (eds), Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, Practice, Oxford: University of Oxford Press, 25–31. Hyder, R. (2004), Brimful of Asia, Burlington, VT: Ashgate. Krims, A. (2007), Music and Urban Geography, Abingdon: Routledge. Lewis, P. (1994), Islamic Britain, London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Marsden, M. (2005), Living Islam: Muslim Religious in Pakistan’s North West Frontier, London: Hurst. Mauss, M. (1990), The Gift: The Form and Reason for Exchange in Archaic Societies, London: Routledge. McLoughlin, S. (2006), ‘Writing a BrAsian City’, in S. Sayyid, V. Kalra and N. Ali (eds), A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain, London: C. Hurst & Co., 110–49. Métraux, G.S. (1976), ‘Editorial: Of Feasts and Carnivals’, Festivals and Carnivals: The Major Traditions, Boudry: UNESCO, 1–11. Mitchell, T. (1988), Colonising Egypt, London: Cambridge University Press. Modood, T. (2005), Multicultural Politics: Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. ——(1997), Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity and Disadvantage, London: Policy Studies Institute. ——(1990), Muslims, Race and Equality in Britain: Some Post-Rushdie Affair Questions, Birmingham: Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations. Oliver, P. (1990), Black Music in Britain, Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Parekh, B. (1990), The Rushdie Affair and the British Press: Some Salutary Lessons, London: Commission for Racial Equality. Phillips, D. (2006), ‘Parallel Lives? Challenging Discourses of British Muslim Self-segregation’, Environment and Planning D-society & Space, 24(1): 25–40. Phillips, T. (2005), ‘After 7/7: Sleepwalking to Segregation’, Website of Commission of Racial Equality. Online. (accessed 15 November 2010). Qureshi, I. (2010), Coming of Age: Celebrating 21 Years of Mela in the UK, Bradford: City of Bradford. Qureshi, R. (1986), Sufi Music of India and Pakistan, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rushdie, S. (1992), Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981–1991, London: Granta. Ruthven, M. (1991), A Satanic Affair: Salman Rushdie and the Wrath of Islam, London: Hogarth Press.

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Sayyid, S., V. Kalra and N. Ali (eds) (2006), A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain, London: C. Hurst & Co. Sharma, S., J. Hutnyk and A. Sharma (eds) (1996), Dis-Orienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music, London: Zed Books Ltd. Shaw, A. (2000), Kinship and Continuity: Pakistani Families in Britain, Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. Small, C. (1998), Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening, London: University Press of New England. Stokes, M. (1994), Ethnicity, Identity and Music, Oxford: Berg. The Runnymede Trust (1980), Britain’s Black Population, London: Heinemann Educational. ——(2000), The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain, London: Profile Books. Vertovec, S. (ed.) (2010), Anthropology of Migration and Multiculturalism, Abingdon: Routledge. ——(2010), Transnationalism, Abingdon: Routledge. ——(2009), Cosmopolitanism in Practice, Abingdon: Routledge. Vertovec, S. and R. Cohen (2002), Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context, Practice, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vertovec, S. and S. Wessendorf (eds) (2010), The Multiculturalism Backlash: European Discourses, Policies and Practices, Abingdon: Routledge. Weber, W. (2008), The Great Transformation of Musical Taste: Concert Programming from Haydn to Brahms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ——(2004), Music and the Middle Class, Aldershot: Ashgate. Waugh, E. (1986), The Munshidin of Egypt: Their World and Their Song, Colombia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

10 Hip-hop bismillah Subcultural worship of Allah in Western Europe Maruta Herding

Islam and youth culture have rarely been associated within and outside academia. In Europe, the life of young Muslims in Germany, France or Britain are assumed to be either entirely devoted to religion or secular, or overwhelmingly influenced by European youth culture such as pop or hip-hop music. In the 2000s, a new trend has emerged that combined Western pop culture with Islamic substance. Both the Western music scene and traditional forms of Islam have seen a change through the emergence of a musical genre which combines Western style and Muslim lyrics. This chapter analyzes manifestations of contemporary Muslim music and examines this movement and its underlying motives. A vast collection of examples and qualitative interviews with Muslim musicians from France, Britain and Germany serve as the basis for this empirical account. ‘deen is in da house’1

For a long time, the Western music scene and traditional Islam had little in common. Why should they? In the first place, orthodox Islam is generally suspicious of music, and only traditional types of music are permissible. On the other hand, the various currents of Western music rarely leave room for religious issues, let alone non-Christian ones. Since the turn of the millennium, however, they now not only share the fact that both have witnessed the arrival of an unexpected trend, but must also admit to having been combined with one other: the more pious among Muslim European youths have created a music genre that uses a Western form, mainly hip-hop, as a vehicle to promote an Islamic message. The style is inherited from US American and also, more locally, French role models, while the lyrics are dedicated to the worship of Allah, Islamic teachings, or moral and political statements. Many rappers begin their songs with ‘Bismillah’ – in the name of God. The musicians take the question of whether or not music is religiously permissible very seriously. They skim religious literature and ask scholars for advice, and most have come to the general consensus that it is allowed if used for the right purpose – such as educating about Islam – and if kept within certain moral boundaries. It is not in spite of religious reasons, but because of these that they pursue what they do. This precondition implies that Western Islamic music is not only produced for pure indulgence. Instead, it follows an external

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purpose for which music is the means. Thus, the musicians leave the question of haram or halal behind and turn to more pressing issues. The issue of music and religion also touches upon the question of when an ethnic issue became a Muslim one. While ethnic fusions of music styles have been developing in both the Western and Islamic worlds (e.g. Turkish–German hiphop, the Moroccan heavy metal scene), an Islamic identity was seldom on display. Now a crucial characteristic of modern Islamic music is that it strips away the religion of its cultural heritage and fuses it with traits of Western culture. This is not to say that the ‘Islam’ of this youth culture is one homogeneous notion, on the contrary: it means something quite different to each of the various musicians involved, who speak (and rap) about it as being a source of morality, divine inspiration and guidance or an expression of love, peace and harmony. These notions also differ between countries; however, there are striking similarities and a major one is that religion and culture are seen as two separate and separable issues. Apart from tracing the development of the modern Islamic music scene and presenting its key actors, this chapter will address the musicians’ socio-political concerns and what the study of this music reveals about contemporary Muslim youth in Western Europe.2

The scene It is, first of all, necessary to take a close look at the artists themselves who have created the Islamic music scene in Western European countries. The trend began in the 2000s, in a few cases in the late 1990s, seemingly without any inspiration from other artists, as most of them claim to have been the first. Yet, biography and the socio-political context both played a role in encouraging individuals to create modern Islamic music. Germany The most well-known Islamic rapper in Germany is Ammar114. Born in Ethiopia, he spent his childhood in Frankfurt. During his teenage years, he embarked on a commercial rap career, which he abandoned upon converting to Islam at the age of 19 in the late 1990s. He debated for a while whether or not to continue making music, and eventually resumed his career but with a compromise: he carried on writing and performing hip-hop, but the content of his lyrics now revolves entirely around Islam.3 Since taking that decision, Ammar114’s career in ‘Islamic hip-hop’ has developed successfully. In 2000 he launched a website on which he offered his songs for free download, and started performing at Islamic and other religious festivals. In 2004 he published his first CD, Mehr als Musik (More than music), gave many more performances and later released a second CD, Aus dem Schatten ans Licht (From shadow to light) in 2008. For the past few years he has been present at all the major Islamic events all over Germany and has


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contributed to establishing the new genre in Germany. The name Ammar114 combines the Islamic name he adopted when converting and the number of Suras in the Qur’an, which he claims play a central role in his life.4 In his lyrics and product design, Ammar114 often uses the shadowand-light metaphor, which is a common, if not overused, one in the contexts of religion, truth-seeking and a sudden change in lifestyle. It is employed in some of Ammar’s songs, mainly when a before-and-after comparison is used that alludes to his conversion, and also on his professionally produced website.5 It features a picture of the current CD cover and reads at the very top ‘Bismi-llahi-r-rahmani-r-rahim!’ (In the name of Allah the most gracious and most merciful!). This is followed by a photograph of Ammar himself against a dark background, with only his bent-down head and folded hands visible in a ray of light from above. His head is covered with a white crocheted cap, his hands hold a microphone and prayer beads, below which the title reads From shadow to light. On the website, visitors can also listen to the album and download older songs, and there is a short introduction to Ammar himself, mentioning his conversion and further stages of his career. The Web presence therefore chiefly centres on the artist himself and the significant event of his conversion, underlined by the shadow-and-light metaphor, articulated in the name of Allah. The lyrics show a similar focus, albeit ranging from personal to religiously educational to political. Ammar114’s first songs deal with this very experience and describe how he repented of his former life as a street culture rapper and asked Allah’s forgiveness, though concrete socio-political events also often constitute the subject matter. Every song, while not necessarily religious, at least alludes to the Islamic faith. Many symbols recur that have meaning for Muslims but less so for non-Muslims and therefore act as – more or less – secret codes, like the numbers 114 or 5:32 (the Suras and a particular verse), phrases like Allahu akbar (Allah is great) or Takbir (praise), or allusions to Shaitan (the devil). The story in Ammar’s very first song as an Islamic rapper Allah vergib mir (Allah forgive me) begins with a clichéd teenage story – his girlfriend leaves him, he throws himself into a life of ‘hating everyone’ and drug abuse, and ends up lonely. Then, at a turning point and thanks to Allah, he realizes that this is not what life is about, but that Allah is the only one deserving his love. In hindsight, the rapper is grateful for the then painful experience because it eventually brought him ‘back to Allah’. The song’s fatalistic, humble and devout character is typical of many of his songs. Other songs are solely religious, such as the first track of the 2004 album, Al-Fatiha, the opening Sura of the Qur’an, which Ammar recites in both Arabic and German. Not only is it a declaration of faith, this may also be aimed at addressing and teaching other young Muslims, just like the song 5 Säulen (5 Pillars [of Islam]), life advice based on the five foundations of the Islamic faith. But apart from such religious accounts, there are more political songs, especially on the later albums. Im Namen der Demokratie (In the name of

Subcultural worship of Allah in Western Europe


Allah vergib mir (2000) Ich habe gesehen was das Tier in mir nicht sehen wollte

Allah forgive me6 I saw what the beast in me would not see

Als ich es sah wurde mir klar Allah hu Akbar

When I saw it I realized Allah hu Akbar

Die Frau die ich liebte hatte mich einfach so verlassen

The woman I loved had just left me

Ich fing an jeden zu hassen Wollte und konnte es nicht fassen Plötzlich war ich wieder ganz allein (...)

I started to hate everyone Could and did not want to understand All of a sudden I was all alone again (...)

Lass mich Dir ergeben leben und Dir ergeben sterben

Let me live and die devoted to you

Allah vergib mir - mir und meinen Erben Vergebe meinen Brüdern vergebe meinen Schwestern Vergib mir für Heute für Morgen und für Gestern Vergebe me iner Ex sie war ein Teil in meinem Herz

Allah forgive me me and my descendants Forgive my brothers and forgive my sisters Forgive me for today and tomorrow and for yesterday Forgive my ex she was part of my heart

Allah vergib mir ich danke Dir für diesen Schmerz Er brachte mich zurück zu Dir so hast Du mich gelehrt Dass meine wahre Liebe ganz allein Dir gehört

Allah forgive me I thank you for this pain It brought me back to you, that’s how you’ve taught me That my true love all belongs to you alone

democracy) has stirred much controversy, naming criminal actions that have been executed by Western democracies, such as the CIA’s secret interrogations in Europe, the Iraq war or the death of an American student who acted as a ‘human shield’ against the demolition of Palestinian houses in the Gaza strip. Another song, much sought after at festivals, is Liebe Schwester (Dear sister), addressing all sisters in faith who wear the hijab or headscarf, but also relating to the 2003 ‘headscarf verdict’, encouraging a veiled teacher to fight for her professional rights.7 While some lyrics offer a rather simplistic black-and-white explanation of the world, Ammar is not apologetic for crimes committed in the name of Islam. A song of that very name, Im Namen des Islam (In the name of Islam), denounces Islamic terror. The most recent song [Fünf:32] ([Five:32]) tackles the issues of juvenile delinquency, honour killings and terrorist suicide bombings, clearly condemning any such violence on the grounds of parts of the much cited Sura 5, verse 32 of the Qur’an, which equates the killing of one person to the killing of all humankind and saving one person to saving humanity. The message goes out to both Muslims and non-Muslims, shedding light on topics that many Muslim communities ignore for fear of discrimination and at the same time making a statement that Islam does not allow such crimes.8


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Here, rap is clearly used as a vehicle to convey a message. Even though the music with regard to rhythm and background music has improved over the years, the emphasis is not on the musical, but on the textual. According to one of Ammar’s own statements he does not want to motivate young people to start rapping, in fact he would rather not, but rather to start thinking and moving closer to Islam.9 This is explicitly stated in the early song Ich lebe für Allah (I live for Allah; first and last lines): An erster Stelle bin ich Muslim und kein Rapper Ich lebe und sterbe als Diener Allahs Und nicht als Mic Checker (...) Du kannst mir Millionen bieten doch eine Sache ist klar Das beste Angebot kommt immer noch von Allah

I’m a Muslim in the first place, not a rapper I live and die as a servant of Allah And not as a mic checker (...) You can offer millions but one thing is clear The best offer still comes from Allah

On the other hand, rap is what Ammar grew up with and what he did professionally for a while, thus it is not surprising that he uses the language of hip-hop for his ideas. Being a convert, he was less aware of the debate on whether music was allowed or not, but later solved the conflict by the subjective claim that the intention to provoke good deeds has higher value than the constraint.10 Ammar’s success is also fostered through the media company he founded with his colleagues and producers in 2006, 114media, whose current slogan is ‘Hip-hop für den Kopf ’ (Hip-hop for the mind).11 The ‘brand’ 114 is at the forefront of the German Islamic music movement. Serkan114, of Turkish background, produces similar songs on the love of Allah, the family and the people on his album Auf dem Weg zu Dir (On my way to you, with ‘you’ referring to Allah). Former producer Sayfoudin114, now a rapper himself, has released a song about the 2009 murder of an Egyptian woman in a German courtroom by a Russian–German supremacist, who had previously insulted the veiled woman as an Islamist and a terrorist. The song criticizes the low media interest and the politicians’ delayed response.12 Even though still expanding, 114media is the most well-known company for the production and promotion of modern Islamic music in Germany. Another Islamic band is Amantu (Arabic for ‘I believe’), comprising two German–Moroccan rappers from Wuppertal. Despite their Muslim heritage, both of them had a ‘reversion’ experience, a point at which they rediscovered Islam and started practising after being non-religious in their younger days. They had been rappers before their reversion and then started using rap music for religious purposes. When the band started in 2005, they had also been inspired by Ammar114 and his dealings with hip-hop and Islam.13 Since then, their main goals have been to educate youths about religion in general, about

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humbleness before Allah and the transitoriness of life, and to provide life guidance. They often address the topic of how to turn ‘questionable’ moral conduct into a positive outlook on life. Such moral conduct might include drug abuse, but also having a relationship before marriage or not having a goal in life that pleases Allah. Their only album to date, MP3-Generation, was released by the small record label ‘Refinement’, which is dedicated to modern Islamic music.14 One major song, Die Reue (Repentance) addresses those alleged to be self-satisfied and haughtily non-religious, who are advised to repent and ask forgiveness, by first of all rejecting the customs acquired ‘here’ (presumably in the West), such as striving for power and money. Songs like these are to be understood as accounts of the singers’ own experiences of reversion that they would like to pass on to the younger generation who, in their eyes, have decided to make the wrong choice between the two juxtaposed ways of life. In terms of music, Amantu’s style is a soft kind of rap, interspersed with some vocals, while other songs lean towards pop music. The lyrics are in German but with a few phrases and expressions in Arabic. The media company Refinement, which has been much less active in the past two to three years compared with 114media, also promotes the singer Baschschar, who is a German of Syrian background.15 His music differs from other Islamic musicians in that he uses 1980s pop music to accompany his German, English and sometimes Arabic lyrics about the sublime. In this respect, Baschschar certainly stands out from the rap-dominated genre. Although there are more male than female Islamic artists on the German scene, a few women are also part of the movement. The most influential are Sahira and Lady Scar, both from Berlin. Lady Scar is of African American and Puerto Rican background and is a classic rapper with great ‘street credibility’. Having had a difficult childhood, from which her stage name originates, she claims to have spent much time in the streets with other youths of migratory backgrounds. This experience gives her the authority to address related issues in her songs and to reach out to youths in a similar situation. Her rap and soul music is of professional quality and uses more beats and tunes than the previous artists. Some songs have a more aggressive tone in both their music and lyrics, the latter being determined by her strong outspokenness, so that the style leans towards ‘gangster rap’. Her strong language also distinguishes her from other artists on the scene who deliberately avoid any swear words, which are otherwise very common in hip-hop. So far, Lady Scar has released songs and some videos online, though her first album is ready but not yet released. Her emphasis is on performance, and she regularly performs in Berlin’s clubs and at festivals. To date, she has not appeared in Islamic settings such as celebrations of Islamic holidays like the two previous bands. Lady Scar converted to Islam at the early age of 15, and yet not all of her songs refer to Allah. Many speak about everyday life, of disappointments and love. But, more subtly, religion is touched upon in reflections on life in general, and in the song Doch Al7amdulillah (But thank God).16 This song talks


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about the negative situation in Germany for recipients of unemployment benefit and how that causes Lady Scar not to trust anyone except for ‘the One’ because, ‘thank God’, she follows her own path and things might eventually turn positive, as she prays five times a day and wears the hijab. Beyond the lyrics, she refers to Islam in many other ways. For example, she decided to put on the hijab two years ago, when she resumed performing after a break, and also wears it on stage. Her MySpace website contains many references to Allah, e.g. naming him and the Prophet Mohammed first in a list of people who influenced her, which otherwise mainly features American singers, rappers and bands. Finally, she also considers herself to be an opponent of another female rapper who, despite her Turkish background, is clearly not part of the religious Islamic music scene. Her name is Lady Bitch Ray, having adopted the word ‘bitch’ to give it a positive feministic connotation – similar to the adoption and modification of the word ‘nigger’ in African American hip-hop – and she likes to provoke with strong sexual language and vulgarity.17 Lady Scar publicly shows her disapproval of Lady Bitch Ray by her founding of an ‘AntiBitch-Vereinigung’ (Anti-bitch union) on her website and dedicating a contemptuous song to her.18 A response by Lady Bitch Ray is not forthcoming, and it is left to the audience to decide whether this is done because people often confuse the two unalike ‘Ladies’, is due to Lady Bitch Ray’s ‘immoral’ and un-Islamic behaviour, or because Lady Scar feels that hip-hop is being discredited just as she herself is trying to imbue it with some meaning.19 Rapper Sahira was born to a Palestinian family and has lived in Berlin all her life. She started writing, recording and performing her own music at the age of 15, and distributed tapes at school until she was discovered by a producer. Striving to be independent, she founded her own label, Imani Music. ‘Imani’ stands for ‘my belief ’ in Arabic and may imply, apart from a belief in God, Sahira’s belief in herself or in her music. Raised in a religious but unconstrained way, she describes 11 September 2001 as a turning point in her life. When Islam and Muslims were being maligned and generally suspected of terrorism, Sahira felt the need to form her own opinion and started studying the Qur’an. Subsequently, she started practising and performing the five daily prayers.20 She wears the headscarf, tied in a fashionable way on the back of her head, leaving the neck free. Her MySpace profile also shows pictures of her without it, which leaves room for interpretation. Usually, the headscarf would be worn everywhere in public, and MySpace is very much part of the public domain, so either she does not take it as a religious obligation to the full extent or she may regard the headscarf as being more of something with which to make a statement and play with the reactions to it, which she also does in her songs. Sahira has released two albums, Frei Schnauze! (By guess and by gosh! a local expression, 2005) and Mit reiner Absicht (With pure intent, 2009). The first one deals with scenes from the city and everyday life, addressing topics such as superficiality, non-commitment, the alcohol problems of a fellow Muslim, and about pursuing one’s own way without surrendering. There are a few allusions to Allah, sometimes explicit but more often hidden in short Arabic expressions.

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The theme song Frei Schnauze deals with her life, having two places which she calls home, but with the sensation of being excluded from Germany, while she perceives herself as being a ‘Palestinian in Berlin’. In this song she also expresses her disappointment with the majority of people who do not even try to understand her headscarf. While most songs are very personal or autobiographical, the new album is more spiritual and includes more direct references to God. Through her music, Sahira aims to help teenagers with a migration background by enhancing their self-esteem and acting as a role model, especially for Muslim women.21 In her spare time, she also works in a centre for Turkish girls and women, managing a hip-hop project. She shows how she combines her identities with her music, how she has been successful at this and in conveying a message to the German society. On the German music scene, particularly in the hip-hop genre, this trend is certainly small. There are probably more musicians of Muslim background who do not make religious music, and there is also Xavier Naidoo, a Christian rapper, who uses similarly spiritual lyrics in his songs. But still, the emergence is significant and part of a larger development of the visibility of Islam in the public sphere.

France The scene in France is at a similarly early stage of developing a specifically Islamic profile, although the French-speaking music scene in general, and that of hip-hop in particular, has developed greatly over the past few years. The oldest group of the new genre is Le Silence des Mosquées, who have been performing since 1992.22 They started as a group of six family members and friends from the suburbs of Dijon and were all children of middle-class North African migrants.23 Despite growing up in an Islamic environment, the group brings together different experiences of religious socialization. While some were encouraged by their family to learn about and practice Islam, others were introduced to it from a cultural and traditional point of view and only later taught themselves about religion until they ‘retrieved themselves’, as they put it. It seems symptomatic that this fact is mentioned even in a short introduction to the band on their MySpace page.24 Many Islamic musicians have a conversion or reversion experience, and displaying it supposedly conveys an increased level of reflection and knowledge about religion. The group also acknowledges the work of the youth organization Jeunesse Musulmane de France en Bourgogne, to whom they were close during their teenage years and who played a significant role in their religious education.25 The group claim that for the first five years, before releasing any albums, they only performed for a Muslim audience, before later addressing a wider audience with a more general message.26 However, the change is a minor one. While the titles in the 1996 album deal entirely with Islamic topics, this has


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become more implicit in the 2008 album, yet the reference is still clearly there. The first album features songs such as Allahou la ilaha illa llah (Allah, There is no god but God), Que Dieu soit loué’ (Thank God) and Wa soubhanallah (Glorious is Allah), all reminding the audience of basic Islamic principles and the beauty of their practice. The song Ya Allah (Oh Allah) sums up a reversion experience that wants to pass the experience on to another not-yet believer: ‘Je me sens mieux, grâce à Allah je suis plus heureux’ (I feel better, thanks to Allah I am much happier). The 2006 album also includes topics of social injustice, but does not cease to continue religious remembrance. The song ‘Cris de Bosnie’ (Cries from Bosnia) is the only political one on the 1996 album; written in 1993, it draws attention to the Bosnian conflict and the massacres of the Muslim population, but it also draws on Islamic solidarity and calls for invocations to support Bosnian Muslims. Of socio-political interest is the song Pour ma sœur (For my sister) from 1998, which resembles ‘Liebe Schwester’ by Ammar114. Both songs are dedicated to veiled Muslim women and praise their courageous choice to wear the headscarf, despite the constraints from society or even family. O ma sœur, tu as les clefs De la pureté, de la piété O ma sœur, tu t’es confiée A ALLAH et son messager

Oh my sister, you’ve got the keys Of purity, of piety Oh my sister, you’ve confided In Allah and his messenger

The Bosnia song was later re-released on the 2006 album to recall the conflict, but it also shows that both religious education and political engagement have been a stimulus for the group from the beginning.27 The songs L’eden, a dream of paradise, or Espoirs (Hopes) on the latest album are again entirely devoted to Allah, as the refrain of the latter shows: Apprendre à aimer Allah, L’adorer par la connaissance Y a tant de choses à découvrir, À travers toute sa création Laissons la vie d’ici bas, Consacrons nous à l’au-delà Se dire chaque qu’après la mort, Commencera un long voyage Y a tant d’étapes à franchir, Avant de rencontrer ALLAH Seul nos actes et nos intentions, Seront pour nous d’un grand secours.

Learning to love Allah Admiring him through knowledge There are so many things to discover Throughout all his creation Let the life down here be Let us dedicate ourselves to the afterlife Let us all tell ourselves that after death A long journey will begin There are so many stages to overcome Before meeting Allah Our deeds and our intentions alone Will be of great help to us.

Reminders of the after-life are frequent and recur throughout many songs by other artists as well. In general, over the long period of their performance,

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Le Silence des Mosquées have touched on most aspects of Islamic practice and spirituality, on some Muslim-related politics and everyday anecdotes that act as reminders of the benefits of a religious life. The music itself could be referred to as contemporary nashid, but many songs might well be classified as soft pop.28 Also, the language and context are ‘contemporary’, as all songs are in French, except for a few Arabic–Islamic expressions, and are written from the perspective of practising Islam in France. A similar substance, but a different style, is promoted by the band Réalité Anonyme from Montpellier. With two young males at the start, Volont.R and Barseuloné, only the latter has continued until today.29 In 1999 they released their first album La vérité n’as pas d’hymne (The truth has no anthem) and the second in 2003, entitled La Conception, which is their own expression for no premarital sex. In 2009, Barseuloné’s first solo album Ma petite sœur (My little sister) appeared. The music style of Réalité Anonyme is clearly rap with classic beats and background music, but calmer and less aggressive than some mainstream rap. All songs centre on religion without exception. Some lyrics express gratitude for being born a Muslim (‘Hamdoulillah’), others talk about the rappers’ ideal of a future marriage, which should not be determined by cultural customs, but only by the Prophet’s rules. Although neither band member is a convert, there are accounts of conversion that underline the role of Islam in the quest for truth. The almost obligatory Palestine song completes the picture of global unity in Islam. Réalité Anonyme has acquired popularity nationwide, and the group’s CDs, released by the Islamic publishing house, Éditions Tawhid, are available at commercial music stores.30 Other artists have gained even greater popularity among a wider nonMuslim audience, which is mainly due to the fact that they address more general spiritual or political issues. Although references to religion are clearly present, they are not as predominant as with the two preceding bands. One could argue that their works should not necessarily be classified as Islamic, but rather as music by artists who happen to be Muslim. However, because Islam is clearly mentioned in parts of the lyrics and the artists incorporate much of their religion into their performances and songs, they form part of the category of modern Islamic music. The most prevalent representatives of this current scene are Kery James, Abd al Malik and Médine. Kery James’s music is determined by his childhood in Orly, in the Parisian banlieue, in two ways. First, although he was born to a Haitian Christian family, most of his friends and neighbours were Muslims, which shaped his environment and upbringing. Second, his neighbourhood suffered from severe street violence, causing the death of a close friend when James was 22 years old. At this point he converted to Islam, interrupted his successful rap career and concentrated on religion for two years, before resuming his musical activities with a different outlook in 2001.31 Kery James has released five albums since then, in which he deals with his experiences, ranging from life in the banlieues, poverty, violence and injustice


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to moral and religious values. While some albums are mainly socio-political, others are more explicitly religious like the 2004 album Savoir et vivre ensemble (Knowing and living together), on which he features praise of Maryam, or Mary in Christianity, telling her story from an Islamic point of view. Other songs give advice on how to keep one’s faith in the light of poverty, illness or the death of a relative.32 Islam as a form of self-help and guidance is a very common theme among rappers from a socially disadvantaged background who have succeeded in their lives and converted to Islam. James’s musical style reflects this former career and that of rap from the banlieues. It mainly consists of classic ‘street-style’ rap with strong beats and forcefully spoken lyrics, but there are also influences of African, Arabic and Cuban music. He has also worked with many other artists, among them French chanson legend Charles Aznavour. Abd al Malik, raised in a suburb of Strasbourg and of Congolese background, converted to Islam during his adolescence and later studied philosophy and literature. He is a follower of the mystical current of Sufism, and this determines the substance of his songs.33 There are very few references to Allah or Islamic practice and no direct religious advice, but ideas of tolerance, love and admiring creation are found throughout many songs. Even though some speak of rough experiences in life, most convey a strong optimism and Abd al Malik’s clear affection for and pride in France, which he has also presented in his autobiography Qu’Allah bénisse la France (May Allah bless France). One song on the latest album bears clear evidence of his philosophy; it is the only faintly religious song L’alchimiste (The alchemist), in which he addresses the creator of his heart, expressing how he taught him tolerance, love and to be oneself instead of striving to possess. Abd al Malik released three albums between 2004 and 2008, but there is no obvious classification of his music.34 Some of his lyrics are very intellectual, referencing Gilles Deleuze, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and André Malraux.35 Others relate everyday life stories, such as living in government housing, racism or a modern Adam and Eve story. At the same time, the musical level is very professional, tying in with rap on the one hand, and jazz and chanson-style background music on the other hand. Abd al Malik shows great fondness for the Alsatian dialect he grew up with and for accordion music and Jacques Brel. His background endows him with credibility among his younger fans from the banlieues although, not surprisingly perhaps, most of his audience at concerts are ‘bobo’ or bourgeois bohème – white, middle-aged and middle-class, cultivating an alternative or bohemian life-style. Médine is one of the most political, most provocative and also most wellknown rappers in France. He is from Le Havre where he founded his own record label, Din Records.36 Médine’s grandparents immigrated from Algeria, and Islam has always played an important role in his life; he does not speak of a point of reversion.37 Since 2004, he has released a number of albums, such as Jihad and Don’t Panik.38 The latter came with t-shirts saying ‘Don’t Panik I’m Muslim’. Médine is also part of a rap collective La Boussole (The Compass), alluding to the praying device that points in the direction of Mecca.

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The songs predominantly work as political criticism and address various social problems and injustices, but mainly racism and its more recent form, Islamophobia. Some songs have a few religious connotations, often with regard to society, and more rarely also personally, such as Dans les récits prophétiques j’ai trouvé mon équilibre (I found my balance in the Prophet’s narratives). Occasionally, inner-Islamic conflicts also play a role, including the prohibition of music in Islam: ‘Ajoute à ça quelques pressions d’imams / Qui nous répètent que ne font pas bon ménage musique et Islam’ (Add to it the pressure of imams / Who repeatedly tell us music and Islam don’t go well together).39 The music itself is of professional rap style, with heavy beats and instrumentals, while the ‘gangsta rap’ style contrasts with the thoughtful and thought-provoking lyrics. In general, the French hip-hop scene is vibrant and possibly one of the largest outside the Anglophone countries. Because it has always worked as a means of political and social criticism, often by rappers of Muslim background too, there was perhaps less desire for a distinctive Islamic rap music. Increasingly, however, artists make explicit references to Islam and compose songs about Islam-related topics, within rap music and beyond.

United Kingdom Britain presents a rather different picture. Contemporary Islamic music is still a very specific type of music, which has its own record labels and mainly serves a Muslim audience. However, the scene has grown significantly over the past ten years, and the number of rap artists with clearly Islamic messages is at least equal to that of France and Germany together. Moreover, they form a highly active network. The precursors of British Islamic hip-hop are the group Mecca2Medina, which currently consists of two male rappers in their early 30s. When they started in 1996, they were the only band producing Islamic hip-hop in the UK, and they have released a number of albums since then.40 In 2009, they went on a Tribute to Malcolm X tour in the UK and in 2010 they embarked on a European tour called Don’t Believe the Hype (i.e. the perceived security threat from Islam), along with other British Islamic artists. The group’s members have converted to Islam and had a rap career previously. Upon his conversion, one member of the group was advised by his Sheikh to use his skills to focus solely on Islam and therefore to produce Islamic hip-hop. Consequently, all of the group’s songs deal with religion, the only exceptions being some general anti-war and peace messages. The main topics are the dissemination of the greatness of the Prophet, Allah, and Islamic religion in general. Do you know him?41 Salamu aleikum, brother Wa aleikum as-salam


Maruta Herding Brother, who do you think is the most influential man in history? David Beckham? – No 2Pac? – No Nelson Mandela? – No Then who can it be? Prophet Mohammed, sall Allah aleihi wa salam – Oh yeah! ( … )

Starting with a conversation about typical youth cultural idols, this cheerful Jamaican-style song then introduces the Prophet to anyone who might not yet be aware of him as a role model. The separation of religion and culture is another major theme that also recurs with other artists in the movement. The song Is it Islam, or is it Culture? condemns any violence against women and honour killings that are carried out in the name of Islam but have cultural roots, citing the Qur’an as promoter of gender equality in relationships.42 Other songs address subjects such as the afterlife, paradise, respect, motherhood and racism within the Muslim community. They are, furthermore, part of the campaign ‘Proud to be a British Muslim’, an initiative to promote the peaceful character of Islam and tolerance in British society with the ‘vision of a diverse, all-inclusive and strong Britain’.43 Mecca2Medina’s musical style is rap with a mixture of other influences, reflecting the members’ Jamaican and Nigerian backgrounds, including reggae. While Islamic rap in France is male dominated, in Britain women play a significant role in the movement. Poetic Pilgrimage and Pearls of Islam, two female duos, are shaping the scene. Poetic Pilgrimage started performing together under that name in 2002, although they did not convert to Islam until 2005. Before their conversion, they had already been on a quest for religion and the meaning of life – hence pilgrimage – but, like many, they put their musical career on hold when they embraced Islam. ‘They decided to stop doing music for a while and engaged in prayer and purified their intentions until they felt the time was right’ says their MySpace profile.44 The emphasis on ‘intentions’ is not coincidental, as this is the main argument against the prohibition of music. Resuming their career, they continued their messages of peace and social criticism, but from a Muslim perspective. They were managed by Mecca2Medina, who helped them release their first two CDs. The 2006 album Pilgrims Love the Prophet mainly centres on their conversion experience, the rappers’ pilgrimage towards Islam and their love for the Prophet. Later, another theme becomes important to the duo, that of female performance in Islam, as the ban on music is often extended to women performing on stage. However, having confidently found statements and religious opinions in support of their cause, Poetic Pilgrimage proactively addresses the conservative viewpoint. The mini-album Something You Never Expected is dedicated to this matter, as is the song Unlikely MCs on the 2008 album Freedom Times. It starts with ‘This is something you weren’t expecting / Muslim chick, mic in hand, rappin”, and goes on to talk about the unconventional change the audience will have to become acquainted with.

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Poetic Pilgrimage produce rap, which is also referred to as spoken word, i.e. poetry presented with no or little background music in order to focus on the substance. The latter means a lot to them, as the lyrics reveal: they are rather intellectual, less predictable than those of some of their colleagues, and social and political topics are well researched. What is also uncommon is that there is not only criticism of conflicts where Muslims are victims, which is usual, but also of those where they are perpetrators. Ode To Those Who Give A Damn45 ( … ) I’m an Iranian woman marching for equality I’d rather die standing up than live on my knees ( … ) And rape is still being used as weapons of war Invading what’s pure Those parading in Darfur ( … ) But you’ll see me Hijab tied tight Black glove fist raised high Chanting the war cry ‘No Justice, No peace’ Till the day I lose life Poetic Pilgrimage were therefore in many ways the first to purvey female Islamic rap music, but certainly not the only ones. Pearls of Islam have had a similar career, although they differ in their philosophical background. All of them are of Afro–Caribbean heritage, but Pearls of Islam have been Muslim from birth, born to parents who converted to Sufism. The two sisters have been brought up with encouragement to perform as Muslim and Afro–Caribbean girls. In 2005 they had their first public performance at an Eid al-Fitr with the song Muslim Woman and have since been performing at Muslim and non-Muslim events.46 Mecca2Medina have also encouraged and supported them. The Pearls’ songs are all inspired by their Sufi beliefs. Many deal with love, for instance the song ‘Love’ itself, which deals with global tolerance and respect between all religions and people – enabled by the Creator – or the song Ya Allah: ‘Let us love, love for the sake of you, ya Allah’. The Guide introduces the Sufi sheikh whom the Pearls of Islam follow, and recalls people’s need for spiritual guidance in order to overcome their ego and find their way back to the divine. The band’s MySpace website evokes the association with hippie styles, featuring peace signs on a rainbow-coloured background and guitar playing.47 In musical terms, the Pearls of Islam are very diverse and skilled. They employ rap and beats, vocals, piano and guitar or spoken word and drums. While the artists presented here all share a black British and often Caribbean background, there are many more who are part of the Islamic hip-hop scene in Britain. Masikah is a yet another successful musician of the ‘gangsta rap’ style with the intention to present an alternative path to the youths of his disadvantaged area. This has had an impact on the younger artists, who


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follow in the footsteps of the more established usually 30-year-olds. The group Young Ummah, who are around 17 years of age and of Nigerian background, express their love of Allah through rap music, despite some sceptics at the north-west London mosque where the youth club was their meeting point, and despite the fact that American mainstream hip-hop has more ‘street value’. Truthful Movement, who are of Bangladeshi background, have had similar experiences in London’s East End. Another rapper who has been present for a long time is Mohammed Yahya, who works closely with Mecca2Medina and is married to one of the Poetic Pilgrimage duo. Mozambique born, he migrated to the UK and converted to Islam, and has been active in various Islamic hiphop, interfaith and festival activities ever since. He also performs in a duo with Jewish rapper Daniel Silverstein. Mohammed Yahya is the co-organizer of a monthly Islamic hip-hop event called Rebel Muzik in London, which regularly attracts the representatives of the scene. In addition, performers such as Muslim Belal, Blind Alphabetz, Baby Muslims and a few other bands are emerging from the rapidly developing scene. Although many of these artists have found their own way of establishing the genre, an important trend has been set by British-Azerbaijani singer Sami Yusuf, who has been at the forefront of modern Islamic music since 2004.48 His music could be classified as contemporary nashid, but also as pop for a nonMuslim audience. Sami Yusuf became famous with the song Al Muallim (The Teacher), in which he reminds his audience of Mohammed’s teachings that have been forgotten by many – perhaps by those living in non-Muslim contexts, which might be one reason why he composes in English. His music videos resemble those of romantic pop songs, while the protagonists of his lyrics are, for instance, the Prophet or the singer’s mother. Sami Yusuf has had the biggest financial success and is widely popular throughout the West and Islamic countries. Perhaps because of his success and because he mainly lives abroad, he is less connected with the British Islamic music scene and appears only at large-scale events. Whether or not he has influenced other British Islamic rappers, he has certainly played an important role in the development of modern Islamic music on a global scale.

A forbidden genre The unfortunate relationship between Islamic scholarship and music is among the most contested issues when trying to place music on a scale ranging from halal to haram. Very few verses in the Qur’an mention musical instruments, singing or amusement, while a few parts in the Hadith speak of the Prophet Mohammed’s attitudes towards music. Both those in favour of and those opposed to music will find evidence for their position. While some scholars reject music in all forms, others only disapprove of drums and wind instruments, which supposedly resemble Satan’s voice, or entertainment, because they seem to them as distracting from religion and allowing the sexes to mix freely. Some deprecating attitudes of the Prophet towards musical practice are also

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interpreted in light of the particular historical situation when non-Muslims used music to overpower Qur’anic recitations. However, those with even more liberal viewpoints, which allow music in general, keep some restrictions in place: the topic of a song may not contradict Islamic teachings (e.g. advocating alcohol), the manner of performance should not allude to sexuality, and excessive entertainment may lead to the neglect of religious duties. Despite treading on a minefield, many young believing Muslims deliberately choose music – not just as their hobby or to express themselves, but precisely to express their faith. They do not ignore the controversy; for instance, the website features a dominant disclaimer: ‘Before you judge: read our position on music in Islam’ and support their view with scholarly articles arguing in favour of music. However, the musicians suggest the emergence of a new genre that does not incorporate music, despite religious restrictions, but is in line with religion. In order to achieve this, the musicians provide a two-fold solution of intentions and rules. Justifying making music with the right intentions is a very common view and the emphasis placed on the lyrics is therefore strong. If the music is concerned with remembrance of Allah and the Prophet, then the argument that music distracts from religion becomes invalid. Moreover, many musicians, especially the converted or reverted, display a strong proselytizing attitude and make no secret of their intention of making dawah. Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, holds that there are more important issues for Muslims to address than fighting the prohibition of music and that music should be used for educating about Islam and thus proselytizing. All the mainly spiritual songs can be interpreted in this way, although these certainly also address an audience who are already religious and the songs then have a reinforcing and community-enhancing effect. Other problems that are negotiated through music include providing disadvantaged Muslim youths with self-esteem and showing them what they can achieve with the support of Allah. This is the reason why the artists so often give an account of their own youth, illustrating the underprivileged backgrounds they came from or the bad influence of a drug scene, and how their faith helped them to become the personalities and artists they are today. This is particularly often used by converts and reverts and can, besides the social function, also be considered a form of proselytizing. Furthermore, the music is used to counter the negative image of Islam often portrayed by the media and to draw attention to political and social conflict. The other justification to resolve the music ban is demonstrated when looking at what topics are not covered in the songs: sexual references, love stories (unless clearly relating to marriage), vulgarity, strong language, references to alcohol, drugs or crime, partying or having fun as an end in itself. Some or all of these would be expected in hip-hop and any other youth cultural music scene, and their absence is a clear trait of contemporary Islamic music. Adhering to these rules – using hip-hop in a halal manner and disconnecting it from sex, drugs and violence – makes the prohibition less


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convincing. The musicians convey conservative values throughout to stay within the realm of Islamic teachings. Finally, in all cases, either they were musicians first and then incorporated their Islamic faith later, or they developed an interest in both at the same time; however, it was never the case that they became interested in music while already practising Islam. Thus, as if music in general were not enough, young Muslim Europeans even choose Western types of music, such as hip-hop, as their preferred means of expression, but it is clear that they do so in devotion.

Genre labelling A disputed genre, modern Islamic music, therefore exists nonetheless. And a disputed genre that exists must be possible to define, which was something that came up several times during my fieldwork: in interviews where my preliminary definition was sometimes challenged, in conversations with non-Muslims ignorant of the topic, but also once during an unintended car ride with a Muslim fundamentalist, who rejected music altogether and my research into it. The genre does not have a particular name; yet, perhaps this is a deliberate way of underlining its independent and underground character, but it might also be because not all of the artists mentioned here feel part of a larger movement. Most of them have their own names to describe what they do, such as religious rap, conscious hip-hop, spoken word, poetry, nashid or music with a message, but there is a notable absence of the term ‘Islamic’. Julia Gerlach (2006) has coined the term ‘Pop-Islam’, which is to the point in many respects, because it marries pop culture with religion, but this attribution by a non-Muslim is rejected by the majority of the artists themselves. Except for the US website, they even avoid the use of Islam in the name and, even here, ‘Muslim’ refers to the people who make the music. My assumption is that this is due to the haram debate; none of the artists want to claim, by talking about their works as being Islamic music, that this is something inherent in Islam or even brought about by it. Being a Muslim who makes music may be controversial enough, but it is perhaps too early to generalize the relationship between Islam and music by creating such a term. This is also what the Muslim fundamentalist in the car argued, denying the relationship between Islam and anything that had not been created by Allah or that had not been mentioned in the Qur’an or by the Prophet, even though his cousin – my interviewee – was a member and founder of an Islamic hip-hop band. Another possibility is that the artists do not perceive their music as being primarily Islamic. Given the lyrics this is hardly probable, but as some people argue Islam to be a way of life that influences everything, they could claim that this is just an expression of who they are. I argue against this, however, not only from a descriptive perspective, but also judging that, from many artists’ intentions, this music is profoundly Islamic. There are first of all the topics but, second also, the absence of topics and the halal manner of production and performance. The topics include

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praise of Allah, the Prophet, the five pillars of Islam, the ummah, generally religious notions of humbleness and dealing with death, but also more worldly accounts of Muslim life in the West, dealing with, for instance, the headscarf. Sex, casual relationships, drugs, alcohol and pure entertainment are topics that are absent in this context. Also, those who connect a mission of dawah with their music add a clear Islamic purpose to it. At the same time, the music is profoundly Western, and by that I mean the style, beats, instruments, music production, albums and performances. The genre is predominantly rap, with occasional soul, pop, folk or reggae variants. However, it is not only the stylistic appearance that is Western, giving shape to a substance that is Islamic – that would be too narrow. There are overlaps in style and substance, of Islamic and Western music. For instance, the form also borrows from Islam or Muslim traditions, when concerts take place in a family festival setting or in front of a gender-segregated audience. Similarly, the substance is not only a reference to Islam; rather, in most cases, it is related to living Islam in the West, thereby allowing Western influences on the content of the songs. Islamic music – or rap, pop or soul for that matter – is therefore a problematic term that also needs to be further qualified by time (contemporary) and space (Western Europe or the various countries). The difficulties of defining the genre reveal its complex structures and the restraints of both internal and external definitions in the field of ‘contemporary Islamic music’. To conclude the genre’s outline, it may be worth mentioning what does not form part of it, by using a definition in the true sense of the word, which is ‘setting boundaries’. Behind the boundaries of contemporary Islamic youth culture, therefore, lies ‘ethnic’ music, fusions of languages and styles without religion involved, such as Turkish–German hip-hop or Arabo–French music. It is the crossover of dimensions, of the well-known language-style culture migrant blend interwoven with the religious, that makes this genre unprecedented.

Diversity of backgrounds One striking observation among the artists’ backgrounds is the notable absence of South Asians in the UK, Turks in Germany and, to some extent, even North Africans in France. The musicians’ migratory backgrounds are diverse, with roughly half accounted for by Caribbean and African backgrounds and the other half by Arab and other Islamic countries. The German musicians are the most diverse, while Arab backgrounds dominate in France and are absent in Britain. Compared with the statistical distribution of these groups among the Muslim population of each country, this implies that contemporary Islamic music is not necessarily produced and performed by ‘mainstream’ Muslims. Two explanations might account for this. One has to do with ethnicity-based music preferences and religiosity, the other with conversion biographies. Both cases deal with the fact that the producers of contemporary Islamic music are


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a rather specific group, differing from the ethnic distribution within one country, differing again among France, Britain and Germany and following a certain philosophy that leads them to create hip-hop bismillah – hip-hop in the name of God. The first explanation, regarding music preferences, is connected to multiple identities. Judging from the nature of the musical genre, only very religious Muslims would engage in it – perhaps not the traditionalists – but surely it does require a high degree of religiosity to be producing lyrics entirely centred on Islam. Someone of Muslim background who chooses a music career may do so for the sake of the music itself, or to express part of their identity. The musician might choose to be identified primarily as, say, Turkish and to engage in Turkish–German hip-hop. That that Muslimness is placed higher than any other of one’s identities is not self-evident, and perhaps this is even less the case for those of Turkish background. As the Bertelsmann Religion Monitor shows, around 40 per cent of German Muslims consider themselves highly religious (2008: 45), while a study by the Centre for Turkey Studies reveals that around 14 per cent of Turkish Germans would classify themselves as highly religious, and about 53 per cent as religious (Stiftung Zentrum für Türkeistudien 2009: 61). While such surveys of self-attribution always face methodological difficulties, there is a tendency that indicates the slightly lower religiosity of Turks – with possibly a higher identification of Turkishness or any other identity – while more Muslims of other backgrounds account for the highly religious. From the perspective of the musicians who engage in this sector, religion takes on a superior role to culture; they replace their affiliation to a certain origin with belonging to the ummah (Roy 2004). On the consumer side, those who think similarly would favour this genre over others. Both producers and consumers of contemporary Islamic youth culture have a different focus in the music itself, but so also do the audience, as they are not looking for a national or ethnicity-based gathering, but an ummah-based one. It therefore stands to reason that the genre does reflect a statistical distribution – indeed not that of migrational background per se, but one of religiosity. This corresponds to the music’s substance and underlines how it is to be understood – not just as musical and cultural expression, but also as a devotional practice. The second explanation of why the musicians’ ethnic backgrounds differ from what might be expected is linked to conversion. Many of the artists in this genre have converted to Islam and therefore bring a variety of backgrounds with them. However, that shifts the question to why converts are so dominant in this context. On the one hand their previous musical career might account for this. Indeed most of them interrupt their performance after conversion and, if they are influenced by Salafism, might never return to it. But the majority resume their career in music, albeit with a different spin, by using one or more of the strategies to argue for its halal-ness. The suspicion associated with music might be less deep-rooted with converts than with those

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who have learned to avoid it since childhood. But what accounts most for the predominance of converts is that music allows for ‘spreading the word’ particularly well. Very often, converts display a high sense of mission with the desire not only to pass their story on to others, but also to persuade others to change their religion. Thus, the lyrics of a song, the role model of a singer and the emotions of a performance are made use of to communicate the conversion experience in a compelling way.

Global ummah, global hip-hop, local inspiration While the similarities among the French, German and British scenes facilitate the outline of the new genre, a closer look at the differences will help to understand better its role in a particular context and how rap is used as ‘a tool for reworking local identity’ (Mitchell 2001: 1–2). Indeed, the major themes of the songs resemble each other across borders when linked by the commonalities of Islam and with the global ummah in mind. However, ignoring the conspicuous differences among the three countries in context, the artists’ background, the commercial structure or in fact some locally specific content of songs would mean ignoring the genre’s potential for identity negotiation and would disregard the fact that, without doubt, the artists fully engage with their national framework. A conspicuous feature, accounting for both similarities and differences among and between the countries, is the language in which a song is written. On the one hand, the musicians from the three countries share the fact that they rap in their respective national languages – and not in that of any Islamic country. Like the switch from English to French or German, which according to Andy Bennett allows for increased accuracy between localized experience and its linguistic representation (2003: 31), the switch from Arabic or Turkish to a Western language is representative of a life in the West. On the other hand, the different languages themselves hint at contrasting national contexts, both in terms of the local hip-hop development and of the musician’s relationship with society. Bennett claims that language itself, regardless of its lyrical content, is key to the interpretation of the meaning of popular music (ibid.: 36). As for local musical traditions, the case of France clearly shows that the advent of contemporary Islamic music is not only connected with the global rise of Islam, but also with local musical traditions. In his short sketch of how French rap music developed in the 1980s and 1990s, André Prévos points out that after a decade of imitating US gangsta rap, French artists started to coin their own style (2001: 45–46). While before the late 1980s French rap uncritically adopted what US rappers had on offer (ibid.: 45), and changed only the language, but nothing else telling of a localization, the early 1990s were marked by French styles, repertoires and themes, which, first and foremost, meant highly political music. The listener to French rap will notice its deeply political nature, not least because it often evolved in the disadvantaged and


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politicized areas of the banlieues with groups from IAM to Zebda. Prévos also sees as the ‘central mission’ of French hip-hop culture the urge to ‘vent the anger and the frustration of many disadvantaged and sometimes mistreated individuals, and to defend the cause of the poorest and least socially integrated segments of French society’ (ibid.: 46). The shift from US-inspired music to French development was all the more necessary as the realities of African American rappers did not match those of the French, and they searched for a ‘social relevancy and artistic activism’ of their own (ibid.: 50). Taking this trajectory further, in the 2000s Islamic hip-hop shifted the focus from the merely political, which had until then satisfied the need for social relevancy. This aspect also accounts for the slower development of Islamic music in France compared with Germany and Britain. Thus, on the one hand, the Islamic development follows in the footsteps of socio-politically relevant rap and, on the other, this tradition slows new development down until it proves to be meaningful to producers and consumers in a novel way. If one were to argue that French Islamic rappers are again only imitating an American trend, a close look at the lyrics shows that there is particular reference to confident French rap traditions, e.g. in the cases of Médine or Abd al Malik. If the idea was American inspired, the style and substance have quickly been transformed to match the French setting. However, there is more evidence that by the time Islam started to influence French rap, it had already become established independently of American hip-hop. In contrast, the development of the German rap scene has taken different routes. Local production started later than in France, was barely political, and it was chiefly only middle-class Germans with no migratory background who produced rap at all. The scene diversified in the 2000s, but still largely mirrors these initial prototypes. In his detailed account of the ‘birth of a genre’, Mark Pennay (2001) states that in the 1980s African American rap was consumed in Germany, but found little local imitation because the life circumstances were too different; the political dimension was therefore largely ignored and language barriers also played a part. Pennay diagnoses a ‘general ignorance of and lack of serious engagement with rap as a medium of political expression’ (ibid.: 117) throughout the 1980s. The only exceptions were a few immigrants who copied the American examples and rapped in English, and some influence of general American hip-hop culture on East German youth. The year 1993 saw the emergence of German-language rap with local references, started by the two groups Advanced Chemistry and Die Fantastischen Vier. While the former did indeed feature some critical songs, such as Fremd im eigenen Land (Foreign in my own country), which tackles the implicit racism of the middle classes, the latter instead focused on everyday life scenes and witty to nonsensical lyrics, and successfully so. Die Fantastischen Vier thereby ‘successfully transfer[ed] rap’s potential to communicate strong emotions and shared experiences into the German sphere’ (Pennay 2001: 121–2), which includes, as in the French case, the establishment of an independent and confident rap scene using the local language and reference points. German

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rappers in the 2000s have either developed this further or have moved towards ‘gangsta rap’ as in the case of Bushido. Despite being of Muslim background, Bushido’s music is far from representing Islamic music in the moralistic and political sense outlined earlier. All of this leaves little room for Islamic rap in the mainstream and thus explains why it has developed purely in non-commercial subcultural circles, while Islamic artists in France are well integrated into the commercial music business. It also gives a reason for the desire for a Muslim genre, as even migrant cultures were underrepresented in rap – again, unlike in France. However, the fact that German rap, regardless of its substance, had established itself successfully in the German language was of great importance (Bennett 2003: 31–2) and a basis on which to build for the Islamic rappers who fully rely on this language for their own songs. The 1990s also saw the emergence of a Turkish–German music scene, achieving success however only years later. Daniel Bax ascribes this to the point where the musicians started using the German language; Turkish also has an influence on German hip-hop, with successful musicians like Muhabbet, but more in terms of oriental musical styles rather than substance, let alone religious lyrics. For the British context, David Hesmondhalgh and Caspar Melville have shown how the adaptation of the US influence can go far beyond the localization of styles, a concept they reject as invalid. Instead of modifications of themes and accents, they perceive British hip-hop as having transformed the origins on a much larger scale (2001: 86); a viewpoint, however, that can equally be applied to the other countries. The emergence of various new genres out of hip-hop, such as sound system culture, club culture and the British Asian styles, shows how hip-hop has spread in parts or elements that were then recombined and used to state one’s cultural identity (ibid.: 97). Hesmondhalgh and Melville generally focus on hip-hop as black cultural expression (ibid.: 106), but show how much the British experience differs from the African American model. For instance, they go into depth on the British Asian band Fun-Da-Mental, who take up notions of African American Islamic radicalism and black separatist politics combined with British Asian issues, to point to different frames of reference and significance. The range indicates a variety of cultural fusions and audiences, which may often involve a political stance, but not always in such an explicit way as in France. The different developments of hip-hop in the three countries account for some of the contrasting elements observed in contemporary Islamic music. The diverse creativity of the British scene, especially with London as the hub for new genres, explains the difference in Islamic music of this country and that of France and Germany. In Britain, the Islamic music scene is the largest in terms of the numbers of musicians, albums and events, and has been around since the mid-1990s. There is a high degree of networking among the musicians, fostered by the pioneers Mecca2Medina and the regular event Rebel Muzik. Nearly all British artists are located in London, while they are


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decentralized in the other two countries. In Germany, the label 114media is an active networker, in France perhaps the collective La Boussole, or other local event organizers, but in both cases the musicians are not concentrated in the capital. Many of the artists presented are converts to Islam or have had a reversion experience: About one-third of the bands presented here either speak of a continuous religious upbringing or do not comment on this, while twice as many convert or revert, with most of them indeed converting. This is evenly distributed across the three countries, though with more reverts in Germany. Approximately half of the bands come from a black ethnic background and, in fact, all converts are Black British, French or German, most of them in the UK. So the ethnic background does not simply mirror Islamic immigration, but immigration as a whole, with a significant emphasis on conversion among black immigrants; Nation of Islam ideas are therefore another major factor in terms of African American influence apart from hip-hop, and they have been more fruitful in the British context than in the other two countries, and the conversion represents a trend as Richard Reddie has shown for young men (2009), but also women. Thus, especially in the British context, there are several women, with almost none in France, and a few in Germany. Across countries there are three to four times as many male Islamic musicians, and a striking difference from other musical genres may be the absence of mixed bands, as these are all single-sex, even though at festivals and on tours some of them do perform together.

More than music: the artists’ motivations49 In spite of their different backgrounds, British, French and German Islamic musicians still create a very similar trend, with only minor differences reflecting contrasting developments in both popular music and migration patterns. This suggests that very similar experiences are being negotiated in the music, and much of this has to do with living as a practising Muslim in a non-Muslim environment in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Turning, therefore, to the artists’ motivations, Ted Swedenburg’s observation that fighting Islamophobia is at the centre of Muslims’ hip-hop activism is only one among many (Swedenburg 2001). Across countries, my interviewees have shared five motivations for why they produce Islamic music and what they aim to achieve with it: a political motivation of criticism; a social motivation of youth or social work; a proselytizing attitude or sense of mission; an artistic motivation of self-expression; or potentially also an economic motivation of being in a niche market. Religion itself is not a category of its own, but is rather above the others. It is the driving factor and is sometimes also presented as an end in itself. However, this is insufficient, as the artists would not engage in Islamic hip-hop or other music only in order to practise religion.

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With regard to political motivation, criticism of a political context or specific event is one of the most important issues, and it involves provoking and accusing an apathetic public, the media and politicians. Indeed, this category tackles the perceived and actual Islamophobic sentiment that Swedenburg alluded to and that can be perceived in Western Europe in the current decade. Most artists see the root of Islamophobia in the misconceptions about and ignorance of the Islamic religion, and use their subcultural means to explain some issues, but also to show that Islam can be ‘cool’. Social motivation is linked to youth work. It is aimed at stimulating social engagement in society and at enhancing the self-esteem of younger people. It is supposed to arm them against any form of discrimination they might suffer, but also to release them from their victim status, which they might have come to terms with and use as an excuse for not being successful. One of the German rappers, for instance, aims to act as a role model: ‘I just wanted to tell young people in my situation “look, no matter how low you’ve got and what you’ve gone through, if you want to, you can always pull yourself together. And also: God forgives everyone and you can make something of yourself.”’50 The social aspect also involves the use of the various national languages. On the one hand, this is done in order to show that Islam is also British, French or German. On the other hand it facilitates reaching out to the second, third and fourth generations of Muslims born in Europe. The third motivation could be described as presenting Islam with a ‘sense of mission’. Educating people about Islam has two audiences in mind: first, the uninformed non-Muslims, and second, Muslim youths who do not practice and do not know much about Islam. Dawah – Arabic for proselytizing – is extended to both groups. Not surprisingly, this motivation is mainly found among converts or reverts. Islam is offered as a solution to disadvantaged Muslim kids, but also to non-Muslims. The cool image provides religion with enough ‘street credibility’ to be taken seriously in this context. This aspect also involves the disconnection of religion from culture. The producers seek the ‘true religion’, which is not mixed with cultural heritage and traditions. Leaving culture, once attached to religion, behind, there is room for a new culture – and what could be more suitable than the one the producers grew up with? Thus, they usurp the subcultures and styles of their Western European home countries. Some songs are – from an artistic point of view – not of the best quality, with clumsily rhyming lyrics and very ordinary beats. In that case, the producer’s motivation probably focuses on the first three categories (political, social, proselytizing). Others, however, are guided by a motivation of artistic self-expression and the desire to pursue their talent. Even though the artists are very careful not to value their occupation over religion, many enjoy doing what they are good at. It is usually a form of subculture they have performed all their lives, often before they converted or reverted to Islam. It was never the other way around, that a producer was religious, later discovered a certain youth culture, and then combined it with Islam, which is perhaps not


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surprising for someone who is naturally part of the West and Western culture. A British female rapper phrased it like this: ‘We just wanna make like good music, so all these other different things that we wanna do, like love, peace, community, represent people, represent like the underclass, paint a different picture and like represent ourselves and those people who feel we represent them, but at the same time we do wanna make good music.’51 Moreover, they like to be at the forefront of creating a new genre. At a panel debate called ‘Islam, Hip-hop and Social Change’ in Birmingham, the participants confidently stated they wanted to – and had already started to – change mainstream hip-hop. The final motivation could be an economic one. It has been suggested that the main driving force beyond this trend is to make good money in a highly specialized niche market (Haenni 2005). This argument has some valid points. Research has shown that the Muslim population in Western Europe has significant purchasing power and is willing to spend money on lifestyle products, including music, and increasingly so if they carry a religious meaning. It is therefore possible to assume that some producers deliberately target this consumer group, and indeed some concert tickets carry a high price. However, there is no empirical example of where this might be the main motivation. It might be a stimulus for some, and some do sustain themselves through their activity. Yet, they usually also display a political or social motivation, and the majority of interviewees were carrying out their musical activity as a side job or voluntarily, earning little or nothing from it. Thus, while it can surely be the discovery of a niche product for some, the economic aspect cannot fully explain the emergence of the whole phenomenon. In general, an interplay of the motivations is presented, with the audience or the individual artist placing emphasis on only one or two of them.

Conclusion The empirical study of contemporary Islamic music in Western Europe reveals that both Islam and music have been extended by an innovative combination of the two. Similarly, it challenges the sociology of youth culture and Islamic studies. The former, of which music is a great part, has always acknowledged the negotiations and battles for identity among young people. However, it has neglected to explain the religious aspect, and the fact that some young people turn to religion to solve their concerns while remaining within the realms of youth culture. On the other hand, Islamic studies cannot explain the subcultural aspect, as hardly any attention was paid to youth culture before the phenomenon of modern Islamic subculture arose. The new musical trend is diverse; although rap- and male-dominated, it is still rather small in Germany and France, yet geographically more widely distributed than in the UK, where the trend has established itself significantly, but remains located primarily in London. British networking connections are therefore strong, less so in the other two countries and only beginning to cross borders and to discover the transnational character of the movement. What is

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more important than the music itself are the text and the message, which are essential for the movement. This is also why the new and contemporary form does not hide the fact that the social values conveyed are conservative so as not to interfere with Islamic morality. Two dissimilar unalike cultural forms of global significance exert influence on contemporary Islamic music: hip-hop and belonging to the ummah. However, this music has local roots that are just as strong and it usually arises out of a debate with the artists’ societal environment. Local hip-hop traditions have an impact on its development, and yet the Muslim artists’ motivations occur cross-nationally. What is negotiated through music is therefore, first and foremost, a shared Muslim experience in the West in the early twenty-first century.

Notes 1 British rap group Mecca2Medina; ‘deen’ is Arabic for ‘religion’. 2 This article is based on my ongoing Ph.D. research into contemporary Islamic youth culture (music and other subcultures) in Western Europe. 3 Islamische Zeitung (21 May 2008), ‘Interview with Ammar114: ‘Rapmusik kann nur eine Alternative anbieten’ (‘Rap music can only offer an alternative’). Online, (accessed 24 June 2010). 4 (2008), ‘Interview with rapper Ammar114: “Islam verbietet Gewalt” [Islam prohibits violence]’. Online. _c-755/_nr-28/i.html (accessed 24 June 2010). 5 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 6 All translations are my own; most lyrics rhyme in the original. 7 (24 September 2003) The ‘headscarf verdict’ of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany revoked the banning of a veiled Muslim teacher from her profession and called for a new legal foundation in an increasingly religiously pluralistic society. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Currently, however, veiled women are not allowed to teach in German state schools. 8 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 9 Islamische Zeitung, as cited in Note 3. 10 Ibid. 11 (accessed 24 June 2010). 12 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 13 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 14 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 15 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 16 The 7 stands for a guttural H and is used in text messaging language, where numbers are sometimes employed to represent Arabic characters of similar shape. 17 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 18 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 19 Online. Interview with Lady Scar, (accessed 24 June 2010). 20 Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). 21 Online. 059/index.php (accessed 24 June 2010). 22 Discography: (1996) Le Silence des Mosquées; (1998) L’amour d’Allah et du Messager (The love of Allah and the Prophet); (2000) Message d’un chœur (Message of a choir); (2006) D’un Chemin à l’Autre (From one path to another). Online.


23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49

50 51

Maruta Herding 2&Itemid=27 (accessed 24 June 2010). The group consists of five members today, with four of the original group members remaining. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. e&id=47&Itemid=2#haut_ap (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Nashid, pl. Anashid, is a traditional form of religious chant, in which calm melodies and lyrics praise Allah and the Prophet. Online., (accessed 24 June 2010). Saphirnews (16 July 2003) Le rap musulman débarque (Muslim rap arrives). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). L’Express (7 June 2004; updated 9 March 2007) Les rappeurs d’Allah (Allah’s rappers). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Le Monde diplomatique (September 2008) Rap domestiqué, rap révolté (Tamed rap, insurgent rap). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). (2004) Le face à face des cœurs (The disputations of hearts); (2006) Gibraltar; (2008) Dante. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Arabic for Religion Records. Time Magazine (6 November 2005) Médine: How much more French can I be? Online.,9171,1126720,00.html (accessed 24 June 2010). Discography: (2004) 11 Septembre; (2005) Jihad – Le plus grand combat est contre soi-même (Jihad – The biggest struggle is against one self); (2006) (compilation) Table d’écoute (Bugging device); (2008) Arabian Panther; (2008) (mix-tape) Don’t Panik. Both quotations are from the 2008 song ‘Arabospiritual’. Life After Death, Proud to be a Muslim, African Sounds, From the West Looking East, Mecca Experience, Seeing Through the Smoke, Trust Me. Album African Sounds, song #3. Album Proud to be a Muslim, song #3. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010), uk/itmcs.php?id_art=56 (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Online. html (accessed 24 June 2010). Ramadan festival. (1 March 2010) Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Discography: (2004) Al Muallim; (2005) My Ummah; (2009) Without You. All released by the record label Awakening Records. Between October 2008 and September 2009 I conducted 35 qualitative in-depth interviews with Muslim producers of youth culture from various sectors in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. The male and female artists, most of the ones presented in the first part of the article, were between 18 and 35 years old. Quoted from my own interview with a German rapper in October 2008. Quoted from my own interview with a British rapper in July 2009.

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News articles Islamische Zeitung (21 May 2008), ‘Interview with Ammar114, Rapmusik kann nur eine Alternative anbieten’ (Rap music can only offer an alternative), Online. (accessed 22 September 2008). Le Monde diplomatique (September 2008), ‘Rap domestiqué, rap révolté’ (Tamed rap, insurgent rap). Online. (accessed 27 August 2011). L’Express (7 June 2004; updated 9 March 2007), ‘Les rappeurs d’Allah’ (Allah’s rappers). Online. (accessed 27 August 2010). (2008), ‘Interview with rapper Ammar114, Islam verbietet Gewalt’ (Islam prohibits violence). Online. i.html (accessed 5 July 2011). Saphirnews (16 July 2003), ‘Le rap musulman débarque’ (Muslim rap arrives). Online. www. (accessed 27 August 2010). Time Magazine (6 November 2005), ‘Médine: How much more French can I be?’ Online.,9171,1126720,00.html (accessed 27 August 2011).

Online resources (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009) (accessed 13 September 2009)

Discography Abd al Malik Le face à face des cœurs (Disputation of the hearts) (2004) Universal Music. Gibraltar (2006) Atmosphériques. Dante (2008) Polydor. Amantu MP3-Generation (2006) Refinement.


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Ammar114 Mehr als Musik (More than music) (2004) 114media. Aus dem Schatten ans Licht (From shadow to light) (2008) 114media. Kery James Si c’était à refaire (If it was to be redone) (2002) WEA International. Savoir et vivre ensemble (Knowing and living together) (2004) Naive. Ma vérité (My truth) (2005) Warner. À l’ombre du show business (The dark side of the show business) (2008) Warner. Réel (Real) (2009) Warner. Lady Scar Mord im Affekt (Murder of passion) (forthcoming). Online. (accessed 27 November 2008). Le Silence des Mosquées Le Silence des Mosquées (The silence of mosques) (1997) Hour Diffusion. L’amour d’Allah et du Messager (The love of Allah and the Prophet) (1998) Hour Diffusion. Message d’un chæur (Message of a choir) (n.d.) Hour Diffusion. D’un Chemin à l’Autre (From one path to another) (2008) Fassiphone. Mecca2Medina (Year and record label not specified, most probably at Crescent Moon Media.) Proud to be a Muslim. African Sounds. Life after Death. From the West Looking East. Mecca Experience. Seeing Through the Smoke. Trust Me. Médine 11 Septembre (2004) Din Records. Jihad – Le plus grand combat est contre soi-même (Jihad – The biggest struggle is against one’s own self) (2005) Din Records. Arabian Panther (2008) Because Music. Table d’écoute (Bugging device) (2006) Compilation, Din Records. Don’t Panik (2008) Compilation, Din Records. Pearls of Islam Online. (accessed 1 March 2010). Poetic Pilgrimage Pilgrims Love the Prophet (2006) independent. Freedom Times (2008) independent. Réalité Anonyme La vérité n’a pas d’hymne (The truth has no anthem) (1999) Éditions Tawhid. La Conception (No pre-marital sex) (2003) Éditions Tawhid. Ma petite sæur (My little sister) (2009) Éditions Tawhid.

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Sami Yusuf Al Muallim (The teacher) (2004) Awakening Records. My Ummah (2005) Awakening Records. Without You (2009) Awakening Records. Sayfoudin114 Online. (accessed 5 July 2011). Serkan114 Auf dem Weg zu Dir (On my way to you) (2004) 114media.

References Abd al Malik (2007), Qu’Allah bénisse la France, Paris: Albin Michel. Androutsopoulos, J. (ed.) (2003), HipHop: Globale Kultur – lokale Praktiken, Bielefeld: Transcript. Bax, D. (n.d.), Die deutsch-türkische Musikszene zwischen Türkpop und Deutschrap. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Bennett, A. (2003), ‘HipHop am Main: Die Lokalisierung von Rap-Musik und HipHopKultur’, in J. Androutsopoulos (ed.), HipHop: Globale Kultur – lokale Praktiken, Bielefeld: Transcript, 26–42. Bertelsmann Stiftung (2008), Religion Monitor 2008: Muslim Religiousness in Germany. Overview of Religious Attitudes and Practices. Online. (accessed 24 June 2010). Haenni, P. (2005), L’islam de marché: L’tcqg révolution conservatrice, Paris: Seuil. Hesmondhalgh, D. and C. Melville (2001), ‘Urban Breakbeat Culture: Repercussions of Hip-Hop in the United Kingdom’, in T. Mitchell (ed.), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 86–110. Gerlach, J. (2006), Zwischen Pop und Dschihad. Muslimische Jugendliche in Deutschland, Berlin: Links-Verlag. Islam, Y. (n.d.), Music, Faith or a Question of Da’wah? Online. www.muslimhiphop. com/misc/docs/music_question_faith.pdf (accessed 24 June 2010). Mitchell, T. (ed.) (2001), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Nielsen, J. S., S. Akgönül, A. Alibas˘ic´, B. Maréchal and C. Moe (2009), Yearbook of Muslims in Europe 1, Leiden: Brill. Pennay, M. (2001), ‘Rap in Germany: The Birth of a Genre’, in T. Mitchell (ed.), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-hop Outside the USA, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 111–33. Prévos, A. (2001), ‘Postcolonial Popular Music in France: Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture in the 1980s and 1990s’, in T. Mitchell (ed.), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 39–56. Reddie, R. (2009), Black Muslims in Britain: Why Are Many Young Black Men Converting to Islam? Oxford: Lion. Roy, O. (2004), Globalized Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, New York: Columbia University Press. Stiftung Zentrum für Türkeistudien (2009), Türkischstämmige Migranten in Nordrhein-Westfalen und Deutschland: Lebenssituation und Integrationsstand.


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Online. NRW_2008_ end.pdf (accessed 24 June 2010). Swedenburg, T. (2001), ‘Islamic Hip-hop versus Islamophobia: Aki Nawaz, Natacha Atlas, Akhenaton’, in T. Mitchell (ed.), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 57–85.

11 Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab Challenging clichés or serving up an immigrant stereotype for mass consumption online? Jonathan Ervine This chapter analyzes how new media technologies provide a new means of understanding relationships between diaspora populations and their homelands. It looks at Lil Maaz’s 2007 single Mange du kebab (Eat kebabs), which gained a cult following in France after initially being posted on YouTube. The chapter first examines immigrant and Islamic identity and engages with the work of Mireille Rosello, exploring the extent to which Lil Maaz conforms to or challenges stereotypes. It then examines perceptions of members of Islamic diasporas by paying particular attention to sexuality, masculinity and meat by engaging with the work of Gerholm, Hopkins and Ouzgane. Finally, it explores the cultural importance of food in relation to national identity and community by drawing on the theories of Barthes and Gilroy. By exploiting what new media can offer, it argues that Lil Maaz negotiates an alternative route to fame that allows him to present a vision of Muslim diasporas that seeks to promote tolerance and acceptance. There are more Muslims in France than any other Western European country (Laurence and Vaisse 2006: 1), yet they still struggle to achieve media coverage which is comparable to that of other religious groups, such as Jews and Protestants, which they vastly outnumber (Hargreaves 2007: 107). Furthermore, Khosrokhavar argues that the French media are responsible for a misunderstanding of Islam in France which overly associates the religion with violence and fanaticism (1997: 24–5, 38–9). As these factors suggest that representations of Muslims in the mainstream media in France are infrequent and often inaccurate, it is worth examining to what extent new media provide a possible solution to these problems. Since file-sharing sites such as YouTube are becoming an increasingly popular means of watching music videos, it is worth considering what possibilities they offer Muslim performers. This chapter examines the path which a Turkish-born Muslim rapper negotiated between challenging stereotypes about Islam and acting out a recognizable immigrant stereotype in an attempt to ensure broad popular appeal. Lil Maaz (real name Yilmaz Karaman) became famous in France during the summer of 2007 as a result of his novelty single Mange du kebab (Eat kebabs) appearing on file-sharing sites such as YouTube and DailyMotion.1 His success raises important issues about the use of new media by diaspora groups in


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France to create new forms of self-representation. Initially, this chapter will analyze how Lil Maaz’s route to online fame fits in with the theories of Guest (2007), Landzelius (2006) and Siegel (2008) regarding the use of new media technologies by members of diasporas and minority groups. Next, it will focus on three main areas: immigrant and Islamic identity; sexuality, meat and masculinity; food, national identity and community. The first of these three sections engage with the work of Mireille Rosello (1998) on the theme of stereotypes, and notably the way in which acting out a stereotype can be a potentially empowering gesture for members of minority groups.2 The nature of how Lil Maaz evokes his Islamic faith in a novelty single calls into question the received idea that Islam is a religion within which there is little potential for humour, as does the emergence of an increasing number of Muslim stand-up comedians in recent years (see Khan 2007). Indeed, humour has in recent years provided a means of countering the demonization of Muslims as threatening others within a post-9/11 context. Nevertheless, Lil Maaz’s articulation of a light-hearted and consensual vision can be seen as obscuring the problems faced by Muslim immigrants, and other minorities, in France. Despite these potential problems associated with Lil Maaz’s strategy, the next section will demonstrate that he does nevertheless represent himself in a more radical manner when it comes to sexuality. The fact that he uses his status as a kebab shop worker to project a heavily Westernized masculine self-image contrasts with the way in which several studies about masculine identity amongst members of Islamic diasporas (e.g. Donaldson et al. 2006; Gerholm 2003; Hopkins 2006) point towards more conservative attitudes to sexuality. Furthermore, it reinforces the notion that there is a link between meat and masculinity. The final section builds on the previous section by zooming in on the sociocultural significance of how Lil Maaz seeks to represent the kebab. Due to the way in which Mange du kebab constitutes a tribute to the popular appeal of the kebab, this chapter asks whether Lil Maaz is effectively trying to establish it as a modern equivalent of the bifteck (beef steak) which Roland Barthes (1957) famously represented as an iconic symbol of Frenchness. Lil Maaz’s attempts to represent his kebab shop as a cosmopolitan and convivial environment will then be contextualized here in relation to Gilroy’s (2004) discussion of the term ‘conviviality’. After doing so, analysis of theorists such as Hutnyk (2000) will introduce a note of caution by asking whether the consensual nature of Mange du kebab reduces the extent to which it effectively challenges the frequent stereotyping of Muslims (and other minority groups) in France.

Lil Maaz’s route to fame and its significance Lil Maaz’s transition from kebab shop waiter to online rap sensation is widely attributed to members of a major record label visiting his restaurant in Paris’s

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eighteenth arrondissement (see, for example, Samuel 2007; Soares 2007). Maaz apparently had a habit of rapping whilst preparing kebabs for customers and one of his clients helped him to film the video for Mange du kebab, which was later released as a single by EMI. In general terms, Mange du kebab demonstrates how rap music resonates outside of the American environment in which it originated; this is a phenomenon which has been analyzed by many scholars over the past decade, including Mitchell (1996; 2001), Bennett (2001) and Huq (2006). Due to the fact of rap being a musical genre which has been utilized by a wide variety of minority groups around the world to represent their experiences or recount their struggles, Simon Frith has characterized it as a genre which ‘make[s] available ways of celebrating cultural margins’ (1993: 20). Since Lil Maaz became known within France (and elsewhere), thanks to to a video which appeared on websites such as YouTube and Dailymotion, it is worth asking whether such examples of new media technologies also ‘make available ways of celebrating cultural margins’. Kyra Landzelius, author of Native on the Net (2006), would be highly likely to respond to this question in the affirmative. She states that the Internet provides a means for minority groups to present themselves to majority populations (a process which she calls ‘outreach’) and also to communicate with members of their own community (which she calls ‘inreach’) (ibid.: 11). Furthermore, Landzelius also sees the Internet as providing a means for immigrants to reconnect with their country of birth (ibid.: 20–21). Similarly, Tim Guest has documented how the virtual world of Second Life can help to preserve minority identities within cyberspace, at a time when the numbers of certain groups of peoples are declining in the real world (2007: 277).3 To use Landzelius as a reference point, it appears that Mange du kebab involves Lil Maaz engaging in both ‘inreach’ and ‘outreach’. Evidence of ‘inreach’ includes the way in which Lil Maaz celebrates his Turkish roots in a manner which could be seen as encouraging other members of Turkish or Middle Eastern Islamic diasporas to do likewise. The fact that Lil Maaz hoped that Mange du kebab would reach a large audience via the Internet (see Soares 2007) suggests that he was also interested in ‘outreach’. In other words, Mange du kebab involves Lil Maaz talking about his life as a Turkish immigrant in Paris and simultaneously seeking to produce a music video whose appeal would be as broad as possible. Whilst Landzelius and Guest focus on Internet technologies as a means of safeguarding minority identities and celebrating difference, there are others who contrastingly argue that the Internet often homogenizes and thus eliminates difference. The American cultural critic and blogger Lee Siegel is a prime example of one such person. He argues that the Internet limits diversity as it is imperative that ‘you must sound more like everyone else than anyone else is able to sound like anyone else’ and also that ‘the greatest success is often the result of following conventions more diligently than anyone else’ (2008: 100–101).


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Although Mange du kebab does involve Lil Maaz exploiting a recognizable musical genre (rap), he is not seeking to parody or copy known singers in as obvious a manner as contestants on the television talent shows of which Siegel is very critical (see Siegel 2008: 103–8). Susan Boyle’s rise to fame via the show Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 provided evidence of how new media (especially file-sharing sites such as YouTube) can interact with more conventional forms of media such as prime time television shows. A YouTube clip of Boyle’s initial performance on the television talent show was viewed 26.5 million times in the week following the programme’s broadcast. An interaction between traditional media and new media also contributed to Lil Maaz’s success, albeit in a different manner. In his case, online success led to interest from more traditional forms of media (e.g. television, newspapers). Following significant media interest on television and in print editions of newspapers, as well as online, Lil Maaz signed a record deal to release Mange du kebab as a single. What this demonstrates is that online success (as gauged by factors such as the number of times a video is viewed on YouTube) is considered newsworthy by older more traditional forms of media. Furthermore, it seems that the record company saw it as a measure of likely commercial success. Returning momentarily to Landzelius, it also becomes clear that the ways in which minority artists such as Lil Maaz go about representing the world in which they live can play a major role in dictating whether or not they achieve mainstream success. In an implicit endorsement of Spivak’s analysis of the question ‘can the subaltern speak?’ (see Spivak 1993), Landzelius states that ‘to digitally chaperone vox populi from the margins and onto the geopolitical scene depends not only on who is speaking but also on who is listening and the nature of the dialogue being worlded’ (2006: 301). Such comments could be interpreted as crystallizing the way in which Lil Maaz became famous thanks to a rap which is light-hearted and uncontroversial, and consequently lacks the antagonism or aggression which other rappers sometimes display. His approach is very different to that of several Dutch–Moroccan rappers who have been accused of using their music to publicly threaten to attack members of parliament who they perceive to be Islamophobic (see Bunt 2009: 225; Gazzah 2008: 209–10; Kievit 2009; Libbenga 2005). However, Dutch– Morrocan rappers share with Lil Maaz the fact that their songs gained publicity through diffusion via the Internet, even if this did not lead to their commercial release (Gazzah 2008: 209–10). It appears that they were exploiting the low-budget and instantaneous nature of broadcasting on the Internet as well the likelihood of less stringent censorship than would be associated with a commercially released CD. Lil Maaz’s contrasting desire to avoid controversy is evident in both the lyrics of Mange du kebab and his media interviews. For example, he rarely talks about potentially divisive political issues such as immigration, the image of Islam in the West or Turkish membership of the European Union. As pointed out by Tonet (2007), Lil Maaz adopts a cautiously diplomatic approach when commenting on any political issue. In Tonet’s interview with

Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab


Lil Maaz (which formed part of a profile in the French newspaper Libération), the rapper describes French president Nicolas Sarkozy as ‘tough but determined’, and says that ‘there is still discrimination against Kurds in Turkey, but things are improving’. On Turkish politics, he comments ‘I do not like the basic ideology of Erdogan’s party, but his government is working well’. When it comes to Islam, Lil Maaz says that he is in favour of secularism and describes himself as a ‘moderate Muslim’. Furthermore, he talks of the need to ‘respect everyone, whether or not they wear a veil’. A possible positive interpretation of such statements is that Lil Maaz’s nonconfrontational approach helps to challenge the stigmatization of Muslims in a post-9/11 context. Hopkins (2006: 338) traces the ways in which Muslim men, especially young members of diasporas, are often negatively stereotyped as being closely associated with crime and violence, and suggests that such representations have become increasingly prevalent given the global geopolitical situation following the World Trade Centre attacks on 11 September 2001 and the suicide bombings in London on 7 July 2005. Lil Maaz’s cheerful disposition and the light-hearted tone of Mange du kebab create a very different picture by presenting his kebab shop as a welcoming environment where a racially diverse range of people can enjoy consuming fast food. However, the writings of John Hutnyk provide reason to be less optimistic about the potential impact of Lil Maaz’s video. Hutnyk asks ‘why is it that cultural celebration rarely translates into political transformation?’ (2000: 119). In other words, he would be likely to see the policy implications of Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab as being limited. Along with Kalra and Kaur, Hutnyk further argues that ‘to produce culture without politics or without an engagement with the politics inherent in the cultural industry is to acquiesce to an exoticizing and commercializing façade that leaves racial hierarchies intact’ (Kalra et al. 2005: 39). It is consequently worth considering to what extent Lil Maaz effectively uses the kebab as a means of exoticizing his Turkish roots in a depoliticized manner, which obscures the problems faced by other immigrants in France who are Muslim and/or Turkish.

Immigrant identity and Islamic identity The general tone of Mange du kebab is in keeping with the positive outlook which Lil Maaz has demonstrated in many media interviews. The video sees him performing a rap, in his kebab shop, about how he makes kebabs. In other words, he is acting out a fairly stereotypical role for a Turkish immigrant. The fact that he is performing a recognizable stereotype could be seen as a strategic means of attempting to ensure mainstream appeal. Hargreaves has argued that a problem faced by performers from minority backgrounds is that ‘it is unquestionably difficult to penetrate mainstream markets without adjusting in some degree to the codes and expectations of majority ethnic consumers’ (2003: 54). Thus one may well wonder if Lil Maaz is performing a stereotype in order to try to ensure broad commercial appeal. The fact that


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such an approach might provoke laughter from many people in French society could be seen as potentially disempowering from the perspective of Turkish or Muslim immigrants. Hargreaves has noted that many Muslim immigrants are ‘poorly educated and confined to low-income jobs’ (2007: 106). Lil Maaz himself reportedly left school aged 11 (Tonet 2007) and is presumably not earning a large wage working in a kebab shop. Consequently, Muslim immigrants who wish to break the trend described by Hargreaves may see Mange du kebab in a negative light. However, it is also possible to suggest a more positive interpretation whereby Mange du kebab valorizes the process of making a kebab (admittedly in a humorous manner) and provides Turkish and Muslim immigrants with a means of celebrating their identity and daily life. The lyrics of Mange du kebab include the notion that ‘cuire du mouton, c’est tout un art’ (cooking lamb is a real art). The potential for others to share in Lil Maaz’s enthusiasm for kebabs and identify with him is demonstrated by some of the reactions to his rap video which are visible on Internet forums. Amongst the many comments on the video of Mange du kebab which Lil Maaz uploaded to YouTube, there are many exclamations extolling the virtues of Turkish kebabs and being Turkish.4 The way in which Lil Maaz acts out a clichéd immigrant role thus appears to be an example of a process identified by Mireille Rosello, whereby those who experience stereotypes ‘learn how to reuse stereotypes in striking and imaginative ways’ (1998: 9). In other words, the fact that Lil Maaz is acting out a stereotype could be potentially empowering, as he is taking control of exactly how it is portrayed and arguably using it as a means to create a new and somewhat ironic brand of Turkish cool with which others are able to identify. Lil Maaz could thus be said to exemplify the way in which humour employed by those subject to stereotypes can at times feature ‘a special kind of irony’ allied to an awareness of how they are perceived by others (see Goffman 1968: 132, 160). Lil Maaz’s rap celebrates many instantly recognizable elements of kebab shops, such as the range of fillings and sauces on offer, the smell of the food and the plastic table cloths. Furthermore, he also alludes to adopting Muslim dietary principles in a line about none of the kebabs in his shop having pork in them. At the same time as we hear this lyric, we see a person wearing a pig mask being pushed away by a broom-wielding colleague. Attentive viewers of the video will also notice that the window of the kebab shop publicizes the fact that their meat is halal. The fact that Islam is not often associated with humour and an ability to laugh at itself (see Khan 2007) increases the significance of this part of the rap. It demonstrates that Islam and humour are not necessarily as incompatible as might have been suggested by the controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in 2005, and their subsequent reprinting in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2006. Predominantly within the English-speaking world, a group of three American Muslim stand-up comedians have toured under the name Allah Made Me

Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab


Funny and performed shows which demonstrate that their Islamic faith can be the basis for humour and sharp observations which both challenge stereotypes and make audiences laugh. One of the trio, Azhar Usman, has argued that ‘the cartoons are the single flashpoint that has defined the Islam and comedy debate’, and that ‘within Muslim culture there is a strong tradition of storytelling, joking and laughing’ (Usman quoted in Khan 2007). Indeed, he has talked of how the naming of the comedy trio set out to challenge media coverage which misrepresents Islam and instead to ‘associate it with something beautiful and positive, which is laughter and humour’ (Usman quoted in Kettle 2009). Such a perspective goes against Ayatollah Khomeni’s notion that ‘there is no humour in Islam’ and that ‘there can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious’ (quoted in Az Zaqqum 2008: vii). The emergence of groups such as Allah Made Me Funny demonstrates that humour can play an important role in re-presenting Muslims within a global geopolitical context in which they are, at times, stereotyped as menacing others by those in the West. It is also a process which is taking place in France. Since 2008, the French Muslim current affairs website has helped to produce a series of light-hearted sketches about young French Muslims on a website named A part ça tout va This title translates as ‘apart from that, everything’s fine’ and many of the sketches star the actor and comedian Hassan Zahi (himself a practising Muslim). The tag line on the site where the sketches appear translates as ‘Who said that Muslims didn’t have a sense a humour?’ In many ways, this French website and the comedians in Allah Made Me Funny challenge negative representations of Islam via humour more explicitly than Lil Maaz. However, Lil Maaz arguably contributes to the same process, even if he has shied away from talking in as much depth about his faith in media interviews. Although Lil Maaz appears reluctant to talk about his Islamic faith, there are several other ways in which the lyrics and video of Mange du kebab reveal important issues to do with his sense of identity and belonging. For example, France is not one of the three countries which he mentions in the song. This is probably in part due to the fact that he did not spend his childhood there, and this characteristic sets him apart from French rappers who often evoke growing up in run-down housing estates on the peripheries of major cities such as Paris. Lil Maaz left Turkey for France at the age of 23 in 2003, in keeping with the frequent tendency of Turkish immigrants to arrive in France later than other immigrants (see Hargreaves 2007: 86). His Turkish roots also mean that his rap lacks as explicit a postcolonial dynamic as that of Frenchbased rappers of North or West African descent. His lack of engagement with France or ‘Frenchness’ is in keeping with the way in which members of the Turkish diaspora in France appear less well integrated than many other immigrant groups, if one gauges integration using factors such as language skills, employment levels, home ownership and numbers of mixed marriages (see Hargreaves 2007: 42, 65, 86, 89, 95). These trends mean that, on one level, Turkish immigrants are quite visible in France, due to their lack of


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integration compared to other groups and the fact that they often live together. However, precisely the same reasons help to explain why they lack a great deal of visibility within the public and media sphere in France. This makes Lil Maaz’s swift rise to fame all the more significant. The three countries to which Lil Maaz does refer in Mange du Kebab are Turkey, Greece and America, and each is mentioned for different reasons. Despite the, at times, tense relations between Greece and Turkey over issues such as the status of Cyprus, Lil Maaz follows the French custom of referring to kebabs as ‘des sandwiches grecs’ (Greek sandwiches). In an interview with the newspaper Libération, Maaz explained this in a way which is in keeping with his cautiously diplomatic approach to other issues discussed earlier: ‘on the front of our restaurant we have written “Greek and Turkish specialities”, even though we are all Turkish; the word “Greek” has greater resonance with the French than “döner”, the most popular variety of kebab’ (Maaz quoted in Tonet 2007). Whilst this utilization of a dominant linguistic term in French may have been part of an attempt to ensure broad mainstream appeal in France, it did not please certain fellow Turks. In response, some Turkish Internet users posted anti-Greek messages in the comments section that accompanies the video of Mange du kebab on YouTube. Another Internet user going by the name ‘kurdeuropa’ argued that kebabs are Kurdish rather than Turkish.7 Lil Maaz, who is from an area of south-eastern Turkey which has a high Kurdish population, simply refers to serving up ‘des spécialités turques’ (Turkish specialities) in Mange du kebab. He also evokes the ‘odeurs d’Orient’ (smells of the East) which waft around his shop, a sentimental reference to how his job keeps him in touch with his roots. According to Martin (2007), Lil Maaz recorded a Turkish version of Mange du Kebab precisely so that his family back in Turkey could share in his success. To return to the terminology of Landzelius (2006: 20–21), this is a prime example of him seeking to achieve ‘inreach’ as opposed to ‘outreach’. When Lil Maaz focuses on the future rather than the past, it is often America or American culture which he evokes. The way in which he does so suggests that his presence in France may only be a transient one, as he talks of wanting to experience the American dream and make kebabs for Americans. Whilst he appears to associate this vision with a notion of progress and a brighter future, it actually demonstrates that he aspires towards pursuing the same life (i.e. working in a kebab shop) but merely in a different setting. The reason for his desire to move across the Atlantic appears to be his conviction that the USA represents ‘a dream of being able to succeed more easily’ (Karaman 2009a), which suggests that he may see the American model of integration as more appealing than the French one. Nevertheless, the desire to make kebabs for Americans, as opposed to becoming a rap star or successful businessperson, does bring with it a notion of subservience. It is clear that terms such as ‘melting pot’ and ‘nation of immigrants’ can overly glamorize the extent to which American society is accepting and tolerant when it comes to immigrants. As Hutnyk points out, ‘the “melting pot” may mean

Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab


participation in the feast of culture, but not always as a diner – there are cooks, service staff, and guests’ (2000: 19). Lil Maaz’s US aspirations show him to be someone who aspires to be, at best, one of a great many cooks. In a post-9/11 context, an increasing proportion of the American population seems to subscribe to the notion that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ when it comes to the arrival of immigrants from certain countries, and especially Muslim immigrants. As Kalra, Kaur and Hutnyk argue, post-9/11 policies and the ‘war on terror’ have resulted in increasing suspicion towards both immigrants and Muslims within the US (2005: 128–30). In addition to the lyrics of Mange du kebab, what Lil Maaz wears in the video provides evidence of his love of America. At several points, he is seen wearing a St. Louis Rams American football top and sporting highly visible gold-coloured jewellery of the sort associated with American rap artists. Given the large proportion of American rappers who are black, it appears that Lil Maaz’s attire exemplifies Khosrokhavar’s observation that the experiences of Black Americans have become an increasingly important reference point for minority groups in France (1997: 312). Indeed, a news report broadcast on French television channel TF1’s 8.00 p.m. news bulletin on 23 August 2007 showed Lil Maaz recording an English-language version of Mange du kebab for the international market. Given how he talks about the United States in the song, this could be interpreted as a potential attempt to take a step towards fulfilling his American dream.8 This positioning by Lil Maaz is potentially more complicated than it might first appear. Initially, it seems to be a prime example of a trend amongst young Muslims in Europe which has become visible in recent decades: Young European Muslims are increasingly demonstrating that there is no inherent contradiction necessarily associated with having street-cred and hip-hop style, identifying with certain contemporary global orientations within Islam ( … ) and perhaps being at the same time in accord with and at odds with the views and values of one’s parents. (Vertovec and Rogers 1998: 1) However, the fact that Lil Maaz waves a five-dollar note when talking of his desire to make kebabs in the United States is an element which is much less in keeping with other contemporary tendencies of young European Muslims identified by Vertovec and Rogers. For example, this gesture is one of several ways in which Lil Maaz’s outlook is very different from other young Muslims who see ‘Islam as a symbol of resistance to (variously or simultaneously) Western political and cultural imperialism, capitalism, racism and white-dominated bureaucratic states’ (Vertovec and Rogers 1998: 11). Lil Maaz appears keen to adhere to, rather than criticize, norms associated with Western consumer culture. This comes at a time when food has been used as a more subversive cultural symbol by other members of Muslim diasporas in Europe. For example, in 2003, Tawfik Mathlouthi (a Tunisian-born Muslim


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living in France) launched the soft drink Mecca Cola as ‘a little gesture against US imperialism and foreign policy’ (Henley and Vasagar 2003). He also pledged to donate 10 per cent of the brand’s profits to a Palestinian children’s charity as part of an attempt to focus the minds of Muslim consumers on Coca-Cola’s ‘economic ties with Israel and because the war on terror has made all American brands a focus for resentment in the Muslim world’ (Henley and Vasagar 2003). Nevertheless, as the next section will demonstrate, Lil Maaz’s performance of Mange du kebab does still involve him exploiting food’s unifying potential in a way which is in keeping with other fellow Muslims in France. At the same time, the focus on food in his rap also challenges traditional perceptions of sexuality and masculinity within Islam.

Sexuality, meat and masculinity Analyzing how Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab deals with sexuality and masculinity provides a further example of issues which challenge the frequent ‘othering’ of Muslims based on perceived differences between them and the non-mutually exclusive category of those who live in the West. Before examining how the lyrics and video of Mange du kebab represent sexuality and masculinity, it is first worth sketching out some general principles as to how these issues are traditionally perceived within Islam. For Hossein Adibi, sexuality is one of many factors which are often neglected when examining Islamic identity (2006: 3). Lahoucine Ouzgane makes the point that the study of masculinity as opposed to femininity (and the control of femininity) is an especially understudied area (2006: 1). Lena Gerholm argues that there is a very restricted space in which sexuality can be expressed by Muslims, and that ‘the only place for sexuality is within marriage; in fact that is the point of marriage’ (Gerholm 2003: 405). Given the traditional Islamic view of sexuality to which Gerholm refers, it is perhaps unsurprising that members of Islamic diasporas have, at times, felt themselves to be at odds with more liberal Western mentalities towards sex and sexuality. In an article about Indonesian Muslims living in Australia, Donaldson et al. (2006: 2) argue that ‘Westerners are seen as lacking in restraint when it comes to eating, drinking, extravagant consumption, gambling and sex’. Similarly, Gerholm has described how Muslim men in Stockholm construct a similar image of Swedish women which contrasts with that of their own self-perceived restraint (2003: 411). She argues that this is part of ‘a representation of a male Muslim at the top of human civilization, whereas Swedish sexual behaviour is regarded as uncontrolled and commonly linked to that of animals’ (ibid.). Despite such trends, Mange du kebab shows Lil Maaz to be a member of a Muslim diaspora which adopts a less conservative attitude to sexuality. Initially, it is tempting to attribute this, along with his positive attitude to America, to his Turkish roots. As Helvacioglu notes, Turkey is a country which is at times seen as ‘a champion of women’s rights’ and ‘pro-Western’, and this sets

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it apart from many Middle Eastern Islamic countries (Helvacioglu 2006: 49). Nevertheless, she also identifies characteristics which are more in keeping with traditionalist Islamic viewpoints. She states that Turkish Republican ideals require a man ‘to be a complete stranger to his own body and instead subject himself to the conventional regimes of sexual regulation’ (2006: 52). Lil Maaz appears to lack this restraint and be keen to present himself as a kebab shop sex symbol as well as a kebab shop rapper. He raps about wearing a white shirt – which we see him remove – and how this uniform makes him ‘as sexy as a Chippendale’.9 Furthermore, he suggests that the sight of him sweating away in front of the grill is something which makes him appealing to female customers. A group of young women at the counter swoon as he mentions this, although their facial expressions suggest that their actions may be deliberately exaggerated in response to what could be interpreted as an equally deliberate example of light-hearted flirtatiousness by Lil Maaz. The broader significance of the lyrics and images discussed here is that they reinforce the traditional link between meat and masculinity. The argument that food possesses importance from a symbolic as opposed to a nutritional point of view has been advanced by a range of analysts, notably including Roland Barthes (see Barthes in Counihan and Van Esterik 1997: 20–27). Barthes argued that food advertising ‘makes it possible to associate certain kinds of food with images connoting a sublimated sexuality’ and that ‘advertising eroticizes food and thereby transforms our consciousness of it’ (ibid.: 21). This appears to be what is going on when Lil Maaz raps about kebab preparation, involving caressing it with both hands. The association between meat and masculinity is one which is strongly associated with the work of Carol Adams, who adopts a feminist vegetarian position. Adams is best known as the author of The Sexual Politics of Meat (originally published in 1990), and sees feminism’s principles as providing ‘an analytical tool that helps expose the social construction of relationships between humans and other animals’ (2000: 11). She thus argues that the principle of patriarchy is applicable to power relations between humans and animals (ibid.: 16), and states that meat eating is often identified as a key element of manhood and an indispensable source of strength for men (2000: 16–17, 22–23). Adams’ theories are highly applicable to the lyrics and video of Lil Maaz’s Mange du Kebab. Whilst we do see both men and women in the kebab shop which features in the video, they perform different roles. All of those preparing the kebabs are men, and they appear keen to present themselves as appealing to women in so doing. In addition to the flirtatious lyrics discussed earlier, Lil Maaz twice appears to imitate a cocktail waiter by twirling sauce bottles behind the counter in order to increase the extent to which he turns making a kebab into a performance. Within this spectacle, it is significant that the video for Mange du kebab does not actually feature any female customers eating kebabs in the clip, despite the fact that we do see several male customers doing so. Female customers are either seen sitting at tables in front of kebabs or dancing for the camera. In other words, gender relations within the


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kebab shop seem to mirror those of patriarchal society by relegating women to largely passive roles whilst it is the men who are in control (making kebabs or visibly consuming them). Thus, the activities of preparing and consuming kebabs appear to reinforce traditional images of (heterosexual) masculinity.

Food, national identity and community Even if the kebabs rapped about in Mange du kebab may underline gender divisions, there are also ways in which the video portrays them as a means of bringing together a diverse range of people in a common location (i.e. the kebab shop). Given the symbolic importance and ubiquity of the kebab, and the way in which Lil Maaz’s rap reinforces its implicit association with masculinity and strength, it seems appropriate to ask if it is being presented as the new bifteck (beef steak). The cultural and symbolic importance of this dish in France was established as one of the Mythologies of Roland Barthes’s 1957 seminal work of the same name. It is clear that Barthes saw the beef steak as being imbued with (or as a transmitter of) masculinity and strength. Barthes argued that the steak is ‘the heart of the meat, the purest form of meat, and whoever consumes it takes on a bull-like strength’ (Barthes 1957: 72, my translation from the French). He also saw it as representative of the French nation itself, stating that ‘it is national and follows the undulations of patriotic values: it reconnects them in times of war, it is the very flesh of the French soldier’ (Barthes 1957: 74, my translation). Consequently, one might ask whether Lil Maaz is showing the kebab as having now become the new bifteck for a modern and diverse France. Despite the similarities between the qualities which Barthes ascribed to the bifteck and those which Lil Maaz attributes to the kebab, there are also important differences which need to be acknowledged. As already mentioned, Lil Maaz represents his kebab shop as a welcoming environment for people from a variety of different backgrounds without appealing to any notions of Frenchness. Instead, it is American cultural influences and a sentimental representation of his Turkish roots which dominate. Lil Maaz’s portrayal of his kebab shop as a location where people from different backgrounds can come together without explicitly evoking cosmopolitanism (or Frenchness) has parallels with the way Gilroy (2004) describes conviviality in postcolonial societies. For Gilroy, conviviality ‘refer[s] to the process of cohabitation and interaction that have made multiculture an ordinary feature of social life in Britain’s urban areas and in postcolonial cities everywhere’ (Gilroy 2004: xi). The fact that the lyrics of Mange du kebab do not allude to the differing backgrounds of the customers in his kebab shop suggests that this factor possesses the sort of ordinariness which Gilroy describes. It is perhaps also a process which is influenced by France’s Republican ideals of being a single and indivisible nation. Such notions reject visions of a society composed of definable groups based on criteria such as race, ethnicity or gender. Instead, they involve people interacting with the state as unmarked individual citizens.

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Citizenship status is, however, very strongly based on national status and the division between those who are French nationals and those who are not. This distinction has led some people, generally on the Left, to challenge France’s Republican model of citizenship and to appeal for the creation of a new form of citizenship which is less closely based on national status (see Waters 1998, 2003). As mentioned earlier, Lil Maaz’s attraction to the American dream may in part be due to dissatisfaction with the French model of integration just described. Nevertheless, the way in which Left-wing critics of France’s Republican model appeal to a conception of citizenship which is less focused on nationality has parallels with the fact that Lil Maaz’s rap Mange du kebab points towards the unifying potential of the kebab without focusing on what it means to be French. When one further explores Gilroy’s understanding of conviviality (2004), it is clear that it is in keeping with the manner in which Lil Maaz’s video hints at notions of identity more fluid than those which are mapped out within French Republicanism. As Gilroy has stated, ‘the radical openness that brings conviviality alive makes a nonsense of closed, fixed and reified identity and turns attention toward the always-unpredictable mechanisms of identification’ (2004: xi). In other words, Gilroy’s focus on conviviality challenges the strict confines of French Republicanism’s model of citizenship and adds weight to the arguments of those on the Left who believe in the need for a new model of citizenship in France which would move away from the intense focus on the national/non-national division. The image of conviviality and diversity projected by Mange du kebab is in keeping with other initiatives in recent years which have involved Muslims seeking to use food to create a sense of community, and a convivial environment for both Muslims and non-Muslims. A prime example in France was the 2005 opening of the Beurger King Muslim (BKM) restaurant in Northern Paris, whose name involves the subversion of a more well-known global chain via the inclusion of an additional letter in the word burger. This plays on the fact that beur is a slang term for descendents of North African immigrants living in France and is derived from the French word for Arab. Unlike Burger King, the BKM restaurant in Northern Paris only serves halal fast food. However, its employees have been keen to point out that it is a restaurant which welcomes people of all faiths (Henley 2005). This view was echoed by a customer interviewed by the newspaper USA Today who said that the restaurant created an unsegregated environment where ‘both Muslims and other people feel at ease’, and added that this was particularly necessary given the negative images and misconceptions of Muslims in a post–11 September 2001/7 July 2005 context (Anon. 2005). Due to the differing origins and ages of the people in Lil Maaz’s kebab shop, it appears that he is effectively setting out to create a similar environment to the Beurger King restaurant. Admittedly, he is less explicit about his desire for Muslims and non-Muslims to co-exist happily in his restaurant,


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although this appears to be at least hinted at due to the variety of different races and ages of people who are visible in the video. This reinforces the pertinence of Caplan’s argument that food ‘is intimately bound up with social relations, including those of power, of inclusion and exclusion’ (1997: 3). Meat’s potential to exclude as well as include is referenced in Mange du kebab in the part where a waiter wearing a pig mask is pushed out of the way as Lil Maaz raps about his kebabs being free from pork. Inclusion and exclusion are principles which are relevant to the consumption of food and drink, and it should be recalled that amongst the three essays in Barthes’s Mythologies that are about food and drink there is one entitled le vin et le lait (wine and milk). Barthes argues in this essay that ‘being able to drink alcohol is a national technique which serves to characterise the Frenchman, to simultaneously prove his power of performance, his control and his sociability’ (Barthes 1957: 71). Such exhibitions of distinction characterizing Frenchness would be incompatible with the beliefs of Muslims for whom it is important to abstain from drinking alcohol. Consequently, Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab and Barthes’s Mythologies both allude – explicitly or implicitly – to the way in which food and drink can simultaneously be a source of conviviality and a means of excluding people from the possibility of adopting national values.

Conclusions and questions: is conviviality enough? The notion of conviviality, which is discussed by Gilroy (2004) and evident in Mange du kebab, is in keeping with broader trends amongst the ways in which young Muslims in France have sought to create a non-threatening sense of religious identity. Khosrokhavar argues that creating new ‘forms of conviviality’ has, in recent decades in France, been a key focus of young people who have adopted a form of Islam which focuses strongly on culture and music (1997: 19–20). Whilst this process is in many ways culturally significant, given the context of increased Islamphobia post-9/11, it is worth asking what such celebrations of multiculturalism achieve. As already stated, the consensual and light-hearted nature of Lil Maaz’s kebab arguably masks some problematic issues faced by Turkish and Muslim immigrants in France. Several cultural theorists are also keen to criticize celebrations of multiculturalism or hybrid identity for failing to achieve much in political terms, in addition to deflecting attention from more important issues. Hutnyk argues that the concept of hybridity is not even worth celebrating as it is ‘a rhetorical cul-de-sac which trivialises black political activity in the UK over the past 30 years, diverting attention from the urgency of anti-racist politics in favour of middle-class conservative success stories’ (2000: 36). Given the nature of such comments, Hutnyk might well have issues with the way in which the consensual and celebratory nature of Mange du kebab masks the prejudice and lack of cultural exposure experienced by Muslim immigrants in France.

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Whilst the rise to fame of Lil Maaz is in many ways significant, due to the lack of cultural exposure enjoyed by either Muslims or Turks in France, overly focusing on the issue of visibility is in itself problematic. Kalra, Kaur and Hutnyk make the point that ‘it can be argued that the presence of diasporic groups has had far more impact on the way that the nation is conceptualized than on the institutional structures that make up the state’ (2005: 28). The recent history of France shows that members of diasporas have, at times, been held up as symbols of trends in a manner which has been made to look highly questionable by subsequent events. For example, the victory of the French football team in the 1998 World Cup was, at the time, championed as a symbol of a tolerant and diverse France due to the presence of so many players from a variety of different diasporas. However, the 2002 presidential elections saw the far Right’s Jean-Marie Le Pen emerge as the second most popular candidate after a campaign in which he sought to stoke racial tensions and scapegoat immigrants and ethnic minorities. Interpreting the popularity of foreign cuisine as a sign of tolerance and diversity is just as problematic as the reactions to France’s 1998 World Cup triumph. The following warning needs to be considered when situating the image of conviviality which Lil Maaz projects in Mange du kebab: It is interesting to examine how an inclusive rhetoric of curry-loving culture in the UK serves as a smoke screen to occlude inequalities among the various constituencies of Britain, and the vast socio-economic distance which separates those serving the curry-shifts from those swallowing the cardamom. (Hutnyk 2000: 182) Although Lil Maaz’s rap about his role and aspirations involves him celebrating his job and sense of identity, it is also potentially disempowering for those from a similar background whose ambitions involve achieving social status through educational attainment and consequent employment in a less stereotypical field (see earlier). It is important to examine precisely what aspect of Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab was the main reason for its success. Whilst some may well focus on its light-hearted celebration of the kebab’s status as a ubiquitous fast food snack, other interpretations of a considerably less innocent nature are possible. For example, did members of the majority ethnic population – knowingly or unknowingly – respond positively to the video because it features a member of a minority group performing a stereotypical role which reinforces hierarchical power relations in French society? Whilst the simplicity of Lil Maaz’s vision of conviviality is problematic, Mange du kebab’s success is significant for a variety of different cultural reasons. Although it does involve the protagonist acting out a largely stereotypical immigrant role, the way in which he does so challenges popular perceptions of Islam, even if Lil Maaz does not appear keen to make this point himself. The light-hearted nature of his single helps to challenge the way


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in which Muslims are at times associated with violence and aggression. By not adopting the aggressively confrontational approach of some Dutch– Moroccan rappers (see earlier), Lil Maaz avoids falling into the trap of becoming someone who the far Right can utilize to perpetuate stereotypical negative discourses associating Islam with violence. Mange du kebab demonstrates that Islam can be a source of humour and that Muslims are capable of laughing at themselves and at certain aspects of their faith. However, the humour evident in Mange du kebab is somewhat paradoxical. On one hand, Lil Maaz appears to simultaneously play up to stereotypes about Turkish immigrants and challenge stereotypes about Islam in Mange du kebab. On the other hand, the lyrics and video demonstrate that he feels that both of these aspects of his identity have comedic potential which he is prepared to exploit. This mirrors the way in which he tries to evoke the virtues of diversity and conviviality without stating what these concepts mean to him or why they should be celebrated. Mange du kebab’s status as a novelty single, allied to its depoliticized nature, could be seen as a reason to downplay its significance. However, such an approach does raise issues about the expectations placed on performers who are members of minority groups. Rupa Huq argues that expecting minority artists to ‘use their privileged space to communicate issues pertinent to their community’ risks ‘limit[ing] an artist’s work to their ethnicity and thereby ghettois[ing] them’ (2006: 192). This point could be extended to make the case for artists such as Lil Maaz continuing to address light-hearted themes in a depoliticized manner if it is what they desire. Whilst this may not necessarily provide the most strategic manner for minority groups such as Muslim immigrants to challenge dominant power structures, it would be wrong to assume that doing so is the prime objective of all Muslim immigrant musicians. Lil Maaz has previously stated that his main ambition when making Mange du kebab was to ‘make people laugh’ (Samuel 2007), although the nature of his type of success is seen as no laughing matter by some more mainstream recording artists. This is obvious when one looks at reactions to the success of Kamini’s novelty single Marly-Gomont in 2006, the year before Lil Maaz’s rise to fame. Kamini’s rap about being from the only black family in Picardie (a rural region in the north of France) gained a massive following on YouTube and DailyMotion which led to him signing a record deal to produce several albums. The way in which such an alternative route to fame and commercial success challenges conventional marketing strategies clearly concerns the Cypriot-born French rapper Diam’s who responded negatively to Kamini winning the best video prize at the French Victoires de la Musique awards ceremony in 2007.10 Her worries centred on the argument that the acclaim with which a low-budget video uploaded to YouTube was received may make it harder for established artists to command large budgets for their own videos (Diam’s 2007). The French rap group Hocus Pocus have also criticized the approach of record companies who ‘no longer take risks’ by

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signing up artists who have been successful on the Internet, and single out Kamini and Lil Maaz as performers who ‘parody rap’ (Binet 2007). Consequently, it appears that it is perhaps the world of rap rather than the Muslim world which lacks a sense of humour. What websites such as YouTube and Dailymotion provided for Lil Maaz was a shortcut to fame which allowed him to reach a large number of people in a very short space of time and without spending large amounts of money. The low cost and relative simplicity of uploading a video to YouTube is particularly important, given that many members of Muslim diasporas in France do not possess ‘the financial resources and organisational skills necessary for the reproduction of their Islamic heritage’ (Hargreaves 2007: 106). Without the aid of file-sharing sites it is much less likely that Lil Maaz would have been able to make the journey from being a little-known kebab shop worker to becoming a cult figure. Whilst his Mange du kebab video presents a largely unproblematized vision of the life of a Turkish Muslim in France, it does nevertheless allow Lil Maaz to establish a more complicated identity than is perhaps initially apparent. The stereotypical kebab waiter is also a Muslim who is not afraid of using his faith as a source of humour. At the same time, he is also a Muslim who has a noticeably Westernized approach to issues such as sexuality. Within the video, the kebab is not just a comedy prop but a symbol of masculine sexuality and, more importantly, a way in which food can be used to challenge stereotypes about Islam in a post-9/11 world by creating a sense of conviviality and community. The way in which he did so within a fairly consensual and uncontroversial framework may have obscured some serious issues concerning the stigmatization of Muslims (especially immigrants) in France, but it also helped to ensure his commercial success and mean that his vision reached such a large audience.

Notes 1 Online., (accessed 17 June 2010). 2 This notion has parallels with an earlier analysis of stigma and social identity by Erving Goffman (1968). 3 Second Life is a three-dimensional online virtual reality community in which users interact with each other via on-screen animated representations of themselves which are known as avatars. 4 Online. murl=/watch%3Fv%3DwJV6Akwxlo8%26feature%3Dchannel_page (accessed 12 June 2009). 5 Online. (accessed 12 June 2009). 6 Online. (accessed 12 June 2009). 7 Online. murl=/watch%3Fv%3DwJV6Akwxlo8%26feature%3Dchannel_page (accessed 12 June 2009). 8 This English language version of Mange du kebab was not released commercially, although it was possible to download the Turkish language version of the rap from iTunes.


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9 The Chippendales are a well-known group of American male strippers. 10 Annual popular music awards ceremony equivalent to the Brits in the United Kingdom or the Emmies in the United States.

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Mitchell, T. (1996), Popular Music and Local Identity: Rock, Pop and Rap in Europe and Oceania, London: Leicester University Press. Mitchell, T. (ed.) (2001), Global Noise: Rap and Hip-hop Outside the USA, Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Ouzgane, L. (ed.) (2006), Islamic Masculinities, London and New York: Zed Books. Rosello, M. (1998), Declining the Stereotype: Ethnicity and Representation in French Cultures, Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. Samuel, H. (2007), ‘Internet Kebab Shop Rapper Gets EMI Contract’, The Telegraph, 9 August 2007. Online. (accessed 20 January 2009). Siegel, L. (2008), Against the Machine: Being Human in the Age of the Electronic Mob, London: Random House. Soares, C. (2007), ‘Kebab Shop Worker’s Rap is the Hottest Single in France’, The Independent, 9 August 2007. Online. kebab-shop-workers-rap-is-the-hottest-single-in-france-460807.html (accessed 20 January 2009). Spivak, G.C. (1993), ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in C. Lemert (ed.), Social Theory: the Multicultural and Classic Readings, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 609–14. Tonet, A. (2007), ‘L’homme-sandwich’, Libération, 22 September 2007. Online. www. (accessed 12 June 2009). Vertovec, S. and A. Rogers (eds) (1998), Muslim European Youth, Aldershot: Ashgate. Walden, C. (2008), ‘Britain’s Got Talent: Dancing to the Same Beat’, Daily Telegraph, 30 May 2008. Online. (accessed 16 June 2009). Waters, S. (2003), Social Movements in France: Towards a New Citizenship, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ——(1998), ‘New Social Movements in France: une nouvelle vague citoyenne?’, Modern and Contemporary France, 6(4): 493–504. Zaqqum, A. (2008), The Humor of Islam, Charleston, SC: Booksurge Publishing.


Abbas, El-Hajj 64 Abbas, S.B. 193 Abdo, Geneive 163, 174n4 ‘Abdu, Muhammad 47 Abdul-Ahad, Gaith 115 Abdülhamit I 21 Abrahamian, Ervand 133 Abu Bakr Ibn Baki 57 Abu Dawud, Sayyid 99n2 Abu-Lughod, Lila 93 Abu-Rabi, I.M. 47 Abu Shadi, Ali 95, 100n10 Abun-Nasr, J.M. 77n19 Aching, Gerard 126 activism 3, 73–74, 166, 167, 172; activist background of Morocco’s chant tradition 58–65; artistic activism 250; chanting and roots of 58–59, 75–76; hip-hop activism 252; militancy and 69; multi-dimensional activism 71; religious activism 66–67 Adams, Carol 271 Adeel 217, 219 Adibi, Hossein 270 Adra, Najwa 104, 119n5 Advanced Chemistry 250 Afghan society, changing roles of dance in 7–8, 103–20; Afghan Star incident 114; Arabian Music, Farmer’s history of 103; attan, national dance of Afghanistan 104–5; bacha bazi, resurgence of 114–16; children, dancing games of 107; dance in Afghanistan (1970s) 104–11; dance in Afghanistan today 114–16; dancing boys 108–10; dancing girls 110–11; dhol 106, 118; dholak 118; diaspora, dance in 111–14; dutar 108, 109, 110, 118, 119n9; duzanga 118; Fremont,

California 111–12; harmonium 107, 112, 118; host culture, interactions with 116–17; identity, matters of 117; instruments, glossary of 118–19; Islamic jurisprudence, dance and 103–4; Kucheh Kharabat in Kabul 104; London 113–14; Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan (Slobin, M.) 109; reservations about dance 103–4; rubab 104, 108, 112, 118; sarangi 104, 118; sarinda 111, 118; sexuality, concerns about 104; sorna 105, 106, 118; tabla 104, 107, 108, 110, 112, 113, 118; tal 111, 118; urban male dance in Herat 105–6; wedding parties 105–6, 107, 110, 111–12, 113, 114, 116; women’s dance 106–7; zang 110, 118, 119; zirbaghali 108, 109, 110, 119 Afghan Star (Tolo TV, Kabul) 114 Al-Afghani, Jamal al-Din 47 AG Dolla 219 agency and loss in Muslim traditions of South and West Asia 8–9, 122–57; absence, power of 126; agency, concealment and potential for 126; Agra, muhājir groups in 140–44; Ajmeri, muhājir groups in 138–39; art, integration and 150; bātı-n (invisible or internal) 122, 125, 126, 128–29, 151; Bharatpur, muhājir groups in 144–50; Cāls, muhājir groups in 139–40, 143; cultural-religious debates 150, 151, 153–54; dhol (cylindrical drum) 123, 128–29, 130, 132, 133, 138, 139–40, 141–42, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 152, 156–57n7, 157n12, 157n21; drums, words ‘coming out’ of rhythms of 123–24; gazı- (double-reed



instrument) 127–28, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, 136, 151, 152; hiddenness and concealment 125–26, 132–33; Hyderabad, historical roots of 127–28; Hyderabad, native and immigrant drummers/musicians in 124–25; instruments, role and implications of 131–32; kalmah rhythmic pattern 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 153, 155, 156n3; knowledge, categories and roles of players 133–36; Lala Gul Sanubar Pathan, Sindhi caretaker of Perh Muhammad shrine 129–33; language, naming strategies and 130–31; Manganhārs at Perh Muhammad shrine 133–37; manifesting, hiding and 132–33; masking practices 126; mātam (mourning) 128, 129–30, 131, 132, 133, 137, 140–41, 142, 143, 144–45, 147–48, 149–50, 152, 153; MQM (muhājir Qaumi Mahaz) 127; muhājir groups in Hyderabad 124–25, 137–50; Muharram, annual observance of 122–25, 127–55, 157n, 157n7; musical ‘connotations’ 122; musicality, integration and 136–37; naqāra (kettle drum) 127, 129, 131, 132, 134, 135, 138, 139, 140, 157n15; Nizami drummed texts 123–24; Nizamuddin shrine complex 124; oral tradition in Sindh 128; Peirce’s tripartite formulation of signs 150–51, 152, 157n22; ritual, concealment in 126; Sindh, studies in 127–29, 129–33, 133–37; social tensions 126–27; sound, perception of 125–26; structure, disjuncture and 143–44; tabla players 136, 149, 157n11; tal 139; ta’ziyah (float representing mausoleum of Imam Husain) 123, 129, 133, 145–46, 148, 150, 151, 152, 155, 157n23; Twelver Shı-’ı-sm 126; zāhir (visible or external) 122, 125, 126, 128–29, 151 Aghaie, Kamran Scot 135 Agra, muhājir groups in 140–44 Ahmedinejad, Mahmud 126 Ajmeri, muhājir groups in 138–39 AK Party (Justice and Development Party) in Turkey 15 Akbar, Mughal Emperor 179–80 Akhtar, Jaan Nisaar 178 Akhtar, Najma 216

Aksu, Sezen 30n3, 31n14 Al-Ahram weekly 87 Al Hilal (Ram Kumar film) 184 Al-Kawakib Cinematography 100n10 Al Nur Magazine 85 Al-Qaeda 161 Al-Thawra (Chicago-based band) 168, 170, 171, 173 Alaap 204, 217, 220, 225n19 Albayrak, Halis 15 Alexander, Claire 164 Al-Alfi, Hasan 82 Ali, Ghulam 189 All Is War (Fundamental) 167 Allah Made Me Funny 266–67 Allaudin (Bharatpur senior musician) 145–46, 147–48, 149, 150, 155 Almohads 67 Almoravids 59, 69; Almoravid Murabitun 61 Amantu 234–35, 258 Amar Akbar Anthony (Guru Dutt film) 186 America see United States Ammar114 231–32, 234–35, 238, 255n3, 255n4, 257, 258 And al Malik 239, 240, 250, 257–58 Anderson, Benedict 32n21 Andrae, Tor 54n2 Annapurna Dance Company 213 The Annual Cycle of Music in Herat (John Baily ethnographic film, 1982) 119n1, 119n4, 119n9 Al-’Arabi, Muhammad 80 Al-’Arabi, Kamilia 94, 97 Arabian Music, Farmer’s history of 103 Archer, Louise 161, 164 Armbrust, Walter 28 The Art of Reciting (Nelson, K.) 74 artists: motivations of hip-hop artists 252–54; piety movement and ‘repentance’ of 81–83 arts: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 1–2, 119n1, 119n3, 174n1; debating arts in the public sphere 89–92, 98; gender and 96; integration and 150; performing arts 3, 6, 7, 13, 99n1; purposeful art 97; see also piety and performing arts in public sphere Arts Council England 207, 214, 225n22 Asghar, Ali 135 Ashencaen Crabtree, S., Husainand, F. and Spalek, B. 161

Index Asian Dub Foundation 225n19 Asian Youth Movement 205 attan, national dance of Afghanistan 104–5 audiences 68, 113, 114, 134, 142, 178–79, 182–83, 263, 267, 277; authenticity and 11; at Bradford Melas 207, 214–15, 216, 217, 218, 220–21, 222, 223, 224–25n8; diasporic audiences 190, 196, 197; emotional interactions with 38; gendersegregated audiences 247; for hip-hop bismillah 236, 237–38, 239, 240, 241, 242, 244, 245, 247, 248, 251, 253, 254; for Indian cinema 186–87, 188–89, 191, 192, 194, 197; for Islamist popular culture in Turkey, characteristics of 22; judgements by 185; live performance and 27, 28; performer and, cinematic disconnection between 184, 190 Auliya, Hazrat Nizamuddin 138–39 Auliya, Nizamuddin 123, 124, 179 Austin, R.A. 69, 77n4 authenticity 184, 189, 190, 193; audiences and 11; cultural authenticity 98; horizons of 5; identity and 181–83; musical authenticity 179, 184–85, 196; perception of on-screen authenticity 183; ‘petro-dollar’ preachers, non-authenticity of 92–93; recreation of 186; revitalization of music and 4; spirituality and 187 Al-Awadi, Hesham 82 Ay, Mehmet Emin 15–16, 16–17, 18–19, 19–22, 23–25, 26–28, 29, 30n1, 31n11 Azad Kashmir 201, 224n1, 224n3 Azmi, Kaifi 185 Al-Bablawi, Miyar 97 Al-Babli, Soheir 80, 86, 90, 91 Baby Muslims 244 bacha bazi, resurgence of 114–16 Badr, Sawsan 80 Baghban, Hafizullah 105 Baglarbasi Cultural Centre, Istanbul 26 Baily, John xi, 7–8, 103–21, 179, 188, 202, 224–25n8, 224n4, 225n11 Al-Bakri, ‘Abd al-Baqi 74 Baksh, Faqir Husain 133–34 Baktagir, Göksel 20 Balakrishnan, Gopal 30 Balkhi, Amir Khusro 188 Baluch, N.A. 156–57n7


Banerji, S. and Baumann, G. 227n43 Bangladeshi-American Islamic youth movements 163 Al-Banna, Hasan: Sufi performance in Egypt, social forces shaping 47, 64 baraka, Sufism, chanting and empowered action of 70–71, 71–72, 73 Barendregt, Bart 30n2 Barnes, J.A. 36 Barrett, Paul M. 163, 173 Barsaat Ki Raat (P.L. Santoshi film) 190, 192 Barseuloné 239 Barthes, Roland 13, 122, 156n2, 261, 262, 271, 272, 274 Al-Barudi, Shams 80, 90, 91, 96, 97 Baschschar 235 Basque nationalism 165 bātı-n (invisible or internal) 122, 125, 126, 128–29, 151 Batish, S. D. 190 Baulch, Emma 164, 165 Baumann, Gerd 226n31, 227n43 Bax, Daniel 251 Bayat, Asef 82 Bayumi, Layla 99n2 Al-Bayyumi, Sidi ‘Ali Nur al-Din 42 beef steak (bifteck) 262, 272 Bend it like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha film) 187 Bennett, Andy 249, 251, 263 Bennigsen, Alexandre 77n18 Bennis, Hajj Muhammad 62, 66, 73, 77n7, 77n11 Berbers 61, 62, 63, 67, 69–71, 76, 77n6 Bertelsmann Religion Monitor 248 Beurger King Muslim (BKM) restaurant 273–74 Beyza Yapim 16, 20, 22, 30n6, 33 bhangra 178, 197, 214, 215, 220; bhangra-rap 208, 211, 219, 220, 221–22; Channi Singh (bhangra artist) 204, 217, 220; techno-bhangra 197 Bharatpur, muhājir groups in 144–50 Bhonsle, Asha 190 Bhutto, Benazir 127 Biederwolf, William Edward 8 Binet, Stéphanie 277 Al-Bistami, Abu-Yazid 66 Blind Alphabetz 244 Blum, Stephen 134 Bombay Rockers 217, 219 Born, Georgina 30



Bose, S. and Jalal, A. 127 Bourda religious text 66, 69, 71 La Boussole 252 Boyk, D. and Munis, F. 179, 182, 184, 186 Boyle, Susan 264 Bozan, Irfan 18 Brack, Allan 205, 208 Bradford Mela 11–12; 2009 Mela 203–4, 209–11, 211–18, 222; 2010 Mela 203–4, 209–11, 218–22, 222, 223; flagship ‘multicultural event’ 203, 222–23; historical perspective 204–9, 222; Mirpuris and 203–4; ‘top-down’ multiculturalism 203–4, 222; see also Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford Brel, Jacques 240 Britain see United Kingdom Brittain, Victoria 161 Brook, Michael 194 Brookes, Paul 206–7 Brooks, Geraldine 90, 91 brotherhoods: dissent, Sufi chant as vehicle for 70, 77n18; social forces shaping Sufi performance in Egypt 36 Brown, K.L. 71, 77n20, 77n21 Brun, Ellen 161 Bukhari, Sayyad Alam Shah 136 Bulleh Shah (Sufi poet) 197n1 Bunt, Gary R. 166–67, 264 Burki, Shahid Javed 127 Burman, R.D. 192 Busby-Berkeley 191, 195 Bushido 251 Business Week 186, 198n7, 198n8 Calhoun, Craig 89 Cāls, muhājir groups in 139–40, 143 Camus, Albert 240 Canetti, Elias 220 Cannoville, Katherine 208 Caplan, Pat 274 Çelebi, Süleyman 31n16 Çelik, Ceyhun 20 censorship 94, 95, 171, 264 Champak Limbachia Kumar 205, 208, 210, 219, 220, 221 Chang, Abdul Haq 135, 156–57n7 Channi Singh (bhangra artist) 204, 217, 220 chanting see Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent Charandas (B.S. Thepa film) 193

charity 83, 84, 87, 89, 97, 99, 213, 216, 270 Charlie Hebdo 266 Cherif, Ben ‘Ali 61 Chishti, Muı-nuddı-n 138–39, 179 Chopra, Yash 193 Choudhury, M.L.R. 35 The Christian and Amusements (Biederwolf, W.E.) 8 Chughtai, Abdur Rahman 181 citizenship: citizenship status 273; shared citizenship 223 Clancy-Smith, Julia A. 62, 76 Clarke, Eric 31n15 classical makam (modal) formulae 20–21 Clifford, J. and Marcus, G. 226n31 Cohen, Abner 221, 227n46, 227n49 Çollak, Fatih 15 colonialism 1, 194, 226–27n40; colonial domination 226–27n40; colonial modernity 10; European colonialism 3–4; French colonialism 6; musical colonialism 194; postcolonialism 3, 6, 267, 272 consensuality 262, 274, 277 Contemporary Islam 99n1 controversy: around Sufi music and chant 74–75; avoidance of, Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab and 264–65; incorporation of qawwali in South Asian film 179, 180–81, 182, 188, 194, 196 conversion 150, 232, 237, 239, 241, 242, 247–48, 249, 252 conviviality, notion of 262, 274, 275–76 Counihan, C. and Van Esterik, P. 271 counterpublics 26, 28, 29, 90, 94, 98, 100n14 Coward, H. and Goa, D. 73 Coy, Peter 36 Crafts, Lydia 168 Cris de Bosnie (Cries from Bosnia) 238 Cudsi, A.S. and Dessouki, A.E. 77n5 cultural authenticity 98 cultural expression, politics and 265 cultural margins, celebration of 263 cultural nationalism 93 cultural-religious debates on Muslim traditions 150, 151, 153–54 Curiel, Jonathan 161 Cyber Islamic Environments’ (CIEs) 166–67 cyberMuslims 166

Index Dailymotion 263, 277 dance: Afghan society, dance in 7–8; in Afghanistan (1970s) 104–11; in Afghanistan today 114–16; attan (ancient ritual dance) 7; contentious issue of 7; reservations in Afghan society about 103–4; sexually suggestive movement 8; whirling and other trancelike movements 7; see also Afghan society, changing roles of dance in The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan (Channel 4 TV) 115 Al-Dar’i, Muhammad bin Nasir 64 da’wah institutes 86–87, 97 Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins film) 189 Deleuze, Gilles 240 Demiralp, Taner 20 Demirci, Mustafa 16, 19, 20–22, 26–28, 30n1, 31n12 Al-Demirdash, Shaikh Ahmad 72 ‘demonizing mythologies’ 161–62, 163 DeNora, Tia 221, 227n45 Dey, Manna 190 dhikr (collective rhythmic chanting of one of the Names of God): chant as vehicle for dissent 57, 58–59, 61, 63, 71, 72, 74; social forces shaping Sufi performance in Egypt 37–38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44–45, 46, 52, 53, 54n5, 54n10 dhol (cylindrical drum): Afghan society, changing roles of dance in 106, 118; agency and loss in traditions of South and West Asia 123, 128–29, 130, 132, 133, 138, 139–40, 141–42, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 152, 156–57n7, 157n12, 157n21; Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford 211 dholak (double-headed barrel drum): Afghan society, changing roles of dance in 118; qawwali in South Asia, celluloid performances of 183, 185 Diam 276 diaspora: dance in 111–14; diasporic audiences 190, 196, 197; identity and qawwali consumption in 188–89, 197; transnational diasporic punk music scene 10, 163–64 Dikici, Basar 20 Din, I. and Cullingford, C. 164, 227n43 Dinn, Robert 36 discographies 32, 257–59


discursive rationality, theory of 161 diversity: artistic diversity 3; at Bradford Mela 217, 220, 223; Hip-hop bismillah, diversity of backgrounds for 247–49, 254–55; of mimetic Muharram practices 154; of musical styles 15, 36, 273; of Muslim diaspora in US 163, 174n4; virtues of 276 Dolunay (Mehmet Emin Ay recording) 16–17, 18 domesticity 93, 99; gender and 97 Donaldson, M., Howson, R. and Nilan, P. 262, 270 Donofrio, Salvatore 36 Don’t Panik 240, 256n38, 258 Doran, Jamie 115 Doubleday, V. and Baily, J. 106 Doubleday, Veronica 106, 107, 117 drums, words ‘coming out’ of rhythms of 123–24 Duclos, Louis-Jean 65, 70 Dunn, K. M., Klocker, N. and Salabay, T. 161 Al-Dunya, I.A. and Robson, J. 35, 47 dutar (long-necked plucked lute) 108, 109, 110, 118, 119n9 Dutt, Guru 186 duzanga (rattles) 118 Dwyer, C., Shah, B. and Sanghera, G. 161, 164 East is East (Damien O’Donnell film) 187 Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) 1–2, 119n3, 174n1 Economic Development Unit in Bradford 205 Éditions Tawhid 239 Egypt 4, 6, 7, 29, 226–27n40; popular music of 1950s and 1960s 21–22; Salafi reformers in 47; see also piety and performing arts in public sphere; Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent; Sufi performance in Egypt, social forces shaping Eickelman, Dale F. 71 Eickelman, D.F. and Piscatori, J. 71 Eikelman, D.F. and Anderson, J. 28, 90 Elizabeth II 16 emotionality 1, 4, 5, 35, 46, 47–48, 72, 83, 86, 110, 120n22, 131, 135, 138, 139, 142, 153; artful emotion 17; divinity and emotional arousal 182, 195; ecstatic emotion 42, 47;



emotional contours 137; emotional distance 165; emotional engagement 137; emotional experience 151–52; emotional interactions 38; emotional power 53, 122, 188; Islamist popular culture in Turkey 17, 18, 20, 24, 25–26, 30–31n8; mystical emotions 38–39, 45, 51, 86; sensibility and, Muslim-inspired 180 Engel, Richard 95 Enloe, Cynthia 164 Entelis, J.P. 71 Erbakan, Necmettin 15 Erdogan, Recep Tayyip 15, 265 Ervine, Jonathan xiii, 12–13, 261–80 ethics 9; ethical dimensions of music in modern environments, exchanges about 29; ethical engagement 25; ethical listening 19, 23; ethical selffashioning 28, 83, 86; ethical-spiritual stages called maqamat 38; music, ethical dimensions of 29; of public service 67 ethnicity 248, 272, 276; ethnic issues in hip-hop bismillah 231; ethnic tensions in Turkey 16; music preferences, ethnicity-based 247; religious marginalization and 162 ethno-techno movement 194 Europe see Western Europe European Capital of Culture, Bradford’s bid for 206–7 Ewing, Katherine P. 128, 163 exoticism 181, 187, 197 exoticization 181, 265 L’Express 256n31, 257 Facebook 10, 189; Muslim punk online 160–61, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 172, 173 fanaticism 161, 164, 261 Die Fantastischen Vier 250–51 Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr 1 Farmer, Henry George 35, 103 Al Faruqi, Ismail 2 Al-Faruqi, Lois 74 fashion 23, 32, 87, 97, 114, 190, 197, 236 Fası-h (Indian poet, born 1780) 124, 156n4 Fasli, Nida 178 fasting 97 Al-Fath ibn Hakan 76n2 Fatima, Bibi 156–57n7 Feld, Steven 31n15

file-sharing sites 261, 264, 277 film stars as qawwals 192–93 filmi qawwali: dilemma for 181–83, 196–97; picturization 178, 179, 182, 185–86, 187, 189–90, 191, 192, 193, 195, 196, 197 Fisk, Robert 163 Fiza (Khalid Mohamed film) 181 Floor, Willem 108 Foley, Kaitlin 174 food: foreign cuisine, popularity of 275; national identity and community 272–74 Foucault, M. and Sheridan, A. 161 France: French rap music 249–50, 276; Frenchness’, lack of Muslim engagement with 267–68; music scene in 237–41; Muslim media coverage in 261; Republican ideals in 272–73 Fraser, Nancy 28, 87, 89, 100n14 Fremont, California 111–12 Friedlander, Shems 36 Frishkopf, Michael x, 4–5, 30n2, 35–56 Frith, Simon 263 Fu’ad, Hala 91 Fun-Da-Mental 225n19 Fundamental (UK punk band) 167 Gabriel, M.A. 174n2 Gabriel, Peter 189, 194 Gangster (Mahesh Bhatt film) 194 Garam Hawa (M.S. Sathyu film) 181, 182 gazı- (double-reed instrument) 127–28, 129, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135, 136, 151, 152 Gazzah, Miriam 30n2, 264 Geertz, Clifford 226n31 Gencebay, Orhan 21, 31n11 gender 6, 80–81, 87, 93, 99n1, 103, 169, 172; art and 96, 98, 99; audiences, gender-segregated 247; domesticity and 97; gender bias 36; gender equality 242; gender identity 109, 164; gender relations 271–72; gender symbolism 92 generational dynamics 202 genre labelling 246–47 Gerholm, Lena 261, 262, 270 Gerlach, Julia 246 Germany 230, 241, 247–48, 250, 251–52, 254, 255n7, 256n49; German rap music 250, 251; music scene in 231–37

Index Gestrich, Andreas 89 Ghalib, Mirza 181 Al-Ghani, Mona ‘Abd 97 Al-Ghazali, Abu Hamid 19, 31n10, 35, 47, 68 ghazals (classical songs) 105, 178, 179, 181–82, 183, 189, 191, 216 Gibb, H.A.R. and Kramers, J.H. 77n14 Gilroy, Paul 13, 261, 262, 272, 273, 274 global ummah, global hip-hop, local inspiration 249–52, 255 Go’ar, ‘Aliya 88–89, 99–100n9 Goffman, Erving 266, 277n2 Gokulsing, K. and Dissanayake, W. 180 Gómez-Peña, G. and Peña, E. 161 Gottschalk, P. and Greenberg, G. 171 government control, conservative morality and 93–95 Grace, Daphne 126 Greece 8, 268 Griffin, Michael 115 Grimes, Ronald 126 Guardian Weekend 115 Guest, Tim 262, 263 ‘Those who are Guided’ (Elazee ahtado, Sana Production Company video) 88, 99–100n9, 100n11 El Guindi, Fadwa 126 Gülen, Muhammed Fethullah 18, 30n3. 30–31n8 Gulzar, Sampooran Singh 178 Habermas, Jürgen 28, 89 hadra ritual: hadra Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami 45–46, 53; heterodox elements of 38–39; social forces shaping Sufi performance in Egypt 37–38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53 Haenfler, Ross 165 Haenni, Patrick 82, 83, 254 Hafiz, Abd al-Halim 21 Hafiz, Hamdi 99–100n9 Al-Hafiz, Sultan Mulay Abd 70 Haji Ameer Khan (qawwali musicians) 210, 226n30 Hala al-Safi, story of 83–85 halal fast food 266, 273 Al-Hallaj 60 Halveti-Cerrahi 19 Hamdi, Madiha 80, 99–100n9 Hamdi, Sahar 90, 91 Hamza, Kariman 94 Hansen, Miriam 32n21


Hargreaves, Alec G. 261, 265–66, 267, 277 harmonium: Afghan society, changing roles of dance in 107, 112, 118; Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford 211; qawwali in South Asia, celluloid performances of 183, 185, 190, 195 Hart, Donn V. 36 Hassan, King of Morocco 71, 77n21 Hatem, Mervat F. 93 Hazara, Kandhi 111 Hebdige, Dick 164, 165 hedonism, qawwali as 195–96 Heera 220 Helvacioglu, Banu 270–71 Henley, J. and Vasagar, J. 270 Henley, Jon 273 Herat, urban male dance in Herat 105–6 Herbert, Thomas 108 Herding, Maruta xiii, 12–13, 230–60 Herrera, Linda 94 Hesmondhalgh, David 251 hiddenness and concealment 125–26, 132–33 Al-Hifnawi, Muhammad ibn Salim, sheikh of al-Azhar 39 Hip-hop bismillah 12–13, 230–59; Advanced Chemistry 250; And al Malik 239, 240, 250, 257–58; Amantu 234–35, 258; Ammar114 231–32, 234–35, 238, 255n3, 255n4, 257, 258; artists’ motivations 252–54; Baby Muslims 244; Barseuloné 239; Baschschar 235; Blind Alphabetz 244; La Boussole 252; Bushido 251; Cris de Bosnie (Cries from Bosnia) 238; discography 257–59; diversity of backgrounds 247–49, 254–55; Don’t Panik 240, 256n38, 258; economic motivation 254; ethnic issues 231; Die Fantastischen Vier 250–51; forbidden genre 244–46; France, music scene in 237–41; genre labelling 246–47; Germany, music scene in 231–37; global ummah, global hip-hop, local inspiration 249–52, 255; IAM 250; Ich lebe für Allah (I live for Allah) 234; Islam, association of youth culture and 230; Islamic music scene 231–44; Islamophobia 241, 252, 253; Jeunesse Musulmane de France en Bourgogne 237–38; Kery James 239, 258; Lady Bitch Ray 236; Lady Scar 235–36,



255n19, 258; Masikah 243–44; Médine 239, 240, 250, 256n37, 257, 258; missionary motivation 253; motivations of artists 252–54; MP3-Generation 235; Muhabbet 251; music, religious permissibility of 230–31; Muslim Belal 244; MySpace 236, 237, 242, 243; Im Namen der Demokratie (In the name of democracy) 232–33; Im Namen des Islam (In the name of Islam) 233; news articles 257; online resources 257; Pearls of Islam 242, 243, 258; Peotic Pilgrimage 242–43, 244, 259; political motivation 253; proselytization 245, 252, 253; Réalité Anonyme 239, 259; Refinement Media 235; Die Reue (Repentance) 235; Sahira 235, 236–37; Sayfoudin114 234, 259; Serkan114 234, 259; Le Silence des Mosquées 237, 239, 255–56n22, 258; social motivation 253; Truthful Movement 244; United Kingdom, music scene in 241–44; Volont R. 239; Xavier Naidoo 237; Young Umma 244; Zebda 250 Hirschkind, Charles 26, 28, 29, 80, 81, 83, 94, 100n14 A History of Arabian Music (Farmer, H.G.) 103 Hiwar Magazine 94 Hjelmslev, Louis 156n2 Hodgson, Marshall G.S. 76–77n3 Hodgson, Thomas E. xii, 11–12, 200–229 Holle Holle 225n19 Hol, Ladislav 36 Hopkins, P.E. 164, 261, 262, 265 Hopwood, Derek 77n12, 77n13 Hoskins, A. and O’Loughlin, B. 161 Hosseini, Khaled 120n20 Hubbard, Phil 161 Hulûsî, Seyyid Osman 21 Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (David Dhawan film) 192 humility, sensibility of 29 humour, paradox of 262, 266–67, 276–77 Hundal, Skinder 205–6 Hunt, K. and Rygiel, K. 164 Huq, Rupa 263, 276 Husain, Altaf 127 Husain, Zainab 129

Hussain Brothers (qawwali musicians) 210, 226n30 Husseinzada, Setara 114 Hutnyk, John 262, 265, 268–69, 274–75 hybridity, concept of 274 Hyder, Ms. Qurratulain 181 Hyder, Rehan 227n43 Hyderabad: historical roots of 127–28; muhājir groups in 124–25, 137–50; native and immigrant drummers/ musicians in 124–25 hyper-consumerism 165 IAM 250 Ibn al-Farid 77n4 Ibn ‘Arabi 60, 68, 69, 77n4 Ibn Hanbal 47 Ibn Qaysi 69 Ibn Sina (Avicenna) 1 Ibn Taymiyya 47 Ibn Tumart, Mahdi of the Almohads 67 Ibn Yassin 66, 76–77n3 Ibrahim, Nagwa 91, 96 Ich lebe für Allah (I live for Allah) 234 identity: Afghan society and matters of 117; aspirations, identity and 269, 275; belonging, identity and 267; food, national identity and community 272–74; gender identity 109; immigrant identity, Islamic identity and 265–70; imprint of Muslim and Sufi identity on Indian film industry 178; Morocco, development of alternative chanter piety and 65–71; variations in Moroccan identity 66 Ignacio, Emily 166 ihsan, summit of (jihad) 60 Ikramuddin, Muhammad 140, 141–42 Imam ‘Ali 135, 157n10 Imam Busayri 66 Imam Hasan 138, 156–57n7 Imam-Hatip (religious functionary training) 16, 18, 19 Imam Husain 123, 129, 132, 134, 135, 138, 142, 145–46, 151, 152, 153, 155, 156–57n7, 157n10 iMislims categorization model 167 immigrant identity, Islamic identity and 265–70 Imran Khan (Dutch Pakistani rap singer) 201, 208, 211, 224n2 Indian film and popular music, diasporic prevalence 186–87, 197;

Index see also qawwali in South Asia, celluloid performances of Indipop 187 Indonesia, punk in 164–65 inreach 263, 268 institutional form of zawiya 59 instrumental improvisation (taksim) 21 instruments: glossary of 118–19; role and implications of 131–32 integration 2, 6, 57, 68, 267–68, 273; art and 150; musicality and 136–37 Integrity Beatz 219 Internet: Internet technologies 263, 264, 266, 268, 277; role of 19, 160–61, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173–74 Islam: association of youth culture and hip-hop bismillah 230; fundamental Islamic ideals, Sufi reassertion of 61–62; Islamic cultures, conflation of 160; Islamic jurisprudence, dance and 103–4; Islamic music scene, hip-hop bismillah and 231–44; Islamic revivalism 80; Islamic society, religious life and patterns of 64–65; Islamo-business 83, 86, 87; media coverage about 3, 164, 171, 245, 267; popular perceptions of, challenges to 275–76; sacred pan-Islamic radicalism 1; stereotyped characterizations of 1; see also Turkey, new Islamist popular culture in Islam, Yusuf (Cat Stevens) 245 Islam and Terrorism (Gabriel, M.A.) 174n2 Islam Beyond Terrorists and Terrorism (Mahmood, I.) 161 Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way (Huston Smith film) 57–58, 76n1 Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) 172–73 Islamische Zeitung 255n3, 255n9, 257 Islamism 15, 18, 63, 64, 81, 82, 92–93, 154; post-Islamism 82 Islamophobia: hip-hop bismillah and 241, 252, 253; Muslim punk online and 10, 160–61, 166, 167 ‘Issa, Ibrahim 81, 90, 91–92 ‘It Was You Who Came That Night’ (Mehmet Emin Ay) 23–25 Ittahad Newspaper 95 Al-Jabarti, ‘Abd al-Rahman 53 Al-Jafari, Sheikh Salih, Imam of al-Azhar 39, 40, 52


Jai Ho: The Journey Home (2010 world concert tour) 186–87 Jairazbhoy, Nazir Ali 191 Jalil, Qamar 156n1 Jarring, Gunnar 109, 115 Jaz Dhami 219 Al-Jazuli, Shaikh Muhammad 67, 68–69 Al-Jazuli, Sidi Jabir 41–42 Jazzy B. 211, 217, 219, 225n19 Jeunesse Musulmane de France en Bourgogne 237–38 jihad (engagement, holy war) 59, 64, 66, 67, 73, 76–77n3, 77n6 Al-Jilani, Abdul-Qadir 68, 69 Al-Jirari, Abbas Ibn Abdullah 77n9 Johansen, Julian 77n10 Johnson, J.T. 77n6 Jones, Alan 61 de Jong, Frederick 47, 74 Journal for Islamic Studies 99n1 Juggy D. 208 Al-Juhayna, Asma’ Abu Bakr 99n2 Al-Junayd, Abu’l-Qasim 66, 68 Jyllands-Posten 161, 266 Kabir, Ananya J. 188–89 Al-Kafi, Dr ‘Omar ‘Abd 90, 92, 93, 94–95, 96–97 kalmah rhythmic pattern 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 153, 155, 156n3 Kalra, V., Kaur, R. and Hutnyk, J. 265, 275 Kamil, Magdi 93, 99n2 Kamini 276–77 Kapchan, Deborah 30n2 Kaplan, Jeffrey 171 Karaman, Yilmaz see Lil Maaz karamat (spiritual gifts): social forces shaping Sufi performance in Egypt 49; Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent 63 Karbala, battle of (680 CE) 9, 122, 124, 129, 130, 131, 132–33, 138, 141, 142, 143, 153, 155 Kasmir, Sharryn 165 kebab: kebab making, valorisation of 266; socio-cultural significance of representation of 262, 272–74 Kery James 239, 258 Kettle, James 267 Khalidi, W.A.S. 53 Khalifas 188 Khan, Bahadur 185 Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali 22, 189, 193, 194, 198n10, 201, 224n2



Khan, Shah Rukh 193, 195 Khan. Shahjehan 172 Khan, Yasmeen 262, 266, 267 Khan, Zayed 195 Khayyam, Mohammed Zahur 178 Kher, Kailash 194 Al-Khiyyam, Yasmin 80, 97 Khomeini, Ayatolla Ruhollah 200, 267 Khosrokhavar, Farhad 261, 269, 274 Khusrau, Amir 179 Kibria, Nazli 163 Kievet, Rob 264 Al-Kindi, Abu Yusuf 1 Kippen, james 157n14 Kisna: The Warrior Poet (Subhash Ghai film) 187 The Kite Runner (Hosseini, K.) 120n20 Al-Kittani, Sharif 70 Knight, Michael Muhammad 165, 168, 170, 173–74 Kolenas Magazine 95 The Kominas 164, 167, 168, 169, 172, 173 Krims, Adam 226n25 Kubra, Fatima 138 Kucheh Kharabat in Kabul 104 Kulthum, Umm 21, 42, 84, 85 Kumar Limbachia, Champak 205, 208, 210, 219, 220, 221 Kumbh Mela 204 Kuru, Cemal 20 Kwame D. 213 Lady Bitch Ray 236 Lady Scar 235–36, 255n19, 258 Laila Majnu (Hamam Singh Rawail film) 192 Lala Gul Sanubar Pathan, Sindhi caretaker of Perh Muhammad shrine 129–33 Landzelius, Kyra 262, 263, 264, 268 Lane, Edward 53 language, naming strategies and 130–31 Laurence, J. and Vaisse, J. 261 Le Pen, Jean-Marie 275 Leblanc, Lauraine 165 Lévi-Strauss, Claude 36 Lewis, Philip 223, 225n12, 227n50 Libbenga, Jan 264 Libération 265 life story of ‘Afaf Sho’ib 87–89 Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 12–13, 261–78; Allah Made Me Funny 266–67; aspirations, identity and

269, 275; beef steak (bifteck) 262, 272; belonging, identity and 267; Beurger King Muslim (BKM) restaurant 273–74; Charlie Hebdo 266; citizenship status 273; consensuality 262, 274, 277; controversy, avoidance of 264–65; conviviality, notion of 262, 274, 275–76; cultural expression, politics and 265; cultural margins, celebration of 263; Dailymotion 263, 277; Diam 276; exoticization 265; fame, route to (and significance of) 262–65, 275; file-sharing sites 261, 264, 277; food, national identity and community 272–74; foreign cuisine, popularity of 275; France, Muslim media coverage in 261; French Republican ideals 272–73; ‘Frenchness,’ lack of engagement with 267–68; gender relations 271–72; Greece, references to 268; halal fast food 266, 273; humour, paradox of 262, 266–67, 276–77; hybridity, concept of 274; immigrant identity, Islamic identity and 265–70; Internet technologies 263, 264, 266, 268, 277; Kamini 276–77; kebab, socio-cultural significance of representation of 262, 272–74; kebab making, valorisation of 266; masculinity 270–71; meat, masculinity and 261, 262, 270–72, 274; Mecca Cola 270; popular appeal for 261–62; rap genre 264; sexuality, meat and masculinity 262, 270–72; stereotypes 261, 262, 265, 266–67, 275, 277; stigmatization of Muslims, challenge to 265; subaltern speak 264; television talent shows 264; Turkey, references to 268; Turkish Republican ideals 271; United States, references to 268–69; vox populi 264; World Cup 1998 in France 275; YouTube 261, 263, 264, 268, 276, 277 liturgical criticism 75 Logare, Marof Jan 115 Logari, Ustad Durai 119n8 London, Afghan dance in 113–14 Los Angeles Times 108 Loubignac, Victorien 68 MacDonald, Duncan Black 31n10 McLoughlin, Sean 225n10 Maddy, R.E. 36

Index Madyan, Abu 46 Al-Mahdi, Ubayd Allah 67 Mahmood, Iftekhar 161 Mahmood, Saba 81, 83, 86–87 Mahmud, Mustafa 86, 90, 94–95 Main Hoon Na (Farah Khan film) 195–96 Maira, Sunaina 166 The Malatili Bath (Abu Saif film) 90 Malhotra, S. and Alagh, T. 180 Malhotra, Sudha 190 Malik, I.H. 163, 172 Malik, Rabia 161 Malraux, André 240 Malti-Douglas, Fedwa 86, 94 Manganhārs at Perh Muhammad shrine 133–37 Mangeshkar, Lata 190 Manningham neighbourhood of Bradford 203, 206, 209, 211 Manuel, Peter 32n21, 179, 183–84 Mardin, Serif 18 Marsden, Magnus 226n37 Martin, Julien 268 Marwan of Al-Thawra 171–72, 173–74 Marwan (Taqwacore webzine) 170 masculinities: Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 270–71; meat, masculinity and 261, 262, 270–72, 274; Muslim punk online 164, 165 Masikah 243–44 Massey, Reginald and Jamila 180 Masud, Iqbal 181 mātam (mourning) 128, 129–30, 131, 132, 133, 137, 140–41, 142, 143, 144–45, 147–48, 149–50, 152, 153 Mateus, J.A. 164 Mather, Minister Cotton 8 Mathew, Biju 163 Mathlouthi, Tawfik 269–70 Mauss, Marcel 226n32 Mawed Magazine 96, 99n7 Mazari, N. and Hillman, R. 111 Mazari, Najaf Ali 111 Mazrui, A.A. 77n6 meat, masculinity and 261, 262, 270–72, 274 Mecca Cola 270 Mecca2Medina 143, 241, 242, 244, 251, 255n1, 258 media: deregulation in Turkey 15; Egyptian media 87; France, Muslim media coverage in 261; Islam, coverage about 3, 164, 171, 245, 267;


Islamist media 22, 81, 94–95; market in Turkey 17–19; mass media 15, 18, 22–26, 28–29, 30n3; media conglomerates 187; media profiles 98; media spotlight for Bradford Mela 200, 208, 225n24; new media 10, 13, 29, 90, 98, 160, 173, 261–62, 263, 264; pedagogy by 23; religious popular culture, mass-mediation of 29–30; social media 160, 169; Twitter and media usage 170; veiled women, ban from 94; visual media 2; Western media 161 Médine 239, 240, 250, 256n37, 257, 258 Mehboob Alam Kotwal 178 mehfil-e-sama 186 Mehrez, Samia 94 Melville, Caspar 251 Memon, Siddique G. 127 Mensch, James 126 Messner, M.A. 165 Métraux, G.S. 204, 225n13 Metz 69 Michon, Jean-Louis 77n8 migration 12, 91–92, 103, 123, 237, 252; from South Asia to UK, historical perspective 224n1 Mirpuris in Bradford 205, 207, 208–11, 214–15, 217–23, 225n20, 226n26, 226n28, 227n42, 200202 Misdaq, Nabi 115 Al-Misri, Dhu’l Nun 60 Mission Kashmir (Vidhu Vinod Chopra film) 181 Mitchell, Tim 226–27n40, 249, 263 modernity 1, 3–4, 94; Islamic modernity 18; music, dissemination in modernity of 10; secular currents of 48; sharia as reflexive response to 53 Mohammad, Amir 110 Mohammad-Arif, Amminah 163, 166 Le Monde diplomatique 256n33, 257 Monier-Williams, Monier 157n17 Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair film) 187 Moore, Ryan 164 morality 31n10, 81, 231; conservative morality and 87, 93–95; Islamic morality 255; Islamic revivalist campaign for 80; sentimental public morality 30 Morcom, Anna 183, 191 Morocco: divergence within Moroccan Sufism, threefold nature of 68–69; identity, development of alternative



chanter piety and 65–71; interaction in Moroccan amalgam 62–63; Nasiriyya of 75; Sufism in 6; symbolic directions within Sufi tradition 59–62 Morsy, Mogali 77n17 MP3-Generation 235 MQM (muhājir Qaumi Mahaz) 127 Mr. and Mrs. 55 (Guru Dutt film) 186 MTV culture 10 Muedini, Fait 163, 164 Mughal-e-Azam (Karimuddin Asif film) 180 Muhabbet 251 muhājir groups in Hyderabad 124–25, 137–50 Muhājir Qaumi Mahaz (MQM) 127 Muhammad, Abi ‘Abdallah 99n2 Muhammad see Prophet Muhammad Muharram, annual observance of 122–25, 127–55, 157n, 157n7 Mulay Bou ‘Azza (Berber saint) 67–68 multiculturalism 12, 274; in Bradford 203, 206, 207, 208–9, 217, 222, 223, 225n15, 225n24, 226n26; ‘multicultural celebrations,’ events as 205–6; ‘multicultural harmony,’ contradiction of 204–5 Mumzy 219, 220 municipality-sponsored ramazan festivities 15, 24, 26, 27, 30n1, 32n19 munshids (professional religious singers) 4; social forces shaping Sufi performance in Egypt 35, 39, 42, 46; Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent 76 Murphy, Caryle 81 Murthy, Dhiraj xii, 10–11, 160–77 music: authenticity, revitalization and 4; celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia 11; contemporary Western music 2; in cyberspace 10–11; dissemination in modernity of 10; dissenting voices and Islam’s antagonism towards 9–10; drumming 9; events and places, character of 11–12; historical tensions, expression in musical performance 6; Internet and Muslim musical youth subcultures 10; in Islamic thought 1–2; multicultural music 4; music videos 244, 261, 263; musical ‘connotations,’ Muslim traditions of South and West Asia 122; musical contexts, filmi vs ‘authentic’ qawwali 183–86; musical hybridity 179–80;

musicality, integration and 136–37; Muslim-Hindu musical relationships 179–80; Muslim musical representations 180–81; Muslim punk online 10; in Muslim societies 13; mystical music (tasavvuf musikisi) 19, 20; religious permissibility of 230–31; rhythmic importance in Islaminfluenced societies 8–9; social tensions, expression in musical performance 6; spiritual regeneration in musical performance 6; Taqwacores 10; tawhid (unity with God) and 5–6; term, use of 2–3; transnational diasporic punk music scene 10 Music in the Culture of Northern Afghanistan (Slobin, M.) 109 Muslim Belal 244 Muslim Brothers (al-ikhwan al-muslimun) 47, 82 Muslim punk online 10, 160–75; Al-Thawra (Chicago-based band) 168, 170, 171, 173; All Is War (Fundamental) 167; BangladeshiAmerican Islamic youth movements 163; Basque nationalism 165; Cyber Islamic Environments’ (CIEs) 166–67; cyberMuslims 166; ‘demonizing mythologies’ 161–62, 163; discursive rationality, theory of 161; face-to-face interviews 162; Facebook 160–61, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 172, 173; Fundamental (UK punk band) 167; hyper-consumerism 165; iMislims categorization model 167; Indonesia, punk in 164–65; Internet, role of 19, 160–61, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173–74; Islamic cultures, conflation of 160; Islamophobia 10, 160–61, 166, 167; The Kominas 164, 167, 168, 169, 172, 173; Marwan of Al-Thawra 171–72, 173–74; Marwan (Taqwacore webzine) 170; masculinities 164, 165; MySpace 160, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173, 174; ‘New-Nuyorican’ punk bands 164; Noble Drew (Lahore-based Taqwacore band) 169; online Muslim punks 166–67; piety and protest offline and online 170–71; post-9/11 and 7/7 experiences 171–72, 173; Prophet Muhammad cartoon affair 161; punk Muslims? 164–66; punk scenes, historical perspective 165; racialization 163; racist skinhead

Index movements 164; Ricanstruction 164; The Secret Trial Five 165–66, 168; social networking 160–61, 162, 166, 169, 171; Straight Edge (sXe) 165; Taqwacores (and Taqwacore project) 10, 160, 161–62, 165–66, 167, 168–69, 170, 171, 172–73, 174; ‘Taqwatweet’ 169–70; Twitter 160–61, 162, 169–70, 171, 173, 174; United Kingdom, institutional racism in 161; United States, media images of Muslims in 164; United States, Muslim diaspora in 163–64; United States, socioeconomics of Muslim populations in 163; United States, Taqwacores begginings in 160–61; Usmani’s Punkistani Live Journal 168–69; Vote Hezbollah 168, 171; Western Europe, socioeconomics of Muslim populations in 163; Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay (The Kominas) 167; women in punk scene 165–66 Muslim social space 10, 160, 178, 190, 191 Muslim Students Association (MSA) 172 Mustt Mustt (fusion album) 194, 198n10 muwashshahat (qasida form of chant) 57, 60 MySpace: Hip-hop bismillah 236, 237, 242, 243; Muslim punk online 160, 162, 166, 167, 168, 169, 170, 173, 174 Mythologies (Barthes, R.) 13, 272, 274 Nabil 72, 73 Nachda Punjab 225n19 Nafi, Uqb ibn 59 Im Namen der Demokratie (In the name of democracy) 232–33 Im Namen des Islam (In the name of Islam) 233 naqāra (kettle drum) 127, 129, 131, 132, 134, 135, 138, 139, 140, 157n15 Naseeb 225n19 Nasif, I. and Khodayr, A. 84, 85, 91, 94, 99n2 Nasif, ‘Imad 99n2 Nasiriyya of Morocco 75 Al-Nasr, Farida Seif 80, 91 Nathan (dhol player in Thatta) 156–57n7, 157n12 nationalism 6, 16–17, 65, 180, 189; cultural nationalism 93


Naushad Ali 178 Navaro-Yashin, Yael 32n20 Nelson, Kristina 35, 39, 74 ‘New-Nuyorican’ punk bands 164 Newsweek 161 Nigam, Sonu 194, 197 Nisrin 90 Nizami, Ghulam Hasnain 123, 124, 157n9 Nizami, Sarir Ahmed 123–24 Nizami drummed texts 123–24 Nizamuddin shrine complex 124 Noble Drew (Lahore-based Taqwacore band) 169 Noë, Alva 125 Norbeck, E. and Befu, H. 36 Al-Nouhi, Mohamed 77n21 Nursi, Said 18, 30–31n8 Nuru, Mullah 156–57n7 Nûru’l-Hüdâ (Mehmet Emin Ay recording) 21, 22 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan 201, 224n2; and popularization of traditional qawwali 193; see also, Khan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Obama, President Barack 163 O’Brien, Donald B. Cruise 61, 77n5 Omar, Mullah Mohammad 115 online listening 22–26 online Muslim punks 166–67 online resources 257 Önül, Abdurrahman 20 Oral, Hakan 20 oral tradition in Sindh 128 Oriental Arts 205, 210, 218, 225n17 outreach 263, 268 Ouzgane, Lahoucine 261, 270 Öztürk, Mustafa 15 paedophilia 120n22 Pakeezah (Kamal Amrohi film) 181 Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford 11–12, 200–227; Adeel 217, 219; AG Dolla 219; Alaap 204, 217, 220, 225n19; Annapurna Dance Company 213; Arts Council England 207, 214, 225n22; Asian Dub Foundation 225n19; Asian Youth Movement 205; Azad Kashmir 201, 224n1, 224n3; Ben Pugh 207, 212–13, 217, 218, 220–21, 222, 225n23; Bombay Rockers 217, 219; Bradford Mela, 2009 Mela 203–4, 209–11, 211–18, 222; Bradford Mela, 2010



Mela 203–4, 209–11, 218–22, 222, 223; Bradford Mela, flagship ‘multicultural event’ 203, 222–23; Bradford Mela, historical perspective 204–9, 222; Bradford Mela, Mirpuris and 203–4; Bradford Mela, ‘topdown’ multiculturalism 203–4, 222; Champak Kumar Limbachia 205, 208, 210, 219, 220, 221; Channi Singh (bhangra artist) 204, 217, 220; dhol 211; Economic Development Unit 205; European Capital of Culture 2008 bid 206–7; Fun-Da-Mental 225n19; generational dynamics 202; Haji Ameer Khan (qawwali musicians) 210, 226n30; harmonium 211; Heera 220; Holle Holle 225n19; Hussain Brothers (qawwali musicians) 210, 226n30; Imran Khan (Dutch Pakistani rap singer) 201, 208, 211, 224n2; Integrity Beatz 219; Jaz Dhami 219; Jazzy B. 211, 217, 219, 225n19; Juggy D. 208; Kumbh Mela 204; Kwame D. 213; Manningham neighbourhood 203, 206, 209, 211; Metz migration from South Asia to UK, historical perspective 224n1; Mirpuris 205, 207, 208–11, 214–15, 217–23, 225n20, 226n26, 226n28, 227n42, 200202; ‘multicultural celebrations,’ events as 205–6; ‘multicultural harmony,’ contradiction of 204–5; multiculturalism 203, 206, 207, 208–9, 217, 222, 223, 225n15, 225n24, 226n26; Mumzy 219, 220; Nachda Punjab 225n19; Naseeb 225n19; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan 201, 224n2; Oriental Arts 205, 210, 218, 225n17; Patwari (Punjabi folk music) 201–2, 209–10, 226n29, 226n31; Peel Park, relocation to 206; Preeya Kalidas 219, 220; prejudice 202; RDB 219; stereotypes 202, 223; Tupak 211; West Yorkshire Police 207, 223 Pardes (Subhash Ghai film) 187, 191 Parekh, Bhikhu 225n12 Parveen, Abida 197n1 Pathān, Sanubar Lala Gul 127–28, 129–37, 138, 145, 154, 155, 157n8 Patwari (Punjabi folk music) 201–2, 209–10, 226n29, 226n31 Pearls of Islam 242, 243, 258 Peek, L.A. 164 Peel, John 226n38

Peel, Sir Robert 226n38 Peel Park in Bradford 206 Peirce, Charles Sanders 150–51, 152, 157n22; tripartite formulation of signs 150–51, 152, 157n22 Pennay, Mark 250 Peotic Pilgrimage 242–43, 244, 259 perception 188, 261, 270, 275–76; affective perception 35; of concepts and language sounds 5; of difference 9; of hadra heterodoxy 39; hiddenness and 126; of iconicity 154; mystical apperception of haqiqa 38; negative perceptions 8; of objects in space 125; of on-screen authenticity 183; root perceptions of the zawiya/ribat 67–68; shifts in religious meaning and 58, 60 Pérèz, Henri 61, 76n2 performance: aesthetic evaluations of 2; agency and loss in Muslim traditions of South and West Asia 8–9, 122–57; authenticity, revitalization and 4; celluloid performances of qawwali in South Asia 11; European colonialism, experiences of 3–4; intra-communal debates 3; Islamic, secularist and nationalist orthodoxies, relationship between 3; in Islamic thought 1–2; literacy, beginnings of 4; multicultural performance 4; Muslim collective identities, emergence of 3; in Muslim societies 13; performative aspect of contemporary Muslim life, focus on 3–4; performative contexts 2, 3; piety, satisfaction of 2; religious performance 4; term, use of 2–3; Turkey, new Islamist popular culture in 26–28 Pickles, Joanna 164–65 picturization 178, 179, 182, 185–86, 187, 189–90, 191, 192, 193, 195, 196, 197 piety: piety movement 6, 80, 81–83, 86, 87; pious role models 85–87, 97–98; and protest offline and online 170–71 piety and performing arts in public sphere 6, 80–100; Abu Dawud, Sayyid 99n2; Abu Shadi, Ali 95, 100n10; Al-Alfi, Hasan 82; ambivalent responses by stepped-down actresses 95–97; Al-’Arabi, Kamilia 94, 97; artists, piety movement and ‘repentance’ of 81–83; Al-Awadi, Hesham 82; Al-Bablawi, Miyar 97; Bayat, Asef 82; Bayumi, Layla 99n2;

Index cultural authenticity 98; debating art in the public sphere 89–92, 98; Fu’ad, Hala 91; Al-Ghani, Mona ‘Abd 97; Go’ar, ‘Aliya 88–89, 99–100n9; government control, conservative morality and 93–95; ‘Those who are Guided’ (Elazee ahtado, Sana Production Company video) 88, 99–100n9, 100n11; Hafiz, Hamdi 99–100n9; Hala al-Safi, story of 83–85; Hamdi, Sahar 90, 91; Hamza, Kariman 94; Ibrahim, Nagwa 91, 96; Islamic revivalism 80; Islamist press 92–93; Al-Juhayna, Asma’ Abu Bakr 99n2; Al-Kafi, Dr ‘Omar ‘Abd 90, 92, 93, 94–95, 96–97; Kamil, Magdi 93, 99n2; life story of ‘Afaf Sho’ib 87–89; Mahmood, Saba 81, 83, 86–87; Mahmud, Mustafa 86, 90, 94–95; The Malatili Bath (Abu Saif film) 90; Mehrez, Samia 94; Muhammad, Abi ‘Abdallah 99n2; Nasif, ‘Imad 99n2; Nisrin 90; pious role models 85–87, 97–98; Ramzi, Kamal 90, 95; repentant artists (fannanat la’ibat) 80, 81, 83, 85, 86, 89, 90–91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96–97, 98, 99; Al-Sa’adawi, Nawal 91; Saif, Abu 90; Al-Sangri, ‘Abd al-Rahman 99n2; Al-Sayyid, Magdi Fathi 99n2; Al-Shaarawi, Sheikh Mitwalli 85, 90, 92, 93–94, 94–95, 97; Soheir, Hagga 85; stepped-down artists (fannanat mutazilat) 80; Tartoussieh, Karim M. 94; veiled artists (fannanat muhagabat) 80–81, 83, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 99n2; The War by the Face Veil (‘Issa, I.) 91–92 political power, Sufi relationship with 70 Poole, E. and Richardson, J.E. 161 Pope Benedict XVI 161 Popoviciu, L. and Mac an Ghaill, M. 161 popularity, measurement of 15 post-9/11 and 7/7 experiences 171–72, 173 Poursalehi, Kourosh 168 power: absence, power of 126; baraka, Sufism, chanting and empowered action of 70–71, 71–72, 73; emotional power 53, 122, 188; political power, Sufi relationship with 70; of song, chanter’s text and music in Moroccan experience 72–76


praying 24, 84, 85, 97, 240 preaching 6, 18, 23, 30–31n8, 39, 61–62, 80, 86, 95, 96–97; conservative preaching 90; ‘petro-dollar’ preachers, non-authenticity of 92–93; women as preachers 87, 89, 99 Preeya Kalidas 219, 220 prejudice 202, 274 Prescott, Virginia 165 Prévos, André 249–50 productive contradictions 26 Prophet Muhammad 9, 17, 21, 24–25, 31n9, 31n16, 85, 103, 225n15; agency and loss in Muslim traditions of South and West Asia 122, 129, 135, 156–57n7; cartoon affair, Muslim punk online and 161; Hip-hop bismillah 236, 239, 241–42, 244–45, 246–47; Muslim punk online 161, 165; songs in praise of 21; Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent 58, 63, 69–70, 75; Sufi performance in Egypt, social forces shaping 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 54n3, 54n6, 54n7 proselytization: Hip-hop bismillah 245, 252, 253; Turkey, new Islamist popular culture in 17–18 public sphere: debating arts in the public sphere 89–92, 98; see also piety and performing arts in public sphere Pugh, Ben 207, 212–13, 217, 218, 220–21, 222, 225n23 punk: punk Muslims? 164–66; punk scenes, historical perspective 165; see also Muslim punk online Pythagoras 1 Qaderi, Habib 113 255n4, 257 Qasim, Muhammad bin 128, 134–35, 136, 154–55, 156–57n7 Qasim, son of Imam Hasan 138 Qassemi, Wahid 114 Qawwal, Ismail Azad 184 qawwali in South Asia, celluloid performances of 11, 178–98; Al Hilal (Ram Kumar film) 184; Amar Akbar Anthony (Guru Dutt film) 186; audience and performer, cinematic disconnection between 184; authenticity, identity and 181–83; Barsaat Ki Raat (P.L. Santoshi film) 190, 192; Bend it like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha film) 187;



Charandas (B.S. Thepa film) 193; controversial nature of incorporation 179, 180–81, 182, 188, 194, 196; Dead Man Walking (Tim Robbins film) 189; dholak 183, 185; diasporic identity, qawwali consumption and 188–89, 197; early Muslim influences 179–80; East is East (Damien O’Donnell film) 187; exoticism 181, 187, 197; film stars as qawwals 192–93; filmi qawwali dilemma 181–83, 196–97; Fiza (Khalid Mohamed film) 181; Gangster (Mahesh Bhatt film) 194; Garam Hawa (M.S. Sathyu film) 181, 182; harmonium 183, 185, 190, 195; hedonism, qawwali as 195–96; Hum Kisise Kum Nahin (David Dhawan film) 192; imprint of Muslim and Sufi identity on Indian film industry 178; Indian film and popular music, diasporic prevalence 186–87, 197; Kisna: The Warrior Poet (Subhash Ghai film) 187; Laila Majnu (Hamam Singh Rawail film) 192; Main Hoon Na (Farah Khan film) 195–96; Mission Kashmir (Vidhu Vinod Chopra film) 181; Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair film) 187; Mr. and Mrs. 55 (Guru Dutt film) 186; Mughal-e-Azam (Karimuddin Asif film) 180; musical contexts, filmi vs ‘authentic’ qawwali 183–86; musical hybridity 179–80; Muslim-Hindu musical relationships 179–80; Muslim musical representations 180–81; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and popularization of traditional qawwali 193; Pakeezah (Kamal Amrohi film) 181; Pardes (Subhash Ghai film) 187, 191; picturization 178, 179, 182, 185–86, 187, 189–90, 191, 192, 193, 195, 196, 197; qawwali in Muslim social millieu 190; Rang de Basanti (Rakeysh Mehra film) 187; Sholay (Ramesh Sippy film) 180; Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle film) 186, 187; Sufi qawwali 178–79; Swades (Ashutosh Gowanker film) 187; techno-qawwali, rhythmic intensity and violence of 194–95; transcendent wisdom, qawwali as 191–92; Umrao Jaan (J.P. Dutta film) 181; Veer-Zara (Yash Chopra film) 181, 193; Zanjeer (Guru Dutt film)

186; Zeenat (Shaukat Hussain Rizvi film) 190; Zubeidaa (Shyam Benegal film) 181 Quraishi, Najibullah 115 Qur’an and Qur’anic recitation 5–6, 7, 17, 18–19, 36, 37, 39, 41, 54n10, 61, 66, 74, 104, 147 Qureshi, Ima 204, 205, 206–7, 216, 217, 225n23 Qureshi, Regula B. 182–83, 184, 189, 191, 194, 195, 224–25n8 racial diversity 265 racial tensions 275 racialization 163 racist skinhead movements 164 Racy, A.J. 38 Rafi, Mohamed 190 Rahman, Amir Abdur 104 Rahman, Amir Habibullah 104, 111 Rahman, A.R. 178, 186–87, 190, 197n1 Raja, Altaf 189 Ramanujan, A.K. 156n5 Ramzi, Kamal 90, 95 Ramzi, Soheir 80, 90, 91 Rang de Basanti (Rakeysh Mehra film) 187 Rao, Amrita 195 rap music 13, 209, 210, 224n2, 231, 234, 235, 239, 240–41, 244; American (and African American) rap 250, 269; bhangra-rap 208, 211, 216, 219, 220, 221–22; British rap 255n1; French rap 249–50, 276; ‘gangsta’ rap 241, 243; German rap 250, 251; Islamic rap 30n2, 241, 242, 243, 251; religious rap 246; see also Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab Rashid, Ahmed 115 RDB 219 Réalité Anonyme 239, 259 Reddie, Richard 252 Refah Party in Turkey 15 Refinement Media 235 religious experience 3, 4, 5 religious identity, expression of 16–17 The Removing of the Sandals (Ibn Qaysi) 69 repentance 6, 80–81, 83, 85, 86, 89, 90–91, 92–93, 96, 97–98, 99n2; Die Reue (Repentance) 235 repentant artists (fannanat la’ibat) 80, 81, 83, 85, 86, 89, 90–91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96–97, 98, 99

Index Reshammiya, Himesh 187 Die Reue (Repentance) 235 rhetoric, arts of (ilm al-balagha) 29 Rhodes, Dusty 205, 206, 208 Ricanstruction 164 Richardson, Justin 108–9 Rida, Rashid 47 Risale-i Nur (Said Nursi) 18 ritual 2, 5, 7, 9, 44–45, 53, 54n1, 82, 105–6, 114, 123, 129, 130, 135, 138, 153, 183, 226n32; concealment in 126; ecstatic ritual 47; Islamic ritual 35–36, 47; musical ritual 37; ritual drumming 122, 140, 156n1; ritual mask 126; ritual practice 37–38 Rizvi, Maulana Mohammad Ali 104 Rosello, Mireille 261, 262, 266 Roy, Olivier 83, 248 rubab (short-necked, double-chambered plucked lute) 104, 108, 112, 118 Ruddock, Joan 114 The Rugseller of Mazar-e-Sharif (Mazari, N.A.) 111 Rumi, Jalal al-Din 36 Rumi, Mevlana Celalettin 21 Rushdie, Salman 200, 225n12, 225n15 Ruthven, Malise 225n12 Ruz al-Yusif Magazine 90, 91 Al-Sa’adawi, Nawal 91 Sadiq, Hasan 130 Al-Safi, Hala 80, 81, 83–85, 86, 90, 91, 95, 96 Sahira 235, 236–37 Saif, Abu 90 Sakata, H.L. 183, 184 Salafi reformers in Egypt 47 Al-Salam bin Mashish, Mulay Abd 66, 69, 70–71 Saleem, son of Mughal Emperor Akbar 180 Salhi, Kamal xiii–xiv, 1–14 Salvatore, A. and Eickelman, D.F. 90, 98 Salvatore, A. and LeVine, M. 90 sama’ (spiritual audition) 35, 47, 59, 74, 179, 182, 183, 184 Samad, Abdul 138, 140 Sami Yusuf 20, 244, 259 Samuel, Henry 263, 276 Al-Sangri, ‘Abd al-Rahman 99n2 Saphirnews 256n30, 257, 267 sarangi (bowed lute) 104, 118 sarinda (double-chambered bowed lute) 111, 118


Sarmast, Ahmad 104 Sarrazin, Natalie xii, 11, 178–99 Sartre, Jean-Paul 240 Sarvar, Nadeem 130 The Satanic Verses (Rushdie, S.) 200, 225n15 Sayfoudin114 234, 259 Sayres, W.C. 36 Al-Sayyid, Magdi Fathi 99n2 Schechner, Richard 5 Schimmel, Annemarie 31n16, 36, 38, 54n2, 54n10 Scott, J.P. 77n6 The Secret Trial Five 165–66, 168 self-representation 262 Semati, Mehdi 171 Sen, Shushmita 196 sensitivity (hassassiyet) 20 Serkan114 234, 259 Setareh (Herati dancer) 111 The Sexual Politics of Meat (Adams, C.) 271 sexuality: concerns in Afghan society about 104; meat, masculinity and 262, 270–72 Al-Shaarawi, Sheikh Mitwalli 85, 90, 92, 93–94, 94–95, 97 Shabab Magazine 85 Al-Shadhili, Abdul-Salim 68, 69 Al-Shadhili, Abu’l-Hasan 46 Shadia 80, 91 Shafi, Muhammad 139, 146, 153 Shafik, Viola 95 Shah, Ghulam 127 Shahira 80, 90, 91, 97, 99n7 Shahjehan of The Kominas 164 Shahna (Afghan singer) 113 Shakir (Arab companion of Uqb ibn Nafi) 59 Shama, Sheikh Muhammad Abu 45 shari’a (Divine Law) 4, 5, 35, 37, 38, 47, 48, 51, 52, 53, 54, 63 Shariati, Ali 133 Sharma, S., Hutnyk, J. and Sharma, A. 30n2, 227n43 Shaw, Alison 226n32 Sherif, M. and Sherif, C.W. 77n6 Shiloah, Amnon 5, 35 Shinar, Pessah 62–63, 77n6 Sho’ib, ‘Afaf 80, 81, 87–89, 91, 97 Sholay (Ramesh Sippy film) 180 Short, Thomas S. 157n22 Siegel, Lee 262, 263–64



Le Silence des Mosquées 237, 239, 255–56n22, 258 Silencing The Song: An Afghan Fallen Star (Tolo TV, Kabul) 114 Silverstein, Daniel 244 Simmel, Georg 163 Sindh, studies in 127–29, 129–33, 133–37 Singerman, Diane 81 Sirin, S.R. and Fine, M. 171 Sirriyeh, Elizabeth 48 Skerr, Peter 163 Slobin, Mark 106–7, 109, 115 Slumdog Millionaire (Danny Boyle film) 186, 187 Small, Christopher 227n48 Smith, Huston 57–58, 76n1 Smith, S.J. 164 Soares, Claire 263 A Social History of Sexual Relations in Iran (Floor, W.) 108 social motivation, hip-hop and 253 social networking 160–61, 162, 166, 169, 171 Social Science Research Council (SSRC) 119n1 social tensions 6, 126–27 Soheir, Hagga 85 sorna (double-reed aerophone) 105, 106, 118 sound: handasat al sawt (art of sound) 2, 6; perception of 125–26; politics of 2; sound mixing 27 South Asia 9, 11, 12, 105, 119n3, 201, 203, 205, 206, 210–11, 213–14, 215–16, 217, 222, 224n3; see also agency and loss in Muslim traditions of South and West Asia; qawwali in South Asia, celluloid performances of Spears, Britney 186–87 Sperl, Stefan 69 spiritual ecstasy, desire for 47 Spivak, G.C. 264 spoken word 21, 243, 246 Starrett, Gregory 81 stepped-down artists (fannanat mutazilat) 80 stereotypes 1, 12, 32n19, 108, 126, 160, 162, 172; in celluloid performances 181, 184, 191, 196; in Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 261, 262, 265, 266–67, 275, 277; Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford 202, 223 Stiftung Zentrum für Türkeistudien 248

stigmatisation 265, 277 Stokes, Martin x, 3–4, 15–34, 74 Straight Edge (sXe) 165 Suárez-Orozco, R.C. 163 subaltern speak 264 subcultures 29, 165, 170, 221, 253, 254, 255n2; fetish subcultures 165; South Asian musical subcultures 162; youth subcultures 10, 160 Sufi chant as vehicle for dissent 6, 57–77; Abu Bakr Ibn Baki 57; activism, chanting and roots of 58–59, 76; activist background of Morocco’s chant tradition 58–65; Almoravid Murabitun 61; The Art of Reciting (Nelson, K.) 74; baraka, Sufism, chanting and empowered action of 70–71, 71–72, 73; Berbers, role of 69–71; Bourda religious text 66, 69, 71; brotherhoods 70, 77n18; chanting, shaikh’s effectiveness and 75–76; chanting with intensity, background of activism 57–58; coalition of interests, traditional operative networks and 65–66; controversy around music and chant 74–75; dhikr (collective rhythmic chanting of one of the Names of God) 57, 58–59, 61, 63, 71, 72, 74; dissidence and text 72–74; divergence within Moroccan Sufism, threefold nature of 68–69; east, Sufism of 60–61; fundamental Islamic ideals, reassertion of 61–62; ihsan, summit of (jihad) 60; impact of Sufi self-assertion 63–64; institutional form of zawiya 59; interaction in Moroccan amalgam 62–63; Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Way (Huston Smith film) 57–58, 76n1; Islamic society, religious life and patterns of 64–65; jihad (engagement, holy war) 59, 64, 66, 67, 73, 76–77n3, 77n6; karamat (spiritual gifts) 63; liturgical criticism 75; Moroccan identity, development of alternative chanter piety and 65–71; munshids (professional religious singers) 76; muwashshahat 57, 60; Nasiriyya of Morocco 75; path from Sufism to militancy 64–65; perception, shifts in religious meaning and 60; political power, Sufi relationship with 70; power of song, chanter’s text and music in Moroccan experience 72–76;

Index south, Sufism of 61–62; southern preference for zawiya 67–68; symbolic directions within Moroccan tradition 59–62; tariqas (rituals of Sufi orders) 58–59, 61–62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 68; Tarsun of Ben ‘Ali Cherif 61; text of chants, dissidence and 72–74; variations in Moroccan identity 66; zawiya/ribat complex, crucial role of 66–67, 68, 70, 71; zawiya/ribat complex, reaching beyond confines of 6, 57, 58, 59, 62–63, 76; Ziryab (Abu I-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi’) 60 Sufi performance in Egypt, social forces shaping 4–5, 35–54; ‘Abdu, Muhammad 47; Al-Afghani, Jamal al-Din 47; Al-Banna, Hasan 47, 64; Al-Bayyumi, Sidi ‘Ali Nur al-Din 42; brotherhoods 36; dhikr (collective rhythmic chanting of one of the Names of God) 37–38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44–45, 46, 52, 53, 54n5, 54n10; hadra ritual 37–38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 51, 52, 53; hadra ritual, heterodox elements of 38–39; hadra Sheikh Yasin al-Tuhami 45–46, 53; heterodox poetic expression 35–36; heterodoxy, note on use of word 54n1; Al-Hifnawi, Muhammad ibn Salim, sheikh of al-Azhar 39; Ibn Hanbal 47; Ibn Taymiyya 47; Al-Jabarti, ‘Abd al-Rahman 53; Al-Jafari, Sheikh Salih, Imam of al-Azhar 39, 40, 52; Al-Jazuli, Sidi Jabir 41–42; karamat (spiritual gifts) 49; Madyan, Abu 46; munshids (professional religious singers) 35, 39, 42, 46; Prophet Muhammad 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 46, 54n3, 54n6, 54n7; Salafi reformers 47; secular currents of modernity 48; Al-Shadhili, Abu’l-Hasan 46; Shama, Sheikh Muhammad Abu 45; spiritual ecstasy, desire for 47; Sufi branches, connections between 36–37; Sufi orders, process of development for 36–37, 48–51; Sufi orders, religious obligations of 37–38; tabla 46; al-tariqa al-Bayyumiyya, central and local groups 43–45, 53; al-tariqa al-Jafariyya 40, 52; al-tariqa al-Jazuliyya al-Husayniyya al-Shadhiliyya 41–42, 52–53; tariqas (rituals of Sufi orders) 35, 36, 37, 39,


40–46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51–52, 53; Al-Tuhami, Sheikh Yasin 45, 46, 53 Sufism: orders, religious obligations of 37–38; orders of, process of development for 36–37, 48–51; Sufi branches, connections between 36–37; Sufi qawwali 178–79; Sufi tekkes (lodges) 19, 20; symbolic directions within Moroccan tradition 59–62 Sullivan, D.J. and Kotob, S. 82 Swades (Ashutosh Gowanker film) 187 Swedenburg, Ted 252–53 tabla percussion: agency and loss in traditions of South and West Asia 136, 149, 157n11; dance in Afghan society 104, 107, 108, 110, 112, 113, 118; Sufi performance in Egypt 46 Tadros, Mariz 80, 94 tal (cymbals): agency and loss in traditions of South and West Asia 139; dance in Afghan society 111, 118 Talpur, Mir Kazim 135 Tammam, H. and Haenni, P. 83 Tansen, Miyan 148, 179–80 Taqwacores (and Taqwacore project) 10, 160, 161–62, 165–66, 167, 168–69, 170, 171, 172–73, 174 ‘Taqwatweet’ 169–70 Tarana, Sima 113 tariqas (rituals of Sufi orders) 4, 5; dissent, chant as vehicle for 58–59, 61–62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 68; performance in Egypt, social forces shaping 35, 36, 37, 39, 40–46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51–52, 53; al-tariqa al-Bayyumiyya, central and local groups 43–45, 53; al-tariqa al-Jafariyya 40, 52; al-tariqa al-Jazuliyya al-Husayniyya al-Shadhiliyya 41–42, 52–53 Tarsun of Ben ‘Ali Cherif 61 Tartoussieh, Karim M. 94 ta’ziyah (float representing mausoleum of Imam Husain) 123, 129, 133, 145–46, 148, 150, 151, 152, 155, 157n23 techno-qawwali, rhythmic intensity and violence of 194–95 Tekarek, Tugba 30n3 television talent shows 264 Terrasse, Hemri 65, 77n16 Tharwat, ‘Hana 80, 89, 90, 96, 97 Time Magazine 256n37, 257 Timur, Turkic Mongol ruler 129



Tinkham, Amy 186–87 Tonet, Auréliano 264–65, 266, 268 transcendent wisdom, qawwali as 191–92 Trimingham, J.S. 37 Trivedi, Madhu 156n4 Truthful Movement 244 Al-Tuhami, Sheikh Yasin 45, 46, 53 Tupak 211 Turkey: AK Party 15; audience, characteristics of 22; Ay, Mehmet Emin 15–16, 16–17, 18–19, 19–22, 23–25, 26–28, 29, 30n1, 31n11; discography 32; Baglarbasi Cultural Centre, Istanbul 26; Beyza Yapim 16, 20, 22, 30n6, 33; classical makam (modal) formulae 20–21; counterpublics 26, 28, 29; Demirci, Mustafa 16, 19, 20–22, 26–28, 30n1, 31n12, 32; discographies 32; Dolunay (Mehmet Emin Ay recording) 16–17, 18; Egyptian popular music of 1950s and 1960s, passion for 21–22; emotionality 17, 25; ethical dimensions of music in modern environments, exchanges about 29; ethical listening 19; ethnic tensions 16; Halveti-Cerrahi 19; humility, sensibility of 29; Imam-Hatip (religious functionary training) 16, 18, 19; instrumental improvisation (taksim) 21; Islamist FM radio and television stations 15; Islamist political gains 15; Islamization of public sphere 18; ‘It Was You Who Came That Night’ (Mehmet Emin Ay) 23–25; in Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 268; mass-mediated publics 22–26, 28–29; mass-mediated religious popular culture, analytical considerations 29–30; media deregulation 15; Mevlevi 19; military coup (12 September 1980) 19; municipality-sponsored ramazan festivitie 15, 24, 26, 27, 30n1, 32n19; mystical music (tasavvuf musikisi) 19, 20; nationalism 16–17; new Islamist popular culture in 3, 15–33; Nûru’lHüdâ (Mehmet Emin Ay recording) 21, 22; online listening 22–26; performance 26–28; popularity, measurement of 15; productive contradictions 26; proselytization 17–18; Qur’anic recitation 17, 18–19;

Refah Party 15; religious identity, expression of 16–17; Republican ideals in 271; rhetoric, arts of (ilm al-balagha) 29; Risale-i Nur (Said Nursi) 18; secular popular entertainment 20; sensitivity (hassassiyet) 20; skills, informal cultivation of 23; songs in praise of Prophet Muhammad 21; sound mixing 27; Sufi tekkes (lodges) 19, 20; Uludag University, Bursa 16; vocal improvisation (kaside) 21; webography 33; YouTube 23, 29, 31n12, 31n17, 33 Twelver Shı-’ı-sm 126 Twitter 160–61, 162, 169–70, 171, 173, 174 Uludag University, Bursa 16 Umrao Jaan (J.P. Dutta film) 181 United Kingdom: British rap 255n1; institutional racism in 161; music scene in 241–44; see also Pakistani Muslims and music in Bradford United States: American (and African American) rap music 250, 269; Bangladeshi-American Islamic youth movements 163; in Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 268–69; media images of Muslims in 164; Muslim diaspora in 163–64; socioeconomics of Muslim populations in 163; Taqwacores begginings in 160–61 urban male dance in Herat 105–6 USA Today 273 Usman, Azhar 267 Usmani, Basim (Punkistani Live Journal) 168–69, 170, 171 van Nieuwkerk, Karin xi, 6, 80–102 Van Winkle Keller, Kate 8 Vasant Faqir 133 Veer-Zara (Yash Chopra film) 181, 193 veiled artists (fannanat muhagabat) 80–81, 83, 87, 88, 89, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 99n2 Vernier, Bernard 36 Vertovec, S. and Rogers, A. 269 Vertovec, S. and Wessendorf, S. 208, 225n24 Vikør, Knut S. 77n14 violence 1, 3, 70, 181, 196, 233, 276; crime and 265; ethnicity and 127, 171–72; fanaticism and 261; Islamic

Index prohibition of 255n4; political violence 82; poverty, injustice and 239–40; sex, drugs and, disconnecting from 245–46; street violence 239; techno-qawwali, rhythmic intensity and violence of 194–95; against women, condemnation of 242 Virdee, S., Kyriakides, C. and Modood, T. 161 vocal improvisation (kaside) 21 Volont R. 239 Vote Hezbollah 168, 171 vox populi 264 Al-Wahhab, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd 21, 42, 47 Wahhabinism 7, 47, 54n3, 91, 95, 163, 171 wajad (trance) 184 Walliyullah, Shah 151 The War by the Face Veil (‘Issa, I.) 91–92 ‘War on Terror’ 1, 160, 269, 270 Warner, Michael 28 Waters, Sarah 273 Waugh, Earle x–xi, 6, 57–79, 224–25n8 Weber, William 227n44 wedding parties in Afghanistan 105–6, 107, 110, 111–12, 113, 114, 116 Wendt, Carol Card 60 West Asia 3, 6, 8, 13, 119n3; see also agency and loss in Muslim traditions of South and West Asia West Yorkshire Police 207, 223 Western Europe: languages of 2; Muslim rappers in 13; socioeconomics of Muslim populations in 163; subcultural worship of Allah in 12, 230–59; Turkish migrants in 16, 22 White, Jenny 26, 30n4 Wickham, C.R. 81 Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay (The Kominas) 167 Winegar, Jessica 94


Winter, Michael 53 Wolf, Richard K. xii, 8–9, 122–59 women: as preachers 87, 89, 99; in punk scene 165–66; women’s dance in Afhhan society 106–7 Wood, R.T. 165 World Cup 1998 in France 275 Xavier Naidoo 237 Yahya, Mohammed 244 Yassine, Abdesslam 64 Yazid, Umayyad Caliph 9, 122 Young Umma 244 youth cultures: association of hip-hop bismillah and 230; subcultures 10, 160 YouTube 115, 168, 169, 211, 224n5; Lil Maaz’s Mange du kebab 261, 263, 264, 268, 276, 277; new Islamist popular culture in Turkey 23, 29, 31n12, 31n17, 33 Yücel, Gökhan 30n1, 32n18 Yusif, Hassan 80, 86 Zafar, Dr Mohammed Nasem 108 Zahi, Hassan 267 zāhir (visible or external) 122, 125, 126, 128–29, 151 zang (ankle-bells) 110, 118, 119 Zanjeer (Guru Dutt film) 186 Zaqqum, Az 267 zawiya/ribat complex: crucial role of 66–67, 68, 70, 71; reaching beyond confines of 6, 57, 58, 59, 62–63, 76 Zbikowski, Lawrence 31n15 Zebda 250 Zeenat (Shaukat Hussain Rizvi film) 190 zikr rythmic chanting 178, 194, 195 Zinta, Preity 193 zirbaghali (goblet drum) 108, 109, 110, 119 Ziryab (Abu I-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi’) 60 Zubeidaa (Shyam Benegal film) 181


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