A fanciful piece by Mark LeVine, an old friend of Jihad Watch writing in, quite appropriately, NPR, tries to explain how Muslims are open to rock and heavy metal, and that that may be why they are so "radical." As asinine as this may be, the importance of this article lies in showing just how mainstream it is to think of "Islam" as just another "ethnicity." Let us remember: "Islam" means "submission"; a "Muslim" is one who has submitted. The all important question then becomes: submit to what? Mainstream answer: the will of Allah as revealed by his messenger in the Koran and Hadith.
Now, if a "Muslim" decides to eat pork, drink alcohol, and befriend infidels, guess what? He is not a "Muslim"—that is, one who submits to the revealed will of Allah, at least not according to all the major schools of Islamic jurisprudence. When Muslims engage in heavy metal, and carry on as Westerners—digging on swine and wine-imbibing—they prove but one thing: they are only human. However, their actions are not in the least bit indicative of what Islam clearly commands and clearly forbids—of what Islam is all about.
As for music, there are a number of hadiths, all of which have led the major fuqaha and ulema to ban music and musical instruments altogether—even something as minor as the bell (due, no doubt, to its "Christian" overtones) is considered haram.
"How Heavy Metal Is Working Its Way Into Islam," by Mark LeVine for NPR, July 10:
That the possibility of a Muslim heavy-metal scene came as a total surprise to me only underscored how much I still had to learn about Morocco, and the Muslim world more broadly, even after a dozen years studying, traveling, and living in it. If there could be such a thing as a Heavy Metal Islam, I thought, then perhaps the future was far brighter than most observers of the Muslim world imagined less than a year after September 11, 2001.
And so began a five-year journey across the Muslim world, from Morocco to Pakistan, with a dozen countries in between, in search of the artists, fans, and activists who make up the alternative music scenes of the Muslim world. My journey was long, and sometimes dangerous [why, I wonder?]. But the more I traveled and the more musicians I met, the more I understood how much insight into Islam today could be gained by getting to know the artists who were working on what might seem to be the edges of their societies. Their imagination and openness to the world, and the courage of their convictions, remind us that Muslim and Western cultures are more heterogeneous, complex, and ultimately alike than the peddlers of the clash of civilizations, the war on terror, and unending jihad would have us believe.
It might seem counterintuitive to Americans, whose images of Islam and the contemporary Muslim world come largely from Fox or CNN, but an eighteen-year-old from Casablanca with spiked hair, or a twenty-year-old from Dubai wearing goth makeup, is as representative of the world of Islam today as the Muslims who look and act the way we expect them to. They can be just as radical, if not more so, in their religious beliefs and politics as their peers who spend their days in the mosque, madrasa, or even an al-Qa'eda training camp. In fact, if we think of what "radical" really means— to offer analyses or solutions that completely break with the existing frameworks for dealing with an issue or problem— then they are far more radical than are the supposed radicals of al-Qa'eda, Hamas, or Hezbollah, who are distinctly reactionary in their reliance on violence and conservatively grounded religious and political imaginations.