Better Know Your Muslim Music Genres

Categories: Weird Holidays

In 2010, writer and producer Javed Mohammed decided to get the ball rolling on World Day of Muslim Culture, Peace, Dialogue and Film. The internationally recognized holiday annually celebrated on March 15 is meant to spotlight the peaceful contributions followers of Islam make to society, and to art especially. In a time when Islam is still viewed very suspiciously by many Americans, this is definitely a good thing to be attempting.

You see, almost all of the Muslims you're going to run into in the course of your life are going to be perfectly normal folks who treat their religion exactly the same as you do. This includes musicians. Especially musicians.

You know how Alice Cooper is a devout born-again Christian but basically spends all his time singing about demons and murder? It's exactly like that in the Muslim world as well.

So today I thought I'd introduce you to some musical Muslims to do my part to spread Mr. Mohammed's dream. Here are five musical genres to which Islam is clearly contributing for the better.

Rap: Rhymefest
Kanye West may have been the voice for "Jesus Walks," but the man behind the song was one Che Smith, better known as Rhymefest. He was led to the path of Islam by a member of the Vice Lords gang, and subsequently cleaned up his act to become a successful rapper and ghostwriter.

It might seem weird for him to pen "Jesus Walks," but the lyrics really match up with his solid stance against artists invoking the name of God as a shield.

Goth: Peter Murphy
When you think of the pale, vampiric Peter Murphy, Islam doesn't particularly come to mind. But the Irish-Catholic singer became a Muslim in the '90s and now lives in Turkey, where he is well-known in Sufi mysticism circles. [Murphy will be at Numbers April 26 -- ed.]

You can hear a distinctly Turkish flavor in albums like Dust and Holy Smoke, but even in more traditional pop outings like Unshattered, there is plenty of allusion to his faith. "Face the Moon" was inspired by a Muslim analogy that the moon represents the reflected holy light of God, a light too bright to stare at directly.

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