Thursday, February 18, 2010

Saudi Rap

I bought a CD yesterday... and I have to say I am a fan. Qusai was born in Riyadh, raised in Jeddah, and learned his craft in Los Angeles. He's definitely no Tupak; his style fits his Saudi heritage - and a blend of Middle East and Western rhythms gives his rhymes a unique sound.

I like Arabic music a lot, not just rap but more traditional Debkat and other stuff too. However, Saudi Arabia is not known for musical taste and talents. There is an uneasiness in Saudi Arabia (and even at KAUST) about playing music in the public sphere, because some conservatives believe that music is "idle talk" and would take offense.

So in the KSA there are no public concerts, no music festivals, and not even soft background music in malls and grocery stores... which, if one comes from a musical culture, is really a pretty strange transition. I have heard that in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon music remains a part of everyday life - why is KSA different?

The moralist might say that there is lots of "bad" music available, and the public should not be exposed to "bad" music. But it doesn't make sense to hush all music if one thinks that some is bad. Music is one of the most powerful forms of emotional and spiritual expression than man is capable of; when there is a festeval or a wedding, music feels natural. Music makes thoughts, words, and even people, come alive.

I haven't found much in the Quran which references music - either good or bad. Maybe someone who knows more than I can point me in the right direction. There are a few verses about singing praises to God; minaret callers certainly follow these guidelines when they sing the call to prayer.

The Bible (Torah and Injeel) is a bit more clear on the subject of singing. Music is an integral part of the Jewish and Christian religions and traditions. The words sing, song, and music appear 188, 115, and 106 times in the Bible - almost all in positive contexts.

I love music, and even if I can't go to a public concert right now, I will keep singing until the day that I die. Life is too good to stay silent.


  1. Will, I guess some one should tip the stranger .

    Most of Muslim scholar agree that music is forbidden in Islam fore two reasons

    1- playing or listing to musical instrument is forbidden
    2- foul language or language that could lead or make fornication look good or ok
    some might even neck name singing as “ mersal alzena “ which means
    “ fornication proxy”

    Going back to point one all musical instrument are forbidden in Islam except drums that are not fully closed and most people would add that it have to be in special occasion like wedding and Eids holydays.

    Finally , to answer the question about you not finding a reference in the Quran.

    In Islam or Islamic jury prudence has four sources of legislation:

    1. Qurran : think of it as constitutional Law in America
    2. The Sunna which is the profit saying and actions it usually compliment the Quran in the since it could generalize what sound like limited or limit what could sound general in the Quran. It also could give details like the Qurran tell us to pray but it does not tell us how to pray. It also add to what is in the Qurran. Think of it like presidents in the American legal system thire are some good English translation of it import part to see the beauty of islam and to understand our coulter.
    3. Al-Qeas: its logical activity which I cant explain English but its close to inferring let me give an example. At the time of the profit their was no drugs yet Muslims scholars say that drugs are forbidden in Islam why ? because it has the same reasons that made alcohol forbidden and that is the compromises the mantel ability
    4. Al-ejma’ : which the agreement of all scholars of Islam on some issues

    Note: please don’t trust my spelling as its my worst part of my English

  2. yeah and i forget quasi has very nice song dedicated for all the mothers of the earth check it out its really nice.

  3. Hi Nathan,

    You are right. There doesn't seem to be a strong evidence that (all) music is haram.

    Please see:


  4. Zaid,

    Thanks for your informative reply.

    "Most of Muslim scholar agree that music is forbidden in Islam,"

    Is it most Muslim scholars, or just the Muslim scholars that make the most Fatwas? If it is most scholars, then why do most Muslims listen to music?

    This stranger knows that lots of Saudis and non-Saudis in Saudi Arabia listen to music, and music is definitely ingrained into the cultures and daily lives of Muslims outside of the GCC. The country with the highest population of Muslims is actually Indonesia, which is a very musical place. We have a large group of Indonesian students here at KAUST who are not allowed to play their traditional instruments in public, and are a little miffed about that.

    Does all music "proxy" fornication? That seems to be a really big leap without much sound reasoning.

    And finally, I am glad to have found another Quasi fan... thanks for the link!

  5. Hassan,

    Thanks for the links, I am aware that music really is a grey area. Like so many grey areas in KSA, it is just banned in public (though there are many radio stations, music cd sales, and not to mention internet sites).

  6. Sorry for the late repose stranger butt I was pretty occupied.

    Will I am not knowledgeable in comparative jury prudence , two years back I listened to a TV Show discussing the issue , they ware saying if I rember right , that scholars divided singing into 4 types of : al scholars agree that three of the four types are forbidding , but there are disagreement around one of the types.
    To answer the question about why do listen to it if it is forbidden, the same reason people smoke and drink while its harmful we are only human and we have our imperfections.
    Why it is a proxy , at least in our cutler all singing is about love , the passion , the joy of it , the lover , the beauty of the our lover , pain of love such things may cues a personnel believe that the right thing to do is give up to our desire , that is only my point of you, mebe because it fulfill spiritual need that is best to be fulfilled through religion .I relay don’t know but this is my views as person who is not specialized in the matter but who lived most his life in Qassim region Saudi Arabia equal to the Bible built our south lake City