Egyptian channel 4Shbab aims to provide an Islamic take on music video culture for the world
On a boat moored on the Nile, 4Shbab's founder, Ahmed Abu Haiba, explained why the current music video networks were a threat to Muslim identity. "These channels are strange to our culture," he said. "There are young Muslim men today who'd like to have girlfriends, be part of a dating culture, and yet when they want to get married they look for a devout, religious wife. This is cultural schizophrenia … and it's these channels which are giving our young generation such misunderstandings and smashing their identities."
But the channel — which declares it will "listen to the tune of Islam" — is already being criticised. On the one hand, Abu Haiba has been accused of demeaning Islam by those who believe that all music is haram (forbidden). On the other hand, his station has taken flak from women, who rarely feature in its music videos or game shows such as 'Who Wants to Be an Islamic Pop Star?'.
Joshua Salaam, part of Native Deen, an American Muslim hip-hop outfit who are one of the first bands to be promoted on the new channel, said, "I think the launch of this channel is massively important, probably more so than a lot of scholars and parents realise because they haven't been raised with music video in their lives, but music and video set the tone of what culture is, what identity is. For a Muslim to be able to watch this channel and see that … they don't have to separate their religion from their culture, that's huge."