[i]By Alveena Salim[/i]
[b]You pull up to a red light beside a car full of rude-boy wannabes blasting one of the latest RnB/hip-hop/rap tunes, and before the light turns green, you’ve heard of four different sex acts, someone’s mum cussed, you’re told to get high on drugs and encouraged to beat up the “ho that steps outta line”. [/b]
Over on MTV base there are women bumping and grinding, wearing tiny thongs, dancing for men and shaking all they’ve got – usually to lyrics that refer to them as “b***, ho's or sluts”. The likes of Afroman makes light of messing up his life “cos he got high” on drugs. In fact, some of the more popular rap artists glorify the life of a pimp and promote violence against women who disrespect their law. Children as young as five years old are singing such lyrics, not knowing what they mean.
It’s not just rap music that is full of suggestive lyrics. Dance and Pop music are also becoming increasingly sexualised and degrading to women. Ex-strippers the Pussy Cat dolls, smash hit songs include “Don’t Cha” which is all about enticing another woman’s
man. In the Black Eyed Peas “My humps”, Fergie celebrates the fact that her “lady lumps” get her expensive gifts from men.
What’s the big deal! Its only music?
So just coz Snoop Dogg tells you to “smoke weed every day”. It doesn’t actually mean that you’ll go o and smoke weed. Right? Yeah right! Teens who spend more time watching the sex and violence depicted in the "real" life of "gangsta" rap music videos are more likely to practice these behaviours in real life, suggests one of the first studies to specifically explore how rap videos influence emotional and physical health.
The findings from a three-year study present a worrying picture of how popular music affected the attitudes of boys and girls to sex. Rap music and hip hop, with their particular emphasis on sex and demeaning depictions of women, were blamed for encouraging early sexual behaviour, leading to the spread of disease and under age pregnancies. 
Rapping about sex crimes has the effect of desensitizing people to the real pain and trauma suffered by victims and their loved ones. In fact, studies show that people who are repeatedly exposed to violence against women in the media and pornography are more likely to be heartless towards victims and more willing to believe they were "asking for it”. 
Walk into a fashion retail shop and see what kind of music they’re playing. Retailers are aware of the fact that music increases sales, because it has the power to make you feel relaxed, happy, depressed, excited, sexy or angry.
Also, youngsters are incredibly influential and have a tendency to look up to those who seem to have it all – the gals, the bling, the rep and the cribs.
It is ironic that in a society which claims to give so many rights and respect to women that such genres of music are extremely popular. The song such as “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp”, where the artist regularly referred to women in derogatory terms won an academy award for its “originality!”
Numerous rap artists have been arrested for possession of drugs, guns and assault. Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem) was arrested twice in 2000 for gun charges. He has rapped about raping and killing his ex-wife and beating up his mother. Snoop Dogg has
been arrested for gun and drug possession. Ja Rule has also been arrested and charged of carrying illegal weapons. Akon, who was nominated for a Grammy award, recently shocked the audience when he abused a 14 year old girl on stage.
Many have fallen into depression, been admitted to rehab and some have had violent deaths. Tupac Shakur, was convicted of sexual abuse and GBH. He was shot four times in a drive by shooting and died 6 days later. Biggie Smalls who was allegedly involved in the shooting was also killed in a drive-by shooting. Are these really the kind of people we should be listening to?
So what you saying? We can’t listen to any kind of music?
There is a difference in opinion in Islam about the legitimacy of music. Some Scholars allow any sort of singing, be it accompanied with musical instruments or not, and even consider it recommended. A second group of scholars allow singing only when is not accompanied with a musical instrument. A third group declare it to be forbidden whether it is accompanied with a musical instrument or not; they even consider it as a major sin.
The Hadith that some scholars cite against the permissibility of music is as follows,
"From among my followers there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk, the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful. Allah will destroy them during the night and will let the mountain fall on them, and He will transform the rest of them into monkeys and pigs and they will remain so till the Day of Resurrection." (Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 69, Number 494v)
There are many well known scholars from the past who have said that music is permissible, such as Qadi Shawkawni, Ibn Hazm, Imam Ghazali and Abú Bakr al-'Arabi. Contemporary scholars such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf have also
decreed that Halaal music is permissible.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf has mentioned that music is permissible for certain occasions. This is because the Holy Prophet’s army used to beat drums in a war. He even attended a wedding where music was allowed and also permitted music at Eid Festivals.
The following hadîth in Bukhari is used as evidence in favour of music:
The Two Festivals (Eids) - Narrated Aisha: Abu Bakr came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, "Musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah's Apostle !" It happened on the 'Id day and Allah's Apostle said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an 'Id for every nation and this is our 'Id." (Volume 7,Book 69, Number 494v)
Imam Ghazali said in Ihya Ulum Al-Din- The Revival of the Religious Sciences: "The musical instruments and songs which are typically associated with drunkards are prohibited as they remind of prohibited things and promote the prohibited, such as the consumption of wine and other intoxicants."
Sami Yusuf, one of the leading Islamic Nasheed artists, had this to say on the matter: 'As a Muslim artist, I regularly seek clarication and advice from world-renowned scholars on art, music, singing and culture. Be informed that the subject of music is one of the most controversial topics in Islamic Jurisprudence. I respect those who consider music to be Haram. Yes eminent scholars of our past have opined such. However, I respect and follow the opinion of other eminent scholars – classical and contemporary, who permit singing and the use of musical instruments. The well-established jurisprudential rule states that ‘in matters where there is Ikhtilaf (differences of opinion) there is to be no condemnation of either opinion.'
One thing we can say that we all agree is that songs that are about sex, drugs and violence are not legit. Music that bigs up crime, racism, drugs, disrespects women, contains obscene lyrics and pornographic music videos must be avoided coz the Prophet (pbuh) has said: “adultery of the eyes is when it looks at that which is Harâm; adultery of the ears is when it listens to that which is Harâm.”
In fact, in order to create an atmosphere of joy and happiness, singing is recommended on festive occasions such as the days of 'Eid, weddings, feasts, births, Aqiqat (the celebration of the birth of a baby) and on the return of a traveller. But, the condition is
that the lyrics are clean.
Nasheed, The Islamic Alternative?
And anyway, there are more than enough Islamic alternatives. The likes of Sami Yusuf: an international star, has been described by Time magazine as, Islam's Biggest Rock Star has released many albums that touch on real issues that affect Muslims all around the world. For the RnB/hip-hop fans out there, Muslim rap is big business with annual sales in excess of $1.8bn in America alone. The likes of Native Deen, Mecca2Medina and Blakstone rap about real issues such as the war in Iraq, Muslim oppression and disunity. Feel free to blast the tunes but choose the decent ones. (For more information about Nasheeds see the Revival Guide to Nasheeds).
Of course, at the same time, not everyone is a fan of this alternative. In fact the likes of Yvonne Ridley describe Islamic boy bands like 786 and Mecca 2 Medina as the subject of the sort of female adulation you expect to see on American Pop Idol or the X-Factor, and recommends Muslims to “Listen not to what is Haram. But to listen to the pain of the global family”.
Make up your own decision regarding the Islamic stance on Music. But bear in mind that all scholars unanimously agree that dodgy lyrics and pornographic music videos are not acceptable.
So, next time you’re thinking about blasting the latest RnB/hip-hop tune, that’s telling you to shoot the white man, rape your partner, beat up your Mum, become a pimp and get high on drugs: please stop and think. If you have any respect for yourself or for the people you love. You’ll avoid all ‘parental advisory lyrics’ and you'll put on a Nasheed or a tune that fits the Islamic teachings.