Rock and roll jihad

Published: May 8, 2010

I recently read Salman Ahmad’s book, Rock and Roll Jihad – A Muslim Rock Star’s Revolution. I think I can say more about the title than I can about the content (which, at least in the beginning, is describing Pakistan through the eyes of a foreigner rather than as seen by him — unnecessarily glamourising everyday things like rickshaws and samosas.)

Rock and roll is not a part of Muslim culture or traditions or ethos. Its synonomous with sex and drugs and groupies. So what is a Muslim rock star?

I think I get it. The perception of Muslims has become one of intolerance towards music, entertainment and living your life the way you want, and people like Ahmad want to show the world this isn’t so – and I’m all for this. But instead of portraying that we have our own identity as Pakistani Muslims he has tried to portray himself, and to an extent us, as being no different than an average American or European. Well, he’s got that right – many of us reading this paper talk like them, dress like them, listen to their music, and watch their movies. And this is because we have the freedom to do so. Perhaps it would have made more sense if the title had been The Battle for Rock and Roll – A Pakistani Rock Star’s Revolution.

If you want to write a book with Muslim in the title, you need to be terribly careful about what you say because it is such a loaded word, what with all the Kasabs and Shahzads hell-bent on further tarnishing our reputation. Every piece of analysis on terrorists says that they have a warped view of religion, which is completely true. But what exactly is the correct view? We are grappling to come to terms with this whilst at the same time constantly justifying it to a world which, with every suicide blast, grows more wary of us. Ahmad’s book is an important contribution to this struggle.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • talat khan
    May 8, 2010 - 9:48AM

    ahmad’s book is garbage. he is a poser who has cashed in on “sufism” which is hilarious if you know anything about sufis. the man is an untalented media houndRecommend

  • Dr.Ghulam Murtaza Khuhro
    May 8, 2010 - 10:00AM

    Let us start a cleanup operation. And do you know how many of us will be left behind? Probably 1% or 2-3%, for all others are one or other way shahzads and kasabs.
    Let us see another side of argument. Suppose 99.9% of our whole population sings cheery and merry songs and only 0.1% of 176 million of population i.e. 17600.0000 is bent upon tarnishing our image, then would still we be labeled terrorists and will receive phone calls to submit or to be ready to go to hell or what?
    What is wrong with our media and intellectuals? This whole phenomenon is not engineered only by us. Why Madam Hillary do not look little bit inwards for introspection? There could be many more Shahzad’s waiting in wings, let us diffuse them and let us change the environment which cultivates them. Salman seems to have made effort in this regard.Recommend

  • May 8, 2010 - 10:21AM

    The correct view is Qallun Nassa Husnah, speak to people with tongues of honey, and if you are asked to testify as witness tell the whole truth even if the evdence goes against your own kins.Recommend

  • Sachal
    May 8, 2010 - 4:17PM

    Sufism thrives on rhythm and and the ‘trance’ nature of music as teasers of the One-ness of being concept. Whatever else it may provide, it has led to the creation of some very powerful music and prose. Saeein Zahoor has brought to coke studio the ‘spiritual’ aspect of music. The same way, Junoon brought tons of sufi prose to the limelight. Talat, do not let the commercial aspect taint what all they have achieved.
    If not for Junoon or Zahoor, would you ever have read or heard pieces like “Aik alif” and “Laal meri pat?”Recommend

  • May 8, 2010 - 10:36PM

    The writer has written little about the contents of the book, the writting style etc. Seems like maybe not even really read itRecommend

  • Sales gravha
    May 8, 2010 - 11:57PM

    In light of the above comments can I just say there was a sentence in there I had to delete due to word count limitations: Good thing he didnt add sufi in the title of the book otherwise Rumi would surely have been rolling in his graveRecommend

  • Saleha
    May 8, 2010 - 11:58PM

    In light of the above comments can I just say there was a sentence in there I had to delete due to word count limitations: Good thing he didnt add sufi in the title of the book otherwise Rumi would surely have been rolling in his graveRecommend

  • rehan
    May 10, 2010 - 10:20PM

    And if not for JUNOON,who would have given us a worse song than Papu Yaar(which Sufi saint would have said,”shabash True Muslims,this will attract many non Muslims towards the True Islam).Recommend

  • faraz
    May 25, 2010 - 11:56AM

    Title of the book suggests a dumb effort to sell more books by combining music with jihad, as if the solution to extremism lies in rock and roll. Recommend

  • May 26, 2010 - 9:03PM

    If this is meant to be a book review or even a personal opinion about Salman Ahmad’s book, then i’m missing the rest of the article. The author started off strongly, taking a point on Salman’s style of writing in the book but then lost the plot completely with the rest of her writing. Also, I don’t see the word “muslim’ in the title of this book and I am confused whether the author likes the book or not, because her last statement contradicts her opening paragraph.Recommend

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