Muslims and Hip Hop – Abul Hussein and Suhaib Webb Comment

Abul-Hussein writes:

“Hip hop” in the 21th century has taken the position of heavy metal in the 80’s. To the conscious observer the clear references to “satan” are evident and the indirect references are abundant. From Kayne West to Outerspace hip hop has traversed the boundaries of moral action and life affirming values, it is a realm where moral consciousness is obscured and human being has no worth. Today hip hop celebrates musically and honors poetically idolatry, occultism, illicit sex, theft, drugs, materialism, death, killing and now homosexuality.

Claiming the status of a new global religion as the singer Erika Badu has claimed it is a demonstration and affirmation of the ignorance (jahillia) of old that was celebrated by “poets of the age of ignorance” who resided in the Arabian pennisula before the emergence of Islam. What hip hop managed today was to universalize the values of heavy metal across ethnic lines making “necrophila” a way of life.

Something many Muslims have a difficulty in facing is that Islam as a notion no longer carries the weight of a transformative concept in hip hop. 50 cent’s claim to recite a “Ghetto Qur’an” is a sign of the triumph of ” far fetched ta’wil” and the celebration of supreme “kufr.” The Ghetto Qur’an he refers to is his words put to music making himself a prophet who is giving revelation to the people. This as a theme is not uncommon in hip hop, the claim to prophecy. The task of the da’ee today is how to present the Qur’an as a way to transform the personality molded by hip hop in the 21 th century, inspired by the way of satanic being in the world. Lectures, and books will not be sufficient to transform the necrophilic personality nor soften the heart inspired by satanic values. What is needed is a righteous patient teacher who imbibes the Qur’an and is aware of the culture of death celebrated by hip hop.


Wa Billahi at-Tawfiq

Suhaib Webb responds and writes:

Excellent post and thoughts akhi. I was brought into Islam through the Hip-Hop world. That being said, once I became Muslim and started studying, I realized that in order for me to develop and grow as a Muslim I would have to amputate my relations with Hip-Hop and its community. I realized that the Qur’an and Hip Hop simply don’t mix. What is sad about many of our Muslim Hip-Hoppers and well as performers in general is their acute poverty when it comes to religious knowledge. I have never understood how people could stand on stage, carry themselves like some type of Rakim rejects knowing that they lack the basic fundamentals of religion and faith?

I have gone back and forth on this issue trying to be just, but have failed to find any excuse for Muslim Hip Hop and comedy. Let’s be honest, when one listens to hip-hop what is the feeling found in the heart? Is it a feeling of bliss? Is it a feeling of tenderness and love, or is it a feeling that “I’m the baddest [you insert the swear word] on the planet and can’t nobody [insert] with me?

That being said, one of the greatest problems with hip hop is its inability to provide effective solutions to the problems of the hood while presenting itself as some type of savior for its people. Since the 1970’s hip hop as done nothing to help the hood except throw its women on BET while some self styled Uncle Tom runs a credit card through their cleavage, served to degenerate basic language skills; create a culture of hyper masculinity based on a feeling that one is greater than God!

In addition, it allows people to create false heroes. In a Muslim summer camp some years back a brother said, “Tupac was a kafir fasiq!” Suddenly a Muslim youth began to cry saying, “Don’t’ talk about him! He was a righteous man! He did great things!” When I was a D.J. I had a friend who called me one night after a Tupac show, “Wax! That N*$*# tried to rape me!” So much for being a righteous man concerned about the plight of the women of the hood. The last image of Tupac kicking that man in the lobby is telling. It represents the very controversy that hip hoppers live: claiming to love the hood, but raping and mutilating it at will. I remember when Biggie was gunned down in a hail of bullets, hijabis at a local Islamic school started crying saying “He isn’t dead!” Where were the tears for the 24.000 people who die every day of hunger?

Now in our own communities we allow hip hoppers and entertainers to stretch the limits and moral of our community in the name of dawa and popularity?

That is the reality of hip hop and its lesson is clear: any act not founded on the general principles of Islam is bound to wreck havoc on communities. Unfortunately Muslims are adopting the same attitude. Musicians and other entertainers are given the status of Muslim Messiah’s, paid up to $40.000 dollars per performance while Imam’s like Siraj Wahaj have to be put in the public sphere just to raise money for their cancer treatment! While Muslim bloggers went rapid over Jacko’s funeral, what was done to save masjids closing in New Jersey and to raise funds for the family from Mali who lost 8 children in a tragic fire some time ago! Again, our priorities are telling. I will be honest, I have struggled with this for some time trying to understand where our brothers and sisters are coming from. But after greater reflection and thought I’ve realized that there is no good in these endeavors. What they have served to do is take many of our practicing brothers and sisters a notch down. Instead of listening to the shuyukh, Qur’an and memorizing Qu’ran, Hussari Cd’s are replaced with loads of Nashid artists and comedians. I noted once that a brother had well over 500 songs on his I-phone and not one Islamic lecture or Qur’anic reciter. Again, the fruit from this entertainment enterprise is bitter and its seeds are spoiled. It is another symptom of the C.R.E.A.M virus.

While I’m open to certain types of music, I find hip hop and the idea that it is a savior sickening. It has gotten to such an extreme that artist like KRS ONE are claiming it an independent religion calling it the “Temple of Hip-Hop.”

Dr. Trica Rose said it well,

“I’m dismayed by the genius of hip hop and the production of music as the unconscious promotion of misogyny,” she said. “They are always looking for a new way to rap about the domination of women and other people. They use the same limited language of insult. It’s not lyrically creative. The ‘N’ word, the ‘B’ word…we’ve got all of those words. They can’t seem to not say it, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction to prove you’re down. It filters into male-female relationships and the ‘pimp-ho’ model becomes a reasonable way to construct relationships.”

On the Imrul al-Qaiys of this century Kanye West she said:

““He’s a self-promoter. He has talent, but his music is not as conscious. People see him as some sort of radical savior, which is part of the problem I am talking about. If he wants to say Bush hates black people, he needs to figure out what the answer is. I know 10 academics who would help him.”



72 Replies to “Muslims and Hip Hop – Abul Hussein and Suhaib Webb Comment”

  1. You don’t know that, all you know is that a peice of your check is missing every two weeks, after that, you have no clue. No one but the guys in the department of the treasury know where your peice specificly goes.

    Furthermore, even if your money went to the military, that isn’t kufr. Because that money could go to buy medical supplies that are given to the Iraqis for instance. You don’t know where it goes. Even if you directly paid them to kill a muslim, this isn’t blasphemy. It is however, a major sin, nonetheless. But it doesn’t constitute disbelief. Murder isn’t kufr.

  2. mean such a gentleman and aspiring scholar like yourself don’t look at your paycheck stub much less even aware of it? Its all there in the ink, and as far as what the military industrial complex gets, if you have internet access or even access to your local congress reps office it’s not hard to dig up the federal discretionary budget of any given fiscal year. so please man

    ..btw to kill a Muslim is kufr unless in self defense, a Muslim’s life and property should be sanctity to you, havn’t you heard of the many cases when soldiers who’s faith is Islam have opt out as concsious objectors in many recent conflicts like Desert Storm?

    Tax money buy more than medecine how bout white phosphorus or cluster bombs, depleted uranium..come on man..if you gonna nick pick at Mos Def then be able to take what you dish out.

  3. To kill a muslim isn’t kufr. When a muslim comits adultery for instance, the calipha is obligated to kill him. This isn’t self defense. If you are hunting with your muslim buddies and you shoot him in the face with a 30-06 and blow his head off by accident. This isn’t self defence. According to your own system, The Calipha and the Guy who shot his freinds are both kafir. [Both of them, of course, aren’t Kafir]

    You don’t know if your tax money buys those things. You are claiming that when you look at your check stub it says “Your tax money bought Mustard Gas to kill babies and woman in somethingastan” Of course it doesn’t say that. The government is huge, your money could end up anywhere, and you personally have no way to track it. Kareem does not know exactly where Kareem’s money goes. So you cannot be held accountable for what ever the government does with the money. The government gives money to Muslim Organizations and mosques, so for all you know, you could be supporting a mosque somewhere.

    All you are talking about is stuff you heard from some stranger on some random website in big ALL CAPITAL TEXT about how we feed the war machine and that we need to boycott walmart. These random sites and rumors that spread thoughout the internet are not how we make judgements. … Sure, the government uses tax money in wars over seas. Do you have any Islamicly legitimate way of tracking the exact path your money took form your check to the death of a muslim? Do you know all the people involved in transfering your money? When you buy a sandwhich and you give that extra 7 cents, do you have any way to track those 2 pennies and a nickle to the death of a muslim overseas? The answer to all of those questions is of course, No. So what that means is that you don’t know where ‘your’ money is going. And you have no way to figure it out. So you do not have the authority to claim that the specific money you pay in taxes, is used to kill muslims.

  4. A Soundmind..just get the fiscal report, you know that money goes to these sort of things, to say oh but which nickel or dime we are not sure so its okay i’m off scott free is silly, and to kill a Muslim for no good reason, like because Uncle Sam wants a new puppet or somebody’s oil is kufr. you sure do make arguments of allowance for yourself, too bad you don’t have that laxity when it comes to others.

  5. I’m not making an allowance for myself, because I don’t kill people or pay taxes. I’m simply telling you what the judgement is. You don’t know where your money [not someone elses money] goes. So you are not accountable for what is done with it. [as you don’t know what is being done with it]

    As for murder, none of the classical scholars explicitly said Murder is Blasphemy.

    Besides that, these two points are not related to someone telling a person its ok to say kufr. To help someone comit blasphemy, is blasphemy. If what is mentioned about Mos Def is true, that he allowed Kufr to be mentioned in a show he hosted, then he comited kufr. Open and closed case.

  6. Sean,

    First, Sean, we need to get our defintions straight. Exposing people who OPENLY commit enormities (even BRAG about commiting enormities) does not constitute ghibah. All the more it doesn’t constitute ghibah when we know this person influences others.
    (If Mos Def was doing sins privately, and then the paparazzi was shooting pictures in private of him (allegedly) doing X,Y,Z in the privacy of his own home, that’s another matter. For one, i’d remind Muslims that we don’t rely upon reports from non-Muslims to judge other Muslims. However, when a Muslim does enormities in public–not just public, but for the media, and presumably takes money for them, that’s an altogether different story.)

    Mos Def has done ENORMITIES openly and publicly. Mos Def is seen as one of those “positive” Muslim artists by those desperately attempting to find some “positive” forces among Muslims and hip hop. He is someone who influences others. Now keep in mind, the person has played the role of a thief, is portrayed as drinking alcohol, has songs that boast about fornication. Warning people that such behavior is deviant does not constitute “backbiting.” Now if Mos Def has publicly repented and told people that what he has done is wrong and to avoid such behavior, let us know. Like i said, i don’t know a whole lot about the guy other than his doing enormities publicly. I hope he has changed.

    See this is the problem here: because of the influence of this gutter culture, Muslims are willing to defend people guilty of some of the most horrendous crimes in Islam. Why? Because of their attachment to this gutter culture. As the saying, the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. We can all see the pit of sin and ignorance that hip hop is calling to.

    Your comments about the web–i agree that it is a major fitnah for the Ummah. But that is another story. And i agree, i could be more tactful, but that’s a job for someone else. We all have our roles to fulfill.

    With Allah is the success.

  7. @ SoundmInd..right you don’t pay taxex..if you buy food, gas, have property etc you pay taxes, your empoyer is bound by law to take payroll tax from you, the info is out there, it’s available to know where american tax dollar is going, this is fact. you live in america, you pay the tax, it is ceartain without doubt, that some of your tax money supports many things that can be deemed kufr.

    A recent fatwa of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who’s hikma is based on classical scholarship has been made that “Islam has prohibited a Muslim to fight his fellow Muslim brother to the extent that indulging in such a fight is considered a form of disbelief or kufr” and he reported that the Prophet (saw) said “Cursing the Muslim is lewdness and killing him is disbelief”

    In fact: “Do not (become kafirs) revert to disbelief after me by striking the necks (cutting the throats) of one another (killing each other).” (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

    By the way, which yahoodi’s bank do you bank with? Got student loans or a morgage? You carry a leather wallet from cow hide possibly? We can knick pick at you all day..

  8. @ Swarth Moor..I guess if Mos Def got a role to play Detroit Red before he became Malcolm X on the big screen you would have a problem with it being how asinine you can be..

  9. Well, Kareem, According to your words, you would be obligated to conclude that every Calipha that has obeyed Allah in serving the excution of a Muslim deserving of death, and every person on the battle field or on the hunt or where ever who has accidently killed his brother or sister, are kufar. Because they killed their brothers or sisters in cases where it was clearly not self defence. [According to your system]

    This shows that there is a problem in your reasoning. Because it cannot be a case that the Caliphas were all kufar. Even more there is a case where a Muslim came to the Prophet Sallahu Alayhi Wa Salaam, and he told the Prophet that he had comited adultery. The Prophet made 3 excuses from him, but the man still told him he did adultery. So the Prophet had ordered the man to be killed. … So according to your system, you would have to conclude that the Prophet did kufr [According to your system]. … And this is of course very wrong. Prophets do not comit kufr.

    Assuming you truely follow the few quotes you posted, neither of them mentioned intention. So you cannot use them to say that it is kufr to murder a muslim, but not to exectue or kill a muslim in another manner.

    As for the tax, there is no way you can connect the tax I just spent on bread, to muslims dieing in Iraq. I will wait for you to show me the connection between the two. If you don’t, then this discussion is over.

  10. @ Soundmind…your argument is flawed by false analogy. You offer no proof of connection. I’m quoting a contempory sheikh, exibit a report from one of the four classical scholars of the words of Prophet Muhammed(saw) himself. Not according to my words at all as you say.

    If you bother to study all Qu’ran and Ahadith on this, it would contexulize down to the reality that a Mulim killing a Muslim for no good reason is kufr.

    What you discuss is the islamic criminal law side of Shariah and if hudud calls for capital punishment than A Muslim is killed for a valid reason, not cuz Uncle Sam wants a new puppet or tighter control on Iraqi oil fields.

    Lets not talk about your bead tax, lets talk about your income and payroll tax…show me that the Federal government doesn’t draw from these to fill their coffers and we know we are burning through it right now with two war fronts. Then this discussion os over.

  11. Kareem,

    Let’s be real here. The person who plays the role of Malcolm X in the earlier part of his life AND THEN THE TRANSFORMATION wherein he renounced his former life and explained how vile it was, then this is a good thing. However, when you have a person portrayed as a blunt smoking, alcohol drinking, fornicator–and there is no RENUNCIATION OF SUCH BEHAVIOR–this is problematic. There are CLEAR SIGNS Malcolm X repented from his former lifestyle. Can you say the same of Mos Def, and if so where’s the evidence?

    Furthermore, if you want to talk about asinine–people here are using Mos Def as an example of a “positive”(?!?!?!?) Muslim in hip hop/entertainment.

  12. You said the government uses half of the taxes to pay for war. My taxes are in the other half.

    Also, you didn’t say “kill a muslim for no good reason” You said “to kill a muslim is kufr unless in self defence”. There is no ayyat or hadith or saying of a scholar that says murder is blasphemy. All the things you posted don’t refer to murder, they refer to “killing”. Murder is a type of killing. Accidental, giving execution, are also types of killing. Since its clear that there are catagories of killing not even harram, then your interpertation of these quotes that say its equal to disbelief, cannot be taken as a judgement. Because they refer to killing as a whole.

  13. I would just like to add that this conversation is getting redundant. Ive shown why the things you have mentioned cannot mean that all killing is kufr. Despite what they [apparently] say. This is also without taking into consideration the fact that they could simply be mistranslated.

    La Howla Wala Quwwatta Ilah Bilah, La Ilaha Il Allah, Muhammadur Rasululah

    May Allah reveal to us what we need to succeed. Amin.


    When i said about the one who would portray the role of Malcolm X in his earlier life–i did not mean acting in a role commiting sins and saying and doing acts of kufr is a good thing. Committing kufr in serious or in jest is kufr. I meant that it is good that the person RENOUNCES the sinful behavior.

    May Allah enable us to be careful with our words.

    @ Kareem,

    I don’t want to further expand this issue–i want to discuss more about Muslim culture in America. But there are a couple of points here. Qaradawi is a problematic person. For one, he sanctions suicide bombing–so by his logic killing oneself is kufr (which is not the case). Suicide is haraam but not kufr.

    Two, Qardawi is heavily influenced by Wahhabi ideology that he has blended with the ideology of Sayyid Qutb. The kufr of the Wahhabis, from their anthropomorphism, to their deeming it LEGITIMATE to slaughter Muslims is well known. Sayyid Qutb’s kufr includes slandering the Nabi Musa (as Al-Qaradawi with Nabi Muhammad), calling Allah the “Creative Quill,” claiming Allah is literally everywhere (Allah created the places and is not in a dimension), claiming that everyone on earth, including the people who call the adhaan, are all kaafir, except those who follow him (Sayyid Qutb). These statements can be found in the books exposing him.

    When the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said that “killing is kufr,” it means that the one who does it (i.e., murder–not just killing) has commited an enormity of tremendous proportions. It does not render a person a kaafir, as in non-Muslim. For example, the murderer is not told to say the Shahadah to return to Islam. The Muslim murderer is shrouded and prayed for and buried in the Muslim cemetery. He is clearly a Muslim according to the Shar`.

    We have to make a critical distinction between doing a sin and DEEMING THE SIN HALAAL. The former (doing the sin) is sinful. Claiming a sin is permissible is kufr (even if the person does not commit the sin himself). The latter is kufr because it entails rejecting what Allah revealed and the Prophet conveyed. The former may commit a sin either because he has succumbed to temptation or for a worldly gain. He knows and must admit he has done wrong. The latter is, in essence, saying: “Although Allah has made this forbidden, I am going to overturn the Law of Allah and deem it halaal.” This is clearly kufr. This kufr of belying (takdheeb) is especially common nowadays among the apologists/modernists and some of these quasi-traditionalist, so called “scholars” for dollars, that you mentioned.

    With Allah is the success.

  15. @ Swarth Moore, SoundMind..with all the accusations and interpolations on yours, we will just have to agree to disagree.

    “Any good is from Allah and any bad is of my own my faults, I ask forgivness” -Mos Def

    اللهم اهدني فيمن هديت, وعافني فيمن عافيت, وتولني فيمن توليت, و بارك لي فيما أعطيت

  16. Where do people find the time to put so much of their energy and brain power into debating an issue over which there is valid disagreement among scholars of the past and present?…I need to find out what you all do for a living, lol.

    Hip hop has become both a culture and a commodity. A study of of our Usuli tradition would demonstrate that the purpose of Revealed Law is to purify our cultures and commodities of kufr, shirk, bid’a and what is CLEARLY haram, not to blot them out entirely. My question is : Can Muslim hip hop not be purified from within without completely abandoning the art form and its positive elements?

    I know scores of brothers and sisters who embraced Islam because of the lyrics of 5%-ers in the 90s. What would happen if you had a cadre of Muslim hip hop artists who were striving to please Allah ta’ala and educate people about Islam with their craft and/or character?

    There are a number of underground Muslim rappers that live clean decent public lives who write inspiring and enlightening lyrics that reflect the spirit and letter of the Revealed Law.

    If you really are sincerely concerned about this issue and the affect this music has on the artists and those who listen to them your time would be better spent using your intellects, contacts, and financial resources to identify, produce, and promote these marginalized artists. Subhanalllah.


  17. Asalamu’alaykum Brothers

    I was born Muslim and raised Muslim. I had a tough time being forced to learn Islam by Old Imams preaching that if you did not do this or that that you will burn in the fires of hell. I lost my way from the age of 14 and rediscovered my roots and a thirst for knowledge through Hip Hop. I am referring to hip from late 80’s to early 90’s. My favourite artists at that time were public enemy, poor righteous teachers, Krs 1, but to name a few. Seems people have forgotten the whole point of why hip hop at that time had problems with airplay on the radio. IT HAD A POSITIVE MESSAGE TO PEOPLE FROM THE GHETTOES.

    It started to gain popularity and was not something the corporations can afford to accept. If you don’t realize this that the corporations like people to sound stupid and curse a lot, to party and drink which leads to fornication, to be materialistic, and so forth… But you forget what Hip hop meant to the people in the first place. Poetry of Hope within the struggle.

    In this time year 2009… you forget the struggles african american people went through and led to poetry thus changing to hip hop. The same struggles we as Muslims are going through right now: labelled terrorists, the disunity of our community, fighting amongst ourselves for selfish gain, egos, one being more right than the other… I amfrom South Africa and I see a lot of fallen Muslim brothers to drugs and AIDS, etc… yet their ears open to hip hop…

    I believe that it can once again be the vehicle for knowledge and positive messages. as in everything evil is something good and in everything good is something evil. the vehicle is only deemed what its owner uses it for… Think about this: Why would a pure Muslim brother be rapping about fornication or death or about materialism…

    Now going out of America to the rest of the world… Hip hop has gone underground with their positive message and check algeria, morrocco, etc and check their hop hop scene… they are mostly about upliftment and about the struggles.

    At the end of the day we should inform and uplift the youth and not cast them out or label them as kufr. Instead lead them and teach them “By any means necessary”, as permitted as halaal and decent. instead of telling people what not to do, show them the way as Suheib Webb discovered in Hop Hop… As surely when a spark of wisdom is lit in the minds of the young they can start their journey and quest for knowledge.

    Always remember this.

    So Muslim Brothers stop bickering on how evil Hip Hop is and use the vehicle for something positive. Or are you incapable of doing this except by showing evil all the time, this is evil, that is evil, blah blah blah… make a suggestion instead… That is the way forward to a solution.

    Blessings to all and may Allah guide us on our quest to teach the young and show them the Light as was shown to us.


  18. We are still talking about modernity, democracy, fun, easy ongoing, but do we forget that these attitude are colonial instruments in the way to stabilize post christianity as the world religion. is it not going back? 700 years bfroe Isalm was born?
    are we not victims of an imperialist power made in hollywood, harvard, moma?
    didn’t we celebrate obama’s appearing , like the messiahs around the world, it is not about deny modernity, but it schould have it’s roots in NON Western culture…
    I am sorry for who are just happy because there possibilities, money, vitamin B trimmed to talk and change the world.
    I miss intellectually in all this attitudes; in a muslim gils party, with hijab dancing with MJ, 50 cents, rapp or what ever.
    yes they are talking to west:
    Hey! look we are like you, love us, we are so sweet!

    what i am talking about is misunderstanding of modernity and barbarism, in the time that we are collecting non west cultural artifacts in the museum the world we are displacing it with western consumisem.
    for sure, it is free where to go, but the islam, if understand it has a spiritual sense,
    did you ever enjoy silence as music?
    I think going forward can be easier to go a ready made road, but it can be an dead end street.
    pop culture in general is an out coming from western culture, which was rejecting uncomfortable elements and use part of them to make their own way. so why we not?

  19. In act of fitnah and cowardice, the above user has shamelessly appropriated my full name and made the above comments in my name.

    To those who know me, I do not share such views and I do not express myself in such awful English.

  20. Dear real Damina Khaira, thank you for restoring my faith in bloggers. I know there is a lot of rubbish out there, but after reading the lengthy nonsense above I was thinking no sane mind could have taken the time to compose such rubbish and articulate it so badly to boot. Alas now I know it wasn’t a sane mind that was behind the endeavour, and I feel more at peace.

    Dear fake Damina Khaira. You really ought to get some help. Also identity theft is a serios offence, you could get into so big trouble. Actually I hope you do.

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