Welcome to my blog!

This blog is an honest look at what life is like for this particular American convert to Islam. We're taught in Islam to cover our sins, to not air them, for fear of lessening the severity of sinning. In this blog, I may relate past indiscretions from time to time. This isn't to make light of them, but in the interest of educating Muslims and non-Muslims alike as to the realities of life as an American convert, I present my mistakes honestly. I make no excuses for them, nor do I claim that they were okay to make. I am not perfect, and I make no pretenses as to that. If others can learn from my past, know that Islam, and religion in general, is open for people no matter what mistakes they've made, then I will gladly air my sins when needed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Listening to GaGa, thinking about God.

Lady GaGa's song topics, for the most part, and all of her outfits, aren't halal.  I'm not condoning messing round with a stranger's disco stick, or texting whilst dancing.  Her songs are mostly vapid, vacuous, and only fit for when you really don't want to think about anything and you just want something brainless to bop around to.

But I've been listening to her a lot, and it got me thinking about God.  More to the point, it got me thinking about our relationship with rhythm and how it relates to our relationship with God.  Since the first time some ancient proto-human discovered that banging rocks together could produce a rhythm, or that hollow logs of varying sizes made different noises, or that stretching their vocal chords in a certain way made a pretty noise, music has been an integral part of humanity.  A strong, deep, steady beat is one of the most primal things you can experience these days, and can serve to jazz you up far more than a pep-talk from your coach.  In fact, when my sister was at soccer practice one day, there was some sort of drum group going on and we could only hear the drums, but she herself said that it got her more enthused about practice.

Music has been used in religion since religion started.  More precisely, rhythm has been used in religion since religion started, and it's the rhythm of Lady GaGa's music that got me thinking about God.  Some of her songs have a strong beat to them, a strong rhythm to the words and music, and it gets me moving.  It gets me thinking about how music and rhythm can have powerful effects on our emotions, lifting them up or taking them down.  Rhythm is therapeutic; I can't count how many times I've put an angry song on repeat and thrashed away until I've felt better, or at least have exhausted myself.  I can't count how often I've put on a sad song to help me cry my way through one sort of grief or another.  I can't count how often music has brought me closer to God, uplifted my spirit and brought me out of depression.

I don't hold that music is haram.  Its subjects can be, but I don't always listen to it for its content, or even interpret its content the way that the lyrics do.  Whiskey Lullaby (YouTube link), by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss, is about infidelity driving a couple apart, and them drinking themselves to death over it.  I don't take this as permission or encouragement to be unfaithful or to drink, I take it as a song about love and loss, the dangers of letting your pride or fleeting desires ruin your happiness, and the need to reach out for help when you need it.  And sometimes, I listen to it when I need to cry for whatever reason.

Take the Pussycat Dolls, for example:
One, someone get these ladies some food; they're wasting away!  Two, and seriously, this really doesn't look like the sort of group who would be promoting anything other than bowing down to men's sexual desires.  Well, maybe they administer spankings on an as-needed basis.  I wonder if they take sandwiches as payment ...

But here are some of their lyrics:
"I see you looking at me
Like I got something that's for you
And the way that you stare
Don't you dare
'Cause I'm not about to
Just give it all up to you
'Cause there are some things I won't do
And I'm not afraid to tell you
I don't ever want to leave you confused
I don't need a man to make it happen
I get off being free
I don't need a man to make me feel good
I get off doing my thing
I don't need a ring around my finger
To make me feel complete
So let me break it down
I can get off when you ain't around"
--- "I Don't Need a Man"

Or the lyrics for the songs "Wait a Minute" and "Beep."  Do the Pussycat Dolls dress like whores? Yes.  Do at least three of their songs talk about being themselves and not needing a man, or to bow down to a man's desires just because he bought them something sparkly?  Yes.

I've lost my train of thought.  Moral of the story: Listening to Lady GaGa makes me think of God.

1 comment:

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