Zeb And Haniya – Dadra

“Two days after a bombing in Lahore killed over 70 Pakistanis at an Easter gathering this year [2016], the pop duo Zeb and Haniya released ‘Dadra,’ which they dedicated to their beloved city. It’s a sweet lullaby of lament, the Urdu lyrics guided by an electric guitar’s undertow. Zeb and Haniya have found an especially strong following in South India. Zeb says she was surprised and touched by how many Indian fans wrote with sympathy from across the border” (The Economist, “1843 Magazine,” June/July 2016, p. 25).

Zeb and Haniya, cousins, are American college educated Pakistanis. They blend pop music with traditional melodies from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.

A Pakistani branch of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack. It appears to be a failed political mission: it killed mostly Muslims, and women and children, though the group’s apparent intent was to target Christian men.


Procol Harum – Something Following Me

The narrator of this 1967 song sees his own tombstone. Somehow, on places such as Twitter, Procol Harum have been mixed up with Boko Haram.

Boko Haram is a Nigerian-based group, widely considered terrorist, that in 2014 abducted about 200 girls. It has done so as ransom for its own prisoners.  It aims to establish a Muslim state based on sharia law. Its members and leadership oppose modern (Western) culture, and violently promote causes which may be ethnically motivated.

Psy – Kill Those F’ing Yankees

More damaging than the Macarena? Before the world was made a less culturally literate abode with Gangnam Style, Korean sensation Psy rapped,

Kill those f**king Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those f**king Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully

The slander is actually from a song called Dear America, by South Korean artists, NEXT. Psy performed with them in 2004. He has since apologized for this message, and it has been pointed out that back in the Korean War (1950-53), many Americans died in his country, for his freedoms. Still, the concert was held after a Korean missionary was beheaded by Islamic militants in Iraq.

Beastie Boys – In A World Gone Mad

In 2003, the Beastie Boys rapped about the war on terror. US President George W. Bush supposedly came up with the “war on terror” label (or one of his staffers). The term largely refers to US and UK efforts to rid the world of al-Qaeda, the militant Islamic organization seeking global Jihad (formerly headed by Osama bin Laden). Jihad is used in this sense (maybe, commonly, in a pejorative, loaded fashion) as a war against enemies of Islam. The Beastie Boys argue in this song that the war on terror is as much about U.S. imperialism and the egos of President Bush, as about protecting America from another 9/11.

Also by The Beastie Boys: Girls

Cat Stevens – Peace Train

“I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is,” sang Cat Stevens in 1971. This description of political life is usually followed by a prescription for change. Together, the two parts form an ideology.

While it may be beyond the scope of a rock song to demand it clearly point the way for peace, we can still ask, what will make everyone feel voluntarily compelled to purchase a ticket for this train? And further, perhaps a train as an old technology is not the best means to end war.

Cat, nonetheless, has walked the walk, devoting himself since his official retirement from the music business, to philanthropic causes.

His conversion to Islam in 1977 and subsequent seeming rise of this faith being connected to terrorism made many question the man’s commitment to peace. It must be said following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, that he did call such an atrocity contrary to the Qur’an (to Rolling Stone magazine).

Pragaash – Song Unknown

Most teenagers playing music after school should probably keep the garage door closed until they learn their instruments. That may not be what’s at stake for three muslim, Kashmiri girls that started, then stopped, their all-girl band. They won a local Battle of the Bands contest, but also had a fatwa issued against them for breaking Islamic code. As reported by various news sources including BBC News (Asia), South East Asia’s answer to the Runaways were criticized for demonstrating lewd and indecent behaviour for rocking out. Rather than continue, Pragaash (“Band of Lights”) is supposedly no more, voluntarily.

A fatwa could mean a death sentence, or just be like an opinion or nudge to respect and follow Islamic law. Whether a fatwa is respected depends on the reputation of the issuer (a mufti: a scholar). Kashmir is Indian-controlled territory, disputed as part of India or Pakistan.

It would be great to HEAR their music more than the few seconds the above clip includes.

Relevant songs covered here: Pussy Riot, Punk Prayer (Russia) and Sosan Firooz, Our Neighbors (Afghanistan)

Toby Keith – The Taliban Song

The pretty, 1970s soft rock melody disguises country music criticism of Islam and the Taliban, in support of American troops and President George W. Bush. Does the humour in the 2003 song belittle the importance of the message to its political adherents?

The Taliban is the radical movement of Islam that has guided/oppressed Afghanistan, and other places, with Sharia law. Its allies were of course behind the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Sharia law is like the religious and moral code for Islam. It is criticized for not respecting human rights, free speech, women and sexual orientation, though defenders might opine it has been demonized in the creation of a modern enemy for the West. As the redneck country outlaw he portrays, Toby Keith could be sometimes labelled with the same insensitivity?