With the recent success of the screenings of the independent film DeenTight plus the nationwide phenomenon of New Muslim Cool on PBS, there has been a lot of buzz about Islam and hip-hop culture. On Sunday, August 2, at the Ta'leef Collective in Fremont, CA, former breakdancer and current scholar Shaykh Abdullah Ali will discuss the often controversial subject of entertainment, culture, and creativity in the Islamic worldview.
Shaykh Abdullah, a scholar at the Zaytuna College (based in Berkeley), will hold a workshop that has already received keen interest not only from within the Muslim community but also in other diverse sectors. Christians and Rastafarians have approached the organizers with questions seeking clarity on this hot topic.
The controversial topic of music in Islam has been long debated in hallways at mosques, in circles of learning, and in the blogosphere. It will be intriguing to see how popular culture and Islam will either embrace or collide. Conservative elements might vehemently deny any association between the two, while liberal elements will merge them in ways that might seem blasphemous.
With the recent death of Michael Jackson, this is no doubt a timely workshop that will engender discussion throughout the nation. Was he Muslim? Had he converted? These questions have been on the lips and minds of many. Regardless of his religious affiliations, the facts are: he was the King of Pop, he broke records in the music industry, he was highly praised, and his brother Jermaine did convert to Islam. Those facts, however, do not necessary have a bearing on Michael's faith. [Side note: I was glad to see Jermaine sing Michael's favorite song, "Smile," during Michael's memorial at the Staples Center. Smiling was the way of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.]
Two of America's leading Muslim scholars, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir, have already written tributes to Michael Jackson. This workshop will allow Shaykh Abdullah Ali to voice his thoughts on the Moonwalker.
Here are more details about the workshop:
Session I: Scholarly Consensus in the Purview of Culture
Session II: Islam and Popular Culture (Entertainment and Art)
Session III: Questions and Answers
Details on location, time, and registration can be found at the event website.
This workshop will be recorded and made available as a digital download through the Zaytuna Knowledge Resources program in the near future.