Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sisters in Music: Female Muslim Rappers Collaborate

Hip hop was created in the '70s as a means for disillusioned Black and Latino youth to express their grievances and anger at the racism and neglect of the system. Today, although not always used for those political purposes, there does remain a strong segment of the hip hop population which uses this form of expression in political ways to bring to light their struggles and experiences with the system, whatever that system that may be. Muslimah Media Watch has highlighted hip hop and Muslim women before.

One of the women we covered earlier, Deeyah, has just released an album titled Sisterhood. As described on her MySpace page:

Sisterhood is the collective name for a mixtape project of previously unreleased songs written by young up and coming female Muslim rappers, singers and poetesses from the UK, Europe and US.

Their songs deal with a range of issues that each has been affected by on some level ranging from the war in Iraq to racism, love, romance, living in a post 9/11 world, to women's rights issues, faith and personal experiences of being young socially conscious Muslim women in the West.

Showcasing the work of 18 up-and-coming artists, Sisterhood presents a variety of topics, issues, and styles of hip hop. From violence against women, to political turmoil, from racism and social justice to personal struggles, loves, passions and experiences, and of course Islam, the women whose work is presented in Sisterhood provide a diversity of voices for young Muslim women growing up in the West.

These women are definitely defying the Western stereotype of the quiet, subservient Muslim woman. They are an alternative to the constant barrage of images of the woman in black, often thought to be helpless and weak. These women have something to say and they are saying it loud and clear. Rapping, singing, lamenting, expressing, crtitiquing. Like Deeyah, these women also demonstrate that women within the Muslim community can be diverse with a variety of ways of expressing their Muslim pride. Although not all the works have to do with being Muslim, these women have chosen to be included in a project specifically for showcasing the work of young Muslim women. These women have chosen to place their Muslim identity front and centre.

Just as much as Deeyah has given these women the support and venue they need to be heard, these women have also expressed their support of Deeyah, a woman who has been targeted by extremist Muslims for her self-portrayals, by linking their name to hers. An impactful example of a united voice of Muslim women against harrassments and threats.

Music has for centuries been a powerful and beautiful form of expression all around the world including the Muslim world. For centuries, poets, saints, worshippers of God, both men and women, have used music to express not only their love for God but their love and critiques of this world. These women are a part of the modern generation of Muslims using music to express themselves and get their message out to the masses.

To listen to the songs you can check out the MySpace page mentioned earlier or you can visit here.

Additionally, each woman on the compilation has a MySpace page of her own which you can link to from the main MySpace page. Do check them out.