By Saadia Humayun
I am the sort of person who can pull up a song from any word in a conversation. And can also pull up a Quranic verse from the same convo. No, I do not have acoustic bipolar, thank you very much. It just depends on which side of the bed I woke up that day.
I had to call my demons before writing this particular piece.
To revisit what it used to be like listening to music oblivious to everything else- but those beats.
Heck, those intoxicating beats…
‘Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie’ as John Milton puts it. And it is a sweet, deadly seduction…
Imagine the horror of waking up on the Last Day, right next to Rihanna.
Or maybe behind Fifty Cent. And there’s that One Direction you worshipped all your life.
All your celebs resurrected and rounded in one bloc. You feel the sun burning you to nothingness. Suddenly, you wonder where Rihanna kept her Umbrella. The thought sounds as useless as the song was meaningless, back in that other world. And Akon saying you can put the blame on me, doesn’t sound convincing enough anymore or apologetic, for that matter. You find yourself in a live nightmare feat. Lil Wayne. And Jay Sean reassures you in a drunken stupor, that It ain’t the end of the world but you know better. You were Starstruck. You had followed these people back then, lived by their rules and now you all get to be together. Forever. Just not on your own terms.
And there’s no red carpet. Only a burning furnace, as you and your divas, take the walk of shame.
“Play the way you feel it,
But listen to the sound,
Of your loneliness,
Like a heartbeat, drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had,
And what you lost”
I will not debate on music being haraam or not-so-haraam. For the word has lost its God-given impact and hardly fazes anyone anymore, considering we go labelling all and sundry with it. But I do know that nothing is more addictive than a bunch of senseless rhymes strung on a chord, backed up by killer vocals. It consumes you. You fill your ears with it, your time, and the emptiness inside you. You seek to become one with the music you love. At least, that is what that happened to me. And as a recovering song-aholic, I find myself qualified enough to make the claim, that it’s no herculean feat to give up music. It was fairly easy. I just fell in love with better keynotes and with lyrics, that have more depth than Beyoncé can ever put behind her vocals.
The Quran had me on its first verse. The subtle nuances in its text, the way connotations changed as words evolved, and how everything made perfect sense, no matter which way you look at a verse- was mind blowing. It was neither poetry nor prose, but something that perplexed me and dismantled all that I had been lead to believe my entire life. It was, undoubtedly, the best thing that happened to me. That was the day I sent everything else, to the literature compost bin. And I think I understood, why people took a complete 180 degree turn, just by listening to a couple of verses, back in the good old days. And of course, I mean a deeper study of the Quran, when I talk of myself. The translation we’ve been reading all the while growing up, does the Book severe injustice.
Well, in all fairness, giving up music wasn’t really that simple. I had been trying to rid myself of it long before I ventured into Quranic studies. Who wants to be controlled by ramblings of a miserable poet, with that sorry excuse of rhyming they call lyrics? There were times, when I would fall back into a relapse after a week or even after a day, with no bass thundering down my eardrums. Now that I think of it, I had nothing else better to do with my time, and hence, the repercussions I suppose. It was only once, that I had committed myself to some serious studying of religion, that I stopped listening to music for real. And never looked back.
No, it wasn’t the “extremist” epidemic that hit me. I just found a million productive things to do, rather than let bacteria take over my ear, with all that headphone usage. The temptation to put the earphones back on, is still there. Just not in the same magnitude. You might succumb to it, but don’t let that stop you from trying. Ever.
So, if you are that person with an appreciation for acoustics and good lyrics or even good tunes, then you have all the makings of an aspiring Quran student. Trust me, you will not be disappointed. Your life will have a great deal more rhyme and reason.
“O You who believe! Shall I guide you to a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in Allâh and His Messenger, and that you strive hard in the Cause of Allâh with your wealth and your lives, that will be better for you, if you but know!” (61:10-11)
Here is Allah Almighty, offering us a transaction for a win-win situation. And here we go- striking deals with the devil himself. And we all know how that ends up. You sell your soul to the devil (strictly metaphorically speaking). Movies, at least, got that part right. So, will you trade your playlist for a shot at Jannah? It will not be an easy road, as the verse implies, but definitely well worth the trouble.
“To the Muslim youth- beware of the Pied Piper.”– Khalid Baig
PS: I mentioned I had a meet with my demons before I began writing this. I plugged the earphones in and hit play on a song I once liked. All I heard was some dude, who liked the sound of his own voice trying to sound cool over a mic.
PPS: I also mentioned I’m a recovering song-aholic. Emphasis on recovering. There’s no “recovered” stage. The minute you lead yourself to believe otherwise, you are going to drop your guard.