“Journey Within,” Week 13: Islam in the West – Islamic Hip Hop and Punk Rock

“Journey Within” – a rap by Paoa Montgomery

(read lyrics posted below while listening to recording)

 Rap Audio Recording

 

Settin’ sail down the sunnah speaking shahadah

To find the Light in my soul is my one desire

On a mission to find my ambition

My identity in need of restoration

 

O Allah, take me on a journey within

My friends, join me on a journey within

O Allah, take me on a journey within

My friends, join me on a journey within

 

Walkin’ and prayin’ with outer impressions of tradition

But down inside I fight to survive modernization

My kurti ain’t sexy for Western fashion

It’s the ethnic exception not cultural expression

 

O Allah, take me on a journey within

My friends, join me on a journey within

O Allah, take me on a journey within

My friends, join me on a journey within

 

Watchin’ the morphin’ of trees gives to me nostalgia

Yet I must adapt not look back or lose sense of His power

Keep roots in the ground to which self is beholden

Introspect, reflect, and feel the core strenghten

 

O Allah, guide us on a journey within

My friends, unite on a journey within

O Allah, guide us on a journey within

My friends, unite on a journey within

____________

To reflect on the literature read and discussed this week regarding the rise of Islamic hip-hop and punk rock culture, I decided to compose and record my own rap song. Hip-hop activism has spread rapidly in recent years as a form of artistic expression aimed at spreading awareness and combating the display of “Islamophobia” in the West. Rap has been a particularly popular medium for getting important messages across about racial, cultural and religious sensitivity and identity. Therefore, my rap lyrics intend to capture the theme of “self-identity” and the struggle one goes through to define or find oneself and one’s place in the world. The inspiration for this rap came from reading Mohsin Hamid’s book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which tells the story of a young man’s life struggle to balance his Pakistani and American identity in an increasingly modernized world. As Changez, the young man, adapts to his new environment in New York City, he begins to lose his sense of self-identity and his connection with his culture and homeland (he’s from Lahore, Pakistan). His life story reflected a long personal journey of introspection and discovery whereby each experience led to a key self-realization.

The individual speaking through my rap mirrors this sense of introspection that Changez experienced in Hamid’s novel. The rapper is setting off on a ‘journey within’ down the righteous path (sunnah) set by the Prophet Muhammad in search of God (the Light) through whom she will be able to discover his own self and self-purpose. She calls upon Allah to guide her and her friends to join her on this journey so that her peers who come from the same background can unite together not only in finding their spiritual selves through God, but also in connecting through their common cultural identity. She encourages herself and those around her to adapt rather than resist morphing environments, but to stay rooted in your culture and background while doing so. So in sum, my rap speaks to never forgetting where you come from and what you’re culturally/religiously rooted in, but also to progressing forward on a journey of self-growth and discovery in order to find God within your soul and thus strengthen your core identity.

 

Published in:Uncategorized |on May 6th, 2014 |No Comments »

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