The non-Christian nature of music

There is no jihadist Bach-equivalent, writing Soli Deo Gloria at the top of stirring musical masterpieces. Islamist “religious zeal” leads to lack of music appreciation and the quenching of creativity. All Western music was officially banned in northern Mali in an August 22 decree issued “by a heavily bearded Islamist spokesman in the city of Gao” Morgan reports. The decree referred to such music as “the music of Satan.” It informed the Malian people that “Qur’anic verses must take its place.

from The Sound of Silence in Mali - November 1, 2012 - Faith J. H. McDonnell

There has been widespread condemnation of the new prohibition on music in Mali. It is rather ironic that such an edict has been widely reported while more fatal actions by Muslims against Christians are not. Ironic but not surprising, for people are more precious about music than they are about people. We see music as a vital expression and extension of ourselves, whereas people ... well, they die every day, whether we like it or not.

The Sharia-imposed prohibition on music should not surprise us. Music is not part of Islam because music flows from Christian joy. The consistent Muslim can see this, and whenever he gains power, he prohibits music as a Western influence.

That is his mistake and an unnecessary act. Music will not change a Muslim country into a Western Christian nation - anymore than a cherished heritage of Classical music has kept a nation such as the UK strong in its Christian beliefs. What shocks the non-Christian of the West is the lack of tolerance implied in not allowing people in Muslim nations to pick and choose over "neutral" and "non-divisive" activities like music. But of course music is not neutral and is always divisive.

Why would so many people fight so hard for the right to make music, which is a Christian art?

  1. In order to distort music away from its Christian nature. There is nothing like infiltration to destroy something.
  2. In order to lean on music as a substitute for religion.

The Christian does not believe in music. A Christian knows music as a beautiful means of proclaiming worth from a heart overflowing with Christian joy. No edict can change that.

Sadly, the statements coming from the musicians of Mali suggest that music is more to them than life itself:

"I'm a Muslim, but Sharia isn't my thing," says Rokia Traoré, one of Mali's most famous international stars. "If I couldn't go up on stage anymore, I would cease to exist. And without music, Mali will cease to exist."

from Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music by Andy Morgan - Tuesday 23 October 2012 17.29 BST

This is the problem. It is not a question of whether music can or should be tolerated under Islam. When music - under any guise - becomes an idol, then it becomes a rival religion and a threat to Islam. The musicians of Mali will no doubt show great courage in refusing to abide with the prohibition of music, but it is a terrible shame that they are not fighting from better motives than the glory of themselves.