Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Good and Bad: Two Faces of the Arab Modernity

Dancing with the Saudi flag, on which coranic verses are written, is not something to be done, especially when you have already been seen drunken on a stage in Dubai. All the worst if you have been the partner of the outrageous Dina whose belly dance was close to set fire to the Cairene street in October 2006 when an hysterical crowd of young men started to harass every passing-by woman. (An information which was mainly reported by the local bloggers whose importance began to be clear with that event.)

Thus, Saad al-Saghir (سعد الصغير) had many reasons to “repent” as many others did before him recording religious songs (see previous post). A contribution which raises some interrogations among the lovers of the high tradition of nasheed.

Nonetheless, others see nothing problematic with that modernization of the nasheed which can be heard on Arab TV’s among other (non religious) musicals songs.

With the success of Sami Yusuf’s songs, the modern nasheed has given up the old fashion style. Thanks to digitalization, the ban of musical instruments is no more a problem. Singers like Kuwaiti Alafassy make clear that today religious songs may deal with new issues like ecology. Even relations between men and women may be tackled in a musical genre strictly restricted before to divine love.

One could suspect, or even make fun of such a quick shift from shameless behaviour to a so pious one. But the coming back to virtuous behaviours is a complex phenomenon. For some singers, TV and movie stars probably, but certainly for most of the Arab youth who admire them and watch them, the “bad” cheeky fruit seller dancing in an outrageous way and the “good” devout young muslim singing his love to God are in fact two inseparable sides of the Arab modernity.

Follow that link to read the original and more detailed post in French.

And to whach an almost "satanic" dance by Saad al-Saghir follow this link and then shift to the pious singer with that video of Ahmidu rabba-na

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