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Robert Spencer

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February 15, 2013 - 8:00 am
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Musical instruments, flutes, strings, and crucifixes! This command came with a warning: Muhammad is also supposed to have said that “on the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress,” for “song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage.” He warned that the Muslim community would one day experience times of tribulation, featuring “the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones.”

When his followers asked him when this would be, he answered: “When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful.” There would come a dark day, he said, when even some Muslims would “hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful.” (‘Umdat al-Salik r40.0)

It isn’t hard to see why the creators of martial polities and new, aggressively expansionistic political and societal systems such as Lenin and Muhammad would disdain music. For music is an expression of the human spirit – the very thing that these totalitarians were trying to master. And no music so fully expresses the anti-totalitarian impulse, and the dignity and value of every human person, than does jazz.

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But there is such a wealth of music in the Arab and Persian world. Who cares what some cramped, neurotic religious freak has to say? It will never diminish the sheer grandeur of the Persian santur. I listen to modern (and classical) Farsi and Arab music all the time. I think it's a feature of their cultures worth celebrating.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Chairman Mao banned most forms of music. Ayatollah Khomeini banned western music. Plato, the grandfather of totalitarianism, said the Philsopher King would ban musical instruments capable of changing keys. Dogmas that believe in thought control also believe in controlling music.
http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/Plato.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When do we get to start raining stones down upon the Muslims?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
To answer the question posed in the headline, perhaps Lenin and Muhammad couldn't even play with themselves.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Music brings joy, and joy is the opposite of terror."
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Music not only brings joy. It can bring despondency and grief. It can exhilarate. It can depress. It can make you weep. It can put you to sleep.

Music is a catalyst for emotional feelings. It is a trigger. It is very mysterious how that works. But I think the closest analogue would be narcotics or amphetamines. Music can have the same effect.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually you guys come close, and I suggest you reread 1984.

What you absolutely have is a calling of one person to another, for any reason, because communication brings trust, in time.

Can't have anything you can't control.

I do wonder too what RickMZ's point is: he would be better gone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, Mr. Spencer, anyone yet made an Islamic ruling on whether hip hop is Islamic and hence bannable?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I mean, whether hip hop is music, hence banable
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One more proof that collectivism in almost all its forms is elementary evil personified.

Teamwork and cooperation for mutual benefit? Hell, yeah! Suppression of individual spirit and creativity? Bah, humbug!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Make a joyful noise to the Lord.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Now this is fun.

Truthfully, these ideas are by no means limited to Jazz. As you noted, all music is a form of individual expression – though the classic American traditions of Jazz, Blues & Country are perhaps the most free in doing so. It is one of those historical truisms that during the Cold War it was our Rock & Roll culture that was our strongest weapon against the Commies.

I worked in the music industry for ten years, and for me, nothing was more expressive for me than Blues. In fact, while all genres encourage the learning of ‘the classics’ – you know, those old standards everyone loves – Blues encourages you to avoid mimicking said classics as much as possible.

Jazz always held a special place for me too, though there was never a strong market for it here in the South. Personally, I always preferred Swing – the big orchestras led by Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman. I’d be curious to see your opinions of blues and swing, Mr. Spencer.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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