No More Music for Muslims: The Spiritual Journey of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

PJ Lifestyle Editor's Note:

This is Part 11, the conclusion, of Volume 1 of Robert Spencer's Jazz and Islam series. Yes -- Volume 1 does imply the intent for Robert to return to this subject again in the future so we can someday produce a Volume 2. As the Islamic War Against Freedom has intensified and arisen again into the foreground of public consciousness, Robert and I have decided on a new cultural angle through which he will seek to illuminate each week's dark, confusing stories of jihad terrorism. I won't reveal the secret yet of just what Robert's new focus will be. But perhaps this astounding article today revealing the troubled story of a lost young man who poisoned his mind with deadly ideas will provide a hint of what's to come...

-- David Swindle 

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who along with his brother Dzhokhar murdered three people and wounded nearly 200 more with twin bombs at the Boston Marathon, was a musician. John Curran, Tamerlan’s boxing coach, recalled: “He also played the piano very well.” The Lowell Sun reported that “Tsarnaev also studied music at a school in Russia and played piano and violin.”

As late as 2010, according to Gene McCarthy of the Somerville Boxing Club in Massachusetts, Tsarnaev was still playing:

“I brought him to the registration” for a boxing tournament, “and while he was waiting in line, he saw a piano and was playing classical music like it was Symphony Hall.”

However, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that “in the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.”

If the family members’ story is accurate, which, of course, it may very well not be, it isn’t hard to imagine what happened. The “new friend,” this “Muslim convert,” told Tsarnaev that the music he was playing was sinful, un-Islamic, forbidden, and would only lead him and those who heard it to hell. He had to give it up.

We have seen this before. In this series on Jazz and Islam, we have seen how Bilal Philips, whose guitar playing had been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix, gave up his instrument when he converted to Islam, explaining: “When I became a Muslim, I felt uncomfortable doing this and gave it up both professionally and privately.” Now a noted Islamic supremacist imam with a history of inflammatory statements, Philips has declared:

A heart filled with music will not have room for God’s words.

This accords with words ascribed to Muhammad: “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.” The dark day, he is supposed to have said, when some Muslims would go so far astray that they would dare to “hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful.” (‘Umdat al-Salik r40.0)

Tamerlan Tsarnaev wanted to get righteous. He wanted to cleanse his soul and his life of anything that might displease Allah or run counter to Islam. And so his piano playing, as accomplished as it apparently was, had to go.

In which scenario would the world be a better place: one in which Tamerlan Tsarnaev became or remained essentially a Muslim in name only, maintaining an indifference to his faith’s teachings of hatred and violence against unbelievers, and becoming a pianist of some accomplishment, or one in which he rejected all that was sinful and dedicated his life to Islam, such that he eventually got the idea that murdering some infidels at the Boston Marathon would be a capital way to please the god who commanded him to “slay the idolaters wherever you find them” (Qur’an 9:5) and to “strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (Qur’an 8:60)?

It was, after all, the same commitment to the teachings of Islam that led Tsarnaev to give up music on the one hand and pursue jihad terror on the other.

And yet after the Boston Marathon jihad bombings and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s admission that they were carried out in order to defend Islam, the Atlantic Wire ran a piece titled “The Boston Bombers Were Muslim – So?” Predictably, it completely ignored the jihad doctrine of warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers, and the necessity for free nations to formulate effective strategies to defend themselves against jihad terror and Islamic supremacism. Chris Matthews asked: “What difference does it make why they did it if they did it?” And Martin Bashir lamented about how the bombers were “burying the ‘peace, compassion and kindness of the Koran.’”

There is a cost to this politically correct obfuscation. Part of it was paid at the Boston Marathon. Anyone who might have thought at the time that Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s giving up music for Islam was alarming would have been branded “Islamophobic” and “hateful.” It is long past time for a searching and thorough public examination of the elements of Islamic piety that encourage violence and supremacism, and for a challenge to be issued to the Muslim community in the U.S. to renounce those elements in word and deed, and to teach against them. It is long past time to stop pretending that the Islamic jihad threat is not real, or has nothing to do with Islamic teachings. Muslim organizations in the U.S. must reject, sincerely and in action as well as words, the elements of Islam that contradict Constitutional freedoms, or face the law enforcement scrutiny that should have been coming to them long ago.

Interspersed throughout this article are four stellar examples of piano jazz that the pious Muslim Tamerlan Tsarnaev would have despised and detested. As this series on jazz and Islam ends, one final thought: free people would be better off without such piety.