Deen Squad’s Music: Halal or Haram?

For those who haven’t seen it yet, Deen Squad have just dropped their latest and most controversial music video to date:

The music video to their song, Jannah, a ‘Muslim’ version of Desiigner’s Panda, released yesterday, includes not just a full on hip-hop beat, but Jae Deen and Karter busting obscenely brave dance moves, too. It’s quite the spectacle and certainly unsettling the first time you view it.

Deen Squad, since rising to fame a year ago, have been on the radar of conservative and ultra-conservative Muslims who’ve criticised and often vehemently attacked the group for what they do. But will these Muslims now finally now lay off? Is there any more point? Have Deen Squad finally won?

It’s almost as if, the more they’re criticised, the more Deen Squad push the boundaries with even more controversial material.

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Deen Squad, if you haven’t already heard of them, are a Canadian-based hip-hop duo, who are known for their Muslim covers of popular mainstream hits. They’ve caused a ruckus within the Muslim community for their use of music, dancing, certain lyrics (“72 wifeys, that’s why I be heading to Jannah/72, chillin, hoor al Ayn, women/ I got broads up in Jannah/ 72 in the after – note: these lyrics are taken from their original Panda remix, not the music video), as well as their general brashness, with fears they are misleading millions of young Muslims away from their faith. Interestingly, just as hip-hop originally emerged out of struggle and oppression, Deen Squad, it could be argued, are also emerging out of the post-9/11 context in which Muslims have had to struggle to find their place in the modern world, having faced demonisation and social injustice.

Deen Squad, as it were, are fighting back against the Islamophobes, challenging every stereotype of what it is to be a Muslim today. They are speaking to a new generation of Muslims in a way that nobody has done, or dared to, before. They are loud, bold, confident and, dare I say, cocky. Their music permeates various indirect but powerful messages to the collective Muslim psyche, one of which seems to be: be proud of who you are, your beliefs, cultures, ethnicities, even right down to your clothes.

But are they going about this all in the right way? Are they actually leading Muslims astray and can their music be outright classified as haram, or is there more to it?

To some, it seems obvious. Music is haram. Dancing is haram. Therefore what Deen Squad are doing, despite their lyrics being about the Islamic faith, is still haram. But we can’t deny that they have a huge and massively growing fan base, most of whom can’t see much of the other perspective, believing not only that Deen Squad are doing something permissible, but a great and honourable thing.

Saying Deen Squad’s music is haram is easy, and saying it isn’t haram is easy, too. They’re just statements. But we desperately need a mature discussion about it. Islam certainly isn’t black and white. The Sharia is flexible, nuanced and can be open to interpretation, especially in certain circumstances and different times. That’s not to say what they are doing is halal, but we should at least be willing to understand what Deen Squad are thinking, as well as – and I have no doubt about this – the other groups that will emerge as a result of being inspired by them.

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Those who defend Deen Squad claim that people are converting to Islam because of their music, that young Muslims are being provided an alternative that are weening them off the filth that the mainstream produces, that it’s giving young Muslims  a new sense of purpose, direction and identity that they can be proud of, and is providing a form of entertainment that, in some way, reminds them of their faith. If this is the case, and I don’t deny there is some truth in this, should what they’re doing be written off? 

Again, this is not a justification or approval, but things we must talk about. Let’s say, for example, a whole ‘Islamic’ hip-hop industry emerges as a result of Deen Squad, whereby a whole generation stop listening to mainstream hip-hop and opt to listen to this new genre, isn’t it a step forward, or the lesser of two evils? Is listening to Deen Squad better than mainstream hip-hop?

If you watch Deen Squad’s music video for Jannah without the sound, you will see them smiling throughout and Islamic messages plastered everywhere. It’s not exactly a complete replica of the dark, misogynistic and materialistic music videos music fans are now accustomed to seeing with subtle and often explicit satanic themes throughout.

But the question is, what will they do next? If Deen Squad want to keep making money, they must keep things new and fresh. But how long can you maintain a hype and keep people interested if you don’t keep pushing boundaries, especially in our fast-paced world? The companies behind the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga et al realised this and that’s why they’re videos progressively became more extreme.

Will Deen Squad have hijabi women dancing in their videos? Will Karter take his top off? Will Muslim boys and girls mix freely?

I mean, how far do you go to compete with the mainstream, especially considering millions of Muslims are completely wrapped up in it? How far do you go to attract people to Islam, in particular, non-Muslims, who already have a negative impression of the faith? All of this is dangerous and dubious territory that I don’t think anyone has the answers to.

Deen Squad have flaws, major flaws. Their lyrics are often shallow, at times they perpetuate the stereotypes they should be trying to shatter (are you really trying to get to Jannah for the women?), sometimes they seem desperate for likes and shares and you know there’s something slightly wrong when they have to keep repeating that they are sincere.

Whatever we think of them, this is the just the beginning.

@omar_shahid

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4 Comments

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  1. There are five rules on music within Islam:
    1. No profane or bad words that go against Islamic ways
    2. No idle words that don’t hold any meaning
    3. No beat that encourages dancing
    4. You shouldn’t listen to it if you personally can’t without feeling like committing haram
    5. No extravagance taken in the music such as buying fifty sports cars for your video (the money and resources can be used for more beneficial things)

  2. you didnt tell me the whole reply

  3. You must realise though, lets say things do break out and their sort of music is the only sort that the youth will listen to, inevitably (and I emphasis that) the disbelievers will take control of it all (as they do) and manipulate it and perhaps do more damage than they do with the ‘filth’ music going around today because at least muslims who listen to that music KNOW it’s haram. Whereas this makes something haram seem halal. And isn’t their whole thing contradictory? ‘Deen squad’ name who post deen related songs with something that’s haram? Music. No?

    All their music is doing is making kids think that music is halal, therefor, while they may be listening to deen squad, they’ll also feel entitled to listen to other music. Why can’t they do acapella instead? Or spoken words? Why the need for music? It’s misleading and misguiding a lot of people.

    People used to fabricate Hadith for the ‘greater good’ but that didn’t mean what they did wasn’t haram and it doesn’t mean they won’t be punished. Or interest lets say, if you take out an interest based loan to start a business where you’ll give 60% of profit to charity. That doesn’t make it okay.

    What they’re doing is haram. Full stop.

    The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
    “Among my ummah there will certainly be people who permit zinaa, silk, alcohol and musical instruments…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari ta’leeqan, no. 5590; narrated as mawsool by al-Tabaraani and al-Bayhaqi.)

    • May Allaah reward you!! Music is haram. Dancing to it is haram. Mimicking the kufar is haram.

      Furthermore, the lyrics saying that we should all unite because we all say we are Muslim and then specifically mentioning the shia. They are without a doubt amongst the misguided groups.

      This notion of uniting with the shia is shameful. They say the quran is incomplete. They say that Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) knows the past, the future and everything in between. They are the ones that make duaa to the dead and ask from them.

      Is this not all shirk?!

      The quran is complete:
      “…This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…” Maida 5:3

      No one knows the future:
      ‘ Say( O Muhammad), “I hold not for myself [the power of] benefit or harm, except what Allah has willed. And if I knew the unseen, I could have acquired much wealth, and no harm would have touched me. I am not except a warner and a bringer of good tidings to a people who believe.’ Al A’raf 7:188

      Islam is to worship Allaah, and Him alone. If Islam allowed any of this then what was the purpose of its revelation.
      The Quraish believed in Allaah. What they did was associate partners to Him by praying to the creation instead of worshipping Him alone. They were kuffar in the time of jahilliya.

      Why do we reject the Christians? They make Jesus (peace and blessings on him and his mother) their lord by praying to him.

      Why do we reject the Jews? They took Allaah’s laws and twisted them for their own purposes. Is this not the same thing with those that allow music, riba, and say that hijab is not wajib?

      What about modern groups such as Nation of Islam? They believe the Black man is god. May Allaah protect us. They call themselves muslims. Should we unite with them? What about Deobandi, Sufis, Druze, Habash, ISIS, Al Qaida, Ba’ath, Alewites and etc.? They all claim Islam.

      All Muslims should unite on the Quran and the authentic statements of the Prophet based on the understanding of the Sahaba. Success will come only to those that follow Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon).

      This is foolishness upon foolishness. May Allaah guide Deen Squad and all of us.

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