A World Without Music
and Literature As We Know It
Abubakar Shariff Ahmed is not a hard man to find. Ask around in the Majengo area of Mombasa and people will know where he lives. But ask around too conspicuously and you are likely to arouse suspicion.
Mr Ahmed is perhaps better known by his nickname, Makaburi. It means "graveyard" in Swahili…
Makaburi's manner may be charming but his beliefs are uncompromising. The time is near he told me. An army of Allah will rise up out of the desert. It will come bearing a black flag and establish a global Islamic caliphate.
He denies recruiting for al-Shabab, or calling on his followers to travel to Somalia to fight.
"I do not have any followers," he says at one point.
I nod towards the bearded teenagers. "Who are they?" I ask.
"They have come to ask my advice," he says.
His advice is that, if Islam is under attack, which he says it is, then it is every Muslim's duty to wage jihad.
After the interview we sat together on the roof where the breeze had picked up and the air was beginning to cool.
"Let me invite you to Islam," he said, breaking once more into that charming smile.
I smiled back. "Regretfully," I said, "I am an atheist."
He screwed up his face, and waved towards the two bearded students, loitering now next to a nearby pigeon coop. "Look at them," he said. "Each from a different Kenyan tribe, and me from yet another. But thanks to Islam, we are brothers. Religion brings us together."
I countered with a story I had once heard on this very programme.
A BBC reporter in Bosnia, during the war in the 1990s, had asked an elderly gentleman whether he was a Croat or a Muslim? The man's reproachful response had struck home:
"I am a musician," he had said. Music could unite where religion divided.
Makaburi was unimpressed. "Everywhere there is music, there is ungodliness," he said …
But let me give you a copy of the Koran," he pleaded. "You read it, you will see."
I promised I would, but on one condition. Would Makaburi in return listen to my favourite jazz album, and tell me honestly what he thought?
He looked disgusted. "No," he said, "no way. I have not listened to music for more than a decade."
A question about music played during a newscast answered by Saudi Arabian Islamic scholar and Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999:
Question: What is the ruling regarding a beneficial show, such as the news or a commentary on the news, which is disrupted intermittently by a few seconds of music?
Answer: There is no harm in listening to these shows as long as you turn off the radio while the music is being played, since music is unlawful, may Allah make it easy for us to avoid music and may He protect us from its evil.
Shaykh Abdul-`Azeez Bin Baz
How who would you know when the music as ended and you can safely turn the volume back up?
To be safe, I would have recommended getting your news from another medium e.g. the newspaper. Then, of course, you run the risk of inadvertently gazing upon prohibited images such as a not fully cloaked female or, god-forbid, an illustration of the Prophet. This may explain why many observant believers in the West depend on their imam, usually during the Friday sermon, to keep them abreast of current events and what their reaction should be.
It is unfortunate that more people don't take up the challenge and read the Koran. Maybe then they would realize it's not only music that a triumphant Islam will annihilate, but all forms of art and artistic expression not limited to meaningless geographic figures, including all writing which it is not a panegyric to a god who cannot be praised enough.
Telling, is the paucity of books translated into Arabic, and Al-Qaeda's credo.
Spain translates as many books into Spanish each year as the entire Arab worlds has translated into Arabic since the ninth century.
Sam Harris, The End of Faith - Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason, 2004, W. W. Norton
Any study beside that of the Quran is a distraction, except the Hadith and jurisprudence in the religion. Knowledge is what He narrated to us, and anything other than that is the whispering of the Satan.
Al-Qaeda's credo as stated in the December 2000 edition of the Taliban's English-language magazine The Islamic Emirate.
Western Civilisation is very much defined by the pursuit of empirical knowledge, beginning with the Greeks of Antiquity. Islam would drown everything that defines us as a civilization in a sea of revealed truths.