Heavy Metal Islam

One of the best books I have read recently is “Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam” by Mark LeVine.

Who knew there were headbangers in the Middle East! I certainly did not. Did you? I heard about this book on Jean Feraca’s Here on Earth Wisconsin Public Radio show. She archives her shows, so to listen to Mark LeVine discuss his book go to http://www.wpr.org/hereonearth/archive_080925k.cfm

I am not a headbanger (my musical tastes are dull and a bit odd I have been told), but this book is about so much more than Heavy Metal music. Its about musicians (who are mostly Muslim) living in the Middle East and North Africa who are just trying to play their music. But as we all know, music that is different and that is against the status quo, is often misunderstood and frowned upon (perhaps I am phrasing it a bit too politely, as these musicians face repression and violence for playing their music and writing songs that speak the truth about the countries in which they live) by the those in power. LeVine is a musician and has a PhD in Middle East Studies, so he knows what he is talking about. The book is very well written and easy to follow, as he takes the reader around North Africa and the Middle East; talking to musicians, playing with musicians and listening to music from a variety of artists (which even includes a few women…I know…Muslim women headbangers! wild!).

Some quotes I liked from this book include:

“We play heavy metal because our lives are heavy metal” (1)

“Music can be a cure, but only for those who want to listen. We can’t make the blind see” (129)

“But music can bridge the gap between religion and the people; that’s why its the soundtrack to peace” (227)