In contrast to what we often read in the media, young Muslims feel part of society. They listen secular pop music, watch the same television programs as non-Muslims and find study and career of utmost importance. This is concluded by anthropologist Daan Beekers – who says that his research shows that it is possible to be Muslim ánd Dutch.
His research thus differs from the one conducted by Elsbeth Visser, who stated that (strict) religious Muslims try to isolate them from the wider society. According to Beekers the researches do not contradict each other. There is possibly a group that indeed wants to isolate themselves, but this excludes the majority of Muslims.
In the early 1970s, singers such as the late Larry Norman transformed Christian music from hymns to rock ‘n’ roll by asking one simple question:
Why should the devil have all the good music?
Now a group of young Muslim musicians is doing the same for Islamic songs known as “nasheeds,” by combining hip-hop, country and pop music with the traditional message of their faith.
“Nasheeds are supposed to remind people of God,” said 22-year-old Mo Sabri of Johnson City, Tenn., one of the first Muslim singers with his own channel on Pandora.com. “If it has a good message, a song can be a rock song or have guitars and still be a nasheed.”
Sabri, 22, first began writing hip-hop nasheeds about two years ago. He sells his songs on iTunes and posts videos on YouTube. His first, called “Heaven Is Where Her Heart Is,” is about finding a girl who puts God first in her life.
His most popular song, “I Believe in Jesus,” has already been viewed on YouTube more than 1 million times.
Sabri said he wrote the song as a reminder that Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet and that all faiths should follow Jesus’ command to love their neighbors. It’s an idea that’s easier to spread in a song than in a debate because people will sing along before they have a chance to argue.
A gym in the city of Cologne has made many Muslim women feel at home. After a successful year in business, others want to open up more fitness centers where devout women can get a great work-out while remaining modest. The city of Cologne is a true melting pot, with one of the largest Muslim populations in Germany. In the Ehrenfeld city district, Muslim women who want to be physically fit can follow the lead of female personal trainers at the “Hayat” (which means “life” in Turkish) gym and still keep their clothes on. Whether it’s running on the treadmill, rowing on a machine, or doing aerobics to Turkish pop music, trainers Emine and Yasmin do their best to help modestly dressed Muslim women get in shape. The fitness crowd does not just have access to a full range of gym machines and exercise bikes, they can also take a break in the prayer room. But, you won’t find these women wearing short shorts, flashing skin or working out for the sake of being seen. Many even don headscarves while they work the machines.
Cologne, Germany – A gym in Germany that caters specially to Muslim women is doing so well after its first year that others want to imitate its combination of modest attire and tough workouts. All the personal trainers at Hayat in the melting-pot Cologne district of Ehrenfeld are women: Emine and Yasmin give tips or show demurely dressed clients how to work the treadmill and tune in to Turkish pop music over their headsets. Hayat offers the full range of gym machines, including exercise bikes and devices to encourage firmer thighs. It also offers the Muslims a prayer room. This is one gym where you won’t see skimpy shorts, figure-hugging leotards and lots of bare skin. Many work out in head-scarves. Proprietress Emine Aydemir, 39, says on the first anniversary that her no-men-allowed gym has been a business success. “Many women who wear scarves come here because so many other gyms treat them badly,” she explained. “At Hayat, they feel at home and nobody stares at them because of what they are wearing. “Us Muslimas don’t envy one another’s bodies. We don’t stare at one another and compare our figures. The women take themselves as they are,” says Aydemir, who launched Hayat (the name means “life” in Turkish) at the start of April 2007.