By Hena Zuberi
Them: Hena Auntie – can you take us to the mall?
Me: “OK, get in the car, let's go.”
A gaggle of girls in the car and they bust out A Capella style-
Tik Tok on the clock but the party don't stop, no
Grab my glasses, I'm out the door, I'm gonna hit this city
(Let's go) Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack
I almost ran into the landscaper's truck ahead of me.
Cause when I leave for the night,
I ain't coming back
I'm talking pedicure on our toes, toes
Boys blowing up our phones, phones
Drop top and playin' our favorite CDs
Pullin' up to the parties
Tryna to get a little bit tipsy.
They lowered their voices at tipsy, perhaps realizing who they were singing in front of.
Me: “Jaani, do you know what Jack is or tipsy?”
I was surprised. Honestly, I thought they would just say no, but they told me exactly what it was.
One of them: “Why isn't alcohol allowed?”
Another: “What does it do to you?”
At least they can talk to me I thought to myself…. and we did.
“We could halalofy the lyrics!” piped our resident bookworm and they spend the rest of the trip doing just that.
“(Let's go) Before we leave brush my teeth, do wuḍūʼ
cause when I leave for masjid school I ain't coming back”
I Googled the rest of the lyrics, as soon as I got home. KE$HA – TIK TOK LYRICS
U huh! Lyrics of songs have gotten much more hard core since when I was a kid.
Katy Perry was another name I was hearing in this age group. So I checked her out on my own.
'Go all the way tonight, just love – no regrets,'
Not quite the message I want to pass on to my children, with or without music.
Check the lyrics of what they are listening to
Warning labels barely worked when the world used CD's; now with instant iTunes downloads, there is nothing tangible to see before purchasing. Your child downloads songs and all you get is a $1.99 bill on your Am Ex Card.
If they are young, you can and should forbid them if you find them inappropriate; older teens need to hear your perspective and learn to be critical on their own on what they are feeding their souls.
I have two young boys ( 6 & 7). I want to be prepared for their teens and am rearing them in such a way that they don't objectify women or treat them like toys and part of this is making them aware of the world around them that perpetuates these views, that includes the kind of music that is popular.
Many media studies show that sex is always the most popular theme in almost all types of music genres that are regularly listed in the top of music video charts and channels. This means that not only do these songs encourage profanity and sexual promiscuity through the lyrics; they also show it visually with the music videos. This leads to the socialization of the young adults who are watching them. Research also shows that the recurrent viewing of television and music videos is directly linked to the risk of increasing beliefs in sexual stereotypes and decreased body satisfaction like the obsession of gaining muscularity in boys and staying 'thin and sexy' in teenage girls in the hope of being recognized as sexually attractive.
The words for the top rap songs for this year include calling women 'hoes', dreaming about bisexuality, and glorifying prison. Most songs on the top ten list take away all that is spiritual and magnificent about intimacy between a husband and wife, reducing it to an animal like gyration or glamorous fabrication. Even songs that contain 'positive messages' like staying away from drugs or corruption in the system are often so profane and have every swear word in the book.
Song Lyrics across generations
We know how it works- this is not new. If it had a good beat most of us didn't care (or don't care) what the words were (are). When Akon started singing in Hindi movies, parents I know who listen to Hindi music didn't realize they were letting a man in their homes, cars and iPods that glorified stripping and immorality and sang very sexually explicit songs. Side note: Akon says that he is Muslim (duas for his & our continued guidance).
When I was a kid, my friends and I listened to Tiffany and Debbie Gibson and their songs normalized dating and the hanging out with the opposite sex (both of them later went on to pose for an x-rated magazine, so Miley Cyrus's recent act didn't surprise me). Madonna and Cyndi Lauper messed with my mind in my teens. Research done in the nineties suggests that regular viewers of television programs (including MTV et al) featuring sexuality are more likely to be preoccupied with sex, will have a stronger belief that sex is more regular and popular among young people than it actually is, are more likely to be “sanguine about the sanctity of marriage,” believe that sex rarely has negative consequences, and are more likely to think they know more about sex, romance, and love than others. (Greenberg, Stanley, Siemicki, Heeter, Soderman, & Linsangan, 1993)
My dad's generation listened to the Rolling Stones and Boney M which had its own misogyny and race issues. So each generation has their own demons.
One Direction- Capturing the Hearts of our Girls
One direction is a boy band. They sing about loving the girl regardless of how she looks or how insecure she may be feeling about herself. It sells.
1D fans who call themselves “Directioners” crush over their favorite band members who “in turn cultivate their fan base minute by minute via social media, especially Twitter.” There are 1-D undies, jewelry, perfume in a pretty, pink bottle complete with a crown. Wattpad is filled with 1D fanfiction- stories written by fans with over 20 million reads each.
Why am I telling you this? If you have a directioner in your house you will know that their lead singer is named Zayn Malik.
Let's face it, he is 'cute' and tweets out La illah illalaha Muḥammad ur rasulAllah. His name has made Zayn (and subsequently Zaynab) a 'normal' mainstream name here in the West, not an oddity. So Muslim girls feel a connection.
His being Muslim/desi interests girls who otherwise would not be attracted to celebrity of another or no faith. Sabby's comments left on a website are classic.
Sabby: it matters to muslim girls cuz we r muslim.. n we cant marry a non-muslim guy.. so am so proud he is muslim n he is keeping it up even thoh he grew up in UK! so am so proud and excited! … i guess u wont understand cuz ur not muslim.. so its like big thing for us!
Me (when I overheard her friends tease her): So you think you are going to be Mrs. Malik?
Daughter: Mama we joke about it but I really don't, but I think my friend does. She says he prays 5 times a day… but he does smoke … and he does have a girlfriend. I like his hairstyle. (UPDATE: since I wrote this he is now engaged to his girlfriend leading to the heartbreak of many a ZaynGirl).
This conversation a year ago was an ideal moment for some teaching time on judging, different sort of sins, huqooq (the rights) of Allāh, and huqooq (the rights) of a person's body over him or her. And we talked about that fact that yes, he is Muslim but that doesn't make him her anything. We have had several conversations on what qualities make a good husband and most importantly about lowering the gaze. And we will continue to have them.
Fans were nutty when I was a teen too but this is seriously creepy. So if your child is a directioner, it would be a good time (since they have a movie coming out tomorrow) to have a chat about a 'new kind of idol worshiping', consequences of making threats online, the role of social media, and frankly, obsession.
All of us have had some sort of obsession at that age, so surely they will outgrow it. Many times crushes like these are opening the doors of sexual maturity. An important part of sexual exploration and growth takes place during adolescence, at which time young men and women begin to give thought to which sexual behaviors are enjoyable, moral, and acceptable for their cohort (LeVay & Valente, 2003).
I would talk about her feelings so she can handle and control them. Your guidance is crucial.
If she gets depressed because she can't meet them or can't go to their concert or imagines that she really knows them and if they are the only topic she talks about with interest, talk to her about that too. If her obsession, or any behaviors related to it, start interfering with ṣalāh, home, school or family responsibilities then there is a very serious issue.
Let her know that she lights up your world like nobody else.
I, I want to save you, save you, save you, tonight
I hear this a lot:
“My child goes to Islamic School”
“We have a strict environment in our house”
“My children don't have an iPod.”
Unless you live on a secluded island with no one around you for a 1000 miles, you are being delusional if you think that your child is not being exposed to this at some level.
This is Us
We don't listen to instrumental music in our house and do not have cable but my daughters were still exposed to it enough for me to be having these conversations with them. I moved from Los Angeles and now live in one of the most conservative Muslim communities in North America (most women and girls over the age of 13 wear abaya, strict segregation etc), and all I can say is teens are teens, in an abaya and hijab or t-shirt and capris. Being informed and updated, along with communicating with your children and du‘ā’ are the best shields that a parent can have in this world. There simply isn't enough being said to counter the exaggerated and misleading sexual images that is shown to our boys and girls on a daily basis.
So we Play, Play, Play on the same all Games
This is what I wish I could say to girls between the age of 10-18: Uploading a picture of One Direction in their undies on your phone is just as bad as your brother posting a poster of Selena Gomez in a bikini on his wall in your house. #realtalk
If that is not acceptable to you then stop sending emails of Harry stepping out of the shower to your friends. Just stop. (True story)
Little things add up to you.
I'm praying that your heart will just turn around
I just pray their hearts could be so consumed by the Love of God- this same burning desire to listen to/tweet/facebook/tumblr/instagram Zayn's (insert object of crush) every word would be replaced by the words of Allāh and his Messenger .
Gives “I think We're Alone Now” a whole new meaning.
This post is not about whether music is halal or haram. Best Song Ever and other subtitles are the names of One Direction songs.
Some good blogs to read:
Here is a man blogs about the need for fathers to sons about Robin Thicke (the man with Miley Cyrus).
Here a mom talks about Miley Cyrus and teaching our daughters about body image.
Here a mom talks to her son about the misogyny in rap music.
This article teaches you how to delete songs off a child's iPod.