Bridging Music, Faith & Tradition – DeenTight Movie Screening

Islamic Outreach ABIM, Young Muslim Project and Arabic Academy Malaysia to hold a Movie Screening with Producer Mustafa Davies on Saturday, July 3rd 2010.

Kuala Lumpur – Islamic Outreach ABIM, YOUNG MUSLIM PROJECTS and ARABIC ACADEMY MALAYSIA will be holding the DEENTIGHT movie screening, review and dialogue this Saturday, July 3rd at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market. There will also be a short performance by local hip hop crew at the end of the dialogue. The event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Admission is at RM10.00. Pre book tickets sale are not available, but seats booking can be done by emailing name, phone number and email address to mahdartahir@gmail.com. Seats are limited as such booking of seats are recommended.

ABOUT DEEN TIGHT

Music, considered taboo practice by many traditional Muslims, has also become one of the most prominent methods for Muslims to share their faith internationally through Muslim Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a global phenomenon reaching from the skyscaper laden skies of New York all the way to the deep deserts of Arabia and beyond. It is a subculture that transcends boundaries of language, gender, and religion. Deen Tight brings to the screen the untold story of Western Muslims struggling to find a balance between their culture and their religion.

Filmed on location with Muslim rappers, DJs, slam poets, breakdancers and a graffiti artist in concerts, recording studios, at homes and in the streets, our story focuses on the perceived conflict between traditional religious ideals and modernity, as well as both the positives and negatives of Western Pop culture on todays’ Muslim youth.

SYNOPSIS

We follow a group of Muslim Hip Hop artists living in the United States and United Kingdom. They discuss intimately with us the challenges they face trying to balance their faith, culture, and the pressures of daily Western life.

The film provides an intimate look into the lives of a group we know very little about and how they deal with the many issues surrounding their culture and religion. Mutah Beale (formerly Napoleon of Tupac Shakur’s Outlawz) is adamant about leaving music and the Hip Hop scene as an act of obedience to God. Rapper Tyson Amir Mustafa and HBO Def Poet Amir Sulaiman see nothing wrong with using music as a form of cultural expression and DJ Belike Muhammad even claims to use Hip Hop as a means of proselytizing his faith. We show both sides of this conflict, through intimate and emotional scenes where the artists candidly express what motivates them to feel the way they do. This is the tale of one of the most influential pop culture movements of our time and its relationship to Islam, one of the worlds fastest growing religions.

DIRECTORS STATEMENT

I’m an American convert to Islam. The son of a musician, and a child of the 80’s cultural movement of Hip Hop. I can vividly remember gathering on the streets with our radios, beat-boxing and breakdancing from sunup to sundown. This was the natural order of the day. If you were living in the inner city anywhere in America, you were either breakdancing, rapping, tagging (graffiti), scratching on your father’s records, or you knew someone that did.

Dance and music were the foundation of our cultural experience… it was all we knew. Many of our friends later found careers in the Hip Hop industry. Some are now rap artists/poets, others are graffiti artists/graphic designers, some are radio DJs or music producers and some are professional dancers/choreographers. And many of them have now converted to the religion of Islam. If you were to ask them, many of them would tell you that Hip Hop was either the impetus for their conversion to Islam or at least influenced them in some way. I converted to Islam in 1996. Soon after embracing my new faith I learned that music was a taboo practice for Muslims. Without hesitation I broke my tapes/CDs, threw away my records and stopped playing the piano and listening to music. I focused on studying the religion and was eager to leave my culture behind as a way to show God I was serious about my faith. In the years to come I struggled with identity. I firmly believed in the religion of Islam and nothing could shake my faith, however; my past had been shaped by the culture I grew up in and music and dance were a major part of the experience. I felt a distant void. I eventually succumbed to my weakness and began listening to music again. I avoided “negative” music and for the most part this excluded a lot of hip hop. Years later, after I began my career as a film director, I found that many of my peers had similar experiences. Some of them were still struggling with issues surrounding music and culture. I didn’t find my Arab, Indian or African brethren struggling with these same issues since their culture was shaped by the religion of Islam. Mine wasn’t and this posed a problem. I decided to round up some of the Muslim artists that I knew were involved with Hip Hop in some way. I wanted to explore this topic and really delve deep into the psyche of the artist who attempts to maintain a balance between his/her culture and a faith that seemingly disapproves of their culture. As someone who experienced this, I knew I’d be able to tell this story from an intimate place.

When I turned my camera on and began speaking with the artists, what I uncovered was greatly unexpected. I began each interview with a very simple question, “Why do you rap?” or “Why do you DJ?” etc. It was as if it was the first time the artists had ever entertained the question… most had never asked themselves. Many were very uncomfortable having to discuss the issues surrounding music and Islam. In an era where the media claims there is a clash between Islam and the West, how does one who is both Muslim and Western reconcile this paradox? It is clear that there is a conflict. Don’t we have to uphold the fundamentals of the religion regardless of our cultural experiences? Is there a way to find a balance between Western culture while still adhering to the fundamentals of the religion of Islam? This is the story of one the most influential Pop culture movements of our time and its relationship to Islam, one of the worlds fastest growing religions… an important, compelling story that is still being written – Mustafa Davis, Director / Producer.

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