Constructing Muslim Hip Hop Identities on the Internet

Author(s) Inka Rantakallio
Contact Inka Rantakallio, University of Turku, FI-20014, Finland. E-mail:
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 7, Iss. 2, 2013, pp. 8-41
Published November 10, 2013
Type Article
Abstract Although music is not clearly permissible (halal) nor prohibited (haram) in Islam, many young Muslims today make hip hop music and also portray Muslim identities in their lyrics. The article discusses a case study of how Muslim identity and Muslim hip hop are constructed discursively on an American web site entitled The site features Muslim artists from multicultural backgrounds from several different countries. The theoretical framework of social constructivism along with discourse analysis guide the study: identity is seen as contextually and socially constructed. According to the web site’s official stance, if the lyrics and the artists follow the principles of Islam, then the music is permissible. Islamic hip hop is argued to be a positive alternative to mainstream hip hop, to strengthen a positive Muslim identity especially among Muslim youth by teaching Islam and to enhance a positive social change for example by fighting stereotypes. However, it becomes evident that many Muslim artists struggle to integrate Islam with artistic creativity as well as commercial success with religious beliefs. Muslims who make and listen to Islamic hip hop have to continuously defend the music to Muslims who shun it as forbidden and to non-Muslims who feel estranged by its religiousness. Muslim identity is constantly negotiated, multidimensional and situational.
Keywords identity, Islam, internet, rap music, music