Sunday, March 22, 2009

Progress?

Interesting where the Middle East is heading according to the following article:

Hardline Saudi clerics urge TV ban on women, music

I actually have a few students that would go right along with some of the conservative clerics mentioned in the article. While I have been playing some light jazz, blues and world music in a number of my studio classes since last semester, last week a male student asked me to "turn off music because my religion." This did not seem that unusual to me since right about the time he asked it was the afternoon call to prayer and I've had a number of students ask me in the past to not play any music (or even to lecture) during the call to prayer. I turned off the music for a few minutes and did not turn it back on until I asked a few other students if the call to prayer was over. But again the same student came to me and asked "turn off music because my religion." He was a young man dressed in traditional Arabic garb and looked rather earnest in his request. He had also skipped a few classes and because it was still early in the semester, especially considering the numerous religious and national holidays that we have had, I was not that familiar with him or his broken English. I simply turned the music down very low and placed it in the opposite corner of the room since other students had requested that we play music and no one objected when I asked if anyone else had a problem with playing music in class. Now this guy's friend, dressed in blue jeans and a funky T-shirt, with dyed blondish hair and plenty of jewelry, came up to me and said in perfect American English that although he personally did not have any problem with me playing music, his friend follows a more strict version of Islam and no music can be played in his presence!

So no more music in that class... although I find it rather strange that such a strict follower of Islam would even be in an art course since I've heard from a number of people that among more conservative Kuwaitis doing artwork is still thought of being Haram (Arabic for not lawful according to Islam; such as eating pork, drinking alcohol or having sex outside of marriage). I did not have a chance to ask this to him though as he skipped class again this week. He was also one of the students at the beginning of the semester who answered, when asked why they are taking the course, that he thought it should be an easy A and would boost his grade point average... NOT!
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