Playing God in Mali


Today’s New York Times article about music in Mali, prompted the following thought:

If the Taliban presents itself as fundamentally Islamic, why do its members, as they have done in Mali and elsewhere, hold such deep antipathy for singing? Can someone explain to me the belief behind their hatred? I have heard more than one person describe the Koran as inherently poetic–i.e., song-like. Long beards grow naturally on some men. Singing, however, belongs to all of us humans; it is sacrilege to cut short this divine gift.

photo credit:


July 31, 2013 · 8:36 am

2 responses to “Playing God in Mali

  1. I imagine that the Taliban like the Puritan and the early Quakers forbid music and singing because these expressions are connected to our heartbeats – to the understanding of what we all possess outside of the boundaries of religion, color, sex, origin. Music, for those who adhere to this rigid interpretation of their faith, is a worldly distraction that takes us away from contemplation of God.

    • I remember Allen Ginsburg’s remarking that Blake’s “The Tyger” opened up for him, once he heard the heartbeat in the meter. And yes, “rigid” is a helpful description. I would add “narrow,” given the fullness embodied in singing. Finally, I wonder what form contemplation of God takes for the Taliban and others like them. How do we do this without access to our basic humanity?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s