Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls music incompatible with Islam
A couple days ago, Iran's highest authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, spoke about music, and, since he enjoys something equivalent to the Pope's infallibility, I worry about how these views may reverberate throughout Iran.
According to the story, Khamenei declared
It gets worse. Asked by a follower if it was OK to take music lessons, Khamenei said: "It's better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills and fill their time with sport and healthy recreations instead of music."
I know that many of the values of Islam and the West have long clashed, and I fully expect them to clash in the future. I know and respect the fact that we can't all agree on everything. But I find it depressing to think that in any country, of any faith or tradition, anywhere on this planet, someone of authority would try to discourage the natural instinct for musical expression -- folk, pop, classical, whatever.
If Khamenei meant only that he wanted to warn young Iranians away from rock or hip hop or even smooth jazz, well, I guess I could at least understand where that's coming from. But it seems he and others take a broad view that music -- except select religious and nationalistic material, of course -- is suspect, not "healthy" enough.
This strikes me as truly radical thinking, and, try as I might to understand other cultures, I don't think I could ever be persuaded that there's any justification for suppressing the basic human need for music.
AP FILE PHOTO