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August 4, 2010

Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls music incompatible with Islam

The last thing I want to do is step into the thicket of religion, politics and all that (well, actually, I love nothing more than discussing religion, politics and all that, but this blog probably isn't the best forum). Still, an article in the Guardian really got me a bit annoyed, and I felt I just had to say a word or two, even if it does mean stepping into testy waters.

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

"that music is 'not compatible' with the values of the Islamic republic, and should not be practised or taught in the country ... Khamenei said: 'Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic.' "

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.


Posted by Tim Smith at 2:16 PM | | Comments (11)


"When a man abandons himself to music, he begins to melt and liquefy..."


remember, Tim that there are plenty of Christians who forbid dance...

That notwithstanding, I once engaged a Muslim friend in a conversation about his aversion to music. He was taught that music brings a false joy and that true joy only derives from God. I countered that music was a gift from God, those that practice it and for all to enjoy. He got my point but I don't think he bought it.

Nice try, though. (As for questionable decisions by other faiths regarding the arts, one consolation is that they are not necessarily imposed by people who can control an entire country's policies.) TIM

A 18-year-old young woman’s nose was cut by her husband in Afghanistan, landing "Time" cover. The women called Aisha. In 2009, due in-laws have been abused, Asha running away from home, but was later caught back jailed for 5 months. Since then, the husband's family has accused her of fleeing "to the family shame", while trial judges are members of the Taliban, he refused to listen to Asha explained, and decide on her punishment. Her husband's brother, then press down to her, her husband cut off her hand with a knife nose and ears. Before the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan close to the status of women slaves. Afghan women throughout the school, women teachers were frequently attacked the Taliban, many women were killed by the Taliban. The Taliban is the most evil terrorist organization. They should be on the gallows. I am willing to give these
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Shoes to these innocent women. Up to the Taliban, destroy the Taliban.

Mr. Khamenei is not a religious authority in Iran. He is not an scholar either. Most Iranian who follow the religion, do not consider him as an authority. He has been appointed as the leader and since then he has promoted himself to a religious authority. He has written NO religious book whatsoever except those written for him. He has the power and the backing of huge militias who are in his payroll and do anything to keep him in power and keep the money coming to them. There are religious authorities in Iran who cannot voice them selves because of his forced power.
I do not think Islam is against music in general, depending on the kind of music.
Some music refresh the mind.
So whatever he says is not Islamic at all. Even his authority is questioned among 90% of Iranians; but as I said, it is the money and backing of a few that keeps him in power.

I agree - music is useless. Young people should spend more time studying science. I wasted too much time on music lessons myself, and I regret it. However, to ban music would be really wrong. I can't agree with that.

In the defense of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, since many won't make the connection, there are many reasons why music, especially in the modern electronic age, should be placed under scrutany. There are overt messages in music that are utilized by intelligence networks to engage in PSYPOS warfare against populations, but the most intriguing aspect involves the technology, itself. Many musicians have close ties to intelligence agencies, in fact. There are processes called backspacing and psychic overlay that are utilized in music. Brookhaven National Labs played a big part in the development of technologies and so have many others since the pioneering days of radio and electronically recorded music. Today, they can even manipulate carrier waves to convey feelings and emotions, as well as messages and much more, in a latent subconscious manner. They use technology in many ways against an unwitting public and music is one means that they utilize for the PSYOPS and social engineering, as well as targeted attacks against individuals. They will often manipulate the musicians, themselves, in order to achieve the desired outcome that they seek, as well.

“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” - Plato

"'Tis good; though music oft hath such a charm. To make bad good, and good provoke to harm." - William Shakespeare

"Even music may be intoxicating. Such apparently slight causes destroyed Greece and Rome,... and will destroy England and America." - Henry David Thoreau

The Mind Has No Firewall
by Mr. Timothy L. Thomas
Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS.

How the CIA and Military Control the Music Industry

The Music of Time

It's been known for almost centuries that certain sects within Islam are anti-music. I think that Ayatollah Khamenei's latest statement is indicative of the rifts, and for his own personal quest for control and voice within the Islamic community. Many of the sects and offshoots (Sufism is a prime example) of Islam that endorse music are thought of as threats and heresy to the ultra-fundamentalist beliefs that Khamenei supports. Music has played a role in the history of Islam, but like many fundamentalists, Khamenei would love to squash those aspects and re-write his own religious history.

This topical article is relevant -

Songs of rebirth defy the mullahs -

Though not Muslim myself, I have always empathized with the Sufi sect of Islam, and for them, music is _central_ to their religious experience in life.

Therefore, I could _never_ agree with these words from Khamenei. I consider the concept of a life without music to be utterly-alien and uncomfortable. And anyone who would wish to REDUCE me (and people like myself) to a life without music... (Shudder.)

Insane. Or just plain, closed-minded stupidity. Regardless, repression of that caliber is inhumane.

But this is just the same crap that came up last time, a few decades ago. What goes around comes around: Ruhollah Khomeini. Remember him?

Will the human race EVER stop producing these idiots???

"Life without music would be a mistake"

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

He will never ever be allowed into paradise, for even Abraham rejoiced in song and dance before the angels. Music and the knowledge of it is a great gift to the world from the living GOD who created us to rejoice. Now he will join the neanderthals of the world who can do neither.

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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