Indonesia's 'Islamic Punk' Movement Marries Religious Faith with Musical Rebellion

Indonesia's 'Islamic Punk' Movement Marries Religious Faith with Musical Rebellion
Photo Credit: MICHAEL MUHAMMAD KNIGHT from VIce
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'Islamic punk' is still embracing rebellion and anti-establishment ideology like the original British punk rockers, but they celebrate Islamic values, sing about freedom for Palestine and condemn mistreatment of Muslims in the Middle East.

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In Indonesia, music aficionados are combining two elements that appear to be in complete contrast — Islamic faith and punk — to create positive changes in their community.

“Islamic punk” almost sounds like an oxymoron at first mention, but it has quickly gained traction as Indonesia’s newest way to enjoy punk music, according to a recent feature by Reuters. Members of Punk Muslim — a local music collective — regularly gather at outdoor concerts to sing about important issues facing the global Muslim community.

The group insists that they’re still embracing rebellion and anti-establishment ideology like the original British punk rockers, but they celebrate Islamic values, sing about freedom for Palestine and condemn mistreatment of Muslims in the Middle East.

The punk movement has attracted hundreds of followers in three of Indonesia’s largest cities: Jakarta, Surabaya, and Bandung, with many members seeing it as a healthy way to get their voice heard.

One of the movement’s founders, Ahmad Zaki, thinks that as a genre, punk is usually linked with a "tendency towards misbehavior," but he wishes to change people’s perception.

"We can redirect ourselves to better, more positive things," he told Reuters. Many Punk Muslim members used to be street performers, whose lives have changed significantly since joining the movement. They’re now encouraged to write their own songs and form their own bands.

Because Islamic punk is as much about faith as it is about musical expression, punk fans gather after concerts to pray and listen to sermons together, a ritual established by the group's founders in the hopes that it can lead their fans to a more pious path.

The News Lens has been authorized to republish this article. The original can be found here.

TNL Editor: Olivia Yang