Maybe God is a hip­ster and loves hip­sters

The Jakarta Post - JPlus - - Between The Lines - — Amir Hamzah

HAVE YOU HEARD THAT mem­bers of the veteran in­die bands Rumah Sakit, Pure Sat­ur­day (PS) and The Up­stairs have de­cided to be­come Salafi Mus­lims? How weird is that?

They didn’t just choose to turn re­li­gious like Rhoma Irama, Gito Rol­lies, Opick and other main­stream artists; they chose to em­brace Salafism — a branch of Sunni Is­lam that con­sid­ers mu­sic, even the ma­jor­ity of Is­lamic mu­sic or nasyid, to be

haram (un-Is­lamic). I won­der why. Is it be­cause they are part of in­die cul­ture? Is it be­cause they were once hip­sters?

Ok, I don’t know them and I’m not writ­ing this to judge any­one. I do not know of their per­sonal strug­gle, nor do I know about their in­di­vid­ual taste in mu­sic. I don’t know if they have ever con­sid­ered them­selves to be hip­sters ei­ther.

I do know for sure that these bands never signed a con­tract with Ah­mad Dhani’s Repub­lik Cinta Man­age­ment. It’s true they are main­stream now and you may ar­gue that “real” hip­sters don’t lis­ten to them any­more, but there is lit­tle doubt they were among the best acts to have been birthed by the lo­cal in­de­pen­dent mu­sic scene.

So there is prob­a­bly a dif­fer­ence here. I mean, con­sider Rhoma, the king of dan­g­dut. He’s an icon of the coun­try’s low­brow, ple­beian mu­sic genre and, when he turned re­li­gious, he be­came the reg­u­lar polyg­a­mous

us­tad we’re all fa­mil­iar with. Sakti from Sheila on 7 joined Je­maat Tab­ligh, the Is­lamic equiv­a­lent of Je­ho­vah’s Wit­nesses. He quit the band but, like Rhoma, he did not quit mu­sic. He just stopped writ­ing songs about heart­break.

In the main­stream mu­sic scene it has be­come the norm for artists to turn re­li­gious. Melly Goes­law is don­ning a hi­jab? Good for her. Rossa wore a head­scarf and took it off again? That’s fine.

But when a mem­ber of a prom­i­nent in­die band, whose mu­sic has be­come part of your life, sud­denly turns into a re­li­gious pu­ri­tan, you can’t help but feel a pang of cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance. It just seems coun­ter­in­tu­itive and out of char­ac­ter.

The worst part, for some mu­sic fans, my­self in­cluded, is due to the fact that mu­sic is of­ten an al­ter­na­tive to re­li­gion. So when mu­si­cians de­cide to re­nounce mu­sic, you can’t help but feel a lit­tle be­trayed.

Well, maybe I’m be­ing dra­matic but is this phe­nom­e­non unique to the In­done­sian in­die scene? Bob Dy­lan turned re­li­gious and wrote “Not Dark Yet”. Ah­mad Dhani went through that re­li­gion phase and wrote “Kulde­sak”, also a de­cent song.

But when an In­done­sian in­die mu­si­cian turns to re­li­gion, fans re­ceive a sleekly de­signed in­vi­ta­tion to a pen­ga­jian (re­li­gious as­sem­bly) on why they need to aban­don mu­sic al­to­gether and em­brace the fa­tal­ism of strict Is­lamic monothe­ism (Se­mak­belukar is an ex­cep­tion, but that’s another story).

I’m not say­ing that this is wrong per se; peo­ple have the right to be­lieve in any­thing they want. But when I heard that sev­eral lo­cal in­die mu­si­cians had joined an Is­lamic group called The Strangers al- Ghuroba that has all the hall­marks of the Salafi move­ment, I couldn’t help but com­pare their choice in Is­lamic school of thought with their choice of mu­sic genre.

In 2014, I wrote a blog post on how the Salafis are the real hip­sters or hip­ster

kaf­fah for dis­tanc­ing them­selves from main­stream Mus­lims. They are glad to be la­beled as strangers or al-ghurobaa, as proph­e­sied by the Prophet. In the sec­u­lar world, with their crazy out­fits, hair­styles and baby names, who is more weird or strange than the hip­ster? That blog post was meant to be a joke, but I didn’t know that these in­die mu­si­cians, once la­beled as hip­sters, could ac­tu­ally join a group named Al- Ghuroba.

Again, I don’t in­tend to judge any­one. It is likely that they are sin­cere in their quest for spir­i­tual com­fort, but I think the brand of Is­lam they selected be­fits their per­sonal his­tory as for­mer anti-main­stream, in­die mu­si­cians. Who knows? Maybe in the Salafi world, God is a hip­ster and loves hip­sters.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Indonesia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.