5Pillars deputy editor and the host of the Blood Brothers Podcast, Dilly Hussain, explains why Muslim guests from haram industries or with unIslamic lifestyles are occasionally hosted on the show.
One of the major criticisms I have received from well-intended Muslims is why we host guests on the Blood Brothers Podcast who are:
- Involved in haram/unIslamic industries, namely but not restricted to music, entertainment and contact sports.
- Promote and publicise their sins and haram industries on social media.
- Are not positive role models to Muslims, especially the youth.
And the above criticisms – when conveyed respectfully – are absolutely legitimate and undoubtedly come from a good place. However, my respectful response to the above concerns are:
- The Blood Brothers Podcast is part of 5Pillars, which is a Muslim news platform. Even after seven years of our existence, we have to sometimes remind readers and well-wishers that 5Pillars isn’t an Islamic culture, development or educational institute.
- 5Pillars’ motto is “What are Muslims thinking,” and the undeniable reality is that Muslims think about many things, and unfortunately, it isn’t always Islamic or halal – and they need to be addressed .
- As much we would like and pray for the entire Ummah to be made up of devoutly religious Muslims, the sad truth is that it isn’t. The Ummah is made up of the very pious, the perpetual sinners and everything in between.
- The Blood Brothers Podcast never claimed to only host Islamic scholars, students of knowledge, Muslim activists and academics – even though this is actually the bulk of our guests – because this demographic of the devoutly religious is very small in the grander scheme of this vast and diverse Ummah.
- There are already fantastic Muslim podcasts that are exclusively dedicated to dawah and Islamic knowledge, for example the IlmFeed Podcast and IERA’s Rerooted.
- As a faith community, we would be in perpetual denial if we did not acknowledge that tens of millions of Muslims listen to music, follow fashion influencers and bloggers and watch contact sports religiously.
With the above in mind, the prominent Blood Brothers guests who fall within this category, especially rappers and contact sports figures, either know that the industries they’re involved in are haram/unIslamic, or they’re genuinely unaware due to religious ignorance.
But an important nuance that has to be considered is that the guests we have hosted don’t engage in their respective industries and lifestyles in the name of Islam nor do they claim what they’re doing is halal/permissible.
Softening hearts and reform
My brother and co-host Aki and I feel it is strategically important to have prominent Muslim guests from these industries to come onto our podcast and share their stories and experiences, because whether we like it or not, many Muslim youth will continue to follow them and look up to them, irrespective of them featuring on the Blood Brothers Podcast.
The question I posit to some of our critics is: Is it not better for Muslim youth to see their unideal or negative role models on our platform as opposed to discussing their haram industries and lifestyles on mainstream non-Muslim platforms?
The very fact that these guests who are involved in undeniably haram industries are willing to have a conversation on a “conservative practicing” Muslim platform is in itself promising and hopeful, and we can reassure everyone that ongoing conversations are being had off-camera in the form of naseeha in softening their hearts towards Islam and reconsidering their choice of careers.
Promoting and glorifying haram
It should be noted that what is required from us as hosts from an Islamic perspective is that when these guests come on, their respective industries and lifestyles are not promoted, encouraged and Islamically validated by us on our platforms. We either have the choice of shedding no light on these issues, or we forbid the evil by making it clear that Islam unequivocally prohibits their respective industries and lifestyles.
We have hosted Muslim rappers and contact sports figures on the Blood Brothers Podcast, and we will definitely be having them on again. But I reiterate that unlike many other prominent figures who have made a name for themselves by using the Muslim community with “soft Muslim friendly” content and then trying to Islamically justify outright haram — these rappers (and fighters to a lesser degree) don’t do this, because they don’t justify their industries and lifestyles from Islam, nor are their audiences exclusively or mainly Muslim.
For some Muslims, abandoning a life of jahiliyya for the Deen is an overnight process, Alhamdulillah if you were blessed with this radical awakening. However, for many it is a very slow and painful process, as they continue to battle with inner demons and temptations of sin, fame and money.
But we have only hosted guests who we have identified to have shown an outward desire or interest of wanting to change for the better, and insha’Allah we pray that they all reform and repent before it’s too late. My point is this, if “practicing Muslims” close the doors of companionship and counsel to those whom have rights over us, then that is more telling of how “religious Muslims” are than those who we want to see reform.
I’ve recently said on various public platforms that I personally had a turbulent and troublesome youth going well into my early 20s — a life which could have (and if I persisted would have) easily led me to prison and/or serious physical harm, but I am grateful to Allah first and foremost, and then my dear father who persevered with me so much, and my two brothers who helped me abandon a life of jahiliyya and subsequently turning to Islam.
As I mentioned earlier, I have seen a sense of pride, honour and love for Islam, and I have sensed the shame of sinning and a desire to reform in nearly every Muslim rapper and contact sports figure I’ve met and spoken to. In fact, I’m yet to meet a stone cold heartless and shameless sinner amongst them. Personally, if I see a glimmer of goodness and hope in a Muslim who openly sins (especially coming from a life I am familiar and well-acquainted with) I will always make time for them.
Enemies of Islam and Muslims
To conclude, the guests who will never be hosted on the Blood Brothers Podcast (unless to be publicly challenged, shamed and exposed) are the open enemies of Islam and Muslims.
By this I mean individuals who have unequivocally made the halal haram, and the haram halal. People who know what they are doing is haram but try justifying it as Islamically permissible. People who have made careers from attacking Islam and Muslims, or have used the Deen and the good nature of Muslims to build a name, platform and brand for themselves, to then become outright fusaq (public sinners).
People who conspire with tyrants, oppressors and government agencies to harm the Muslim community and to deform Islam under the guise of “countering-extremism” — these people who identify as “Muslims” (some even outwardly practicing) are more dangerous and harmful to this Ummah than gangster rappers, boxers and MMA fighters who have never claimed to represent Islam and Muslims in the first place.
It should also be clarified that the source of funding from the Blood Brothers Podcast is not from the general fundraising from 5Pillars in Ramadan and throughout the year. The money that funds the podcasts are from a single donor and my own personal savings – I am mindful that we will be answerable to Allah for funds that have been given to us for our journalism in defending Islam and empowering Muslims, to a project like the Blood Brothers Podcast that may not entirely fall within that remit.
Lastly, it is truly shocking and saddening to read some of the comments on YouTube and social media attacking some of our guests – the vulgar language and harshness is beyond what would remotely qualify as Islamic advice, accountability or “forbidding evil”.
Irrespective of legitimate criticisms and concerns about a guest’s respective industry or lifestyle, I humbly remind those armchair critics that there is no basis in Islam to slander and use profanities to convey your disagreements, especially when an individual unapologetically and unequivocally identifies as a Muslim, and secondly isn’t an open enemy of Islam who mocks and attacks Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (saw).
How do we expect non-practicing Muslims who are involved in these haram industries and lifestyles, and are consumed by fame and money, to ever gravitate towards Islam and self-reformation if the advocates of the religion are pushing their brethren further away into their arms of shaytan and the disbelievers with their harshness and slander?
Allah says in the Quran: “O you, who have believed, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them, nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames.” [49:11]
The Prophet (saw) said: “Allah Almighty said: O my servants, I have forbidden injustice for myself and I have forbidden it among you, so do not oppress one another.” [Sahih Muslim]