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Meet Indonesia’s Muslim Punks

Featured image credit: Hindustan Times via YouTube

At a recent festival in Bandung, Indonesia, bands thrashed through sets in front of an audience moshing in the frenzied manner you’d expect at a punk gig. What was unusual about this festival, however, was that much of the bands’ lyrics contained lines like ‘Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Forever’.

Reuters recently ran a story about the ‘Punk Muslim’ movement in Indonesia. While the various bands involved with the movement play music that sounds like punk, the message is far different from the usual rebellion associated with the genre.

While most punk goes against formalised institutions, including religion, these Indo-punks promote Islam and the values it stands for. According to Reuters, these punks sing ‘about Islamic values, freedom for Palestine, and other social issues facing the global Muslim community.’

Ahmad Zaki, one of the movement’s founders, believes the movement can change negative attitudes about the genre, which is often associated with ‘misbehaviour’. Through the music, ‘we can redirect ourselves to better, more positive things,’ he says.

But if the garbled lyrics of punk are often hard to hear live anyway, are fans really going for the message, or more for the chance to mosh? Well, seeing as concertgoers bow their heads in prayer at a post-show sermon, it would seem that these pious punks really do mean it.

It’s great to see the growth of a Muslim punk scene with these guys in Indonesia. In true DIY fashion, these ‘Punk Muslims’ aren’t looking to any of the genre’s previous connotations, but moving forward, even if they are pausing momentum to reflect on Islam itself.

They seem less concerned with debating their religion, more with celebrating its values. And they really look great doing it.

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