"We aren't that type of Muslim": exploring Islam and music-making in Istanbul

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Much has been written in recent years on Muslim art practices in which there is an overt mobilizing urge to use music/art as a tool for communicating a moral-religious message, or a deliberate intention to transform individual subjects into better Muslims. But what of other forms of Muslim music-making that not only lack such a mission, but which are actually at odds with the project of art as piety mobilization or as missionary apologetics? Taking a vibrant artistic community of practice in contemporary Istanbul as its case study, this article analyzes how this practice of art relates to current debates in anthropology around Islam, piety, and music production. The paper argues that participation in this project of musical Islam fosters in practitioners an explorative way of knowing both music and Islam – a way of knowing one through the other.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-288
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Islam
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Exploration
  • Islam
  • Metaphor
  • Music
  • Sufism
  • Turkey


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