My quest for musical passion takes place in an environment in which it is not incumbent upon me to worry about bombs being dropped on my building. What occurs to me this morning is that so many people the world over do not have that luxury. How impressive is it when a people plagued by war can carry on and produce music? The USO has long known of the need for musical diversions in times of war, but the USO is the product of a very rich country, a country that has been extremely fortunate as it pertains to armed military conflict on its soil in the past 150 years.
My heart has turned to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Iraq right now; the civil war that has raged there since the fall of the Hussein regime has again returned the country to a broad state of conflict.
Music in predominately Muslim countries is always a controversial topic; many conservative Muslims believe that virtually all music is disallowed by the faith. Iraq’s neighbor, Iran, bans music outright; special morality police enforce the rules. Of course the rules are often flaunted; there is a vibrant underground and familial music scene in Iran, despite the ban. Saudi Arabia, while not banning music outright, permits no formal music education – but of course a robust music scene exists.
People are, of course, free to believe what they will, but I do feel sad for those who have the inner spark of music living in countries where allowing the spark to flame on is not allowed. Iraq itself is not currently in a position to be enforcing any bans on music. Even if it were, to me it seems likely that from a cultural standpoint many of the people of the country are disinclined to do so. A sort of pluralism has long held in Iraq. Of course that pluralism is one source of the country’s ongoing political struggles (another is the longstanding policy of direct “strategic” military intervention by countries like the United States).
Regionally in Iraq, music can certainly be highly frowned upon. The fact that we watch this kind of bloody and repressive history play out in the area of the world where civilization began, in the area of the world that gave us such advances in math and astronomy, poetry, and, yes, even music, is extremely thought-provoking when considering the nature of humanity.
This brief story from one blogger in 2012 highlights two brothers’ struggles to study music in Iraq.
Thanks for reading.