Popular Music: Making Islamic Music in Malaysia; From Traditional to Contemporary Approach

MOHAMAD FITRI MOHAMAD HARIS is senior lecturer at the School of Creative Industry Management and Performing Arts (SCIMPA), Universiti Utara Malaysia.

Penerbit UUM (First published, 2023)
339 pages including Bibliography and Index


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ISBN: 9789670031330 Product ID: 37619 Subjects: , Sub-subjects: , , , ,

Popular Music: Making Islamic Music in Malaysia; From Traditional to Contemporary Approach provides an in-depth study of the sociological and anthropological impact of Islamic popular music in Malaysia, especially in nasyid as well as scholarly articles on music in Islam and identifying the role that globalisation has played in shaping the Islamic popular music industry. Fitri Haris, the author, as he himself is an insider and a veteran of the Malay-Muslim music industry, all knowledge and insight experience with industry experts, singers, composers, lyricists, arrangers and musicians, Islamic scholars, media workers, and music retailers, as well as related organisations and recording labels working in the Malaysian music industry were used in order to explore their views as the industry’s people, especially within the genre of nasyid to enhance its understanding in Malaysia and show how nasyid has been growing rapidly over the two decades.

There are three key points involved: Islam, music, and Malaysia. A brief overview of the pertinent aspects of Islam as a religion, the various perceptions of music in Islam throughout the Islamic world, and the emergence of Islam and Islamic music in Malaysia. This is necessary to provide a clear picture of the relationship between Islam, music and Malaysia (the study considers the history of nasyid and its development in Malaysia). This book presents descriptions of the various types of music circulating and performed in Malaysia. Beginning from the traditional music of the pre-Islamic era to the Islamic era and until modern times where Western music has penetrated the borders and influenced the popular culture and music of Malaysia, this book chronologically outlines the evolution of music in Malaysia. It also examines how Muslims have overcome the challenges they faced due to globalisation, as conflict has also occurred in parallel with the progress.

This book addresses the so-called ‘Raihan phenomenon’ of the late 1990s, which led to the growth of nasyid as a genre of Islamic popular music. It explores both the genre of nasyid and its wide landscape and context. This book also investigates the changes regarding musical instruments and musical style, analyses the lyrics and languages of the music, and the evolution of images and the changing retinue of the participants in this musical genre. Furthermore, this book considers the scope and structure of the music business and the marketing practices that surround nasyid in Malaysia. The conclusion summarises three major findings, namely: (i) the complexity of defining Islamic popular music and nasyid, (ii) the style and characteristics of n2syid and Islamic popular music in Malaysia; and (iii) the business models deployed within the nasyid genre in the music industry of Malaysia.

List of Figures
List of Photos


1. Music, Nasyid and Islam
An overview of Islam
Music in Islam

2. The Place of Popular Music in Malaysia
Popular music in ‘text and meaning’
The place of popular music in Islam
Malaysia’s musical diversity
Malaysia’s music industry in the 20th century
Islamisation of music in Malaysia
Islamic music and its impact on social development in Malaysia
Islamic music in Southeast Asia
Raihan: The pioneer of boy-band nasyid
Islamic outfit in Malaysia

3. Islamic Popular Music, Nasyid, and the Malaysian Musical Landscape
Music and Islam in Malaysia: Overview
Islamic popular music and nasyid: The music makers
Islamic popular music in Malaysia
Nasyid and the Malaysian music industry

4. Musical Instruments and Music Transformation
Raihan, setting a ‘benchmark’ for Islamic popular music
UNIC introduces ‘fresh pop music’ as da’wah
Fusion music — synonymous with Rabbani’s wave?
Musical transformation of the nasyid style
• Traditional
• Tarannum style in nasyid
• Classical musical instruments
• A capella style
• Contemporary
• Fusion

5. Lyrics and Languages in Nasyid Songs
Lyrical trends in the 1990s: Zikr style
Traditional style captivates the Malaysian people
• Lyrics regarding fardu ain or the pillars of Islam
• Lyrics about friendship
• Lyrics that describe historical moments and challenges for Islam
• Motivational lyrics
• Lyrics on events in the Islamic calendar
• The lyrics of love between men and women
Languages in Islamic popular music

6. Participants and Images of Nasyid in Malaysia’s Music Industry
Participants in Islamic popular music in Malaysia
• Islamic popular music and education
Nasyid competition
• Family influence on Islamic popular music artists
• Influence from foreign artists
Female artists and social acceptance
The audience for nasyid in Malaysia
Transmission of nasyid style
The conflict between portrayals of culture and religiosity
The transmission of fashion trends in the Islamic popular music industry
• Middle Eastern trends (Arab style) as popularised by Raihan
• Western trend as popularised by Inteam group

7. Nasyid Business Models in the Malaysian Music Industry
The ‘Halal Economy’
Traditional business model
• Album sales: The alternative income of nasyid artists
Contemporary business
Digital sales in Malaysia
• USB drive format: An experiment in selling albums
Media and marketing
• Print media
• Radio and television
• New media (The Internet age)

8. A Way Forward
Mapping the future
Elevating the status of nasyid


Weight0.543 kg
Dimensions22.8 × 15.2 × 1.9 cm




Year Published


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