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Stories · 16. Abu Nurah Interview

One of the few Muslim artists that can rap about Islamic issues in English and Spanish, Abu Nurah is bringin' fire from the LA badlands. Coming from LA's notorious Pico-Union wasn't enough to hold this brother back from attending the nation's TOP university: Harvard. Armed with the knowledge from the Ivy leagues coupled with street savvy, Abu Nurah brings an intellgent, yet raw flavor that is difficult to match. MuslimHipHop.com got the skinny:

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Why did you go by Abu Nurah?

ABU NURAH: My first-born daughter is Nurah. Hence, Abu or father (of) Nurah. Allah has blessed me to be a father, so it's an important part of my identity.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Where exactly are you from? Where did you grow up?

ABU NURAH: I was born and raised in Los Angeles' Pico-Union district, which is predominantly inhabited by Mexican and Central American immigrants. My parents came from Mexico in 1970.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are your main musical influences?

ABU NURAH: Bob Marley, KRS-ONE, Public Enemy, Dead Prez, Jeru the Damaja, Guru, Pete Rock & CL Smooth, and A Tribe Called Quest.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What inspired you to do Muslim/Islamic music?

ABU NURAH: I've been involved in hip hop for over two decades. After I became Muslim, I grew in political awareness. I feel it my duty as a Muslim to speak out. This is jihad for me.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What are some of the key issues you are tackling in your songs?

ABU NURAH: I speak out about a number of issues, including: unjust immigration policies, consumerism/materialism, nationalism/blind patriotism, biased foreign policy, civil disobedience/resistance, the prison industrial complex, and economic injustice.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Do you feel that you are making a difference with your music?

ABU NURAH: I can only lend my voice to speak truth for the sake of Allah, but is He Who moves hearts. I believe truth is the strongest weapon. Rachel Corrie was murdered by an Israeli bulldozer, but that served to reaffirm the true nature of Israel's brutal occupation. So the truth lives on. I'm taking a public stand to denounce what is wrong and promote solutions.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What can we expect from you in the future?

ABU NURAH: I have a number of shows coming up to promote my mixtape 'Don't be a Citizen.' I also plan to start work on a new album. Fundamentally, I'm a Muslim and an activist. Hip hop is a powerful tool like a sword and I'll continue to wield it and sharpen it until Allah guides me to something better.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: Without giving away any secrets, how do you produce your songs? What software do you use?

ABU NURAH: Primarily FL Studio.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How would you say you are different from the other 100 or so Muslim hip hop artists?

ABU NURAH: We all bring our own experiences and culture to bear. I rhyme in both English and Spanish. I try to go beyond identifying problems by promoting solutions. Most of us know about Israeli occupation. Now what? Each of us has a role and responsibility. These problems belong to all of us.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: The Muslim community has been ailing for quite some time now (external oppression, internal division)what do you think can combat this?

ABU NURAH: We need to to build, build, build... institutions, scholarship programs, women's shelters, Islamic banking organizations, etc. We are not going to win militarily at this time, so we have to use our numbers to brainstorm creative solutions to our problems. We need to uplift spiritually and intellectually. We have to check our iman. In every realm of our lives, we need to ask whether Allah is first. Do we work for Allah or for ourselves? Do we fear our bosses more than Allah? Are we learning for Allah's sake or simply to make money? We need to stand for truth in small as well as large matters.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: How has Islam influenced your life?

ABU NURAH: Islam is my way of life. It informs my world view. I am conscious of my Creator all day. Islam has transformed me by teaching me my purpose in this world.

MUSLIMHIPHOP.COM: What would you like to say to your fans?

ABU NURAH: If you feel what I'm saying, then let's work together. Think about your own role and how you can help bring positive change. We all bring something to the table. Let's fight together. Best weapon is truth.

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