Date of Graduation

Winter 3-2013

Level of Access

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Music

Number of Pages

72

First Advisor

Steele, Peter

Abstract

Hamd and naat form a musical genre that features religious chants set to lyrics praising Allah (God) and the Prophet Muhammad respectively. In the Pakistani society, there are numerous cultural and social dynamics performed through the religious and musical tradition of hamd and naat. These influences include for example the orthodox and unorthodox attitudes and commercialism. In this thesis, I focus on the gender dynamics in Pakistan performed vis-à-vis this musical genre from the perspective of those participating in this cultural phenomenon. Women should not sing in public according to orthodox Islam. However, female performers of hamd and naat are emerging rapidly and successfully all over the country. I suggest that women’s active participation in this religious music destabilizes the power structures responsible for a woman’s subordinate position in the Pakistani society. I also suggest that their participation expands the boundaries of acceptable activities for women under more orthodox interpretations of Islam. The perspectives most critical to my exploration therefore include performers, women, Islamic scholars, general public, producers and other cultural actors. I draw upon the interviews and field notes I took in Pakistan during my fieldwork and research in the summer of 2011 and 2012.

Open Access

Available to all.

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