"Rock the Casbah" and Other Songs You Won't Hear at Many Ramadan Parties

This past weekend marked the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic holiday of spiritual purification. As you might imagine, fasting and self-sacrifice don't usually go very well with conventional revelry, so the occasion isn't usually marked by all-night house parties. This is just as well, because the selection of songs referring to Islam is alarmingly short - and most either indifferently mock the faith of Mohammed or are easily misinterpreted as such. Therefore, Rocks Off can in no way endorse the inclusion of the following on your Ramadan Rave-Up playlist:

Ray Stevens, "Ahab the Arab":

Feel free to gently remind anyone who recalls the years preceding the JFK assassination as "America's Golden Age" that this is what passed for comedy. Stevens wouldn't reach such heights of incisive hilarity again until the release of "The Streak," his reaction to the liberal establishment's railroading of Richard Nixon, in 1974.

Frank Zappa, "The Sheik Yerbouti Tango": Sheik Yerbouti was Zappa's first album after leaving Warner Bros., and marked the beginning of his most successful commercial period. One might have expected more outcry at the Baltimore-born musician dressing in traditional Arab gear and misappropriation of "booty," but the presence of the song "Jewish Princess" probably evened things out.

FC Schalke Club Song, "Blau und Weiß, Wie Lieb Ich Dich": Far be it from us to suggest certain radical elements in the Muslim community take things a wee bit too seriously, but these lyrics...

"Muhammad was a prophet who understood nothing about football"

"But of all the lovely colours he chose [Schalke's] blue and white"

...are mostly accurate, yes? Modern-day soccer football didn't really start taking shape until the Medieval era, which was well after the Prophet's time. And really, is this any worse than Tim Tebow saying God wants Florida to win the BCS?

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The Clash "Rock the Casbah": Much like Ronald Reagan focused on the chorus to "Born in the U.S.A." without paying attention to Bruce Springsteen's lyrics about Vietnam and unemployment, so were troops during the first Gulf War ignorant of anything beyond the line about dropping bombs "between the minarets." And let's be honest, it's hard to get jazzed about blowing up civilians to a song about the Ayatollah banning rock music.

The Cure, "Killing an Arab": This song ignited controversy long before Salman Rusdhie made fatwahs familiar to most of the Western world. Given that the first verse is pulled pretty much word-for-word from Camus' The Stranger, Smith probably wishes he'd chosen a book more recognizable to listeners, like Hop on Pop.

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