Music version versus vocals-only: Islamic pop music, aesthetics, and ethics

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


This article analyzes vocals-only Islamic pop music as a musical genre and mode of production. The aim is to present and discuss this particular form in relation both to its history as an Islamic phenomenon and, more broadly, to consumer society aesthetics. The article focuses on songs from the Islamic media company Awakening and its highly successful output of Islamic pop music, sketching the genealogy of vocals-only music in Islam before analyzing the recordings of songs both in “music versions” and vocals-only. It is then argued that, in spite of its signals of nonconformist, conservative Islamic ideals, the vocals-only phenomenon is very much a part of global consumer culture, in both its aesthetic qualities and its production

Publication (Name of Journal)

Popular Music and Society