Days before the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, two young Muslim rappers who go by the name Deen Squad released the song “Muslim Man.” The music video features the duo riding on SwegWays while rapping and holding signs that read “No, I’m not a terrorist.”
Deen Squad members Jae Deen and Karter Zaher asked their combined 1.2 million Facebook followers to post pictures with signs that read: “I’m Muslim, and I’m not a terrorist.” Since then, the related hashtag #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist has gone viral, and their music video has more than 39 million impressions and 7.8 million views on Facebook.
Now the Ottowa, Canada-based duo say their music is more important than ever before.
“Our music has become a voice with what has happened [in Paris.] It’s a voice against all these stereotypes that rise. It gives Muslim youth hope. We’re saying, 'No, you’re not violent or terrorists, that’s not the case, that’s not who you are. You’re Muslim, you’re peaceful,'” Deen told International Business Times.
Deen, 21, and Zaher, 23, met this year when they enrolled in the same class at Carleton University. They quickly bonded over their love for music and Islam, and decided to start producing songs. Their style is to take music from popular songs and overlay clever Islam-inspired lyrics. “Muslim Man” is a remix of the hit song “Classic Man,” which Kendrick Lamar recently remixed. Deen Squad’s “Muslim Queen” borrows from Fetty Wap’s song “Trap Queen,” and “Friday” is based on Drake’s song “Tuesday.”
— ١٥٧٤ (@harrischinscar) November 11, 2015
Deen Squad's religion-based music is aimed at young Muslims. They have lyrics like: “I say salam to all my bros, seen them at the mosque with their foreheads on the floor.”
Other lines include: ”We make Halal money, that’s Muslim cash” and “Oh, I think that I found myself a believer, she is always right there making prayer.”
Some Muslims don’t agree with their use of music, citing religious laws prohibiting music for entertainment. But the duo says that their music is “morally upright” and has brought young people closer to their faith.
“We’ve received lots of messages from young people saying, ‘Because of you I’ve become a better Muslim. I’ve been praying more,'” Deen said.
The duo is one of a number of young Muslim rappers striking a chord with young people. Other notable Muslim rappers include the feminist, U.K.-based Poetic Pilgrimage and Washington, D.C.-area group Native Deen.
Deen Squad will be releasing its first original song within the next two months and plans to go on tour with the help of music manager Sami Abboud.
“We want to inspire young people and give back to our community,” Zaher said. “Right now, it’s all work, work, work on our music.”
The duo has received concert requests from all over the world, like the UK, several cities in the U.S., France, Germany, Indonesia and Malaysia.
“At first it was really surprising to get all of these requests, but we’ve reached an international fan base with our faith-based music,” Deen said.
Born in Canada, the Deen Squad guys say outside of music, they enjoy “Canadian things” like following hockey and playing pool when they aren’t working or attending prayers at the mosque.