Ayat is one of the most controversial bands in the middle east, if not the most controversial one. Since the release of their EP “ Al Nabi Moujrem, Moughtaseb , Dajjal” Ayat have been branded as the first anti-islamic black metal band. However, the claim that they are anti-islamic is a false one. After reading a lot of interviews conducted with the band especially with “Filthy Fuck”, I realized that this band is anti-religious and is against any secterian establishment that promotes opression and repression. Islam happens to be the religion that is dominant in middle east and to some extent it causes a lot of repression especially in countries such as:Saudi Arabia. Ayat’s music might seem offensive and is rather not accepted in the middle east for several reasons:
1 – It directly attacks islam.
2- the offensive imagery the music is attributed to.
However, not accepting them is somehow ignorant. I find it amusing how the people here , in Lebanon and in the middle east, that are into metal attack Ayat and suddenly become othodox and die-hard believers. Metal has always been a way to let out the anger and the agression that a person feels. Religion has always been a cause of control and manipulation in many countries and especially in the middle east. Just because Ayat are outspoken doesn’t mean that we have to shun them and ignore that they are a GREAT Lebanese Black metal band. In my opinion Ayat are more talented and truer than a lot of current Lebanese Metal bands. At least they are conveying a message that they believe in, and they are fighting for a cause that demands a lot of “balls” to do so. About 2 or 3 months ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance of mine and we were discussing black metal and it’s relationship with anti-Christianity, satanism and blasphemy. The conversation was going great and it was actually surprising how a religious person like him accepted the fact that Black Metal is blasphemous. However, the real shock came afterwards. When we started discussing Ayat. When I asked him if he likes Ayat, he cowared and said that he doesn’t like them and there was a lot of hate in his answer. I found it weird and rather igorant, how a person like him can’t accept Ayat but accepts bands such as the infamous Gorgoroth.
Metal is all about relatively extreme topics and if it weren’t for these topics that Metal handles none of us wouldve been a metal head. From heavy metal to progressive metal and from thrash metal to doom metal. Topics like death, mutilation, gore, hate, murder, decapitation, war and the holocaust are all topics that are prominent in somehow every Metal sub-genre. Why should anti-religion, anti-islam and anti-Christianity be any different? They as the predeccessors are also related to the extremism of metal. They also express anger and agression and they also are not a form of the commercial industry. Ayat happens to be a band that tackles these relatively tabooed themes. If you just give the band a chance and if you just understand where they are coming from. You would definitely see the logic behind their music and their work. Metal is all about acceptance.
The imagery; Ayat have been also famous for the imagery that they use. Their recent album cover is an example of the “offensive” imagery that they utilize. If you look at the album cover you will be somehow disturbed. However, there are a lot of ideas that are present in such album cover. Ideas that are embedded in it and that require some analytical and unbiased thinking. First of all the woman that is crucified on the cross, is a blasphemic representation of christ. So this is an example that Ayat is really not only an anti-islamic band. There is also a Christ-like skeleton figure that seems to be emmerging from the the wall or from the woman. There is a bible or some other religious book that seems to have been torn or worn out. These images are all related to one idea: Blasphemy. Blasphemy in Black Metal represents freedom. Attacking the religious establishment whether the Christian, the Muslim or the Jewish establishment is a representation of freedom. The representation of fighting control and manipulation. It is a representation of being unbounded and unchained by the religious and the extremists ideology.
The opposing view is also somehow justified. Ayat are an extreme Black Metal band. They don’t hide their blasphemous and anti-religious nature they expose it and their music is like an “In your face” kind of music. Their style is somehow very new in the middle east. So it would be understandable that Ayat got and still gets a lot of attacks and are to some extent not approved to be an official middle eastren band. Islam has a lot of followers and most of them are very biased towards it. In addition to that, there are a lot of extremists in this religion. Those extremists have been controlling people through fear, since time immemorial. Religion has been the people’s driving force and the people’s opium. So it plays a huge part in their lives and to some extent Religion defines their modes of life. So accepting a band like that would take a lot of time. This acceptance needs people to think outside the box. It definitely needs a lot of practice.
So the main reason why Ayat are not accepted is fear. Ayat represent Islam’s greatest fears which is: Freedom. The relationship between a muslim and God is a relationship based on worship. It is widely known that Allah is the “ruler” and people are the “slaves” or the followers. The relationship is very strict and very harsh that attacking the “rulers establishment” is very unaccepted and unorthodox. Ayat provide an outlet to all of that. They are somehow a release. If you accept them and understand them, they might provide you with a lot of answers concerning the religious establishment (the establishment is different from the religion of course) in Lebanon and the middle east.
Rami ( be a bit more objective if possible , some phrases need rethinking. Describe what ayat is and what are they aiming for. But dont say they are right or wrong… or that they can teach you things about islam or christianity… focusing on the ” Out of the box ” is great!)