When speaking of Erykah Badu we find out that the Islam McMurray tells us Badu follows is that of the Nation of Gods and Earths, or Five Percenters. Five Percenters are those who follow the teachings of Clarence 13x, a former member of the Nation of Islam. Five Percenters do consider themselves Muslims but not in the religious sense – in the political sense. Therefore, many mainstream Muslims do not consider them Muslims. And in reality their beliefs have very little in common with Sunni or Shia Islam. McMurray tells us how Badu does create a space for Muslim women in her songs by rapping about Five Percenter practices – practices which encourage men and women to remain within their respective, traditional roles. Beliefs which seem quite sexist but ones which Badu says are quite flexible, in her music. However, as Five Percenters have so little in common with mainstream Islam, and in fact consider themselves a part of a political movement rather than a religious one, using Badu to represent Muslim women in hip hop struck me as false advertising. She does not, from my understanding, represent the religion but rather the political movement.
The situation of Eve is not so clear. She has been quoted as saying that she finds Sunni Islam beautiful but cannot follow it properly. McMurray argues that, according to her calculations, Eve is a Muslim woman, though even McMurray admits she cannot be sure. McMurray reads Eve as a Muslim woman. Eve refers to Allah in her work as well as thanks Allah on her CD credits. Additionally, McMurray tells us that her own personal communications indicate that she is Muslim. McMurray makes an interesting observation about people’s assumptions about Eve and her religion. In one song Eve says “I thank Allah every night and pray there’s no turning back.” In many online lyrics sources this line is written as “I thank the Lord every night and pray there’s no turning back.” McMurray tells us that people, on all sides (within and without) just cannot fathom Eve as a Muslim so would never assume that she would use “Allah.” She tells us that people have never even asked the question of her being Muslim despite her use of “Allah”.
McMurray, A. (2008). Hotep and hip-hop: Can Black Muslim women be down with hip hop? Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism, 8(1), 74-92.