News / Middle East

Muslim-American Rapper Bridges Faith and Music

Cyrus McGoldrick aka the Raskol Khan
Cyrus McGoldrick aka the Raskol Khan

Multimedia

Arash Arabasadi

Music and religion often go hand-in-hand. The traditions of many religions bring song and prayer together to engage followers of all ages and faiths. This type of crowd participation helps create the religious experience. Often, the American popular music scene is at odds with the beliefs of devout, religious followers. But, for one American rapper, the mixing of those two worlds serves as a tool to bridge faiths, cultures and stereotypes.

Where else but in the heart of New York City could one find a Muslim, American, Irish-Iranian rapper?

His name is Cyrus McGoldrick. He says he tries to channel all of the cultures that he’s been a product. When he steps on stage he does so by assuming the role of Raskol Khan.

"The Raskol Khan is a character that's very much me; but it's also everyone: as a young man in the city trying to do the right thing, but fighting with himself and fighting with the powers that be."

A student at nearby Columbia University, Raskol Khan is a devout Muslim who prays five times a day.

"I'm always careful to say that I don't do Muslim rap, but I am a Muslim rapper, because I'm very proud of my practice; I'm very proud to be a practicing Muslim in America. I think New York City is a unique melting pot of cultures. So in that way, we can have a lot of spaces for us - a lot of spaces for Muslims - to live and interact in."

And that is where the music comes in for Raskol Khan.

"I try to show in my music that we're all humans. We all want a lot of the same things. For a practicing Muslim - but I think for any person of faith - it's important to show that our decisions definitely refer back to an idea of right and wrong. Those core concepts, principles, if they come through in the music that resonates with people, that unites rather than divides. People can see someone who identifies as a Muslim; who is proud to be an American."

His abilitiy to unite brings a smile to his proud parents' faces. His mother, Nikoo McGoldrick call him the United Nations of music. His father, Jim, takes pride in the hard work his son puts into his music and enjoys the pleasure it brings to other people.

Many kids have hopes of superstardom. It's a common theme in American pop culture, but few would call the life of a celebrity "pious." It seems those two worlds would be at odds. But in Raskol Khan’s world it’s a chasm that can be overcome.  

"Being a musician certainly involves being present in some venues and maybe around certain substances and people that a Muslim who wasn't on that scene would try to avoid. Being a musician and being a Muslim can go very well together. It really has to do with what your concept of being a musician is. If it's about the music, then that's one thing; if it's about the parties and everything else afterward, then that's a whole other story."

In Raskol Khan’s case, it’s most certainly about the music.

When not busy on stage or devoting himself to Middle-Eastern, Asian and African studies, this 20-something Rhode Island-native gives his time to the community, teaching reading, writing and basic literacy skills at a program called Community Impact.

“These skills will help people a lot in the future, inshallah. Anything that I can use my skills for to pass to them on, that's just a win/win. If I can make my living helping people and staying involved in the community, then that's perfect for me. My love for people; my love for family and friends; my love for what I study; the jobs that I go to… that gets me up out of bed every day by itself. I'm blessed to love everything that I do. I'm crazy busy and I'm always running, but I'm very lucky that everything that I do; that I'm running from one thing to another, I like all those things," says rapper Raskol Khan.

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More