20 Muslim Women to Watch in 2020

Voice of Baceprot

— As told by Jessica Daqamsseh

In 2014, Firdda Kurnia (vocals, guitar), Eusi Siti Aisyah (drums) and Widi Rahmawati (bass) formed a metal band named “Voice of Baceprot” (pronounced bachey-PROT) after taking a music class at their middle school. In defiance of parental objections, they perfected their craft in secret. Once their covers of bands like Metallica and Slipknot obtained a social media following, VoB’s music career took off.

Baceprot means “noise” in the dialect of Indonesia’s West Java region. Through their music, the young Muslim girls who make up Voice of Baceprot command you to challenge your notions of tolerance, gender equality, and young people’s rights. Their popular song, “The Enemy of the Earth,” takes on hate speech and intolerance in Indonesia, proclaiming loud and clear that “the enemy of earth is you, poison of peace is you.” People who restrict and disrespect the rights of others are a poison preventing a peaceful planet.

Through their music, the young Muslim girls who make up Voice of Baceprot command you to challenge your notions of tolerance, gender equality, and young people’s rights.

VoB knows firsthand what it’s like to be demonized for following their dreams. In their small-town of Garut, many don’t feel it’s appropriate for practicing Muslim women to be playing metal music. Sadly and unsurprisingly, the internet trolls began issuing personal fatwas against everything from music being haram to metal being too loud and attention-seeking for hijabis. The band even reported receiving death threats if they continued performing and recording music. Although, there is division within the Muslim community over the permissibility of music, the idea of virtually ganging up on and intimidating young women who are intent on pursuing their dream should be mutually agreed upon as abhorrent.

Lead vocalist, Kurnia, told Reuters that “[…] gender equality should be supported because […] I am […] exploring my creativity while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman.” Kurnia believes that her music and her faith are not competing ideals which restrict the pursuit of one over the other. VoB seeks to empower the disenfranchised and to challenge society’s limiting gender roles. Their music and their faith both call humanity to care for and to speak up for the oppressed and to dignify women as full spiritual and intellectual beings, and for that reason, we cannot wait to see where their illustrious careers take them.

Recently, VoB discussed their inspirations, obstacles, and future goals with Muslim Girl:

Muslim Girl: What is your biggest inspiration behind the work that you do?

Voice of Baceprot: Our environment was the greatest inspiration for our work. This environment [includes] everything around our home, nature, government, even educational systems that we don’t think are entirely good. We wanted to speak out loud about this so that it could get better soon. And we use music as [our medium].

What has been the best lesson that you’ve learned along your journey?

Music teaches us to appreciate every difference more. It also taught us how to appreciate and use every opportunity in our lives by enjoying every process we go through. It was a pretty hard lesson we [learned from our music and from our education].

What is the most important challenge you choose to overcome as Muslim women in your field?

Change the perspective of those who judge based on what we wear. We want them to see our musicality. [When] they’re always looking at what we wear […] this view can give rise to sexism. For example, people tell us to take off the hijab because we’re metal musicians. We think [that’s] sexis[t].

What’s the one message you hope to deliver to the next generation of Muslim girls?

We want Muslim women and all of the women out there to be more confident in their ability and [to] be brave [in] realizing their dreams. You can be whatever you wanna be. Just like men, women get to choose. As long as you’re capable, [then] you can be great. [Your gender] won’t matter.

What do you wish you could say to yourself 10 years ago?

We want to inspire women for generations after us. Our music can provide hope.