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An Assortment of Muslim and Eastern Musical Treats

The Bosnian Symphony Orchestra made a beautiful recording a few years ago. It synthesizes elements of classical music, Bosnian folk, Sufi beats and the Muslim call to prayer and zikr (rememberance of God). The last half of the recording is … Read More

By / September 13, 2007

The Bosnian Symphony Orchestra made a beautiful recording a few years ago. It synthesizes elements of classical music, Bosnian folk, Sufi beats and the Muslim call to prayer and zikr (rememberance of God). The last half of the recording is awe-inspiring; its got a bit of Bolero to it. The Call to Prayer ends at 4:20, and the Sufi Chant begins in earnest at 4:27. Here is the link. This piece was responsible for helping a professed Islamophobe change his views.

I, a non-Muslim, American, “fundo-Christian,” conservative of some 60 years of age find this Call to Prayer hauntingly beautiful. Thanks to Eteraz for steering me to this, to Haroon for the hosting, and to God for the inspiration that resulted in this music. Additionally, I must add that I am learning, learning, learning from Etaraz’ blog and from the many links and contributors. I have learned that some others, whom I had previously thought were somewhat “less than rational” are, in fact brilliant thinkers and essayists.

I’m not claiming I have a grasp of Muslim thought – far from it. What I am saying is that I am bewildered by the complexity of world viewpoints which have resulted in so much conflict. Conflict created from sheer misunderstanding – and it’s brother, mistrust. As I read and understand Muslim argument and history, I learn that I was foolish to desire the downfall of this rich group of cultures or of the existence of Muslim faith.

Now moving to some cultural music.

There is a Pakistani anthem called "Yeh Hum Naheem" (We are not that), which is a rebuttal to the hijacking of Islam by extremists. Its #1 on the Pakistani charts. Here is the youtube with subtitles.

Then there is Ahmed Zahir, the "Afghan Elvis" who was killed in the early 80's (run over by a tank). His music was banned by the Taliban, thereby conclusively demonstrating their hatred of Afghanistan. The songs you can listen to are "Ai Khuda" (O God), and "Gole Sangam" (Stone Flowers). Quicktime. Translations are here and here.

Then there is Amr Diab, the Egyptian pop-icon. His best song is the timeless Tamally Ma'ak (youtube). Always With You. Audio only here.

Then there is Deeyah, who is Norwegian-Pakistani-Irani-Afghani. She's more into Western Pop, but her best song is a Pashto language lullaby available on her myspace page. Its the one called Lori. Very soft and pretty.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I did not introduce you to Abida Parveen, who has taken over the mantle of Pakistani music from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (that big fat guy who used to do duets with Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam). Here is a song called Zahid Ne. I call it a song to make love to, though its really about God (lyrics here). Her best work is when she sings old Punjabi poets. Here is a wonderful youtube of her — she's quite jolly and hyper herself — singing Bulleh Shah, the greatest of all Punjabi poets (who said things like "Take down the mosque, take down the temple, but do not by God, take down anyone's heart). Here is a rambunctious essay I wrote about Punjabis and Islam.

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