On this Day of Arafat, I'd like to share some of my favorite nasheeds. These are songs to help us remember Allah. Anytime is a good time to remember Allah.
1. A is for Allah It's only right to start the list with the best known Muslim musician, British revert Yusuf Islam. The former Seventies Superstar known as "Cat Stevens" has undertaken many endeavors to help in educating Muslim children including opening the first full-time Muslim school in England in 1983. "A is for Allah," is an English alphabet song which teaches the meaning of many Arabic words and Islamic concepts.
However, don't overlook this song as something only for children. No matter your age, you will enjoy its simple beauty.
2. Thank You, Allah Here's Lebanese Swede Maher Zain and his very reflective, "Thank You, Allah". It's a song many Muslims can relate to as it shows appreciation for the journey towards understanding Islam.
This version is instrumental, though he has also released the nasheed with vocals only (as some purists adhere to a voice and percussion only policy). I like that Maher Zain sees his audience as very global and often releases the same song in three languages: Arabic, English and Malay for his vast number of Indonesian fans. If you want to read more about Maher Zain, check out my post on him.
3. Silent Sunlight Though this nasheed is sung by Dawud W. Ali, it's really a joint effort between him and Yusuf Islam. Dawud W. Ali is a Canadian revert with Scottish roots. He re-purposed an old Cat Stevens song, "Silent Sunlight," into a revamped tribute to The Creator. Honestly? I still get chills when I hear this song.
Check out all the great Dawud W. Ali songs which are available through Soundvision.
4. Madinah, Madinah A nasheed doesn't have to be mellow. This song by the Britsish group Aashiq al Rasul is very upbeat and fun. Their name means, "Those Who Love the Messenger" and they have been performing since 1998. The song, "Madinah, Madinah," talks about the city where the Prophet Muahmmad emigrated to from Mecca.
5. All I Ask of God Time to turn up the intensity dial. Outlandish is a Danish trio of two Muslims, Isam Bachiri and Waqas Ali Qadri, and their Catholic friend Lenny Martinez. Isaam is of Moroccan heritage, Waqas is of Pakistani heritage and Lenny is of Cuban and Honduran heritage. While Maher Zain has different language versions of his song, this group often puts three languages into one song. "All I Ask of God," is sung in both English and Spanish.
Their use of hip-hop beats and rapping will be able to reach some listeners that more traditional nasheed artists will not. I like their unique style.
6. Every Night and Every Day I've mentioned this nasheed on the blog before. "Every Night and Every Day," is a catchy song which you'll find stays with you long after you hear it. This singer at the microphone is Ramij Raja and though he has a good voice, he's not professional. I included him in this list because it's good to remember that ANYONE can worship Allah with a nasheed. You don't have to be a superstar.
I actually like this version better than the Mesut Kurtis rendition which I find rather overblown.
7. Fartaqi This is one of the first nasheeds I ever listened to. It is Emrati Ahmed Bukhatir singing in Arabic which somehow uplifted me even though I didn't know the meaning.
8. Forgive Me Ahmed Bukatir is going to have the distinction of being on this list twice. I feel they are very different offerings. "Forgive Me" is sung in English and tells of realizing how blessed we are. The video makes it even more compelling.
Sorry, Sami Yusuf! I almost chose your song, "My Ummah" to be included on the list. I truly do realize that there are many striving to sing for the pleasure of Allah.
9. A Land Called Paradise If you think about it, these songs don't have to follow a certain musical style. There are many different ways to make a joyful noise unto The Lord. The song, "A Land Called Paradise," is a country and western offering from Egyptian-American Kareem Salama.
This video was directed by Lena Khan, who I had the good fortune of interviewing last year. She also directed the Maher Zain video "For the Rest of My Life."
This is classified is a "Qawwali" song from the Sufi tradition. One thing I like about this video is how communal it feels. You feel the ummah rejoicing in knowing who is The Greatest.
Subhanallah! It is an awesome recording. I do feel the awe of Allah when I hear it. I can't help but smile and lift up my soul.
I hope you will inshahallah enjoy the nasheeds I've shared with you.
Wishing you and your family a Happy Eid filled with the knowledge that God is the Greatest and we who believe are continually blessed.