Category Archives: Islam

Today is Muslim World Music Day!

Muslim World Music Day is an online effort to identify and catalog all the recordings of Muslim music in the world. It will be a step towards making this culturally significant body of work readily available to people around the globe for study and enjoyment.”   Read More

I wanted to do more for this.  Things have been busy here, but really I have no excuse.    Anyways, try to participate in some way, at least by checking out their site linked above.  Here are some great videos to get you started!

Debu – Sarayda (Palace Troubadour)
Debu is a group of mostly Americans living in Indonesia (more about them a couple posts down).  In this video, they are singing in Turkish.  For some of the lyrics and translation, open this video in youtube and see the comments section.
Abida Parveen – Jab se tu ne mujhe diwana
Abida Parveen lives in Pakistan, and is a legendary singer of Kafi and ghazal.
Kareem Salama – Makes Me Crazy
The latest video from American Muslim country singer Kareem Salama
Shaykh Hassan Dyck and Muhabbat Caravan
Sorry it’s not too clear; they will be in Prague again next month.
Hor Rejjan – Ya Resulallah
Rejjan is a young choir from Sarajevo.

Muslim World Music Day

“The ARChive of Contemporary Music, the Arts Initiative at Columbia University, and Columbia University Libraries present an unprecedented collaborative project to catalog and celebrate the diversity, beauty and cultural importance of Muslim music.

Muslim World Music Day
combines elements of an academic teach-in, a crash course, and a virtual town hall meeting with an innovative crowdsourcing process. A collection of individuals and institutions from a variety of disciplines will work together to create awareness and understanding of the chosen subject in a compressed time frame.

Muslim World Music Day will be a live online effort to identify and catalog all the recordings of Muslim music in the world, in one day. It will be a step towards making this culturally significant body of work readily available to people around the globe for study and enjoyment.”  Read more…

New albums from Tyson and Baraka Blue

I just wanted to direct your attention to two new albums by American Muslim musicians – Sound Heart by Baraka Blue and Year in the Life of Ty by Tyson Amir.  Both are excellent!  May God reward them and give them further success.  Here’s where you can buy them (or download them for free if you get there soon enough) and listen to the tracks.

Baraka Blue, from the Remarkable Current label

Tyson Amir’s bandcamp site

About the Zikr

Right.  I said in the Spain post that I’d write about my first zikr session, which was in Valencia.  I didn’t forget, I just realized I didn’t want to write it.  While I enjoy going to spiritual gatherings, I hate talking about them.  I don’t like talking about personal religious matters, and although I comply with a grudging smile when asked about my conversion story, inwardly I’m thinking “not again!”  Even with people I know, so of course also with most of you that I do not know.  Maybe it’s my training in research and ethnography or maybe it’s just me, but it’s just so much easier to talk about other peoples’ works and accomplishments than it is to talk about my own feelings!  Anyways, here goes.

It was a Thursday night, and I was headed to Xativa (lovely little town in Valencia province) in my friend’s big, green monster van.  The session was to be held at the man’s house who would be leading it.  I wish I could have seen Xativa in the daytime as well!  I don’t remember what time we arrived, but it was late.  With all due respect to the cool people there, I thought I had arrived at hippie central when we got to the house!  There was this enormous guy (not fat, just big) with a huge dark brown beard and ponytail, with a lot of medallions, at least six little kids running around, and incense burning.  Then, after being fed gazpacho, we were led upstairs to a room with a bunch of cushions, rugs, more incense, and candles.  Nothing strange to me now, but since I was new, it kind of added to the “hippie” feel at that time.  It was very relaxing, though!

We prayed isha and started the zikr session.  It was about 30-45 minutes long (regular Naqshbandi zikr), and very soothing.  We sat and talked for awhile afterwards.  The drive home was about an hour, and I didn’t get to bed until about 4:00am (I had to get up at 6:00am).  Surprisingly (or not), I was fully rested for work the next day and felt great!  That same day (Friday), I left for Sevilla.

Because I Need to Say it…

Happy Ramadan to all of you! Did anyone besides me have to constantly remind themselves not to raid the cookie jar on the first day? Well, we got through it, and the rest of the month will be much better, God Willing.

Sweet and Sour Apples, and Gratitude

Here is one of my favorite passages from The Conference of the Birds by Farid ud-Din Attar, translated into English by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis.  Apples seem to figure prominently in Persian literature and even film, often as metaphors; does anyone know why? And does anyone know where I can get Conference of the Birds in Farsi?

A good kind-hearted monarch one day gave
A rosy apple to his favourite slave,
Who seemed to eat the fruit with such delight
The laughing king said: “Here, give me a bite!”
The slave returned him half, but when the king
Bit into it it seemed a paltry thing,
Unripe and tart.  Frowning he said: “And how
Is what appeared so sweet so bitter now?”
The slave replied: “My lord, you’ve given me
Such proofs of constant generosity,
I could not find it in my grateful heart
To grumble just because one apple’s tart –
I must accept whatever you bestow;
No harm can come to me from you, I know.”
If you meet tribulations here be sure
That wealth will come from all you must endure;
The paths of God are intricate and strange –
What can you do? Accept what will not change!

Ziryab, Past and Present


I saw a blackbird outside my kitchen window yesterday. It is a beautiful bird, and has a beautiful voice. I found out that the males sing to mark their territory. I hope that means he will be staying!

The bird made me think of a famous blackbird in history. Ziryab was a genius of a musician, fashion designer, and gourmet. He was called Ziryab, which means “blackbird,” for his dark complexion and melodious singing voice.  Originally from Persia and Iraq, he traveled to Andalusia where he revolutionized their music, food, and fashion.  Check out this article about him:

Flight of the Blackbird

Written by Robert W. Lebling Jr.

If you eat asparagus, or if you start your meal with soup and end with dessert, or if you use toothpaste, or if you wear your hair in bangs, you owe a lot to one of the greatest musicians in history.

He was known as Ziryab, a colloquial Arabic term that translates as “blackbird.” He lived in medieval Spain more than a thousand years ago. He was a freed slave who made good, charming the royal court at Córdoba with his songs. He founded a music school whose fame survived more than 500 years after his death. Ibn Hayyan of Córdoba, one of Arab Spain’s greatest historians, says in his monumental Al-Muqtabas (The Citation) that Ziryab knew thousands of songs by heart and revolutionized the design of the musical instrument that became the lute. He spread a new musical style around the Mediterranean, influencing troubadours and minstrels and affecting the course of European music.  Read more…