"Spirituality is missing in the vast majority of most songs," the famed singer told Reuters on Tuesday, February 21. "The art world has been hijacked by the commercial environment. That's why we have a vacuum in producing positive art with positive messages, promoting good values."
Yusuf said his songs have been widely popular in Arab countries as they are offering something new, both in arrangement and lyrics, and different from Arabic pop, which typically deals with love and romance. "We need something different -- new concepts in the Arab world. I feel that a lot of the messages, if there are any messages, are just a blind imitation of the West," he said.
His first album "Al-Muallim" (Teacher) has achieved a remarkable success in Middle East countries, where his CDs sell alongside traditional pop, and his songs are run in shops and cafes. The 24 year-old singer was born into a musical family of Azeri origin and showed a keen interest in music from an early age.
Yusuf's second album "My Ummah" (Muslim nation) was released last year. It features a song called "Muhammad" condemning violence practiced by some people in the name of Islam. The song is dedicated to people killed in a Beslan school when Russian forces stormed the building to free hostages taken by Chechen hostage-takers.
The album also includes a song "Free" which defends the right of Muslim women to wear hijab. "I was doing a concert in France and a girl approached me and said: 'Please do something on the hijab, you don't know how much we're suffering.' It's not just for people who are wearing hijab. It's for civil liberties," Yusuf said.
France has triggered a heated controversy in 2004 after banning hijab in state schools, a move blasted as "discriminatory" by the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.
Yusuf's albums are meant to highlight an Islamic role model for Muslim minorities in the West and clear out misconceptions about the Muslim faith. "In the West, we don't have enough Islamic celebrities who would make minority Muslims proud," he said. "In my father's time we had Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali.
"Now you find that a lot of people think: 'Islam. Ah, Osama bin Laden,' you find some youth who are confused, who might feel disillusioned," said the Muslilm singer. Yusuf plays several instruments including the violin, piano and the Arabic lute. His style at times evokes a traditional form of Islamic chanting called nasheed.
"What genre is it? I don't know. We're blending Western harmonies with Eastern modes. You'll find a lot of Turkish influences, Arabic, Western and Indian" he said. "I want to show that Islam represents a huge amount of people and cultures."
Source: Islamonline.netLast Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16