Monday, December 10, 2007

Islam and Videos: Sami Yusuf (2/2)

First of all: we should not speak of Sami Yusuf in this blog dedicated to Arab modern culture. Born in Iran in an Azeri family, Sami Yusuf is marketed by the firm Awakening, based in the UK and specialised in Islamic commodities.

But Sami Yusuf, the man who "invented" the Islamic videoclip, regularly tours Arab capitals where he has many fans, two of them running an impressive site dedicated to their favourite singer.

The singer appears regularly on major Arab satellite TV screens, even if he does not speak Arabic. Like many other non-Arab muslims, he performs his religious duties in a foreign and “dead” language, like Catholics used to do with Latin not so long ago.

Sami Yusuf’s fame in the Arab world started in 2003, with his CD “al-mu‘allim” (the Master, for the Prophete). The recipe for success was already there: Arab and English lyrics in the tradition of the nasheed songs which glorify God; a kind of halal music which only uses percussions and voice (a piano appears on more recent works); a very Western mood whose pictures remind us of Hollywood Chewing gum advertisements!

In the Arab world at least, someone was behind this success story as Sami Yusuf met the Egyptian TV preacher ‘Amr Khaled (already mentioned in the previous post), when the latter was living there more or less in exile. They started collaborating, during 2005 "Muslim World Star" tour for instance.

Of course, this collaboration went on when the singer started his Arab career. Sami Yusuf was invited at various Amr Khaled’s TV shows and both are marketed, in the Arab world, by the same company, “Good News for Me”.

When some people expressed their reprobation of this kind of joint venture between two media stars, Sami Yusif replied that he did feel very “oriental” and that his only desire was to spread a spiritual message showing that one could be muslim and modern, nice looking and devoted to God.

Obviously, this is a point of view which touches many young people in the Arab world, especially within the raising middle classes which do not believe in political struggle in order to change society but see that moral action is more successful.

A turn toward a kind of “soft islam” (see this previous post), quite appealing to people who fear an islam somehow too political.

To read the original and more detailed post in french.
And think link leads you to al-mu'allem song.

No comments: