Thursday, 21 August 2014

All after listening to Nasheed

All after listening to Nasheed

(Or how the music from the East is both spiritual and militant)

It was last week when yours truly was listening to songs in which most people likely to ridicule citing the language being used and devoid of instruments except the human voice. But regardless of the ridicule, this person seemed to enjoy the music that is both, spiritual and militant, with the latter somehow being misunderstood and even slandered by many due to the videos and the lyrics being shown and sung. 
But regardless of their slander and ridicule, of calling it as scary if not weird, yours truly rather chose to listen and enjoy the music knowing that it also inspires the way he listens to any kind of music he appreciates.

Defining Nasheed and its relevance in the Islamic world

The Nasheed generally deal with religious themes, with messages made to guide Muslims on the right way, and most of which are simply made as a praise to God or to his Prophet (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him). Usually it was sung a capella since there are no other music instruments being used according to Islamic teachings. But oftentimes, background tone is derived from numerous people mimicking instruments by humming in tune, or a frame drum called Daff. Other muslim poets used Nasheed in their secular poetries, that usually describes life and love, although most of those poems had their works likely to be accompanied by flute or a lute.

That somehow became part of the literature and music of the Islamic world. Mainstream media often describes the Islamic world as women in hejabs, men in Turbans, masjids in its splendour, the holy Qur'an and its magnificent surahs, and the strumming of lutes and daff if not the Mehter of the Turks that also invokes the militant nature of the Muslim warrior. 

In fact, listening to Nasheed, or any other music from the Spiritually-or-mystically-imbued East comes with understanding regardless of the language being used as well as the belief of the listener, with or without instruments, as long as the message has been given upon to. However, people may think badly out of it since most Nasheeds are synonymous to Jihad (struggle, commonly known as 'holy war'), and Jihad is always synonymous to terrorism. 

Nasheed as a music of struggle and peace

But come to think of this, why Muslims also convey their aspirations, wisdom, including those of struggle through music even without any instrument except for a daff drum or just a capella? Not all Muslims can carry a deadly weapon, but they can turn music, or any kind of literature into a weapon that strikes the mind and heart of every foe and inspires the heart and mind of every warrior so as to remember the fallen dead becoming a martyr.

Admittingly speaking, in listening to those music made this writer compels to write the way he listens to metal, punk, or various forms of music he understood much. He listens for he seeks inspiration to his works regardless of the message being sung aside from putting the mind at ease after a life's work such as this. To a Mujahid, the Nasheed is a statement of struggle, and to cite Qutb's, a struggle of Islam against those whom trying to take down and oppress.

And speaking of Jihad, Jihad isn't all about carrying a gun, but also a struggle for one's self, restraining the so-called self from the desires like those of the flesh just to be closer to the almighty; Zakat can be a form of struggle, for giving compassion to the needy regardless of its belief in the spirit of humanity also means struggle for justice especially for those in dire need. Some, if not most Nasheeds are also a form of struggle as its bards, witness to the reality had to vent their statements, of realities in a form of poems being sung; that somehow made the ignorant others making it unjustly synonymous to those who kill and calling it as "terrorism." The music of Hamas, mostly Nasheeds speaks of their struggle against Israel.

But not all Nasheeds are inclined towards Jihad as what most people think of. Some speaks of peace just like Yusuf Islam's music or Talaalbadru whose song seemed to make a person at peace, or let's just say 'chill' with the words given as well as the flow of music that consists of the human voice and a finger snap.

Anyways, this person is not a Muslim, but appreciating their music as well as their art, way of life comes respect regardless of religion. People may fail to understand as mainstream media usually fails to give a good description other than a war-mongering one. They afford to play the Jihad Nasheeds such as those being shown by militant groups, yet they fail to understand the meaning behind the song, or let's just say 'why they fight?', also not knowing that not all Nasheeds or any Islamic music speaks of war, as there are also those which speaks the beauty that is, given by the almighty.

A part of religious life and a nation's culture

Regardless of the slander, there will always be chants being sung if not music being played the way books being read and artworks being drawn. In most conservative countries with Islam as its dominant religion, Music is been prohibited yet chants like Nasheeds served as its 'music'; but there are also Islamic countries that also acknowledges music as part of their culture aside from chanting. The Ottoman Turks, with its Mehterhane band had contributed to Western music with Mozart and Beethoven applied its style such as 'Rondo Alla Turca.' The Guitar was also a product of the Arab world so was the Triangle.

Other than Nasheed, there are other eastern spirituals that also became a part of both religious life and a nation's culture. In fact, during his student days, this writer was listening to a Hindu mantra that was, accompanied by an harmonium and a mridanga; and like the former that speaks of invocation, it seems that the writer felt in a state of trance as the words makes the mind feel at ease if not be imbued the essence of the statement such as its wisdom. The Pasiong Mahal of the Roman Catholics, that was sung during lent, attributing to the hardships of the Lord Jesus Christ, may've been partially based from the chants of the pre-Hispanic past not just the chansons of the west that invokes heroism like those of Roland. 

The bard, in its highest spiritual state tends to create what is not just pleasing to the ears of man but those of the supreme citing the melody and message being spoken such as praise, lament, or even revenge. It may sound weird for many, citing the fact that it is uncommon for them to hear the sacred that is, other than being played in the church whilst listening most of the time the sinful and the profane.