He created a new genre to sing about the Prophet, Islam | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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He created a new genre to sing about the Prophet, Islam

South African singer and songwriter Zain Bhikha, who has been performing nasheeds around the globe for 15 years, has created a new genre of halal (approved by Islam) music that consists of vocals and soft drumming. Aarefa Johari reports.

mumbai Updated: Nov 02, 2009 00:59 IST

“You are never alone / Just look into your heart and / Allah is always there...” This is not a translation of Urdu ghazal or Sufi poetry, but the lyrics of one of Zain Bhikha’s nasheeds, or spiritual songs, performed at the Islamic Peace Conference on Sunday.

This South African singer and songwriter, who has been performing nasheeds around the globe for 15 years, has created a new genre of halal (approved by Islam) music that consists of vocals and soft drumming.

“My songs are in English because one must speak to the new generation in a language and genre that they can relate to,” said Bhikha, who gave his first performance in South Africa in 1994, the year the country emerged from apartheid into democracy.

“I sing about the Prophet, Islam, and also about social issues I have seen in my country, like the plight of orphans.”
A huge hit on YouTube, Bhikha’s first international concert was with Cat Stevens in London in 1999. Sunday was his second performance in Mumbai, and drew a much larger audience compared to his first in the 2007 peace conference.

“My great grand-parents are from Gujarat, so I love coming to India, the country of my roots,” he said.

He has already experimented with fusion along with Islamic rappers in the US, and now looks forward to working with Indian musicians as well, he said, adding, “A.R. Rehman is my mentor.”

Bhikha will be performing at the Somaiya grounds in Sion again on November 4, the sixth day of the conference.