Saturday, October 2, 2010

Silence of the Music

"We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other and not despise each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous and God has full knowledge and is well acquainted.”

I recently watched a musical produced by Lynne Homes-Ganief from Desert Rose. The production titled “Silence of the Music” depicted a story of a Muslim man who married a Christian woman. The story was illustrated through music. The music was a collaboration of Arabic, Indian, African and Gregorian. The couple who were very much in love decided to get married. The woman remained Christian and was not always accepted by her husband’s friends and family. They both produced music but despite their spirituality and devotion to God they were ostracized. Only after some time were they accepted into the community.

Now for those who have never heard of Desert Rose, you may not see the bigger picture behind this musical. Desert Rose is the brainchild of Yusuf Ganief and his wife Lynne Holmes-Ganief. I don’t think Lynne embraced Islam and although I do not know her personally, I know she is a very spiritual person. Their music is very spiritual which compromises of a mixture of sounds from various cultures. They promote an interfaith dialogue and are trying their very best to bridge the gap between non-Muslims and Muslim, well actually people from all cultures. Through their music they have created this interfaith dialogue.

However their journey has never been an easy one. Just recently a community radio station in Cape Town refused to play their latest CD titled “The Awakening” after complaints from the public and religious leaders. The CD, as they so eloquently put it, is a musical pilgrimage. The lyrics do not go against the teachings of Islam in any way. The music does not promote any religion as being superior to the other, it simply promotes spirituality. Their songs are a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew. This shows us that if these two languages go together so beautifully in Music why can’t Muslims and Jews be friends? Maybe this was the problem for those who refused to accept it? Or maybe it was the pictures of the Buddha, Jesus, Mother Mary and a Hindu Goddess on the front cover. What is so wrong with that? Were these people afraid of creating a bond between non-Muslims and Muslims?

I sat in the audience with pre-hand knowledge of the story of Desert Rose and the trials and tribulations they faced. I knew what to expect out of this performance and I knew I was going to love it. But I watched the number of Muslim faces around me. I saw them laughing and clapping along, I saw their smiles and tears. I also their hypocrisy! I refrain from making a generalization because I am sure there were many who just like me appreciated an interfaith performance. But I know there were many who would never walk away with have learning something. I know this because I have attended other Desert Rose performances. The same people who have applauded them are the same ones who have no tolerance towards non-Muslims today. I know these people.

There are still so many Muslims out there who feel so superior to people of other denominations simply because they are Muslim. Who do you think you are? “Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous.” We have no right to judge other people and look down on them because they are not Muslim. We are all human beings who make up of the world’s population. How will this world become a better place if we cannot love our non-Muslim brothers and sisters?

Many have argued with me and said that the performance promoted the marrying of non-Muslim women without them converting. I believe it’s what you take out of it. I certainly did not see that promotion. All I saw were two people who showed the audience their life story. I saw two people trying to show the world, through their music, that we are all humans and all pray to the same God. They both believe in one God, they both are deeply spiritual and in their own ways they both have a connection to their creator. They want to show non-Muslims the beauty of Islam and they want to show Muslims the beauty of other religions. Their intention is clear; religious tolerance. How do we move forward if we cannot tolerate one and other? I tolerate all religions. I may not necessarily believe in their practices and rituals nor do I always agree with them but I tolerate them. The more people who start tolerating others despite their religions, the lesser wars there will be.

Learning to be tolerant is not always easy, it’s a struggle; a constant jihad. Then again what isn’t difficult? My mum remained Hindu when she married my Muslim step dad. Whether this is right or wrong, I leave to Allah (swt) to decide. My entire family is Hindu. If I am not tolerant towards Hindu’s I may risk the chance of pushing my entire family away. This is a risk I am not willing to take. It is very hard watching them do certain things that go against Islam but life is too short to be angry. The best thing you can do for anyone is to remember them in your dua’s.

I urge all Muslims out there to try and watch this production and walk away with love in your heart for all people in this world.

To celebrate our diversity as a global humanity through music is a powerful beginning, treading a path towards religious tolerance, where devotional sounds of Hebrew and Arabic sit quite comfortably with a song, where what is perceived as an impossible idea becomes a reality through music!” – Lynne Holmes-Ganief.

1 comment:

  1. I find that many SA Indian Muslims are very intolerant to their own kind, never mind non-Muslims. That said, I come from a very VERY ethnically and religiously diverse family. We have Jewish ancestors on my maternal mothers side. Half of my family is Christian and there are a couple of Hindus and Buddhists too. But we get along great and tolerate and respect each others beliefs regardless because The Almighty has commanded it and at the end of the day, we don't choose our families ;)