CAIRO – An Oxford festival will celebrate the world’s best Islamic music on Sunday, July 1, showing the British community the diversity of Islamic arts appreciated by Muslims worldwide.
“As in the past, this annual festival showcases the best of Muslim music and sacred songs, featuring different artists and entertainers from around the Islamic world,” the festival organizer Taj Hargey told Oxford Mail.
The seventh annual Muslim Festival gets under way from 4pm at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, at St Hilda’s College, Oxford.
Organized on Sunday, July 1, the festival will showcase Islamic music from different continents, including Africa, Europe and Asia.
Among the acts taking part in the seven-hour musical extravaganza are South African ensemble Desert Rose, who will open and close the show, Nahid Nazia from Bangladesh, and Nizar Isa from Palestine.
Also taking to the stage are Mosi Conde, from Guinea, Adel Albary, from Sudan, Morocco’s Simo Lagnawi and British Muslim comedian Jeff Mirza.
The acts are famous in their own countries and promise an “explosion of creativity and entertainment”.
“Aside from various participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Gambia, Iraq, Sudan and Turkey, this year’s top-billing is an astonishing African Sufi group from South Africa,” Hargey said.
“Desert Rose are a multi-talented and energetic ensemble from Cape Town that fuse interfaith scriptural texts with a pioneering musical output.
“Combining their Malay and Muslim heritage with European and Christian influences, they create a brilliant synthesis of an uplifting spirituality that brings together people of different cultures and creeds,” he added.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority, estimated at nearly 2.5 million.
Oxford festival was suggested to celebrate Islamic music input to the city’s multiculturalism.
“The reason for the festival is two-fold. Firstly, we want to show the cosmopolitan residents of Oxford that Islam has something to offer musically,” Hargey told Oxford Mail.
The festival organizer added that they wanted to clarify that music is not banned in Islam.
“Secondly, we want to show the conservative Muslims that music is not banned in Islam and Islam offers something artistically and musically,” Hargey said.
“The festival is a consolidation of world music and people will find it very delightful.
“The message is, ultra conservative Muslims have no place in modern British society.”
Islamic music has proved a great success among youth in the west over the past decade.
The huge success of Islamic songs among youth in the west started when Awakening, which has its UK head office in Swansea, signed its first artist, Sami Yusuf, in 2003.
Yusuf, a British Muslim singer of Azerbaijani origin, was described by Time magazine as "Islam's biggest rock star" after the success of his first two albums Al-Mu'allim (The Teacher, a reference to the prophet Muhammad) and My Ummah (My Muslim Community).
Muslim young artists like Raef and Maher Zain, a Swede of Lebanese heritage, were also scoring huge success among youth, particularly in the west, by rewriting international lyrics to be 'faith-inspired' songs.
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