Ali has released a series of tracks and music videos during the pandemic that included an exhausting and difficult journey to several countries but his dedication and passion for his work resulted in a great production. “I have a responsibility,” he said. “I felt the need to respond to the negative portrayals of our religion in the media”
In an interview with the Tehran Times, we learn more about the life and struggles of this talented artist, as well as his aspirations.
Can you tell us about your experiences during the lockdown and spending more time with your children? How has it affected you?
As a parent you can't help but feel sorry for your children during lockdown restrictions, especially when they express how much they miss the regular activities like going to school, visiting the local mosque, and participating in social gatherings.
We can only be grateful for the lockdown period because it allowed us as parents to spend more time with our kids. Living in the west, and working a full-time job had made it increasingly difficult to spend as much time with our kids as we would have wanted to.
Lockdown was an opportunity to bond more closely as a family because as parents we now had a chance to strengthen our relationship with our children.
Some of the things we had more time for during lockdown were ordering Islamic books online and reading stories about the prophets and the imams to our kids and teaching them more about Islam. We also had the opportunity to teach our kids the Arabic language for reciting the Holy Quran and developing their general understanding of the Quranic Arabic recitation.
Aside from Islamic activities, we also had the chance to cook together, like baking cakes and pizza. This was also a great opportunity to develop our children’s sense of responsibility by giving them cleaning tasks! Although we always had to re-do the cleaning all over again ourselves, at least they learned to be responsible for cleaning their own rooms and helping with household chores.
On a personal level, it was very tough to suddenly dive into dealing with "homeschooling", as we didn’t have any experience on this prior to the pandemic. But Kids are kids! Even though we know they're a blessing, but they can sometimes get on your nerves! But Alhamdulillah, an overall very useful and educating experience both for us as parents, and hopefully for them as children.
Can you give us some details of your recent tracks and artworks?
Since the start of the pandemic, I am grateful to have been able to release 2 singles and 2 music videos despite the lockdown restrictions.
My first release during lockdown was the Music Video for Lady Fatima Zahra’s birthday. It was called “Divine Light feat. Kassem Hmede”, and it was filmed in Beirut, Lebanon. The track is a mixture of Arabic and English songs, praising Lady Fatima Zahra (SA).
The 2nd release was in the holy month of Ramadan. The track was called Ramadan, and it was again a mixture of Arabic and English songs.
The 3rd, and in my opinion the most interesting release in this period, was the English, Arabic, and Persian track and music video "I Heard" that was co-produced with the global Love Muhammad campaign.
"I Heard" was released as a clear condemnation against the insults to the prophet by the French Charlie Hebdo and the Danish Jyllands-Posten, who re-released the shameful drawings that insulted our beloved Prophet (PBUH) in 2020.
In the video, we also portrayed Western systematic racism, and especially the sad racist incident with the late African-American George Floyd.
The music video was shot in multiple international locations, and especially in Denmark.
The 4th release was the track for Imam Ali's birthday, “Ya Ali”, which is a song in praise of Imam Ali (AS) on his blessed birthday.
Why do you make songs for Imam Ali and the Prophet? What inspires you to sing in their praise?
As an Islamic artist, I have a responsibility towards my fellow Muslims. I feel that there is a big gap in the Islamic arts industry especially in the current era where the media has so much influence in our lives.
Praising Allah, and the beautiful religion of Islam, the holy prophet and the Ahlulbayt, is mainly based on the love for them, and also on a personal feeling, a feeling for a need, a need to respond to the negative portrayals of our religion in the media. The media that targets Muslims and tries to impose an ugly image of hate for Islam. We are a peaceful, friendly, and loving society that respects all faiths and wants to live in harmony with our fellow humans. So, producing Islamic art is a response, and a responsibility, to show the world the real picture of true Islam, the Islam of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).
What would you name as your best achievement in your life up to now?
My best achievement on a personal level, in life, must be the self-realization that I experienced in my early twenties. All praise to Allah, I was born and raised as a Muslim, but after studying Islam more comprehensively, I came to the conclusion that Islam isn't "just" a religion, rather Islam is the way of life, and the way to the afterlife. The more I studied, the more I discovered how little I knew about Islam. May Allah give us the strength and knowledge to fall deeper into his mercy.
On the artistic side, I would say that my biggest achievements have been the response I received from people who enjoyed my music and sent me lovely emails and messages, and I am grateful to all of them, and I hope they benefited from our work. As Islamic artists, our main job is to serve this Ummah.
As a Muslim artist living in Europe, how have you been able to cope with the recent global changes?
Regarding our global networking as artists, we could say that generally speaking, our main interactions with our followers and listeners have been through social media. And because of covid19 and lockdown, our connection through social media has been strengthened. But on the other side, many events, concerts, and trips have been canceled due to pandemic circumstances. We pray that Allah helps us defeat this disease and return to a better life than the one we had before it.
What are your plans for the holy month of Ramadan?
For the holy month of Ramadan, I have produced a few tracks that will be released soon inshallah. I have had the chance to work with British-Jamaican artist Ahmad Ikhlas on a track that mentions Israa Wal Me'raaj (Night Journey), and I've also worked with Iraqi-Danish Reciter Ahmad Al Moalem on a lamentation track for Imam Ali's martyrdom.
I will personally not release any tracks until after the holy month of Ramadan, inshallah.
What advice will you give to the youth in general?
My only advice to the youth would be the first verse that was sent to our Prophet: - Iqra' - Read!
What I mean here is not just to read, but read to learn, read to know more, read so you can develop, so you can grow as a person, read and open your mind. Read in the name, and with the name of God.Read and fight for what's right. Believe in your dreams and have trust in God.