& occasionally about other things, too...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rock & Roll Jihad

One of the surprises of this year’s Masala! Mehndi! Masti! was Salman Ahmad of Junoon, the Pakistani sufi rock band that transformed music in the Indian subcontinent and created an audience for a genre that had an extremely limited appeal.
 
Salman is now the solo representative of the band that is even today remembered for Sayonee, the path breaking single that became a benchmark for all subsequent music videos.

In a freewheeling conversation with Aparita Bhandari of CBC Radio, that soared beyond music, Salman Ahmad traced his evolution from being a member of a garage band in the United States to a globetrotting UN Ambassador today.

His book Rock & Roll Jihad illustrates this journey. “The thread of healing is a major force in my music,” he explained.

Junoon had to face severe restrictions in Pakistan from the political as well as religious zealots. Salman narrated his meeting with a mullah in Peshawar where the two argued about the place of music in Islam, with the mullah saying it has no place in religion and Salman arguing that it has.

The argument ended with the mullah giving a stunningly beautiful rendition of a verse from the Muslim holy book.

Deftly strumming the guitar to the tunes  of
Stairway to Heaven and a sufi song by Bulleh Shah, Salman held the audience spellbound for more than an hour.

He concluded: “Terrorists didn’t just hijack planes on 9/11, they hijacked Islam.” 

No comments:

Post a comment