Just like other artists, 2016 was busy and colourful for Islamic artists who are fast making a name on both the local and international scene, particularly on the nasheed music front.
A nasheed is a work of vocal music that is either sung as acappella accompanied by percussion instruments such as the daf.
The daf is a large Persian frame drum used in popular and classical music.
The approach of nasheed music is largely associated with Islamic artists—hence, calling their music nasheed.
December remains one of the remarkable moments for the country’s promising nasheed because emerging artist Ishmael Katawala exported the local nasheed touch to international festivals in South Africa.
He was invited by Radio Alansar to perform at the World Islamic Trade Fair plus Dubai International Trade Fair (Souk) from December 24 2016 to January 4 this year.
The artist of Munthu Odabwitsa fame described the tour as a symbol for acceptance and growth of nasheed in the country.
Katawala is not just the stage artist, but also a studio artist who has five songs to his name, including Ndizamugwadila Allah.
Ironically, the country’s [spiritual] music industry is mostly dominated by Christian artists. This supremacy extends to airplay and live shows.
However, artists of Islamic faith are not sitting on their laurels.
Aside Katawala, there are other artists such as Ahmed Pilo, Andullal Manjomo, Hussein Simba of Ndakondwela fame, Albudsalam Mpira, Adam Tiyes, Wallace Salanje, Imran Kaisi and Rajab Yssin Issah who are making headlines in the country.
Of late the country has witnessed the revolution of nasheeds whose songs and videos are being played on other stations such as Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
Mcpherson Maulana, head of programmes at Radio Islam in Blantyre, attributed the surge to the official opening of his radio.
“Since the inception of Radio Islam in 2001, there has been a revolution of nasheed music and Islamic artists who are contributing their work to the station to spread our religion.
“By then, most Islamic songs were being performed in traditional setups in the villages because there was no such platform,” he said.
According to Maulana, Radio Islam strives to promote Islamic religion; hence, the music is centred on the message of Allah.
“As far as Islamic religion is concerned, nasheed is strictly for religious purposes.
“The use of instruments, which we feel can provoke sin in listeners are discouraged. You can agree with me that there are gospel songs with alluring tunes that can easily drag people into some kind of erotic mode or dance, or so,” said Maulana, adding nasheed promotes core values of Islam.
However, there is a big difference between the way nasheed and the gospel music by Christian artists is delivered during live shows.
One of the artists, Ahmed Pilo, said they normally organise the shows for themselves.
He said Islamic music is improving in the country, attributing the trend to the demand of nasheed, particularly among the Islamic community.
For example, the artist has released four albums—Shukuran, Afshu Salaam (Let’s Spread Peace), Rahma From Allah (Mercy From Allah) and Mulawa which have received overwhelming response from his fans.
Pilo, however, bemoaned the negative perception towards Islamic music by other sectors of society as a stumbling block, preventing nasheed from penetrating the music industry.
He said some people or media houses think Islamic music should be played during Islamic programmes only.
That is wrong, he said.
“Islamic music can be played any time just like gospel music by other Christian artists.
“I mean, Fridays shouldn’t be the only time to promote Islamic music,” said Pilo. n