Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1            Spring 1420/ 2000

Music Reviews


In the name of Allah, the Compassionate Source of All Mercy

Raihan: Syukur


          It's nice to be able to write a review about Muslim music.  It's rare that one gets the opportunity to sit back and listen to music that is acceptable in Islam.  The big question always arises, "Is it good it, though?"  This question is an understandable one.  It is more often asked by teenagers than adults, and there are two very simple reasons why.
          Firstly, teenagers are becoming a growing market of consumers.  They spend a lot of money on products that range from clothing to software, and, yes, music.  The chances of them spending money, be it their own or their parent's, on something that's not good is slim.  
          Secondly, whether we like it or not, Muslims are competing against a large music industry that will stop at nothing to sell millions of records, and the latest clothing, slang and mannerisms are being used by these music artists to make sure these records sell well.          
          It is with this in mind that I will view most music CD's.  This is not to say that content will be avoided, but let's face it, if the song doesn't sound good, you won't want to hear it over and over again.
          The disc starts off rather well.  The track "Syukur" includes some very good drumming and similarly sweet harmonies.  The outcome is a sound that is subtle and not overwhelming.  Now, while the rhythmic drumming carries over into the next track, the rich blend of voices gives way to a lead vocal that can't seem to carry off the emotion that its trying to illicit.  
          Unfortunately, most of the tracks seem to suffer from this.  While the overall dynamics seen to be there, the lead vocal can't seem to carry off the passion that he sometimes feels.  The strength of the group lies in their harmonies which are as rich and beautiful as anything you've heard.  Such harmonies are shown in the songs "Thank You, Allah" and "25 Rasul."
          Talk about infectious.  If these two songs don't keep you humming for a week straight, I don't know what will.  Not only are the voices superior but the dynamics of the songs themselves are superb.  The lyrics are simple, easy to remember and mostly in English, especially "Thank You, Allah."  This did not color my opinion of the songs mind you, but these are the tracks that use Raihan's greatest strength: their harmonies.  It is this quality that is enhances the final track sung by Yusuf Islam.
          Now, the track "God is the Light" is rather "folksy," for lack of a better word.  The guitar is soft, and the whisperings of Raihan add greatly to this song.  The strength here lies in the lyrics themselves: "How great the works of man and the things he makes.  How great then, how great the Creator?"  It is that question response that draws you into this gem.
          It may take a while for Islamic music to gain speed on the songs that are happening around the world, but it's nice to know that a group like Raihan is out there leading the way.
          With this, their second album, Raihan, which means "a sense of paradise," is solidifying themselves as one of the biggest groups in Malaysia.  Their style of nasheed or Islamic songs have struck a chord with the youth who wish to get closer to the Creator. 
          Hot on their heels is another nasheed group: Huda.  What's their special quality?  The group is comprised of Muslim sisters.  The two tracks that I've hear so far sound promising.  Look for a review in the Summer issue of Living Islam Today.