This is a gem that has been waiting patiently to be shared, and I think, now is the time to tell you of the extraordinary experience of nashid, spiritual lyrics, that unfolded at Sami Yusuf’s concert at Dubai Opera, in December 2017. It was an event that, honestly, I only went to because so many of my friends were going, but is something that I would, now, never have missed for the world. If you ever get a chance to go to one of his concerts, I would truly urge you to do so.
The evening had three special Divine gifts within it. The first gift, was in the form of the person I ended up sitting next to, thanks to quite an extensive game of musical chairs. There had been so many changes to the arrangements, and after much back and forth, I realized that actually, I was to sit by myself. One usually sits with others at these kinds of events, so it felt a bit odd to know that so many friends were attending yet I was to sit alone but, I decided that God Meant me to sit back and truly soak in the experience, haha. In my books, there is always a Divine Wisdom and silver lining to any situation.
Having fully accepted my fate, the plot took another turn, when my phone rang and my friend Aya’s voice came through saying “why are you sitting alone? Come to sit with us. Look to your right and back.” I looked and surely, there she was with an empty seat next to her. What a joyful surprise that was, as Aya is one of the dearest people on Earth to me. That night, I think God Gave each of us the company that would ensure our utmost enjoyment of the evening with our hearts open wide. A most Merciful Generous God indeed.
The audio link below will give you an idea of the beauty that we were about to witness together.
The second gift came in the form of the 10 musicians who accompanied Sami Yusuf. They were musical giants in their own right and each of them could have easily played the night away solo, to an enraptured audience. Throughout the evening I saw them pulling out instruments from every musical denomination. Some, I knew and others I didn’t. I was delighted by the masterful exhibition of Islamic musical tradition.
The third gift was the magic brought to the evening by Sami Yusuf himself. His mixture of talent, adab, and enthusiasm was so engaging and uplifting. It was something to hear him speaking with such respect for his loves. God, his prophet, authentic Islamic musical traditions, his fellow musicians and even we, the audience were included in his circle of intelligent care. He sang in many languages, from English to Iranian, Urdu and Arabic, giving life to old traditional nashids, praising God and his prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Throughout the concert, Sami spoke of his mission to protect and pass on knowledge of Muslim musical traditions. His concerts are already achieving this, but one day, he hopes to found a musical institute where he can do it more formally. What a special place that will be.
I recognized the uniqueness of his gift, when on the fourth song, something magical happened to me, which I have only ever encountered once before in my life. It was in a cathedral in Austria, at the age of twenty-three.
Below the grand ceilings of that cathedral, and against two giant windows framing Austria's gorgeous nature like two impressionist paintings, a towering, well-built musician played an equally huge bass. His playing reverberated with the acoustics of the room and I felt each note in my soul. I was so moved that silent tears streamed softly down my face, coming from a place deep in my being.
The night of the concert, when I heard Sami Yusuf praising the Prophet as the best of creation, in Arabic, my beloved mother tongue, I was returned to that deep place and felt the tears on my cheeks once again. I count that moment as one of the happiest moments of my life. The thought came to me unbidden and resonated, as it was true. And, to think I didn’t want to come!!
I was so deeply touched by the evening and in many ways. And, to top it off, a few weeks ago, I went to dinner with my dear friend Dina, and she gave me the 4th precious gift.
Dina had really wanted to attend the concert with me, but could not because it was her precious mother was very ill by then. She passed away shortly after that. God Rest Dina's beloved mother’s soul and Grant her the highest heavens.
The loving soul that Dina is, she so thoughtfully bought me the DVD of Sami Yusuf’s concert that eve at the Dubai Opera and gave it to me at the dinner. I cannot tell you how treasured that gift is to my heart, as I know that fourth song will forever bring back memories of a moment and evening where God’s Love Shined brighter on us all present there reminding us that His Love is ever present in subtle and grand ways for hearts that are open enough to perceive and receive.
DISCOVER Sami Yusuf
Sami Yusuf is a British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer, and humanitarian who grew up in London. Yusuf gained international attention with the release of his debut album, Al-Mu’allim, in 2003.