|World exclusive: interview with Sami Yusuf
Mon 03 Nov 2003
"Where did you come from?" is a question that many have asked since your meteoric rise in the nasheed world. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sami: All praise is for God, Lord of the worlds, and may He bless and grant peace on His final messenger Muhammad, his family, companions, and all those who follow him until the Day of Judgment. Asalaamu Alaykum. I am originally from Persia, the part that most people would call Azerbaijan but sadly, because of the fact that I've been raised here, I don't really know that much about Azerbaijan to share with you. But, from the little that I do know, the Azeri people are very spiritual with a deep appreciation of art and beauty. I feel that being of Azeri background has certainly helped me appreciate how diverse, vast and colourful the Muslim world actually is. But nevertheless, we are all united in faith Â– Alhamdulillah (thanks be to God).
Many of the tracks on your debut CD Al-Mu'allim are wonderfully poetic. What inspired them?
Sami: I have many sources of inspiration - classical Azeri, Arabic and Persian music and, of course, poetry from Turkey and the Indian Sub-continent. Alhamdulillah, I was given the opportunity to work with a very talented individual, Brother Bara al-Gannouchi who is actually the main lyricist and co-producer of the album. I thank him, and indeed everybody else who helped produce Al-Mu'allim. May Allah accept their efforts and grant them happiness in this life and the Hereafter Â– Ameen!
You seem to be flying around the world performing at various events. In one month you were in Germany, Chicago as well as at the Foreign Office in London. Do you find that different audiences prefer different nasheeds? How do you read your audience?
Sami: Alhamdulillah the response I have received has been phenomenal and I have truly been overwhelmed by the positive feedback. Subhan-Allah (praise be to God), I've received positive comments from all types of people, Asians, Arabs, white non-Muslim, young and old, and from so many countries which I have no idea how the album got there! It's amazing how they can all listen to the same nasheed and enjoy in their own way. I think some tracks are perhaps more appealing to others for example, 'Ya Mustafa' or 'Allahu' are both remixes of famous Qawali songs, so naturally these tracks would be appreciated more by the brothers and sisters from the Asian sub-continent. But, generally I have found that the title track Al-Mu'allim has been the most widely claimed to be 'favourite' Alhamdulillah.
What are your future plans? Can we expect another CD soon? If not, why not? If yes, when?
Sami: I hope to have an album, that is quite different from Al-Mu'allim, ready for next year Insha-Allah (God willing), and my long-term goal is to be target a CD at the non-Muslim audience in order to invite them to the call of God. My other objective is to help others nurture their talents in the right way and for the right reasons, which is to please God by promoting the common and shared values of justice, kindness, humility, and love.
Where can we buy your album and do MCBDirect readers get a discount?
Sami:Al-Mu'allim should be available from all Muslim bookshops and Asian music stores. If they don't have any copies, then please contact Awakening (www.awakening.org). I am sure Awakening would not mind giving MCBDirect readers a discount, Insha-Allah
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