On February 22, 2016 Sami Yusuf was conferred the ‘Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for World Peace’. He received the award from the UAE’s Minister of Culture His Excellency Shaykh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan.
Read Sami Yusuf’s speech below:
Bismi’Llah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim
Your Highness and Honourable Minister of Culture, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Brothers and Sisters,
It is with great humility and deep gratitude that I join you today to accept this honor.
This award speaks to our highest aspirations; it encourages each and every one of us to take action in the cause of peace to the extent of our abilities. It reminds us that our actions do make a difference in creating a more peaceful world for all to share.
I am here today as a humble representative of those millions around the globe in whose hearts and minds the message of love and peace in my songs resonates. Music and poetry have long served to express the aspirations of the many in this world who long for peace and harmony among peoples. And so it is that individual musicians, poets, and writers may rise to prominence when they speak for those millions who have no voice. And so it is also that those who have risen to prominence have a profound responsibility to use their position for the good of all.
In my case, when, as a very young man, the popularity of my music placed me on the world stage, it was the profound teachings of Islam that led me to use the power that comes with such celebrity to support humanitarian and cultural initiatives.
Lack of peace and poverty are closely intertwined. I saw that peace cannot exist where there is desperate poverty, where people are lacking food and shelter, where they have to flee their homes due to manmade or natural disasters.
To wage peace requires vision, hard work, bold action, and new ways of thinking. It also requires looking to the heart of world traditions that have been transmitted through the ages and that have so much to teach contemporary society. It is the rejection and ignorance of true traditional teachings that have contributed to the alienation and uprootedness experienced in today’s world. The wisdom of our traditions must inform our present so that we can move forward, balancing past and future, toward a joyful peace in which we recognize and maintain our differences while also recognizing that we are bound together by our common humanity and shared values.
How can our words and our actions today contribute to building a peaceful future for generations to come? How best can our talents be used? These are questions each of us must ask and each of us must answer for ourselves based on our possibilities. We cannot expect a sudden change in human mentality across the globe. Yet we must work to inspire and uplift those around us, to stretch out our hand of friendship and respect to all those who can be partners in this noble endeavor. Even in dark times, we must keep our faith that we can mold history in the direction of peace and harmony.
A climate of tolerance and respect for diversity, which is rooted in Islamic teachings, has been created in the United Arab Emirates. Particularly under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, this young nation has become an extraordinary example that is unique in this world. It is this ambience that has elevated the UAE to its central role as a shining example of harmony and co-existence among its people. For me, it has indeed been a privilege and a pleasure to call the UAE a home for the past eight years. I am honored to join those working here to carry this example beyond our borders and beyond our religion as we set our sights on the highest ideals for humanity.
In conclusion, I wish to thank each and every one whose efforts have allowed me to make a contribution toward the noble work of forging peace. We do not work alone: I thank all those working tirelessly in the background, for they are true heroes who expend of their energies without expecting (and often never receiving) any reward.
I am deeply moved by the honor your Award today has placed upon me. Together may we continue to make a difference in this world, insha’a’Llah.
I leave you with a few words from my song SALAAM
I dream for a day
When there’ll be
No more misery
When there’s no more hunger
No need for shelter
Isn’t there enough to share
Or is that we just don’t care?
We’re here for a day or two…
Let me show my way…
Salaamu alaik, Salaamu alaik, Salaamu alaikum