Ramadan is about remembrance.
I released ‘Call My Name’ this month precisely because it is a song about remembering our origin in paradise and finding the path of return. It is a song of yearning between lover and beloved. Inspired by the writings of the 12th/13th century Andalusian mystic, Ibn ‘Arabi, the lyrics evoke a memory of the bliss of divine union, the time when we were “alone with the Alone” in paradise before the Fall. But that union has given way to separation. The beloved seems distant, and the heart of the lover cries out, seeking a return to that unity that was lost. The connecting thread is not cut, but it is veiled by the dust of the world. When we long only for the divine and when we remember that our true home is in its embrace, we are on the path that leads to the essence of love, an eternal love so powerful that our most intense earthly loves are but distant echoes.
As we enter this blessed month, I would love to see us connect with the beauty that abounds in Islamic culture — in its music, its poetry, its calligraphy, its art and architecture. These arts have always had the power to carry an experience of Islamic spirituality outward because they show the beautiful face of Islam to the rest of the world. And for Muslims, these arts illuminate and nourish our hearts and souls by reminding us of the ultimate source of beauty.
Ramadan is a month of fulfilling religious obligations and seeking to draw closer to Allah through our actions, our prayers, and our remembrance of Him. When we immerse ourselves in the wisdom and beauty that flows from Islamic art, the inner realities of our duties and practices become clear. The message of this art lifts veils of unknowing; it opens the eye of the heart. Its wisdom is communicated directly, without words, to our souls.
So during this month of spiritual growth and remembrance, I am encouraging us all to deepen our knowledge of our precious artistic heritage and to nourish our hearts with its treasures. We can listen to the great ustadhs of Middle Eastern music, or to the great masters of qawwali music of the Subcontinent. We can visit a museum where the traditional arts of Islam are on display. We can ask our parents or our grandparents or our teachers to share their knowledge of the past with us. Because we need to become part of the chain of transmission. Cyberspace is filled with information. Wisdom and true knowledge are only found in human hearts. When the next generation comes to us for guidance, we should not be empty-handed. Islamic art is an ocean of incredible barakah. We can grow in wisdom by immersing ourselves in its waters.
Concerning the ’99 Names of Allah’ album, no one was sadder than I to realize that we could not meet our original release date. Various factors have caused it to be delayed until after Ramadan. Now I see how fate has intervened in this change of plans. The project is a timeless one and we should seek to approach the Beautiful Names at all times, not only during this blessed month.
Wishing each one of you Ramadan Mubarak.
With love and prayers,
Listen to the Ramadan Playlists here: