Aghani diniyya

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"Religious Songs", produced by Muslim Arab performers.

Whereas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, singers and munshidin were often indistinguishable, the two streams "singing" and "hymnody" drifted apart by mid-century due to media and capitalist pressures. Nevertheless crossover does happen--even in the present (with popular music more commercial than ever, while religious trends are more literalist than ever) pop singers may release "religious" songs from time to time, and some religious performers may release songs containing elements of mainstream secular music, thus blurring the boundaries.

orchestra. Here is an example of transformation of the older ibtihalat and tawashih traditions. Shaykh Naqshabandi became famous through media appearances. Formerly he performed in the traditional vocal style, which was later augmented with orchestra and fixed arrangements. Note the focus on nay (reed flute), whose sound is a symbol of Islamic mysticism and contemplation, as well as the duff (frame drum), which is specially sanctioned by Prophetic traditions in Islamic music.

  • Aghani diniyya (religious songs performed by ordinary singers=mutribin). Performed by ‘Abd al-Halim Hafez. ‘Abd al-Halim (1929-1977) was something analogous to Egypt’s Elvis, an extremely popular singer of romantic songs; he did not train

in the religious tradition and has no status as “shaykh”. However during religious holidays he might sing religious material; this tape is an example. It cannot be considered pure inshad dini, since the context, style, and performer do not certify the performance as a true devotional act. The nay is used to mark the performance as religious, and the mood is subdued, with little meter; but vocal style is similar to ‘Abd al- Halim’s standard popular fare.

Laglinnabi by Muhammad al-Kahlawi (instance of aghani diniyya) Lyrics to Laglinnabi

Wolida Alhouda, by Riyad al-Sunbati and Ahmad Shawqi, sung by Umm Kulthum Lyrics to Wolida Alhouda

More recent examples include:

Mohamed Mounir's 2002 studio album "El Ard... El Salam" featuring Islamic lyrics, and a range of musical styles, yet featuring the nay (reed flute) and duff (frame drum), emblematic of Islamic tradition. He produced the album following the September 11 attacks, after he had performed the Hajj, and felt compelled to project an image of Islam's peacefulness.

Song by Egyptian star Muhammad Munir based on Takbir al-Eid

Egypt pop singer Hisham Abbas' song the Most Beautiful Names of God, actually a rendition of a traditional recitation of the 99 Names of God. Here the text and music is traditionally Islamic, but the artist is not known for this kind of production. Compare this to his more usual "video clips" such as this one, performed with an Indian singer, or this, performed with a Turkish singer.