Inshad dini

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Inshad Dini = Islamic religious hymnody

Traditional inshad

  • Ibtihalat. Performed by Shaykh Taha al-Fashni, probably the most famous mubtahil of the 20th c. Here

ibtihalat is based entirely on poetry. The recording is different from the dawn-prayer style heard above. From Sono Cairo 67028/601.

  • Tawashih diniyya. Performed by Shaykh Muhammad al-Fayyumi and his bitana (chorus). Tawashih

involve alternation between solo and chorus; the former improvisatory, the latter more precomposed and quasi-metric. From Sono Cairo 75113/461.

The mawlid is a celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birth, including devotional singing; it is frequently recited in the mystical orders of Islam, the turuq Sufiyya - in this case the Hamidiyya Shadhiliyya order of Egypt.

Musical inshad and aghani diniyya

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 was 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.

New mediated inshad

With the advent of mass-media, inshad has entered the realm of mass-mediated popular musuic. Combined with a more conservative theological attitude towards inshad generally, a new more broadly popular style of mediated inshad has emerged. The more conservative strand is typified by this video clip by Kuwaiti Mishary Rashid. Shaykh Mishary Rashid al-Afasy, b. 1976, is a Kuwaiti who also performs Qur'anic recitation.

Other performers are more musically adventurous, reaching out to new audiences by adopting world music styles, and often performing in local languages. One well-known performer is South African Zain Bikha]

Another famous inshad performer is the British Sami Yusuf, who performs in both English and Arabic; he is of Azeri descent, and trained in traditional music of Azerbayjan, a genre in which his father excelled. In one album (My Umma) he scrupulously avoided use of musical instruments, but later made use of them as in this clip, though not without invoking criticism. Here he deliberately makes use of several languages, emphasizing unity in the Muslim Ummah.

So-called "nasyid" is exceedingly popular in Southeast Asia; representative examples include


Indonesian group Raihan, note use of traditional gongs.

Raihan, performing a qawwali song

For more information on inshad dini in Egypt, see the following: