It was the summer of 1966. I was 21 and waiting to board a bus headed toward the only un-drownable lake on earth, the Dead Sea. When I got on, the Arab driver had the radio tuned to station 677 Jordanian Radio transmitting from Ramallah. A woman was singing this most beautiful song in Arabic. When I finally got off the bus two hours later, she was still singing the same song. It was during this bus ride that I came to love Arabic singing.
As an aside, when I tuned into 677 Jordanian radio during the 6 Day War I found that it stopped broadcasting.
For those who do not know, Arabic is a horrible language to hear spoken - but when sung - it is one of the most beautiful of things to hear. An analogy would be hearing Italian spoken by the Sopranos Mob and then listening to La Boheme.
Here for your listening pleasure is Ahmad Saud singing the first dozen lines from Surah 36 - Ya Sin YA SIN from the Qur'an - playing time 2m:30 (It takes about 24 minutes to hear the entire Surah). Ya Sin is the abbreviation of the title of the Holy Prophet.
This Surah is considered to be "the Heart of the Qur'an" and because it concerns revelation and the hereafter it is recited upon the deceased. The Hebrew equivalent would be Genesis 3:19 "By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
I imagine some of the 20,000 Americans who convert to Islam every year hear this beautiful music and read only those parts of the Qur'an vetted for them by their mentors or future spouses and think to themselves, "what a beautiful religion." The truth is, if they read the other parts of the Qur'an, the ones with the blatant hatred of other religions and the commands to subjugate, convert or kill infidels they might not be so quick to convert. Or perhaps they read those portions and closed their eyes, thinking it is permissible to ignore the more barbaric passages of the Qur'an and still be Muslim.
But to be Muslim is to submit and there is no choosing what to follow and what to ignore. There are two things in this Universe that do not permit hybrids: you cannot be half-Muslim and half-pregnant.
When I was a child I had Catholic friends who ate meat on Friday although it was proscribed to do so then. No priest asked for their death, neither did their neighbors rape their sisters or stone their cousins. The female American Muslim convert thinks that American law will allow her to be Muslim and be a free person. When she finally moves into a Muslim neighborhood she will learn rather quickly how much freedom she actually has. And just as all alcoholics deny their disease, Muslim women will tell you that they love the hijab and the veil. "Oh it makes me feel more like a person, not a sexual object to be used by men." When she is raped for something her husband has done, she will see how much of a non-sexual object she is.
If, Allah-forbid, she moves to a country with Shariah Law and is raped, she will find that unless she can get 4 male witnesses or 8 female witnesses it will be she herself that will swing from the noose.
If Muslim children were taught to love one's neighbor instead that all infidels are apes and pigs, then perhaps Music alone would be enough to bring peace to this world. But it's not to be.
So I listen to the beautiful voice of this young Muslim child and wonder whether he will be singing to himself that very Surah on the day that he quietly straps on a vest full of explosives and stops the music in his head.