Sunday, July 3, 2011


Disclaimer: I'm not associated with ILHAAM or CHINAR and the views represented here are entirely my own.

I have not been actively involved in organizing ILHAAM but I liked the idea from the start. I was not planning to attend it due to prior engagements. However, seeing the event fall apart, I couldn’t help but write about it. Something’s not fair, I thought to myself.

Following is a brief picture of the whole event, the inspiration, the initiative, the publicity, the big drama and, finally, the falling apart of the event in seven points:

1. ILHAAM – the idea was born when a group of enthusiastic, socially-conscious students and professionals visited the CHINAR orphanage. Impressed by the good work that CHINAR has been doing, decided to contribute their bit to the cause.

2. Over the past one month or so, Kashmir has witnessed atleast four big musical events that invited huge participation. The organizers of ILHAAM probably thought that music is the best way to mobilize people for a cause. They got together artists of Kashmiri origin- two of them particularly known for their love of Kashmir and the Kashmiri cause (MC Kash & Muneem- especially after the song ‘Resonate’ that they recently did together). These artists are close to the people, the organizers probably thought, and the concert was expected to be more socially sensitive and relevant.

3. What happens next (as before any significant event) is that a notorious, anonymous group who call themselves ‘Aalaw’ starts an online campaign against ILHAAM (online because no one has ever seen them on ground). Quoting Islamic rulings, they oppose ILHAAM. The issue flares up and scares the University of Kashmir (main organizer of the event) top brass and they cancelled the event. (THERE IS SOME DISAGREEMENT ABOUT THIS POINT; PLEASE READ COMMENTS BELOW FOR MULTIPLE POINTS-OF-VIEW)

4. I’m in no position to talk about the Islamic aspect of this issue. However, music has not been opposed so voraciously anywhere in the recent years – the overwhelming response to the Junoon concert, the huge fan following of Coke Studio, Pakistan in Kashmir, the Jagjit Singh concert, shows like Milay Sur, the recent Kashmir Music Club music festival, and so on.

With due reverence to the religious sentiments of my fellow Kashmiri Muslims, I want each one of us to ask ourselves some simple questions- Does Sami Yusuf not express his love of Islam through music? Yes, he does. Do we not love his music? Yes, we do. Does it not inspire a sense of pride and love and for our faith among us? Yes, it does. I have Sami Yusuf’s songs on my phone despite the fact that I’m not very religious- I’m sure we all have.

Now, a possible and very valid argument here is that there is no comparison between Sami Yusuf’s music and (say) MC Kash’s music. I agree. One is religious, the other is revolutionary. But, aren’t the two (religion and revolution) deeply intertwined in Kashmir? Yes, they are. We do not oppose Sami Yusuf’s music because the sentiment is very dear to us. If we go by the same logic, shouldn’t we give some concessions to the organizers of ILHAAM too? Is the question of orphaned kids not dear to us? No, it isn’t.

That's right, it is not dear to us. What we fail to realize (and what my mentor made me realize) is that there is a whole generation of orphans (100,000 being the GOI figure) growing up who we have ignored and failed. They will grow up with animosity towards the society. They will seek answers. They will be indifferent to our causes, our struggles, our problems. We have failed these kids time and again. I, for one, use the question of orphaned Kashmiri kids in every political debate. But, have I adopted one? No. Have you? No.

Has CHINAR adopted 20 orphans? Yes. Are they paying for their education, healthcare and recreation? Yes.

Next, do we hear music? Yes. Do we buy music? Yes. Can we support a musical event for the sake of orphans? No.

Do we take interest? Yes. Is it Haraam? Yes. Do we use abusive language? Yes. Is it SHIRK to abuse a Muslim? Yes. So, do we follow Islamic Law? No.

5. I am a fan of Islamic Law. It is divine and doesn’t need amendment. But, we do not live under Islamic Law. In fact, most of us do not have the courage or the mettle to live under Islamic Law. I don’t. But whenever it suits our interest, we have no shame in applying Islamic laws. On the ILHAAM issue, we gave up. We failed yet another test as a nation. I, alongwith my friend, started the hashtag #SupportILHAAM (with or without the music) on Twitter to see how much support we can generate. All we could hear was a couple of muted voices, cautiously supporting the cause.

6. Some users suggested that we should support ILHAAM – the cause sans music – through something else, some HALAAL deed. I strongly agree with this and it makes no sense to insist on the music (despite the fact that a lot of money has already been spent in preparations). Yes, we should probably donate to the CHINAR orphanage directly. But will we? Remains to be seen.

7. Even if that happens and we end up raising more money for the cause than was intended, these few brave students and professionals will still be the pioneers, the leaders who awakened us to the cause. Thanks to the controversy, we now know that there’s someone who’s doing a humble job of raising and education orphaned kids and that we should probably support them.


  1. strongly disagree with the "aalaw" point, it was the "S UNIT" that started an online campaign against the event.

  2. Like you I don't belong to "Aalaw" or "Ilhaam" but let me tell you that you are spreading false propaganda that Aalaw started a campaign against anything... The objection came from inside the University... Students of University claimed that such events are being promoted in order to put a dent on the cultural and religious identity of Kashmir but are politically motivated. Many claimed that it was funded by special funds provided by Home ministry of India to divert the youth away from the freedom struggle... As far as music in Islam is concerned scholars have differentiated two kinds of Musics depending upon the type of poetry and the type of instruments used. I am not sure what would they have used but as far as we know of RJ's and other involved in this concert they dont fall in the category of Hallal Music.... Sorry to say but this music event doesnt concern us mush as the fact that it was funded by India Agencies by covert means....

  3. I gotta give it to you, you seem to have your act together. Kudos on your analysis and observations. You might think I am sarcastic but I am not because at least you seem to have an opinion no matter how biased. Well to begin with the musical events, the concerts and the glamor that you see mushrooming in Srinagar, did these things happen before ? Oh well this is not even spread throughout Kashmir, All this so called modern cultural activities are being observed and practiced in Srinagar Area. Does anybody do it in Sopore or Islamabad. Hey How about Baramulla or Bandipur? I am not talking about "Ilhaam", I am talking about these events which are the focal point of discussions in Indian media. Because Srinagar is the constant focus of all Media attention these events and activities are being organized with a purpose and a nefarious goal by Indian agencies. Don't believe me ..the recent Fashion Show at SKICC was bankrolled by the government. To make our youth oblivious to the ground reality is one thing and people might consider "Ilhaam" an offshoot of the Same. How about we do a charity event and Roushan Illahi joins as another Islamic Brother.The orphans for whom the charity is being organized, do you want to raise them on money collected by Haraam sources ? Oh well you quoted the example of Sami Yusuf in your article, Did you know that Sami Yusuf was criticized for using Islam to gain fame by none other than Yvonne Ridley. Surprise, Surprise Yvonne Ridley is a converted Muslim and one of the most revered activists.

    Please do see the context of the opposition towards Ilhaam concert, It is not against a person (we Love MC Kash BTW), it is against what it represents.

  4. The language of the post appears careful and effortless. It suggests and is provocative at the same time. By citing certain examples you can't make Haraam thing Halaal. May Allah show us the right path. Aameen

  5. Religion evolved from what used to be a general code of conduct in the past. We must understand that the religious laws had different implications in the past than they have in the present. Certain things that do not have any moral or medical fallout, and are socially acceptable, should not be considered as Haraam. And music, as such, does no harm morally, socially or medically. Music has been, and is, a refined form of art, and we must respect it. As far as making music a medium for the cause of orphans is concerned, we must first find out if the medium may not cause any harm to anyone. And as I said, music doesn't have any.
    Another thing which I feel is that we need to bring ourselves out of our closed-mindedness. We usually defy most of the rules or codes that we ourselves term acceptable, but we seem to have a clear judgment about other people's flaws, even if there aren't any. And when there are a few people who take some positive initiative, the rest are there just to oppose the cause, for no plausible reason. These things happen everywhere. I think, you should not stop the good work you've been doing till you know that it is going to have only positive impact.

  6. one of the three things which will be in vogue before doomsday is MUSIC. @SOMEONE LIKE YOU- in US Flesh trade is legal and acceptable to US community doesn't harm their morals.. does that mean it is not HARAM.... Can we give interest earned as charity/alms/Zakaat, giving doesn't harm morally- no as it is evident from Quran and hadith That Allah and his Prophet will start Jihad against both the giver and receiver of the Interest. if We don't follow our religion properly we should also then abstain from making confusion in the minds of followers....

  7. Every aspect of Islam is crystal and Clear.
    There clear and explicit Sahih Hadith from Prophet Muhammad pbuh , stating Music is Haraam in any form and the only musical instrument allowed is the single sided duff that also on occasions within the Islamic code.

    Saying that Sami Yusuf sings Nasheeds , Does that make Music allowed?
    Ukhti , Sami Yusuf himself said on CNN that he is not an Islamic singer but a pop singer. So be it Yusuf Islam , Dawud wharsnby Ali , anyone who doesn't follow the Islamic guidelines has no credibility.
    Halaal and Haraam are clear matters in Islam, If I'm confused with it and if I'm following the sound interpretation than, it doesn't make others wrong.


If you liked this post, please let me know !