Sami Yusuf is known as the king of Islamic pop. That may sound like an oxymoron but the British born singer of Azeri origin has made a name for himself and garnered fans from all over the world with his spiritual music. His first two albums al-Mu’allim (2003) and My Ummah (2005) have sold over 5 million copies. His song “Supplication” was also featured on the Kite Runner soundtrack. He’s now set to release a new album in a month or so. In a recent interview with Riz Khan on Al Jazeera English, Yusuf talked about the legal battle with his former record label, Awakening Records, that’s taken place over the past year or so. Awakening decided to release an album last month with songs that Yusuf says were a “work in progress” and incomplete. It goes without saying that the album was released without his blessing. However, his new real album, delayed as a result of the legal battle with Awakening, should be released soon and it’ll be a crossover of sorts. Most of the songs will be in English. And Yusuf says he does not want to focus on just recording religious songs just because they sell. He feels he has so much more to offer and to say as an artist.
There’s no question Sami Yusuf is quite gifted. He writes and composes almost all of his music and he has an amazing voice. The only thing that I find off about his songs sometimes is that the English lyrics seem to be a bit weird. I don’t know if it’s a result of him trying to adhere to the exact translations of the words from the Quran in Arabic or what, but they do seem odd at times. However, the combination of his voice and his music composition can be very mesmerizing. His good looks don’t hurt either.
After seeing what happened in Gaza recently, Yusuf decided to release the song “Forever Palestine” as a free download on his website. The song was originally recorded in 2002 but Yusuf didn’t feel it was complete at the time. After seeing the effects of the assault on Gaza, particularly among Gazan children, he chose to complete it and release it.
I’m anxiously awaiting to hear his new songs. Yusuf has been able to move millions of young Muslims with his music so far. Perhaps he will become even more mainstream. He definitely has the talent. Hopefully he can reach millions more with his new English focused album; Muslims or not.