This song from the new album Water is especially close to my heart. Often when I sing it live, I find myself holding back from choking up.
Mawlana Rumi teaches us to observe the company that we find ourselves in, when inspiration and spiritual meanings are unveiled to us, for it is through the blessing of such company that this is experienced. I was at a conference about the Prophet (ﷺ) on January 28th, 2010. Shaykh Talal Ahdab had just finished speaking, and before the next speaker took the podium, I found myself scrambling to write these words that came pouring forth — these formed the refrain, the first four verses, and the very last verse.
The second-to-last verse is an English translation of the famous words of the poet Sahābi, Sayyidna Hassān ibn Thābit, composed out of love for the Prophet (ﷺ). Can you guess the original lines in Arabic? This translation in meter and rhyme was done by my dear friend Sidi Mostafa Azzam.
The song’s tune is based on “Jalla man qad sawwarak” — a classical Levantian devotional piece sung in the “Bayāti” musical mode (maqām), my favourite musical mode in Arabic music. It also has a 7/8 beat that is, to the Western ear, an unusual one. According to some, it was introduced into Arabic music through India. I’ve yet to hear a song in this beat that doesn’t immediately captivate my attention. For me, singing a composition with both of these together is something else!