With ear-friendly vibes, Maher Zain sang his way into the music scene with full power after signing with Awakening Records to produce his debut album ‘Thank You Allah’. His charming voice has made him front and center in the very crowded modern Islamic music spectrum that’s not exclusive for him. We managed to sit Maher down to discuss what inspires him, how he defines his music and the future of modern Islamic music.
From Lebanese origins, Maher moved to Sweden with his family. He became involved in the music scene as a music producer. He was introduced to RedOne, a power house production company based in NY which worked on albums by Lady Gaga, Akon and Kat Deluna. Maher worked with Deluna on her debut album including global hits like ‘Whine up’ and ‘Run the Show’. “I had great experience with RedOne, I collected information about the industry, but I wasn’t comfortable with the field and its notorious alcohol and drug excess. I didn’t like being around drugs and I decided to leave the field and find a regular job, but I was introduced to some friends in Sweden who later introduced me to Awakeing Records in Egypt”, Maher tells us. “I wasn’t that religious before, but when I became, I decided to share my thoughts and beliefs towards my music, and so I decided to sing about religion”, he adds.
Maher’s song Inshallah has been the talk of the town, no, not only the town, the whole Arab Region. The song established Maher as one of the rising voices in the region, although he sings in English, but the message had its own power to reach the audience. “The most important thing is to bring quality and fresh sound to the audience, you can’t eat the same dish everyday, and you must always try different stuff. I rarely listen to lyrics, but when I started listening, I found that most of the musicians in the Arab region don’t realize what they’re really singing about. There is no decent music, if you create decent music, you can’t reach the audience and then blow away. I’m not a lyricist, I just come up with ideas and someone writes for me, but you must focus on the real world around you to come up with quality lyrics”, he adds, “A lot of people in the industry check out other musicians and imagine one day they would have their cars, wear their clothes and have their girlfriends, but that’s not really how it works”.
Singing about Islam, isn’t new for the audience, but Maher tried hard to create something new that appealed to public ears. In his song Awaken, he speaks for change by repeating the phrase ‘My dear brother and sister, it’s time to change inside’. “I’m thinking of Islam as a way of life and not as a religion. If you embrace Islam, you’ll feel the sweetness in it. I sing about humanity, love and lots of social issues”. The song ‘Open your eyes’ has marvelous lyrics ‘Open your eyes’, don’t throw away what’s right aside, open your eyes, Let’s start question in ourselves, Isn’t this proof enough for us, Or are we so blind … to push it all aside’.
“Well this song is specially for non-Muslims, when I became religious, I started to see things in another perspective. The universe is formed of layers, it’s very hard to explain, it’s crazy big, I’m into space, I watch ‘planet sizes’ on Youtube and realize how small the earth is compared to the universe, I started thinking about that so I asked myself: Are we so blind? We have to open our eyes”.
One of our favorite songs is ‘The Chosen One’, which is dedicated to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). In the song Maher says in a time of darkness and greed, it is your light that we need, you came to teach us how to live, Muhammad Ya Rasool Allah’. The song has an amazing clip which was directed by talented director Lena Khan. The clip shows a lot of incidents in which the lack of tolerance is spread between people, and how nations would change to the better if they just abide by the prophet’s tolerant features”.
On his list of wishes, Maher has some wishes that he liked to share with us, “I want to have a house, I’m planning to go back to Lebanon and live there, I also want to go to Sweden, and settle down for a while. I want to make more albums in the upcoming years”.
With a very busy day for Maher crammed with media interviews, we managed to keep him talking and asked him do you know what women want? “Well any woman wants to settle down and have a good life, but that’s a hard question. Men are created for something and women are created for another. When I got married, I told my wife that I have to play my role and she play hers, however, there is nothing wrong to be independent, at the end, it’s not about who’s better and who’s not”.