Qawza: Inshad can fix what politics has ruined [Archives:2008/1156/Culture]

May 19 2008

Amel Al-Ariqi
Abdulqader Qawza, one of the famous munshideen (religious singers) in the Arab world and Yemen, stood onstage on Thursday to criticize “the weak and cowardly attitude of Arab governments, as well as Arab nations, toward what's happening in Sudan.”

The Yemeni performer was among some 15 performers selected by the Charitable Society for Social Welfare to celebrate the first Sana'a Spring Festival, which was held for only three days and concluded on Thursday. The purpose of the festival was to collect donations for Yemeni orphans.

Qawza's performance began amid loud whistling, clapping and chanting of his name from the audience.

“I'm dedicating this performance to a nation to which I believe none of us are paying much attention to their suffering – the people of Sudan!” Qawza said over the sound of the audience clapping. He noted that Sudan suffers while Arabs have become weak and cowardly about standing up for such issues.

Despite this statement, the audience never stopped encouraging Qawza; to the contrary, they were fired up with enthusiasm at hearing his superior voice in his first song, “Aslamt Amri li Allah” (I give up my destiny to God).

“I apologize to the audience if my words offended them,” Qawza said after finishing his performance, “however, I believe that any munshid who stands on this stage should have a message about and play a role in what's going on in the Arab nations.

“We [the performers] should interact with people's sufferings and not ignore their pains, reminding our governments about their role and duty toward their nation,” he said, urging the other performers that followed him to take the responsibility toward their audience and interact more with their issues.

The audience again clapped warmly for Qawza, asking him for more. They even danced to his second nasheed (a religious song).

After the show, Qawza explained his onstage comments to the Yemen Times. “I strongly believe that a performer must have a role and a message to convey. I chose Sudan because I felt that it is receiving less attention from the Arab world because most attention goes to Palestine and Iraq – which are important – however, poor conditions in Sudan also require consideration.”

Answering the Yemen Times' question about whether he made his comments simply to attract more attention, Qawza responded, “I have a good audience and a good reputation, so I didn't need anything to reach them or attract their attention.

“I don't take any political position. I'm not a politician; I'm a performer who believes strongly in his role,” he added, referring to a festival that took place in Algeria last month under the slogan, “Let inshad fix what politics has damaged!”

A munshid is a person who performs inshad, which is the term for a performance centering on a religious poem whose themes are supplication to God, glorification of God, devotional praise to the Prophet Mohammed and exhortations directed at the listener. However, many munshideen recently have included themes such as calling for global peace, unity and resisting occupation.

Inshad has become massively widespread among young Arabs, particularly in Gulf states.