When I think of Muslim musicians, the genres of hip hop, rap, maybe a little rock, and of course the more religious category of nasheeds and Sufi-type music come to mind. But what about country? Putting aside the whole huge debate of whether music is halal (acceptable) or haram (forbidden) in Islam–have you ever heard of a Muslim country singer/musician? The two words seem as out of sync as oil and water.
But then again, you may not have heard of Kareem Salama, a Muslim country singer who’s fan base is growing. Salama’s star is rising due to his blend of spiritual, meaning-filled music that draws upon the lilt, vulnerability, and rhythms of country music. Beliefnet’s Muslim columnist Hesham Hassaballa, who writes an occasional “Hesham’s iPod” column about “what’s buzzworthy and spiritual in the world of Muslim music,” recently interviewed Salama about what inspires him, what drives him, and how his music isn’t “overtly Islamic,” but rather overtly human.
Hesham’s recommendation? You’ll want this unique artist on your iPod.