Detroit–August 11–Muslim rock stars and a night of rock n roll. Thatâ€™s what happened Saturday night at the Max M. Fisher music center in downtown Detroit.
Islamic Relief has held an ongoing series of rock n roll style fundraisers around the country at different prominent venues, featuring artists Native Deen and Sami Yusuf.
The crowd was typical neither of a Muslim fundraiser nor of an average concert–many young families had babies in strollers or held to their shoulders, and hundreds of women in hijab filled the audience; yet the energy was far too loud and strong and youthful for a typical masjid fundraiser. The highlight of the night was Sami Yusufâ€™s emergence on to the stage–but Islamic Reliefâ€™s fundraising was the focus of the entire evening, and they were successful in raising over $100,000 toward their cause of helping people around the world.
Native Deen is a trio of singers who performed very high-energy music about Islam, with flips and rolls and stops to mix and mingle with the audience.
Sami Yusuf is a British singer-songwriter of Azerbaijani origin. He was born in Tehran, Iran to Azerbaijani parents in July of 1980 and then raised in the UK. His first album, Al-Muâ€™allim, was released in July of 2003 and had huge success. His second album, My Ummah, was released in 2005. His videos and music are available in plenty on Youtube and grace my Islamic music collection which I listen to at my work–so it was an especial treat to see him in person.
Sami Yusuf has an incredible stage presence–his songs are beautiful and professionally performed, but it is his magnetic personality that entrances his audiences. As he emerged onto the stage Saturday night, his gracious bows and humble words to the audience were perhaps even more polished and magical than the songs he performed. He was at pains to explain that this event was to support Islamic Relief and not a Sami Yusuf concert.
The evening began when Native Deen began performing at about 7pm, then broke for maghrib prayers at about 9pm, then there was fundraising, conducted by Islamic Relief. After the fundraising Sami Yusuf emerged and began to sing.
Perhaps 2,000 people were present for the event, a mixed gathering of Muslims from the subcontinent and the Arab world, many women covered and some not covered, showing the openness and welcoming nature of the event.
During the fundraising, Islamic Reliefâ€™s National Development Director Anwar Khan explained that â€œIslamic Relief has helped 2.5 million people,â€ and that â€œthe majority of Islamic Reliefâ€™s donations come from non-Muslims,â€ which he billed as a positive sign of Muslims and non-Muslims working together.
He explained also that IR uses only 3% of its receipts for administrative purposes.
The event was a tremendous success, gathering a crowd of several thousand who were very pleased to see Mr. Yusuf perform, and who gave generously to support about 40 orphans, in addition to donations of about $100,000 to Islamic Reliefâ€™s programs to help people in need around the world.