A Sudanese singer sparked a wave of anger for reciting the Holy Quran in a different way.
A few days ago, a video of the Sudanese singer Amna Haider recited verses from Surat Al-Naba ‘on social media, in a melodic style like songs.
People are accustomed to hearing recitations in well-known shrines, such as the Maqam of the Hijaz, the Bayat, or the Rassit. So it seemed safe reading to many Western, and frowned upon.
Commentators were divided between opposing and angry at the idea of “composing the Qur’an, or singing verses,” and the last supporter of “introducing new musical structures into recitation or religious chanting.”
A distraction for the Sudanese
The opponents start with their position that composing the Qur’an is a forbidden idea, given the sanctity and special status it carries. They refer to the hadiths of the sheikhs about the provisions of reciting the Qur’an, and the principles of intonation.
From this standpoint, a wide range of commentators see what the Sudanese artist has taken a blameworthy idea and distort the Qur’an.
Others were surprised that she went beyond the verses and demanded her arrest, and an end to these “provocative actions that do not take into account the feelings of Muslims, and aim to distract the Sudanese from their basic issues,” according to their saying.
Others also pointed out “the big difference between composing verses and singing them out, which is improving the voice.”
In this context, the Sudanese preacher, Asim Muhammad al-Sayed commented, saying: “There is a type called singing the Qur’an, which is for a person to give the Qur’an his right and deserving of it, and to evaluate its letters as they are, and chant a hymn,” adding that “this chanting differs from the singing that Amna presented.” .
The preacher compared what the artist did to “churches hymns.”
Defense and solidarity
On the other side, stand the defenders of Amna Haider. They consider its reading acceptable, as long as it adheres to the Qur’anic text and does not include musical instruments or distort its words.
They are not opposed to the idea of introducing new musical units to known readings of the Qur’an, or even its composition.
Some mentioned that the sheikh of the composers (Zakaria Ahmed) and the musician Muhammad Abdul Wahhab had made attempts to compose the Qur’an.
But those attempts did not see the light of day, contrary to what some believe.
Abd al-Wahhab also emphasized that composing the Noble Qur’an does not mean introducing a musical group, or violating the rules of reading the Qur’an or improving it, according to what was stated in the author: “Qur’an composing between art and clerics,” by the late Egyptian journalist Dia al-Din Baybars.
He met the Sheikhs of Al-Azhar, and the Egyptian House of Ifta at the time, the matter was rejected.
The Egyptian Dar Al Iftaa is still committed to that position, as it considered that “reading the Qur’an composed and composing a musical instrument, and listening to it accompanied by musical instruments, is forbidden according to Sharia.”
This came in a blog post I published in 2018 in response to a video clip, which showed a chanter reciting Qur’anic verses to music.
Political and social dimension
On the other hand, a team of commentators believe that the controversy over Amna Haider’s video has political and gender dimensions.
The singer (Siddiq Muhammad) objects to the spread of the video for several reasons, the most important of which is “that the reciter is a woman who was not obligated to reverence, and violated the provisions of intonation and recitation, which should not be composed, especially since some sheikhs prohibited music and singing.”
While another tweet sees that the controversy on the subject is related to the fact that the reader is a woman, distinguished by her delicacy of her voice, so she writes: This is not considered our insistence on the Qur’an, and it is very similar to the recitation of Noreen Muhammad Siddiq (one of the most famous Quran reciters in Sudan).
Others, too, described the uproar as a political ruse.
Amna Haidar had recited Quranic verses during her participation in the memorial service for the founder of the Republican Party, Mahmoud Muhammad Taha, who was executed in 1985 because of his controversial ideas.
Mahmoud Muhammad Taha based his ideas on the necessity of returning to “the Meccan verses as the origin of Islam, while the civil verses were revealed to the Messenger to judge through him at the time in which he was living.”
His ideas were harshly criticized from inside and outside Sudan, until he issued a decision to execute him on charges of apostasy.
A decision was also issued at the time to confiscate his money, burn his books, forbid prayers for him, and not to bury him in Muslim cemeteries.
Strangely enough, nearly a year after his death, a ruling was passed to annul his execution.
So far, the difference remains over his ideas. His supporters believe that he presented a true and contemporary vision of Islam, in line with human rights charters, while his opponents accuse him of calling for a new religion and of undermining the fundamentals of the religion.
There are those who see the recent controversy over the recitation of Amna Haydar as an attempt to promote the ideas of (Taha), after they were obscured for decades by successive governments over the rule of Sudan.
Once the debate intensified about the legacy of the Sudanese thinker. One team of commentators is opposed to the idea of summoning controversial figures, and considers it a step aimed at changing the identity of the Sudanese Muslim community, and a second team welcomes what the Sudanese singer has done, and considers it an attempt to restore consideration to Tahas thought, and a call for intellectual diligence, as they said.
Thalt’s team warns of “the traditional partisan ideological joints that would distort the intellectual debate and turn it into a source of fighting, instead of integration.”