A Gift of Song - My Birthday Gift to You!

Al salamu 'alaykum (Greetings of Peace) dear Friends!

I pray you are well! Yesterday was my birthday, and God gave me an amazing and unexpected gift that I want to now share with you! I have mentioned in the past that we have been working on some exciting projects at Usuli for 2023. Alhamdulillah (thank God!), one came to fruition just in time for my birthday, much sooner than I was expecting! So what is the gift? It is the gift of music - The Usuli Institute sponsored the professional creation of an AMAZING music album by an incredible Muslim artist, and are releasing THE FIRST SINGLE from the album RIGHT NOW. HERE IT IS!

Here is the back story. You may recall from last summer, in August 2022, that I hosted a conversation with my two Exceptional Convert friends, Josef Linnhoff and Wietske Merison. We had a real, honest, and deep conversation about the convert experience, and I was excited to discuss and demonstrate their respective superpowers. Josef is the Editor Extraordinaire of The Prophet's Pulpit Series by Usuli Press, and Editor in Chief of the entire Project Illumine Qur'anic Commentary publication. He is a maestro with words, and a singular force, bar none.

Wietske is a completely different kind of force with no less of a seismic impact - she is a maestro of song equipped with a razor sharp intellect, a heart of gold, and the voice of an angel. You may also recall hearing her heart-stopping adhans (Calls to Prayer) at the start of several of our Friday prayers hereherehere, and here. She left us in tears. When I met Wietske and she blessed us at Usuli with some of her original singer-songwriter pieces that were nothing short of divine, it immediately became a religious duty for me to do everything in my power to support her music. I told her that it was my intention to have her music professionally recorded and shared with the world because to me, they were proof that music - specifically music like Wietske's, which is inspired by God, dedicated to God, and a reflection of the beauty of God - is one of the most powerful paths to God. The fact that it is profoundly beautiful music by a Muslim convert inspired by the Qur'an is singular and stellar for our times. It is an understatement to say that we were all blown away by Wietske's God-given talent, and even more so, her spirit and light as a human being. In her typical humility, Wietske thought I was just being nice about her music, but I wasn't. ;) I was serious and determined to do right by her music, and thank God, she was willing! By the end of the year, we had finished recording her first album of 12 songs, along with a two-hour podcast where Wietske and I discussed her music. All of it was an incredible experience in itself! The songs have now been edited and mastered, and the artwork we needed to release our first single was just completed two days ago, the night before my birthday! So alhamdulillah, what a gift, honor, and blessing it is for me to share with you this first song, with so much more to come in the future!

Wietske's first single is titled Shahada, which is known as the testimony of faith or foundational belief for all Muslims. In Arabic, it is: "La ilaha illa Allah, wa ashaddu anna Muhammadan Rasul Ullah," which means: "There is no God but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God." Wietske and I discuss the story that goes with Shahada in our podcast discussion, which we will release after the full album is out insha'Allah (God willing)! Which bring me to my next bit of exciting news:


We have set the date! This was another beautiful gift that God facilitated for me - in choosing a date to release the entire album, Wietske selected the date, March 1st, that coincides with my other birthday - my convert birthday - which is especially meaningful. As Wietske put it, "You get a single for your first birthday and a whole album for your convert birthday!" And seriously, what could be better than that for birthday presents?!! Thank God and thank you so much Wietske, for blessing us with your music and for allowing Usuli to sponsor your first album! As a Muslim and fellow convert especially, I am so proud to be part of this project! There is still much more to say and share on this very special project in the coming days, but for today, just enjoy! And, please share her music widely and proudly. Make someone's day with this infusion of beautiful music - inspired by the Qur'an - that goes straight to your heart and soul and reminds you of the Divine. :) More reasons for me to love March 1st every year! :)

Did you love it? Here it is again! I would love to hear what you think! Until the full album drops, you can find this single on YouTube here and on the Usuli Institute SoundCloud Channel here:

PROJECT ILLUMINE TONIGHT! Q&A on Surah Al Ma'idah and SURAH 110: Al Nasr!
Please email me your questions for Surah Al Ma'idah! Also, we will cover Surah Al Nasr for which Dr. Abou El Fadl previously presented a line-by-line commentary back in 2018 here. I am so excited for tonight's Project Illumine halaqa! Hope to connect with you online soon insha'Allah (God willing)! May God bless, inspire, and fill your heart with beautiful music always! 

In Peace and Hope,

The Movement to Reinvigorate Beautiful and Ethical Islam has begun.  Join us.

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