Atif Aslam just collaborated with Coke Studio to read out the ‘Asma-Ul-Husna’, the 99 attributes of Allah, and the video has been trending ever since.
Atif’s very powerful vocals lend a hypnotic quality to the recitation but also, the video has been released at an apt time, with the Muslim world entering the last 10 days of Ramazan and the world at large still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic.
At a time when anxiety is running high and people are turning to prayer, a video like this, featuring the country’s biggest rockstar, making a very religious statement, was bound to be a hit.
But this isn’t the first time that Atif has trended during the coronavirus lockdown. In early April, he released his rendition of the Azaan, which also immediately gained immense popularity.
And even earlier, the singer has been associated with spiritual kalaam: in Coke Studio last year, he set the show to a start with the hamd ‘Wohi Khuda Hai’ and his biggest Coke Studio hit to date remains the qawwali ‘Tajdar-e-Haram’.
Why is Atif gravitating so frequently towards spiritual texts and poetry?
“Nothing excites me more than these recitations,” says Atif.
“I love them more than anything else. Some are beautifully written, like 'Tajdar-e-Haram', and some are self-explanatory such as the Asma-Ul-Husna. They satisfy my soul. On the other hand, the compositions that I write myself satisfy me on a ground level, as a musician.”
Is this an indication of Atif becoming more spiritual? And does this mean that we’ll be hearing less commercial, happy-go-lucky love songs from him? The singer mulls over this.
“This is a journey and sometimes I’ll be exploring more commercial genres and otherwise, I’ll lean towards the spiritual side. I haven’t placed any restrictions on myself and I make a selection when a project is offered to me.”
Atif continues, “I chose to recite the Azaan at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was particularly creating panic. In the Holy Prophet’s time, people would get on to the rooftops of their homes and recite the Azaan in times of crisis. Similarly, I read out the Azaan at a time when the world was in crisis.”
“And now, with the Asma-Ul-Husna, what could be better than reciting the names of Allah? Whatever I am, whatever I have, it all exists because He wills it to be so. This recitation came straight from the heart.”
Atif has also been simultaneously working on his music. But looking beyond spiritualism, and observing the current scenario pragmatically, commercial music is not very likely to make waves right now.
There will be other times for frothy love songs and anthems - nothing could have resonated better with the world right now than a spiritual recitation.
A Coke Studio coup. An Atif Aslam coup. It’s been trending on Twitter. People are listening to it on repeat. Keep ‘em coming!