Muslims around the world have listened and fallen in love with his songs whom many of us even consider as a form of ‘ibadah’ (good deed) because of the lyrics and the words used to praise Allah, The Almighty. The man whom everyone knows as Maher Zain was in Singapore recently to hold his first concert ever in his tour around the region.
Fans had purchased his tickets ahead in advanced and waited in anticipation for the day when their beloved Muslim performer would set his foot on the grounds of Singapore Expo Hall 3 to entertain the thousands of fans in Singapore.
Lucky for me, I was given the opportunity to be there with the thousand other fans in Expo Hall 3 to witness his first concert in Singapore. The queue to enter the hall was snaking long and although the concert was slated to begin at 2000hrs (8pm), local time, it was evident that this show was never going to start on time from the length of the queue that stretched for about 300metres outside of the gates.
Even at 2030hrs, the queue was still long and at this time, I still hadn’t even joined the queue then as I patiently sat at Burger King to enjoy my chocolate sundae, preferring not to stand and be part of the crowd and when I finally entered the performance area at about2130hrs, the opening act was still, OPENING.
This was about 1.5hrs into the stated time on the SISTIC ticket and still, no sign of the ‘star’ for the night, Maher Zain. It wasn’t until about 2200hrs that he made his presence felt on stage for the crowd to break into a rapturous applause, a welcome for the star everyone had paid to watch perform.
Throughout the performance, Maher Zain seemed eager to finish his set of songs – as how I remembered when I first performed on stage with my band back in 2003. Clearly, there was a lack of stage presence or perhaps he was just not interested to connect with the audience or possibly distracted. It wasn’t until mid-way into his performance that he began to stop and talk to the audience for a bit.
Truth be told, I wasn’t impressed with him as thousands had paid hundreds of dollars to be there to watch him perform and to be entertained. No doubt he can sing as well as he does on his MTV that many of us have watched, perhaps on replay several times over and to the point that we’re able to memorize his lyrics but singing he well he did, he failed in entertaining (or perhaps preferred not to).
A few days after the show, I was informed that there were many more people who had issues with the organizer and with Maher Zain himself. There was talk that the organizer (security personnel) had pushed people to take photos with strangers together with Maher Zain when clearly you attended with your own friends. There was also talk that Maher Zain had ‘snobbishly’ told a pair of non-Muslim ladies to “don’t stand too close” when taking a photo with him and above all, I was just told that he wasn’t that nice of a guy as how many had thought of him to be.
Regardless, this was the first time that I had attended a concert that was so disciplined I thought I was attending a lecture. No moshing, no headbanging, no panties or bra flying around and no body surfing – this was truly a first for me.
But did the songs about god resonate with me as well as it should?
YES because the lyrics were beautifully written.
Did the songs made me feel like I wanted to be a better Muslim?
NO and my reason is simply because as much as the songs brought a lot of meaning about Islam, it was ironic to be in a concert professing Islam’s values and teachings because for most of us there, we were clearly in the state of ‘khayal’ or in a daze that we forgot about what we were supposed to be doing, which is the very reason why Islam forbade the use of musical instruments or entertainment.
At the end if it all, I’m still not sure if having Maher Zain is good for Islam or otherwise. I just don’t want to be called his lookalike.