Wednesday, December 07, 2016

On the passing of Junaid Jamshed and his legacy

Junaid Jamshed, the famous musician from Pakistan turned Islamic preacher, has died today in a plane crash.

I first met Junaid Jamshed at MuslimFest in 2011. It was a rainy day, yet the nasheed singer knew how to work the crowd. His song "Dil Dil Pakistan" remains Pakistan's unofficial second anthem.

The next time I saw him was when I myself was a participating artist at the 2012 MuslimFest. He was just doing a quick tour of all of the exhibits. I found him to be a knowledgeable and well mannered person.

His words, his music, his passions resonated in the souls of millions of people in ways that frankly other people could not. He was a remarkable individual, and someone who changed his life around and dedicated himself to serving others. He touched millions and always left a lasting impression on whomever he met.

Like any preacher, Junaid Jamshed held some unpalatable views and said some controversial stuff. I called him out on it sometime ago when his misogyny got him into trouble in Pakistan (and not for that reason). He also made some statements that he doubled down on regarding the role he thinks women should play in Muslim societies. Those views, no doubt fashioned by his circle and his society, are not something that I can agree with.

Yet, despite that, there is no doubt that Junaid Jamshed is a complex individual. The legacy he leaves behind is a complex and vibrant one.He did a lot of good, and supported a lot of charities, and spoke out a lot on human right abuses and other abuses. He tried to bring people closer to their religion.

I am not sure his life, or his legacy, can be defined with just one incident or one moment. Yet I would like to go back to that afternoon in 2011, as he sang in the rain, and the crowd sang with him. He was a man of the people, and in the end the people, especially Pakistanis, loved him. His death will be a great loss to his community.

May Allah forgive him his sins, and accept his good deeds, and elevate his status in Paradise.

To God we belong and to Him shall we return.

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