In school, he was celebrated for his singing abilities. Later as vocal passion pitched up, Mir Saqib secured several singing competitions before a change struck and flipped his tunes and notes, reports Saima Rashid
He would seek forgiveness from Allah before starting his music practice with this prayer, “O’ Allah, show me the way to use my voice for the right purposes only”. He would do it every time before recording a song, or performing in a concert. “Perhaps my persistent prayers worked in my favour by blessing me with the ability of singing Halaal Nasheeds,” believes Mir Saqib Mushtaq, a Nasheed vocalist from Srinagar.
At 24, Mir Saqib Mushtaq is an emerging Nasheed vocalist of valley. Inspired by the celebrated Nasheed vocalists like Ahmad Bukhtair (UAE), Junaid Jamsheed and Junaid Sheikh (both from Pakistan), Saqib gave up his musical career “drifting” him away from Allah. Recently in the Convocation Complex of Kashmir University, he released his Nasheeds Album – Toubatun Nasooha – in presence of UK Nasheed Singer, Hafiz Mizan.
“It took me two years to complete this Najam Nasheed album project,” he says. “With Allah’s blessings, I am on right path.” Nasheed meaning “chants” is a work of vocal music that doesn’t contain musical instruments. It uses mimic percussion instruments or the creation of overtones is permitted. This is because some Muslim scholars interpret Islam as prohibiting the use of musical instruments except for some basic percussion.
But before hymning in praise of Almighty, Saqib was a ‘singing sensation’ of Candid Higher Secondary School Nowgam where his teachers would vouch for his vocals. “I had a good voice but still needed training to make it better,” he says. “My teacher knew what I wanted. And so one of them told me, ‘Starting something from the Haraam way can never take you to the world of Halaal.’ ” Those were resounding words, which later changed him completely.
During school days itself, he was dreaming of being a journalist and joining Islamic scholar Zakir Naik’s IRF (Islamic Research Foundation). With his grit, he managed to secure a spot in IRF, which he gave up due to procedural formality.
The moment he was in Class 11, he was selected in a local singing competition, Miley Sur, he eventually left. And till he reached his graduation, he kept his singing skills polishing.
After his graduation, he applied for a job in IBM (International Business Machinery). He was put through multi-layered exams and was eventually selected as technical service executive.
While working with IBM, Saqib’s attire created problems for him. People objected to his Kurta-Pyjama attire and turban. “My cousins told me,” he says, “Either go back to Kashmir or change the way you dress, besides, trim this thick beard.” For a change, he tried to adjust in Delhi’s culture, which shortly influenced him.
His IBM colleagues would make him participate in the concerts, music functions. Later, he participated in Indian Idol, and got selected. During the same period, he happened to watch a video “Miracles of Allah” that evoked an enormous emotional response in him. And then to respond to his changed self, he quit singing and started searching for the personalities like Junaid Jamsheed, Junaid Sheikh and some Canadian rock singers, who had given up singing.
“Junaid Sheikh was the second runner up of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa musical competition and Junaid Jamsheed, a pop singer of Pakistan. They both gave up singing for Allah, and that thing inspired me a lot,” he says.
After sensing change, Saqib now believes, music corrupts the human soul. “It doesn’t give you peace rather refrains peace from life,” he says. “I have heard many singers saying that singing Haraam lyrics lead them to drug addiction. I have done a lot of research about the ill effects of music. It doesn’t only affect your brain but every organ. Music affects the emotional status of a human in terms of alertness and excitement and eventually the very person becomes the victim of adultery and fornication.”
Later he gave up his job in IBM, forgot his selection in Indian Idol and returned home to land in idleness.
“I did nothing for six months,” he says. “I was jobless, but my firm faith in Allah didn’t fail me. To my delight, one reputed IT company selected me as their manager.”
Passion of doing something didn’t let him sleep. He needed money to launch his Nasheed Album. He started working as customer care executive in Airtel during night shifts, pooled money for two years before releasing his dream project – Toubatun Nasuha.
“I think whosoever is indulged in the filth of music should watch his video—‘Don’t let me go’, I assure you, you will end up crying and turn back to Allah and use your voices for singing praises of Allah,” he says.