Saturday, January 27

WharfMA: Eid In The Wharf

The Wharf Muslim Association held their annual Eid gathering-event thingy this evening. I didn't even know that there was a WharfMA, but on arriving at Clifford Chance LLP (the venue for tonight's going ons) I was quite taken aback by the spread they had laid out for us. Sure, Canary Wharf is bursting with money, but given this was a free event I was pleasantly surprised by the quality on offer.

But enough sucking up (these corporate occasions always make me wonder what would have been if I had made different choices in my life). After a late start (it's good to see that even big-ass law firms are defenceless against Asian timing), we made ourselves comfortable in the swanky auditorium. Apart from the usual boilerplate the three main events were Dawud Wharnsby Ali, Lord Nazir and Khaleel Mohammed (Dr. Abdul Bari of the MCB was also present, but I went to pray at that point).

I've read a lot about Dawud Wharnsby but have never actually listened to his music, whether live or recorded, mainly due to my feelings toward nasheeds in general. I gotta say though, tonight I was impressed and so, once again, proved wrong. Dawud himself was funny, talented and a pleasure to listen to, but even aside from all that his music is actually very good too. Whatever I feel about nasheeds and Islamic music in general (and to be clear my opinion there still hasn't changed) Dawud rocks despite (or possibly because) I didn't actually hear anything spiritual in his set.

Lord Nazir took the microphone for twenty minutes or so. It was the first time I was hearing him live too, and again I was taken by how different he was to what I've seen on the television or radio. His canned jokes weren't very good, but he was funny(ish) anyway and had more presence than other politicians I've heard. What he had to say was pretty insightful too, as he gave us a brief history of Asians in the UK.

Finally Khaleel Mohammed did a set. Unlike Dawud, Khaleel was a more regular nasheed singer - so drums and humming, with some Arabic thrown in at times. Not really my thing, but it did make me appreciate Dawud even more.

Since the event was running late, a lot had been chopped off the programme. There was some damn good finger food after though, where most of the audience mingled the next couple of hours away. Although it was generally the same faces, it's funny who else you bump into at these things. I also got to spend a bit of time with Dawud to talk about his music and things and I found that he's as friendly and agreeable off stage as he is on.

Anyway it was a good evening out. As you can probably tell, for me, the evening was all about Dawud Wharnsby Ali. Top marks to the WharfMA, I think.