It’s Friday again! Time to set the timer and see what happens. This one didn’t fly out of my fingers like normal so if it feels a little sloggy, it isn’t just you. It’s me.
The melody floated in the windows, soaring ahead of the dusty wind. In months of living in that neighborhood, with those friends, I had never heard it. The music was other. Different. Holy even. My husband nudged me and told me to go outside and see. The voices were female; his presence would silence them. I slid on a floor-length polyester slip and a large shawl to cover my hair, curly from the unlikely desert rain.
Mariam and two others were sitting on a poured concrete house foundation, with rebar sticking up and a variety of holes that made the platform slightly better than an obstacle course. They sang. They stopped a little with the sound of my metal door scraping across my tile entryway, then continued. I made my way down the dirty road a bit, hiked up my skirt and in truly American (read: extremely unladylike) fashion, took a seat with them.
What were they singing?
My question embarrassed them. A rain song. But one that was haram, forbidden. Although I don’t know much of orthodox Islam, my friends explained that their religion practiced correctly forbids music. They may chant, they can read their book, they can pray and call to prayer but no music. Not the music they were singing. Of course, they belong to a nation of poets and playwrights, of singers and songwriters. In this way, their faith does not enliven them but reduces them. This rain song—the most beautiful song I have ever heard—came from their inner most being, their very God-created hearts. I am certain of that.
I grieve for people who have lost their song.
I think of my own people: Western, modern or post-modern, Christianized. How we have lost our songs. How we allow Facebook and Spotify and iPods and someone else’s playlist drown out the music that is in our innermost being. How our discomfort with grief means that we have put away our dirges. How our inability to accept death means that we wash our hands and scurry away from the elderly who might teach us some new songs. I grieve for us, for myself, for the brokenness of this world that touches entire cultures, not just individuals. I grieve for people who have lost our song.