Shaam - The Early Years
Album: The Early Years
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From what started as a simple journey on the unpaved roads of Damascus, Syria, to the bright stage lights of Royal Albert Hall in London, England, SHAAM has filled the world with their bright voices and spiritual message. Pioneers in the field of nasheed, SHAAM has succeeded in reviving traditional aspects of Islamic Culture through the classical nasheeds they perform in languages such as Arabic and Urdu. That, coupled with their original English composition, which have received critical acclaim, SHAAM has touched the world with their lyrical quality and spiritual upliftment.
Composed of group members, Haroon Bashir, Mahmoud Norris, Yasin Alam, and Imran Bashir, SHAAM has transcended generations in bringing reviving Islamic culture in the West through their art form. Although, as a group, they were together much before the year 1997, it was not until then, during the recording of their first album, that group member Haroon Bashir chose the official name SHAAM that would stay with the group for years to come. That first album, “The Mystic Call”, which was release in September 1997, was truly an international album, having been recorded across 2 continents and in 3 languages. The nasheeds chosen for “The Mystic Call” were ones which had the most impact on SHAAM as a group during the process of learning and listening to them. It was their hope that these nasheeds would have the effect on Muslims worldwide, prompting them to record them on their debut album. Dhakal Adheem in particular is a song which emotionally moved the group, convincing them to include it on this compilation.
“The Mystic Call” completed production in the UK in the summer of 1997. Immediately following the completion of their debut album, SHAAM proceeded to begin their work on an all Urdu album entitled, “Baade Sabah”. Recorded in all a cappella, Fasalaw Kaw Takalluf quickly became a group favorite, even amongst member Mahmoud, a non-urdu speaker. To this day, that song is remembered as one that brought tears to the eyes of group members upon performing and reflecting upon its meaning. Another song, from the album “Baade Sabah”, being featured on this compilation is Medina Medina Medina. During the course of selecting tracks for this compilation, Medina Medina Medina was not part of the original selection, until, after listening to it after so many years, group members Imran and Yasin were so moved that they concluded it must be included in the final selection.
Though simple in their production, it was those first two albums, “The Mystic Call” and “Baade Sabah”, that assisted in spreading the message of SHAAM. In addition, it was the release of those two initial albums that catapulted a simple dream to a wondrous reality as SHAAM began performing in key events throughout the United Kingdom. As SHAAM began to rise in popularity in their homeland, many began to take notice, including a world renowned charity by the name of Islamic Relief.
Islamic Relief, one of the most well respected charities in the world, is where SHAAM was given the opportunity to help in alleviating poverty in the world. It was in October 1997 when management from Islamic Relief approached SHAAM with the idea of producing a nasheed album for charity. SHAAM was delighted at the idea, and were keen to take part in this, first of its kind initiative. In April 1998, SHAAM’s charity album, “Our Children, Our Future” was launched simultaneously with Islamic Relief’s Orphan Welfare program. A series of prolific events were put together to showcase SHAAM’s release, and Islamic Relief’s new program. Taking place across the United Kingdom, in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, and Glasgow, these events propelled SHAAM to the top of the nasheed market in the United Kingdom. In addition, “Our Children, Our Future” proved to be a hit amongst fans, and newcomers alike, raising substantial amounts of money for the Orphan Welfare program.
The production of “Our Children, Our Future” was done in the spiritual hours of the night, between Eisha and Fajr, and spanned a pattern of 5 months. One of the tracks from this album, Rasul’Allah Habib’Allah, carries a lot of sentiment with it, as it was written about the most famous orphan of all, the Prophet Muhammad Mashi Binurillah was a song that received great audience reaction, mostly due to its positive message. The meaning was relevant to the topic, to give a message of hope no matter what difficult times one may face and to remind us we are all “Walking in the way of Allah”. The track that captured the true message and essence of the album, however, was the title track, “Our Children, Our Future”, which has stood the test of time, in its continued inclusion in charity events around the world. The album, “Our Children, Our Future” was a limited edition album, and once sold out, was never reproduced. For that very reason, SHAAM has chosen to include tracks from “Our Children, Our Future”, on this album, so that those who have not had the opportunity to hear them, will finally have that chance.
In 1999, SHAAM followed up their massive success with Islamic Relief, by releasing their fourth album in 2 years, entitled “Revelations”. By the time it came around to record this album, the SHAAM sound had found its mark. The nasheeds from this album continue in popularity amongst fans, and for that reason, are all included in this compilation. The two that stand out the most are Li Ajlil Habib and Lonely Families, which was written at the time of the Bosnia and Kosova atrocities, a very powerful nasheed in its meaning. SHAAM’s last album to be released before a three year hiatus was Marhaban Ya Ramadhan. This album was release in time for the month of Ramadan, and included three Ramadan nasheeds in Arabic, English, and Urdu.
During their three year hiatus, SHAAM took time to tend to their personal lives, and delved into learning. A lot of searching was done during these years, which proved to be exactly what was needed. Even with SHAAM taking a break from their work in nasheeds, Allah had willed that they should continue their work in dawah. In the following years, SHAAM would release hit albums such as, “Mercy Like the Rain” and “Spring Has Come” as well as go on to perform in some of the most prestigious venues in the world. Truly, it was the early years of SHAAM that prepared them for the future.