Mubarak Mawla – A Cappella
This project started when I first moved to Chicago almost 3 years ago. I was fresh out of college starting my journey in the real world. I had this idea of creating a tribute for Hazar Imam for his Diamond Jubilee by making an a cappella rendition of Mubarak Mawla (originally composed by Salim-Sulaiman) which was released during Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee year. This song creates a sense of nostalgia for me every time I listen to it, especially as my birthday is shared with Imamat Day and the day Golden Jubilee year commenced. I was only 13 years old when Mubarak Mawla was released (2007). I was young and raw as a musician, but this song inspired me to create devotional music to show our love for Hazar Imam. I didn’t really understand the lyrics at that time, but as I grew older, I learned that you can create strong feelings of emotion through the music itself.
I didn’t want to use any instruments. Instead I wanted to use what Allah has given us: our mouths.
I had a dream to have music published alongside other big Ismaili artists who were on the Golden Jubilee album, but especially Salim-Sulaiman as they sparked my passion for devotional music. I wanted to make such music but in a unique way. I didn’t want to use any instruments. Instead I wanted to use what Allah has given us: our mouths. Hence, this musical piece was very challenging to bring to life.
We spent many weeks practicing this piece. Kais Ali did a tremendous job leading the arrangement. Kais also led the music production of this track, and I spent countless hours in the studio with him helping him edit and mix this track to what it is today. Kais, Hussain Sajwani and Faiza Lalani lent their beautiful voices as well to make this song very well-rounded. I created all the sound effects (i.e. drums, trumpet, wind, etc.) for the track only with my mouth while also singing some background parts and the first lead.
To make things even better, we were suggested by various people to make a music video for this too. So almost a year later, I decided to start this initiative as well. I didn’t know what I was doing and I’m sure many people thought I was disorganized or dispassionate for taking more than 2 years to finish this project. However I still pushed forward and collaborated with my new friend (and now roommate) Ramis Nayani of Journey Media to direct this music video. Ramis is a very talented cinematographer and videographer fresh out of college with a huge focus on quality. It was so much fun to ideate the vision for this video.
I had everyone dress in white and accent with gold to subtly reflect on the Golden Jubilee memories. We filmed this in Navy Pier located in Chicago as I believe beautiful water scenery brings a sense of nostalgia, joy, and serenity which was perfect for this video. Ramis found some very inspirational spots to film and caught some beautiful moments with his camera. You can truly see these emotions throughout the video thanks to the artists portraying them so well even though they had never done a music video like this before.
My dream finally came true on my birthday July 11, 2019 when I received an email saying that our a cappella track was approved and is now available on The Ismaili USA’s Diamond Jubilee album: https://www.theismailiusa.org/JubileeSongs/album9/index.html. This is the FIRST a cappella track to be on an official Ismaili album. Our track is now listed alongside music created by artists I looked up to during Golden Jubilee!
All in all this is my first major project completed. It was a learning experience of a lifetime, and I would go through all of it again in a heartbeat. In fact, I will! I have so many more ideas to share with the Jamat, and I hope to bring more pieces like this forward very soon. Until then, please enjoy our rendition of the timeless Golden Jubilee piece Mubarak Mawla!
Shakeel Bhamani (Professional Beatboxer | Vocalist | Freelance UI/Web Developer)