The Islamic Garden
Abdullah Rolle - Musician
to Muslim to Nasheed Artist
Rolle was born in the
His journey to Islam is closely linked with the development of his career as a nasheed artist. One day he was walking in a market and a Muslim came up to him and asked if he could speak to him for a minute. This man asked Rolle if he knew anything about Islam and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Rolle admits that he always knew God is the creator of everything but noted that he had been taught about Jesus, not Muhammad. Rolle tried to get out of the discussion. “I wasn’t into religion in any way at that time A few years later I got into a conversation with a Muslim about Almighty Allah, but I still wasn’t ready to consider anything about Islam or become a Muslim. I wasn’t around anyone like that. The people I was associating with were in the music business and they have their own type of lifestyle. So at that time there was no chance of me being drawn toward Islam.” The right time had not yet come.
A Bookshop Changes His Life
moved to East London and used to go to a book shop called Dar Assalam
Later, outside the bookshop he said to his son, “I need something to feed my soul. These other books aren’t doing anything for me.” His son pointed out a DVD called What Is The Purpose of Life? by Khaled Yaseen. He took part one home and played it and watched it and felt greatly inspired. “Everything that was being said on the DVD I felt I already knew. I knew it was the truth,” recalls Rolle. He learned that Muslims pray five times a day but because he was still into mainstream music at that time, he thought he would not be able to make time to pray like that. However, his soul was telling him that it was right. The bookshop gave him some books but they could not get him past this point of praying five times a day.
Being Nurtured by Muslims
Rolle remembers that the Muslim community nurtured him and he found himself surrounded by brothers who really showed that they care. He says, “I spent a lot of time with them for about two years. They taught me, corrected me, and reminded me. These were mainly brothers in the bookshop. I have been with them ever since.”
He adds, “I have always found that most Muslims are polite, generous and kind-hearted. Even though there are problems in the Ummah worldwide, the individual Muslims have always been kind to me. I wanted to try to become pious and I keep trying. I want to be like them.”
By this time, Rolle believed in Islam and had acquired fundamental knowledge of the religion and was on the way to learn more and more. At that time, the brothers were telling him that he should declare the two testimonies of faith and they reminded him that death is always near. However, he still felt he was not quite ready.
his wife about the DVD he had seen and explained how it really moved
him. Then he
saw a DVD by Sheikh Fiez in
Sometimes, he observes, he is a bit envious of the scholars. He wishes he could have come to know Islam when he was much younger. But Allah knows best.
Rolle observes, “The brothers used their common sense with me. So they worked slowly with me step by step. They didn’t tell me music is haram in the beginning. If they had I probably wouldn’t have become a Muslim because I was involved in a number of projects. They assured me that it is ok to still be in it as long as my intention is to come out of it.”
Rolle recalls that the greatest challenge after accepting Islam was learning Arabic and learning the prayer in Arabic. “I felt like I was going back to school. I was lucky because I managed to memorize some Qu’ran and I could read it, so I was able to Pray and I wanted to do that more than anything else.” There is a CD entitled Pray as You Have Seen Me Pray and Rolle says that this is an excellent CD that helped him a lot. One of the brothers would take him to the mosque but he admits that he also had to spend time learning himself. He watched the CD many times until he knew it by heart. He also focused on memorizing invocations and wanted to fill himself up with as much Islam as he could. He learned to put aside any distractions and put his head in the Qur’an, books and DVDs and start learning.
Music or no Music?
In the beginning of his Islam Rolle was working in schools teaching music to children and composing songs in city learning centers. He worked with children who had left home. He came to know many sad stories from young people and he wanted to help them. He was also working in community centers and had his own business teaching music to young people.
dawned on him that perhaps there is no blessing in what he was doing.
thought, “If I have to stand in front of Allah what will I say about me
teaching mainstream music? So I just gave it all up; the schools, the
centers and so on. Some people respected what I did and others thought
I was wrong.
I had no intention of doing nasheeds after that but I had a recording
spoke to a brother whose father was a scholar in Saudi and he had
same Al Qu’ran society asked him if he would like to work for the
Shari`ah Council. He agreed and started working with fatwa as well as
divorces. His job was to keep all the clients updated about their
cases. He found
that the sisters wanted to know about their cases and he had been told
should be hard, and not get involved. He recalls, “The problem was that
sisters would speak to me because I could speak English, and the other
now focusing on developing his career as an international nasheed
will launch his CD Peace in
(This article was first published on www.islamonline.net)Abdullah Rolle - Nasheed Singer with Rhyme and Reason