Perhaps the most popular modern Islamic song to date.
The Arabic version of Ya Nabi Salam Alayka has obtained over 128 million YouTube views since releasing back in 2011. To put this into perspective, that’s more views that U2’s Beautiful Day despite being released two years later.
Exactly how has Maher Zain managed to reach so many people with this Islamic song?
Here are three likely reasons:
- Maher Zain is a polyglot (sings in multiple languages)
- There’s a non-music version
- It’s got a catchy hook
The majority of Maher Zain’s songs are sang in three different languages – by Maher himself!
Ya Nabi Salam Alayka has a version in English, Arabic and Turkish. His ability to sing multiple languages helps to bring in a wider audience, and reach people across the globe.
Many Muslims can speak or vaguely understand Arabic and therefore it’s no surprise that the Arabic version has picked up the most views.
Maher Zain has also sang a number of tracks in Urdu, helping to draw in the Pakistani community. One example of an Urdu track is Allah Hi Allah Kiya Karo, one of his earliest hits.
Collaborating with the popular Pakistani artist Atif Aslam in ‘I’m Alive‘ was a huge success. Maher tends to sing the Urdu parts during live performances where Atif Aslam is not present. He recently performed the song on his UK tour, and it was a huge hit with the majority Pakistani crowd.
No Music Version
Awakening Records are the label behind Maher Zain and have much experience when it comes to Islamic Music.
They helped launch Sami Yusuf, brought out the teen-sensation Harris J and recently signed Iman – their first female artist. This strong experience helps them to create tracks both with and without music.
One technique used by Awakening Records is releasing a non-music version of each of Maher Zain’s songs. This is no easy task.
How do they ensure it sounds good?
Jonas Otterbeck studies Islamic music and the Awakening Record label. At a recent lecture in London, he spoke about the process to creating a non-music version.
Otterbeck explained that the instrumental version is usually passed to a production team, who closely listen to the sounds. They then create similar base sounds using voice only, and adjust the temp/pitch in order to ensure it closely matches the instrumental. The end result is a good sounding product without use of musical instruments.
This is important as Muslims are generally split into two categories on the topic of instruments. There are those who feel musical instruments are acceptable as long as the vocals are positive, and those who feel instruments are forbidden. Cater to both and views increase!
Of course, the other reason why the track has many views is due to the catchy nature of it, especially the chorus.
The chorus starts low and gradually builds up, along with the music.
Maher Zain has released many hit songs, and this can only be achieved through hard work and a strong, dedicated team.
Islamic Music Hub would like to congratulate Maher Zain on this video achievement, and look forward to seeing more in the near future.
Ya Nabi Salam Alayka – Video
The Arabic version has been chosen to be shared as it’s statistically the most popular.
You can listen to previews of the other versions below (and buy on Amazon):
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Maher Zain – Ya Nabi Salam Alayka Lyrics
Let’s go through the lyrics to Ya Nabi Salam Alayka, calling out references to Quran and Hadith.
Gönüllärde hasretin var
Yüreklär ashkenla tcharpar
Sensiz Dünya bizlere dar
Seelam sana Ey kotlu yar
(Our souls long for you
Our hearts beat with your love
This world without you is unbearable for us
Peace and blessings upon you O Prophet) – 1
With submission, faith and patience
You conveyed the noble “message” – 2
Brought us light through your guidance
Peace be upon you my beloved
Ya habibi ya Muhammad
(Muhammad O my beloved)
Ya Nabi salam ‘alayka – 3
Ya Rasool salam ‘alayka
Ya Habib salam ‘alayka
Salawatu Allah ‘alayka
(O Prophet peace and blessings be upon you
O Messenger peace and blessings be upon you
O Beloved peace and blessings be upon you
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you)
Teri mohabbat kee mehek se
Yeah zameeno asma abadh hain
Rehmat kee barsat aati hain
Dillo jaan ya rasoola Allah
(By the fragrance of your love
The earth and sky reside
You’re a monsoon of mercy
Beloved of my heart O Messenger of Allah)
Ayyuhal mukhtaru feena
Zaadanal hubbu haneena
Ji’tana bil khayri deena
Ya khitaamal mursaleena
Ya Habibi ya Muhammad
(O you who was chosen from amongst us
Our love has increased our longing for you
You came to us with everything good embodied in a religion
O Seal of all messengers – 4
Muhammad O my beloved)
Links to Quran / Hadith
1 Peace and blessings upon you O Prophet
The Quran teaches that we should send our blessings on the prophet Muhammed (pbuh). This is often carried out during the last portion of prayer.
“Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O you that believe! Send your blessings on him, and salute him with all respect” (Quran 33:56)
2 You conveyed the noble “message”
The prophet was only sent down for one purpose, to convey the message of Islam to the world.
“The duty of Our Messenger is only to convey the Message. Allah knows what you disclose and what you conceal“ (Quran 5:99)
3 (CHORUS) Ya Nabi salam ‘alayka…
In point 1 we discussed the importance of sending blessings upon the prophet. The chorus of this song is actually doing just that. The full chorus translates to:
- O Prophet peace and blessings be upon you
- O Messenger peace and blessings be upon you
- O Beloved peace and blessings be upon you
- May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you
It’s great to see Maher sending his blessings through such a popular song, as this will likely motivate others to do the same.
4 O Seal of all messengers
Many messengers were sent down by Allah, and Muhammed (pbuh) was the final one. This is confirmed in the Quran:
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things” (Quran 33:40)
It’s easy to see why this song is so popular.
The track is well-produced, catchy and contains many different versions catering to people of different cultures and religious views.
Ya Nabi Salam Alayka is (as of Nov 17) the most popular song on the Awakening Records YouTube channel. Do you know which is the second most popular? It’s actually another Arabic song by Humood titled Kun Anta – read the review.
Ya Nabi Salam Alayka rating:
References & Reflection: 9/10
IMH Rating: 49/50 – Very good!