On November 6, 2008 I attended a performance by Salman Ahmad, the founder of Junoon, one of South Asia’s biggest and most successful rock bands. The event was organized by The Office of Religious Life and was attended by many USC students, staff and faculty with diverse and varied ethnic backgrounds.
Salman Ahmad, a peace activist and a U.N Goodwill Ambassador believes that music’s universal appeal has the power to bring not only people but also nations together. Salman’s genre of music commonly known as “Sufi Rock” is a combination of two seemingly discrete genres of music. While performing for a live and energetic crowd, he frequently translated and explained the meaning of his songs reminding the audience of the overarching message of his music; a message of peace and harmony. Many of the songs were based on traditional Sufi poetry while others were written and composed by Salman himself. Sufi music much like other forms of religious music often deals with themes of oneness between an artist, his/her music and the Divine power. Salman Ahmad although not a Sufi himself, is an ardent believer of the Sufi ideology.
Salman Ahmad’s views on music are closely in line with Simon Frith’s views about music and identity. For example, while some may argue that Salman’s music merely borrows from two consolidated genres of music, he would argue that the merger of these genres creates meaning and social dialogue.
Overall, Salman Ahmad’s performance at the Bovard Auditorium was definitely a night to remember. With increasing crowd participation and energy as the night progressed it was evident that Salman’s message of peace and love was reaching out to the audience. Events such as this one truly reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity that the University of Southern California prides itself on.