Soulful Urdu-English prayer song brings together 40 musicians from around world

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Updated 02 June 2020

Soulful Urdu-English prayer song brings together 40 musicians from around world

  • Pakistani musician Kashan Admani initiated the project, reaching out to artists from seven countries
  • Urdu lyrics have been penned down by renowned poet Sabir Zafar

ISLAMABAD: The bilingual Urdu-English prayer song opens with Grammy award winning violinist Charlie Bisharat sitting at his home playing his instrument soulfully. Gradually, he is joined by his world famous peers on guitar, piano, percussion and drums. Slowly, the tempo builds and the screen fills up with dozens of faces from around the world singing ‘We are one.’
In an extraordinary project undertaken by Pakistani musician and composer Kashan Admani, 40 musicians from across seven countries have collaborated on a prayer song, timed to give hope as the world reels from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It is also dedicated to victims of recent tragedies around the world including a Pakistan International Airlines crash which killed 97 people on May 22.
“I had originally composed the song in Urdu and renowned Pakistani poet Sabir Zafar had written the lyrics,” Admani told Arab News via telephone on Saturday. “Then I thought... for this message to be global it needs to have English Lyrics.” He then tapped film director and artist Babar Sheikh to pen the English chorus.
The resulting production titled “We Are One/ Aae Khuda,” has been sung and performed by some of the world’s most renowned musicians and is at over 20,000 views on YouTube since its release on Friday.
“The idea was to talk about global unity in fighting the pandemic and praying to God for help. That’s the reason why it’s called and it’s message is, ‘We Are One, Aae Khuda.’”
Admani who is part of the band Mizmaar and has worked in the music industry for the past two decades, has produced and played songs for artists like Haroon, Strings and Junoon, and said the idea for a unique mash-up of global talent emerged to counter the current negativity in the world.
“The lockdown has affected us all in many ways and I saw a lot of negativity and hopelessness around,” he said.
“Music gives people emotional support and as an artist, composer and producer, I thought the best way to give hope to people would be to make a universal song with artists from all over the world.”

Pakistani artists including Farhad Humayun, Najam Sheraz, Natasha Baig and Dino Ali were joined by US Grammy award-winning violinist Bisharat, Grammy nominee Simon Philips, multi award-winning guitar player Roman Miroshnichenko  from Russia, British singer/songwriter Lili Casely, Brazil's Luiza Prochet, and India's Dr. Palash Sen.
Thanks to technology, Admani continued, the logistics of getting all these musicians together and coordinated for the track was actually quite simple.
“Everyone recorded in their home studios, maintaining social distancing protocols and filmed their parts while recording. This was the only way it was possible.”
Admani then put it all together in his own home studio. The recordings from the artists are filmed and featured in the video.
“Collaborations like these are always phenomenal. It's a sense of unity and it’s also a sense of honor to get to do this together and for the purpose of making people feel less alone,” Natasha Baig, a Pakistani musician told Arab News.
Admani mirrors this hopefulness, and said it describes the essence of the song.
“I have been away from my family for months now due to the pandemic,” he said. 
“The only thing that gives me hope is music.”

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."