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The Way It Is - Emdad Rahman

Voice of Da Youth

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Mecca 2 Medina lead rapper Raqin Abdullah Fetuga talks lyrics with Emdad Rahman

In this time, when the rap scene is filled ignorance and hype, we are witnessing the development of Mecca 2 Medina, a group with a cocktail of slick beats and inspirational lyrics.

Imran Kazi, Ismaeel Yasin and Rakin Abdullah, 3 Muslims who were studying together formed Mecca2medina in 1996. They formed the group with the aim of expanding the listener’s knowledge and understanding of Islam, whilst addressing the social issues they felt were afflicting their community and society as a whole. Each member of the group was already involved in music.

Some members were involved professionally, whilst for others it was a pastime. In September 1996, M2M realised their first record; an EP entitled ‘Life after Death’ and within a month of their EP being realised Mecca2medina welcomed a further two new members to their group, Abdul Karim Talib and Dawud Saifullah. After the release of the EP, the group received favourable reviews and were awarded featured interviews from mainstream music magazines. Shows and special performances were forthcoming, courtesy of organisations especially from the UK Muslim community.

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Reaching for the common good

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Advocate Shahinur Pasha Choudhury MP talks politics, soul and the Bangladeshi psyche


As one of the members of the fabled "Common Good" movement, Moulana Shahinur Pasha Choudhury MP has been a prime exponent of the need to tackle personal and public problems from the context of a community based on moral and spiritual values. These connections transform the interplay between self-interest, democracy and politics. In an interview with EMDAD RAHMAN, the MP for the Sunamgong-3 district spoke of interdependence and the failure of personal freedom and developmental advances to provide meaningful solutions to social ills.

In July 2005 ruling alliance candidate Maulana Shahinur Pasha Chowdhury won the Sunamganj-3 by-election in a close contest as a candidate of the four-party ruling alliance, after the parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of Awami League leader Abdus Samad Azad.

Results showed that the new MP on the block had bagged 42,944 votes while his nearest rival independent candidate MA Mannan got 38,875 votes.

On July 29 2005 took the oath of lawmakers in the presence of Barrister Jamiruddin Sircar, who administered the pledge at his chamber in the Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat.

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The A-Z Guide to Arranged Marriage

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The book launch that bridged the diversity divide

By Emdad Rahman

Against the incredible rhythmic beats of tabla in the noble halls of the Bangladesh Centre, Monsoon Press made a triumphant entrance into the publishing world with its title launch The A-Z Guide to Arranged Marriage by Rekha Waheed.

Luminaries from Penguin, MBA Literary Agency, Bloomsbury, Saqi Books, Rebecca Winfield Agency, East Side Books, Foreign Commonwealth Office, Local Government, and a multitude of community organisations packed out the hall in anticipation of Monsoon Press’s book launch.

Speakers: Helen Fraser, Penguin, Gina Antchida (Arts Council), Rekha Waheed, Rabina Khan

Helen Fraser, Managing Director Penguin (UK), commenced the evening with a tribute to Monsoon Press’s aim to redress the lack of diversity in publishing. Ms Fraser also commended the production of The A-Z Guide to Arranged Marriage, which she found to be both ‘witty and charming.’

Diversity in publishing was the theme for the evening as Gina Antachida and Charles Beckitt took to the stage to raise awareness of The British Arts Council campaign to tackle this long overlooked issue.

Rabina Khan then took to the platform to outline Monsoon Press’s commitment to publishing and promoting ethnic and minority literature to redefine mainstream stereotypes by ethnic minority communities.

This was illustrated by Reba Waheed, General Secretary of Hammersmith Bengali Association, who worked closely with Monsoon Press to promote the importance of literature and used the evening to applaud the efforts of her students who debated and wrote about the contentious issues of Arranged Marriage.

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Songs of innocence

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Emdad Rahman meets the ‘seeker of the beloved’

Years after making the original recordings, nasheed singer/song writer/conceptualist Talib Al Habib a student of the sacred sciences and Medical Doctor has secured the release of his debut album, songs of innocence. Supported by his dedicated wife and influenced by his two daughters and spiritual mentor, this stunning exploration of inshad singing reveals what happens when inspiration, honesty, and individuality meet.

An uncompromising artist, Talib’s personality is almost as intriguing as his music, and it was my privilege to speak with him recently about his new album. Talib’s openness of spirit was immediately evident, his compelling, near perfect voice carrying with it a surety stemming not from the practiced manners of commercial success, but the confidence of real originality.
Talib is a takhallus (pen-name) meaning, ‘seeker of the beloved’, was born in London in 1976 and grew up in Manchester, before moving to South Africa with his family for a ten year stay.

His distinctive style of singing arises from a ten year childhood association with the Manchester Boy’s Choir, where he received vocal and technical training.
Though many claim it, Talib convinces one immediately that he sings because of the sounds he hears inside and that moreover, the reason he places them before us is simply to offer their beauty.

He began composing spiritual poetry and songs at the age of sixteen, and in 2004, he was encouraged to compile a collection of spiritual songs, which has culminated in ‘Songs of Innocence,’ an intensely personal journey into the experiential dimensions of Islam.

“I drew on childhood experiences of choral singing in arranging the songs, and utilised the daff for percussion after consultation with recognised scholars of traditional Islam” He said.

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Brick Lane

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Is this book really the best thing since sliced bread?

By Emdad Rahman
Never was the term 'overnight sensation' more applicable than in the case of Monica Ali.

Even though the 37-year-old has only just broken through at literary level, she is one of the most coveted young authors in the United Kingdom, perhaps Europe.

The predictions about the prospects for her talent are almost nonsensical. Two years ago Monica was been acknowledged as one of Britain's finest young novelists by the prominent and influential literary magazine Granta. Not many of those on the long-awaited Granta list were chosen without careful debate, but Ali's debut novel was one of the few that received near blanket approval.

Monica was born to a Bangladeshi father and an English mother. She studied at Oxford University and is now resident in London with her husband and two children. The writer can now lay claim to being one of the most significant British novelists of her generation.

Her mother, Joyce, met Hatem, a Bangladeshi student, at a dance in the north of England in the mid-Sixties. He arranged to meet her again, but he was worried he wouldn't recognise her because all white women looked the same to him.'When Hatem returned to Dhaka, to a job as an inspector of technical colleges, Joyce followed him and they were married, much to the horror of his family who had already lined him up a wife. Though they had little to do with his family after that, the Alis were content in Dhaka and would have stayed there had the civil war not broken out.

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