A rehearsal of Islamic hymns was going outside Cairo in a small studio, which is very recognizable for Muslims. But this time, those words were sounding way different than they usually do. Because this time, the voice which was singing those words were of Islamic women.
Choral songs in praise of the Muslim Prophet Mohammad are usually done by men and boys in Egypt and many other places in the Middle East.
But this time, the members of Alhour have bought up a revolutionary change in society. Alhour is Egypt’s first female Muslim-speaking choir. And this group has wholly overcome the taboo of Islamic women singing or Quran in public.
Such acts break the stereotypes created from centuries in society and give a unique style to the art that men have dominated for a long time.
While sitting on chairs during recent rehearsals, all the women group members scanned the lyrics of the hymns with their phones and then closed their eyes to sing it with drums and pianos.
Most of the members were in the traditional Hijab while singing the hymns, which are majorly used in Muslim countries.
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Hardships for Islamic Women
Fatahi has started her musical training by joining the Arabic musical discipline school called “Maqam.” However, she dropped out of that school later on after getting criticized by several teachers about singing publicly for Islamic women. And most of her teachers were not happy with having a woman in the classroom.
Besides of both religious and secular uses in the Middle East, mainly men use to sing Maqam. If any Islamic women are singing or performing music publicly, then she’d be considered licentious.
The beliefs for Islamic Women
In Islam, Maqams are generally the sung words of the Quran, which is coming out with some music to its fellow believers.
And this encourages more taboo to female performers. Fatahi had gone through many criticisms from the beginning of Alhour in 2017. She had tried to connect as many women as she could to help them follow their passion for music.
Many Muslim chanting figures has discouraged them from taking the further step. But the real dedication can’t hold, and they did it without taking anybody’s damn.
They got many people to let them down, and some say they were promiscuous, whereas some say their voices are dishonorable.
But they challenged themselves to overcome such negativities and defeat them with their skills.
Sometimes shortage of money and time tried to back them off, but such situations could not affect their dedication.
Fatahi spends 500 ponds for the studios, where she also takes weekly rehearsals of 3-4 hours min.
And after the 50 concerts from the previous four years, the members have to pay the travel charges to attend rehearsals.
And due to this, the membership has reduced 10 from 30 at present times.
Despite such difficulties and backoffs, Alhour’s members are still dedicated to keep going.
Many girls come up with their mothers, making them feel proud when they hear the rehearsals. Whereas Ahmed Galal is the only male conductor present there in studios.
Fatahi was struggling to find the female conductor, whereas Galal came as a hope to work for free.
Sondos Medhat, one of the members, attended the practice with her mother, where she also faced the same issue of men dominance.
Currently, the group is busy with the preparation religious music festival happening next month. And they are also planning to remix the Maqam due to Youtube this year.
Fatahi opens up about her dream of building a singing school despite any financial hurdles.
“It has always been a dream for me to establish an academy to teach new generations of girls religious songs — an academy that can give feminine rhymes to Muslim chanting,”