In the "Prophet's Hands," Dawud-Wharnsby Ali adds intense and vital elements to the conversation he started with the Ummah in 1996, when he released his first recording of Islamic songs entitled "Whisper of Peace,". However, in this latest work, he retains the depth which pervades all his works.
In Br. Dawud's previous releases, we reflected about Allah and the vastness and beauty of Islam - lyrics such as "fill the world with colors, all the colors of Islam," from the song Colors of Islam, "animals love to hear Quran," in the recording of the same name and "have you ever called Adhan while standing high up in a tree" from The Everything Song expanded Islamic imagery to include all of Allah's creation. In the last CD, Sunshine, Dust, and the Messenger, we were pushed harder to think about the "rhythm of Allah's creation", and for our need to become a part of it: "If we can just take the time to mute the noise we've built around ourselves, the rhythm of the heartbeats and the purpose maybe clear," he says in the song Why Are The Drums So Silent?
With clear, direct vocals, the "Prophet's Hands" probes the mountain of problems that the Ummah faces. "People of the Boxes," urges Muslims to share and learn, instead of hiding within self-constructed confinements, while All The Crazy Places I've Prayed, offers encouragement for this task by sharing the delight of praying everywhere - "all the earth is a place of prostration." The song Prophet's Hands mentions the difficulties of both the Ummah and individual Muslims, how "the road all curves and bends sometimes."
The Whisper of Peace reprise, with small but significant variations, shakes up the atmosphere of the perfect simplicity and eloquence that the first recording emanated. It questions the Ummah, the listeners, and even the artist, about what we do with the gifts of Allah - "is this just a waste of rhyme?"; "will we run out of time?"; "is this our Islam?"
But the compilation is not all questions, there are many more answers and solutions. We need to open up the boxes we hide ourselves in, follow the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) - beautifully expressed in "Don't Speak to me, about Muhammad".
Songs by other artists are also featured in the Prophet's Hands. "Silent Sunlight," which was written by Yusuf Islam in 1975, brings out the inherent hope and promise that Allah has put in every new day. The gentle yet pronounced melody of this song makes it a sort of work song for the Muslim, a little like what the Prophet and his Companions might have sang as they dug the ditches for the Battle of the Trench.
Words account for only half of the weighty message that this recording tries to communicate though. There is, after all, a reason that the message is in song. While most mainstream music lulls us into a false sense of beauty, missions and security, Br. Dawud's songs help us align and march towards the right direction. The rhythm and the message clarify our goals and encourage us to struggle forward.