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‘A Beautiful Palette’: Abu Hafs Slams Critics of Music for Papal Visit

Rafiqui describes the artistic performance during the pope’s visit as a “beautiful palette of music,” slamming circles that condemned the performance as “idolatry.”

Rabat – Former Salafi and scholar Mohamed Abdelwahhab Rafiqui, also known as Abu Hafs, has spoken highly of the Islamic-Jewish-Christian musical synergy performed during Pope Francis’s visit to Morocco.

Is fusing the adhan with music a form of idolatry?

While the synergized performance, which included the Muslim call to prayer (adhan), aimed to highlight rapprochement and dialogue between the three religions, the chants seem to have touched the nerve of many and have generated a flood of criticism on social media.

Many have expressed outright rejection of the fusion of adhan with music on the grounds that it contradicts the Islamic doctrine.

In a post on Facebook, Hamad Al Kabbaj, a Salafi and affiliate of the ruling Justice and Development Party (PJD), described the musical combination as “pagan.” He said the performance runs counter to the principle of the unity of God.

In response, Rafiqui took to Facebook on Monday, April 1, to lambaste critics. Rafiqui called the performance a “beautiful and innovative palette of music.”

Kabbaj had argued that it is absolutely impermissible to fuse the adhan with the “pagan” elements that permeated the Christian and Jewish faiths.

Kabbaj called on the High Council of Scholars for the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs to take their responsibility and punish what he perceives as an insult to Islam.

A historical aversion of art?

Rafiqui attributed Kabbaj’s and others’ reactions to two main causes. The first is that their attitude reflects a superiority complex. They think that all other faiths are mistaken and only theirs is true, according to Rafiqui. The second reason is their “historical aversion to the arts.”

Rafiqui asked, “How would someone, who believes that listening to music is forbidden—whose divine punishment is to pour molten lead into the ears of those who listen to it, savour holy words accompanied by music?”

Celebrating the two-day papal visit to Morocco, the Moroccan Philharmonic Orchestra (OPM) gave an orchestral performance before King Mohammed VI and Pope Francis at the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates.

Bringing together the three monotheistic religions, OPM’s chants wove together three voices: The Muslim adhan (call to prayer); the Jewish call for prayer known as Adonai; and Caccini’s motet Ave Maria, a landmark Christian song.

Events held during Pope Francis’s two-day visit, from March 30 to 31, sought to boost interfaith dialogue, religious tolerance, and coexistence. Many perceived the papal visit as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship among people of different faiths.

In a gesture promoting freedom of religious practice, King Mohammed VI stressed in his speech at the Hassan Tower in Rabat, “I protect Moroccan Jews as well as foreign Christians, who are living in Morocco.”