Nick, Brian, Howie, A.J, and Kevin were household names in Europe, Asia, and South America long before their music even reached America. Like the Backstreet Boys, the names Zarie, Che, Abu Bakar, Nazrey, and Amran will follow a similar course in reaching America one day. However, unlike the Backstreet Boys, this group has no intention of becoming “heart-throbs” or millionaires. Instead, they want to instill in people’s hearts the love for Allah (swt) and spread his Deen: Islam.
Given the title, “the world’s most popular Islamic singing group,” these five young Muslim men form Raihan. They released their first album, Puji-Pujian (The Highest Praise), two years ago. Raihan, which means, "a sense of paradise," earned the honor of "best vocal group" at the Malaysian Music Industry Awards soon after their first album topped the charts in Malaysia. Their second album, Syukur (Thankfulness), proved to be just as successful. It, like the first album, sold a record number of copies in Malaysia and Singapore.
In the second album, Raihan collaborated with Yusuf Islam, former UK singer known as Cat Stevens. Yusuf Islam, who gathered his old CDs and drove a bulldozer over them after converting to Islam, has refrained from singing for many years. Yusuf Islam, who has converted entire villages in England to Islam, released the Islamic song “God is the Light” in hopes that it will bring people closer to God.
Raihan sings in Arabic, Malay, and English. The only musical instruments they use are percussion instruments. Technically, Raihan doesn’t produce music. Rather, it is called nasheed, which are Islamic songs. Because of Raihan, many other Muslims are following in their footsteps in forming nasheed groups. Some music awards are now even beginning to start a special category for Islamic music.
Even though they are gaining popularity and recognition, Raihan are more interested in spreading Islam. Frances Harrison in Kuala Lumpur, quoted the lead singer of Raihan, Azahari Ahmad, as saying, "Mostly in our songs there's a lot of advice and teaching. In the medium of music and song it's easy to convey something."
While Islam is perceived as a threat by non-Muslims across the world, the members of Raihan are willing to put their lives on the line by bringing Islam into the light. Although Muslims, including the PAS Islamic party of Malaysia, openly support the group, non-Muslims are not as happy to see religious songs beat their snazzy rock and pop tunes. Known for their harmony and inspirational nasheeds, Raihan is the one of the first groups to use nasheed to compete with pop and rock, coming out on top. They have already beat Western singers in Asia and plan on doing the same across the world.
Raihan can be found in online CD databases, practically any Islamic bookstore, and in CD stores in Asia and Europe. Even though they are still recording their first United States album, many Americans are already starting to discover the group. Raihan has received extensive media coverage in UK and are beginning to in the United States.
And most exciting of all, there are even plans of Raihan: The Movie. The Backstreet Boys never made a movie.