Junaid Jamshed Visits Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Junaid Jamshed, former lead vocalist of the Vital Signs pop music band, has now devoted his life to spreading his faith. He was in Sacramento, California during the second week of April where this scribe was able to catch up with him at two venues: the historic Downtown Muslim Mosque on V Street and at a private residence the following day.
Junaid Bhai (not just JJ anymore) is now often seen assisting fundraisers for Islamic schools, mosques and charitable organizations like Islamic Relief in this country where he uses his powerful vocals to deliver nasheeds (naats in Urdu) attracting many people. He also takes the opportunity at these events to spread the spiritual aspects of our religion to the general public in three languages - Arabic, English and Urdu.
The visit to the “V” Street Mosque in Sacramento was possibly his first. He was felicitated and hosted by Imam Mumtaz Qasmi and other mosque officials before and after Juma prayers. His talk there was inspiring. It was also unique and historic in a way because this mosque happens to be one of the oldest continuous Muslim places of worship in the United States, one which started functioning in 1947, the year coinciding with the birth of Pakistan. Most of the founders of this masjid came from Punjab and the Frontier areas of the then British India, areas that became part of the new country. This mosque has hosted many Pakistani dignitaries since then (PM Liaquat Ali Khan, General Zia, etc.) so Junaid Jamshed is now certainly in distinguished company!
The second venue was a private residence in the greater Sacramento area where Junaid Bhai aided in a fundraising effort for an area mosque, or more specifically a place of religious teaching. Over 200 invited people from the Muslim community got an opportunity to listen to their special guest and to help out in the mosque effort (which continued on at a separate venue and occasion later that evening).
It is interesting to note that both Junaid Jamshed and Salman Ahmad were in northern California at two separate fundraisers about 100 miles apart. Junaid and Salman both once members of Vital Signs recently cooperated in a song called Inshallah Naya Pakistan which has become quite popular in the country and within the Diaspora. Salman still has and promotes the Junoon musical band and brand name, but Junaid no longer associates himself with the Vital Signs or his association with it.
Some of the religious aspects of Junaid Jamshed’s work involve areas which he admits are beyond his grasp. This scribe asked him what the policy should be on the taking of photographs inside mosques. He answered that I should refer to an aalim (Islamic scholar) for that answer. In some other areas of religion Junaid Bhai is quite generous with his views and quite convincing.
Some of his Urdu naats (nasheeds) are a joy to listen to. His cooperative effort with the African-American group Native Deen (Enlightened Reflections- English-Voice Only) take some getting used to especially if one is already a fan of his Urdu works.
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