Fadl Shaker: Arab Pop Star Turns Salafi

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Fadl Shaker kisses the head of Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir during the Salafist demonstration, 4 March 2012. (Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)

By: Rabih Farran

Published Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lebanese-based singer Fadl Shaker surprised many when he made an appearance at an anti-Assad Salafi rally in Beirut on Sunday, prompting many to criticize him for supporting a movement which generally forbids singing.

“Yes, I will sue Al Jadeed TV because it is an unsuccessful, politicized, and racist channel,” singer Fadl Shaker (b.1969) told Al-Akhbar, in response to the station associating his name with that of a radical Islamist militant.

Shaker commented on the attacks against him on social media sites, which targeted his participation in the Salafi protest in Beirut on Sunday, by saying: “I do not care. May God dishonor them.”

Director of news at Al Jadeed, Maryam al-Bassam, chuckles in response to the singer’s statements.

“We love him and we will continue to listen to his songs. But we reject this accusation. He participated in a protest along with people who adhere to [Salafi] political thought. He has to take criticism if he’s going to get involved in politics,” al-Bassam responded.

But what drove Shaker to the ranks of the Salafis? The question does not appear to puzzle the artist’s followers, especially since he hails from the religious Shmandar family.

Shaker lived a life of poverty and memorized Warda and Um Kulthoum songs at an early age.

The late Syrian Lebanese businessman, Tawfik Bayrakdar, was the one who convinced Shaker to go to the city to sing.

And so, in the post-civil war 90s, the young man sang at the Sahara Nightclub in Antelias (north of Beirut) and at Every Night in the capital, which Bayrakdar invested in as well.

However, what Bayrakdar was offering the young man financially was not able to satisfy him as his career progressed.

Shaker decided to enter into private production after dozens of his songs were distributed to street vendors, especially in popular areas such as Sabra, Tariq al-Jadideh, and parts of Sidon.

At the time, Rami Hamdan, creator of Shaker’s artistic glory, managed the singer’s business.

In 2005, Hamdan chose to abandon his job as manager of Shaker’s shows and insisted on playing the role of friend and consultant.

After the release of Ya Ghayib (Oh Absent One) in 2003 and the “hysteria” that accompanied it, Shaker became a huge star. Ever since then, his life began to change on both the artistic and personal levels.

Hamdan, for his part, became the office manager of a prominent Qatari businessmen.

In 2007, Shaker canceled a Europe tour and paid the penalty fee in order to retreat with his Qatari friends. Ever since then, the singer began to consider retiring.

Following the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, he was quickly drawn into the sectarian tensions that followed. He started to distribute money during the Eid Muslim holidays and interact with the faithful much more directly.

Shaker also started receiving financial support from close sources abroad, by way of Hamdan and the Qatari buisinessman’s office.

He even engaged in sectarian skirmishes with other singers, such as Ragheb Alama and Ayman Zbib, and began to publicly show support for Sidon’s rising Salafi preacher Ahmad al-Assir.

Nevertheless, Shaker says, “We are not funded by anyone. Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir is above being dependent on anyone.”

He denies accusations of Qatari funding and justifies remaining as an artist in order to help the poor, despite the fact that the idea of retiring is always on his mind.

His contradictory loyalties have been subjected to wide criticism from his fans, particularly given that the Salafi current considers singing forbidden.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


I am Shia-muslim and i like Fadel very much. He brought so much joy to so many hearts. May Allah be with him and help him through this situation.

Yaa Allah made me part of the ahlus sunna

He was a great a singer, but he's now too much of an idiot to side with salafists! I have lived all my life with sunnis and Shiites. I respect them both! But when it comes to an asshole like assir, i wouldnt want a guy like him in our country! Who the fuck is he to judge everybody? Who does he think he is to attack our army? It turned out that he was a coward since he ran away from the army! The blood spilt by him and his dogs were too much today! We will hunt him down! Our soldiers will earn their rights! Justice will prevail! And Assir's future will be blackened!
As for fadel shaker, singing is not a sin! Go back to it! People loved you back then. What you are doing is wrong! If you're following a sect that states that death is the punishment that a person who does not believe in the prophet mohammed, sallah allah 3aleihi w sallam, then all that you will earn is a nice 5 star trip to hell!
PS: im a christian and im proud of it and i have never been disgusted that much before!

Fadl you made the right choice my friend. You make me proud that you turned down such a life of pomp and so-called glory and exchanged it for the pleasure of ALLAH. May ALLAH keep you steadfast and upon the sunnah of our prophet sallahualhiawasalam. You made my day my friend and I will pray for you.

Well you had better pray for that coward cause once the army get their hands on him it's gonna be jihad al nekah time.

Jazak ALLAH khair, May ALLAH (swt) be with you and strengthen you. May ALLAH swt forgive your sins and ours and join us in Jannah. Ameen.

What a bunch of scary motherfu#$ers
What the fu#@k are these bearded weirdos doing out of jail?

He maybe made the right choice in his decision regarding his relationship with Allah, but most definitely did not make the right choice by siding with a group of people who calls for the death of others who do not submit to their thoughts and way of life. Also, him entering the arena of the sectarian skirmishes it will stain his reputation for ever. Very sad end for a very sad choice.

Is he on crack or something? That's so sad and disappointing. The guy went out of his mind, he's a great singer and unfortunately he has just buried his future.

On the contrary, he just made his future! The future of afterlife where inshallah his sins will be forgiven and he'll go to jannah for being a mujahid against a brutal dictator and murderer Mr Asad

plz kol khara , li2anno what the salafist dogs did today and yesterday to the army of this poor country was unjustifiable and very wrong , they don't have any right to do what they did , and he was in a video and said "I killed 2 pigs from the lebanese army , 2 pigs" this was a clear message that he has a fucked up brain ... and if your so called "ALLAH" allows things like this , then , my ignorant friend , your allah doesn't exist , and fuck you , fuck ahmad zabre l assir , fuck fadel shaker l khara , fuck every salafist out there , and fuck whoever says they are right , you stupid sadistic abusive fucking whores :)

Fadal, you have made the right choice. Nothing matters at the end except your good deeds and your relationship wit Allah swt. Good luck. We love you wherever you are.

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