(Above) Spiritual British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Sami Yusuf’s track ‘You Came to Me’ trended in the US with a 260% increase last Ramadhan
Approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world are currently observing Ramadan – a month of spiritual rejuvenation, humility and togetherness, and the holiest month of the Muslim year.
Whilst the fundamentals will remain the same for many of those observing Ramadan, each country has its own cultural nuances, as shown by new data from Spotify.
The rise of Nasheeds and Maher Zain
Audio and spirituality are intricately connected to provide inspiration, an outlet for expression or to create the right atmosphere for prayer and contemplation.
Last Ramadan, Spotify saw a 68% increase worldwide in streams in nasheeds (Islamic devotional songs or spiritual hymns) during April than the previous month. This trend is expected to continue this year and based on streams in March 2022, the UK was the third top country globally for streaming nasheeds behind Indonesia and Malaysia.
There are clear listening trends on Spotify that reflect how the Muslim community around the world embraces Ramadan.
Lebanese-Swedish R&B singer Maher Zain was one of the most streamed artists with Ramadan-related songs last April. His song ‘Ramadan’ – English version saw more than a 1000% increase in listens in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Jordan during Ramadan last year. Streams of the song also saw more than a 500% increase in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US.
Last year UK hit artist Harris J saw listening increases during Ramadan with his hits ‘Rasool’ Allah’ and ‘Salam Alaikum’ both having more than 250% increases
Interestingly, Zain’s songs in different languages also appealed to different Muslim communities globally, such as ‘Assalamu Alayka’ – Arabic Version and ‘Neredesin’ – Turkish – Türkçe in Turkey and mutiple Arabic speaking countries.
Lebanese-Swedish R&B singer Maher Zain was one of the most streamed artists with Ramadan-related songs last year
Whilst spiritual British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Sami Yusuf’s track ‘You Came to Me’ – English trended in the US with a 260% increase in the same time frame.
A month defined by tranquillity
Muslim communities globally are creating user-generated playlists of their favourite nasheed and spiritual music, with Ramadan related words such as zikir (remembrance), ilahi (divine), hati (heart) and doa (supplication) to share with friends and family to soundtrack the month.
In the UK, associated words surah (chapter in the Quran), nazam (Urdu poetry) and deen (‘religion’) proved popular for the creation of spiritual and nasheed playlists.
Ramadan around the world
Each year, Spotify refreshes its dedicated Ramadan Destination offering content for every Ramadan moment throughout the day whether it’s Sufi music, Oud soundscapes, or health and fitness podcasts.
This year, streams for Chill-oud have risen over 200% in March across the likes of Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Germany and the USA when compared to streams in January-February of this year.
Whilst Lagu Raya continues to be a popular Ramadan associated playlist, particularly with the Muslim community in Australia with streams skyrockting 320% in the same time frame. Other countries listening to this playlist include Singapore, Japan and India.
Muslim communities are also turning to podcasts for an audio journey of self-reflection during Ramadan. One of the most popular podcasts during the Holy Month is Freshly Grounded. Hosted by two British Muslim entrepreneurs, they discuss anything and everything from business, lifestyle and current world events. Guests often feature sharing their own stories and experiences.
Similarly, another hit is Tell Them, I Am. This Spotify Original podcast showcases a small part of the lives of special guests, including NBA star Enes Kantar, activist Malala Yousafzai and fashion model Halima Aden.
The UK has the most listeners by far for Anchor podcast M. Quraish Shihab Podcast which features Indonesian Muslim scholar M. Quraish Shihab reflecting on the Quran and the principles of Islam.
Spotify’s Top 5 list of must-listen to podcasts this Ramadan
1. Mufti Ismail Menk
2. Islamic Talks
3. Omar Suleiman
4. Muhammad Hoblos
5. Mufti Menk