Friday, July 28, 2006

Wanted: Islam's Frankie Ruiz

*This post talks about popular, cultural music. If you don't like music/think music is haraam/want to hate, go away. Otherwise, read on.*


It just came over me what I'm searching for.

I'm looking for a teacher. To help me jump into true study and faith and love of God and Rasulullah (saws).

I've know this for a while, but the feeling was clarified today when a song by Frankie Ruiz came on the Sky radio (yeah, tis in the background while I work).

Frankie Ruiz, if y'all don't know, is salsero supreme. He's famous for his songs that are... ahem... realistic; they celebrate life and don't shy away from it at all. Great music to dance to, excellent instrumental arrangements, and his voice... actually, he's no Pavarotti, but the expression in it is vibrant, vivid, so happy. When I listen to Frankie Ruiz, I feel like a joyful kid, like there's hope, like I want to dance. Frankie Ruiz is the bomb.

That's not to say there aren't other greats. Maelo is another favorite. And there are some days when I can't get enough of Gilberto SantaRosa. It's just that Frankie is the one I first met who let me know that salsa music was like that, such an expression of life, worth knowing about. You know?

So, imagine how I felt when I found out that Frankie Ruiz is dead and has been for some years.

Ya, that was a big bummer. You mean, no more awesome music like this? That man who was the cause of my opening up to the beauty of salsa music isn't even in this world anymore? Say it ain't so!

But at the same time, and more and more as I go, I realize that Frankie Ruiz's influence on how I feel about salsa is still there, regardless of whether or not he'd make more music. That jumpstart is what I needed, a lens to correct and clarify a sight I didn't know was blurry. I'll never forget that.

So. I need a Frankie Ruiz for my deen, yo. Where's the Frankie for my Islam?

See, I did the research on Islam for myself, way back in the beginning. I just feel like I need an illumination for my Illuminator. The books and material that are available are so dry. All legalistic and junk. You and I both know that the Prophets, peace upon them all, were many things: righteous, realistic, faithful, human, learned, illiterate, vessels- but I don't think we can say ANY of them were as dry as their distillation in the books etc, that I've found. As a convert, sometimes I think I can't wait until Islam gets to the point where we have religious school materials, and magazines, and Nasheeds, that are ACCESSIBLE to the everyday person. Day by day, insha'Allah.

But since my self-study seems constrained, I'm constantly keeping my eyes open for Allah to show me a person, or a place, from which I can learn, and get that kickstart. I know I need it, I've asked for it, and so I know I'm getting it.

I'm just sayin'- WHEN, yo? Where? What's up with this dry deen? Water! Gimme a Frankie!

*steps off soapbox*

I'm done, y'all.



  1. Salaam,
    Don't worry, I listen to music too, so there will definitely be no hating coming from this corner.

    As for lack of "non-dry" literature, I guess at some point, insha Allah, we're going to have to "be the change we want to see" and write it ourselves.

    I know where you're coming from, as a convert the search for knowledge can be very difficult as there are so many hidden agendas out there.

  2. Salaam 'alaykum,

    I need a Frankie Ruiz for my deen, yo. Where's the Frankie for my Islam?


    I studied Islam in school in Pakistan for years & I've never been so bored out of my skull.

    It wasn't until very recently that I even began to hear stories about the Prophet (saws) and Sahaba that portrayed them laughing, arguing, playing practical jokes and sports. I.e., as inspirational but human and intersting to boot.

    Where were all those stories when I was growing up?!

    Safiya is right that our generation is beginning to write and sing and dance to a new tune, but it will take time & sometimes I wonder if we're not losing huge chunks of the younger gens because all that we have to offer them is dry legalese.


  3. What's up with this dry deen? Water! Gimme a Frankie!

    Well said!