A Colorado high school student quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the lyric “there is no other truth except Allah” made it into the repertoire.
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials. When the school stood by choir director Marcia Wieland’s selection, Harper quit.
“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told KREX-TV. “This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet … I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth.”
District spokesman Jeff Kirtland rejected Harper’s analogy. “This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there,” Kirtland told KREX. “The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir.”
Rahman, who has sold hundreds of millions of records and is well-known in his homeland, has said the song is not intended for a worship ceremony. The song is written in Urdu, but one verse translates to “There is no truth except Allah” and “Allah is the only eternal and immortal.” Although the choir sang the original version, Wieland distributed translated lyrics.
School officials told KREX-TV that Wieland – aware that there would be questions regarding the song – asked her students to watch a YouTube video of the song prior to performing it.