Women should strive to empower themselves with knowledge

                                                          Sarah Yaseen, Radiant Arcadia, Denmark

Sarah is a mother, singer and peace maker. Sarah is a singer in Radiant Arcadia which comprises of a band of 12 women of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith backgrounds. She speaks to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of SUFI SUTRA 2014 organised by banglanatok.com.

Women empowerment….

Empowerment is a powerful tool to overcome fear and poverty of the mind. The brain is such a blessed organ that harboring ‘fear’ within it could only negate to a poorer standard of life. I fight against it.

Crime against women….

The increasing incidents of rape cases and the reaction that the women involved are to blame for being out alone or that it is her fault because she is not covered properly is a heinous statement. Social networks, such as Facebook and twitter are a powerful tool and when we found out, for example, that a 51 year old Danish woman that became lost after her Taj Mahal visit was 'gang raped' made us so upset and angry. Rape is a serious offense in the West and law enforcement is strict in punishing the offender thus it is disheartening to realize that there is very little protection of women. Women in ALL conditions, have an ABSOLUTE RIGHT to their bodies. It should not have to take the death of a brutal murderous rape for laws to be implemented. It is the daughters, the sisters and the mothers that make ‘Mother India’.

Women can be empowered to effect culture and politics…

I certainly believe that music holds people spell-bound. It is of importance to society and culture so when festivals such as Sufi Sutra extends its platform to 'World Music' artists, India is given a wonderful opportunity and insight to experience rich, musical cultures of countries of the world.I write and compose songs of love and peace. The biblical narrative of Joseph surrounding his ‘ten jealous step-brothers’ resonates through the 3 major monotheistic beliefs of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So to successfully bring alive the Islamic perspective of the story by ‘RADIANT ARCADIA’ (an all female band of Jewish, Christian and Muslim cultures), this is a remarkable feat. The Islamic perspective of ‘Joseph’ has also been performed at the Jewish Synagogue by the ‘Menorah Choir’ and the Jewish community embraced my Islamic songs with open arms.

The fact that Radiant Arcadia is the only female band in the world to sing Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Qwaali, ‘Allah Hoo’ is also a milestone.

‘Sacred Sounds ’for example is a choir of 75 women of 6 different faith backgrounds (Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh and Muslim). We all learned each others faiths through music. Through this, I now know the famous Hindu 5,000 year old ‘rig Veda' hymn ‘Sangachadwam’ (Let Us Move Together’, a Buddhist mantra - ‘White Tara’, a Sikh Shabad - ‘Raka Eik’, Christian and Jewish traditional songs, I, in turn, was commissioned by MIF (Manchester International Festival), the sponsor and creator of 'Sacred Sounds’ to teach something from an Islamic perspective, so it is remarkable to have all these women singing a 1500 year old Islamic song, ‘Tala Al Badru ‘Alayna’.

Resistance in career

My musical career has blossomed because I reach out to people. When I know that I'm travelling to a country, I like to learn about their culture, thus encourage myself to learn a song of their language, even if it's a small verse. This opens the channel of giving and people have been so receptive to my music; it has been a blessing. Once, I performed for an opening at a mosque for a Hindu, Christian and Muslim interfaith. We have to take small, initiating and respectful steps and this positive energy surely opens doors; we just don’t know this until we make the decision to enact.

Advice…..

Women should strive to empower themselves with knowledge. Knowledge with a little courage carries a long distance. We as women should not be afraid to follow our dreams and ambitions. Whatever career is chosen, from IT, civil engineering, neurosurgeon, sport, the arts, music, etc, let's strive together and reach our goals.

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