Who is Maher Zain?
Maher Zain is a Swedish singer, songwriter, and musician, originally from Lebanon. He is best known for his music albums ‘Thank You Allah’ and ‘Forgive Me.’ He was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, and moved with his family to Sweden when he was 8 years old. Although his father himself was a singer in Lebanon, Maher knew that it was not going to be easy for him to be part of the hip-hop music scene. He ventured into music at a very early age, after he got a keyboard at the age of 10. He learned to play the keyboard himself. When he got into school, he spent nights with friends, learning to make music. In 2005, he was introduced to Swedish music producer RedOne. In 2006, RedOne moved to the US and Maher followed suit. In 2009, Maher released his debut album, ‘Thank You Allah.’ The album resonated with the youth, especially in Muslim countries. The album became a major success, and the succeeding albums, ‘Forgive Me’ and ‘One,’ also became popular. He has a major fan following in Malaysia, where he was the most-Googled personality in 2010.
Childhood & Early Life
Maher Zain was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, on July 16, 1981, into a conservative Muslim home. His father, Mustafa Maher, was a part-time singer back in his days, and this made Maher inclined toward music at a very early age.
Maher was 8 when his family moved out of Lebanon and settled in Sweden. His father performed in local shows back in Lebanon, but after moving to Sweden, he did not make too much music. However, by then, his son had caught the love for music.
Maher got a keyboard as a gift from his father on his 10th birthday. His father had apparently observed his son’s fascination with music and musical instruments. Maher started making music on his own with a little help from his schoolmates. He would spend nights writing raps and mixing music with his friends.
He was academically good. Thus, he knew his family would not accept his career in music. Most importantly, rap and R&B were stereotyped as filthy and profane back then, and were viewed as something a “true Muslim” should never indulge in.
Maher joined an engineering college and geared up to become an aeronautical engineer. He earned his bachelor’s degree. However, he continued to work as a part-time music producer, too.
In 2005, he met music producer RedOne. Prior to that, Maher had worked as a solo music producer. Working with RedOne provided him a lot of space to experiment and grow. Both the young music producers decided to move to New York to participate in the thriving hip-hop and R&B music scene of the city.
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For a couple of years after he moved to New York, Maher worked as a small-time producer. He kept getting big opportunities from time to time. He worked with Kat DeLuna and produced music for the songs ‘Whine Up’ and ‘Run the Show,’ which were part of her debut album.
By 2009, Maher had become a known name in the New York City music scene. In early 2009, he signed a contract with ‘Awakening Records.’
His debut album, ‘Thank You Allah,’ was released in November 2009 and had 13 tracks and two bonus tracks. The first bonus track from the album was ‘Palestine Will Be Free.’ Its music video was released in August 2009 and it became a rage instantly, especially in the Middle Eastern countries. Over the years, the video has garnered more than 14 million views on ‘YouTube.’
Maher was still a relatively new artist, which meant the album required intense promotion. Social media was a new tool back in those days and ‘Awakening Records’ made sure such sources were utilized well. As a result, the album received a decent early response.
The production of the album was done in collaboration with Bilal Hajji, a producer of Moroccan origin. The album sold over 300 thousand copies and was named “20 x platinum” by June 2016. The songs ‘Insha Allah,’ ‘Awaken,’ and ‘For the Rest of My Life’ became chart-toppers.
His lyrics talked about how Islam was largely misunderstood by the world. He conveyed a message of peace and harmony through his music, which resonated well with American listeners, especially the Muslim youth. The album achieved remarkable success in Malaysia, which was rare for an English-language album.
Soon, Maher became a superstar in Malaysia. By the end of 2010, he was the most-searched celebrity on ‘Google’ in the country. A number of French versions of the album were also released. ‘Thank You Allah’ was the top-selling album in Malaysia in 2010.
Thrilled by this breakthrough success, Maher embarked on several international tours to promote his album. Although he sang mostly in English, several of the songs from his album were translated in French, Arabic, Turkish, and Malay. A number of fan clubs were created for Maher in several Middle Eastern countries.
In 2012, Maher released another album, ‘Forgive Me,’ which was once again released by ‘Awakening Records.’ Although the sophomore album could not repeat the success of the debut album, it was a major commercial success. The album was named “7 x platinum” in Malaysia and sold more than 100 thousand copies. Maher also released music videos for some of the tracks from the album.
Meanwhile, Maher continued to release singles from time to time. In 2011, he released a single titled ‘Freedom,’ a song which was based on the ‘Arab Spring’ that was then in full swing.
Maher has also collaborated with other musicians. Of these, the most popular collaboration was the one with Irfan Makki, a Pakistani music producer. Makki worked as a co-producer for Maher’s debut album, and Maher, in return, featured in a song from Makki’s debut album, ‘I Believe.’
In 2016, Maher released another album, ‘One,’ which was another ode to the Muslim faith. However, the album could not match the popularity of his first two albums. The album featured 15 songs and six bonus tracks and was successful in Malaysia.
Maher Zain is married to J Aisha Maher Zain. They have a son named Abdullah Maher Zain and a daughter named Aya Maher Zain.
Maher is a religious young musician and ardently follows all religious routines like any devoted Muslim.