A student in a high school choir has opted to leave the choir rather than sing a song with Islamic tones that "praises Allah."
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Colorado, decided to leave the after-school men's choir when the instructor chose to sing "Zikr," by Indian composer A.R. Rahman.
Harper explained that he felt uncomfortable that he would have to sing a song praising another God. He also thought the song was inappropriate for the choir director to pick "an Islamic worship song" which includes the line: "There is no truth except Allah."
Harper sent his complaint to local school District 51 officials stating his concerns over the song. The school officials, however, were in favor of the decision by the choir director, Marcia Wieland, and subsequently, Harper left the choir.
Harper is a Christian who is active in his church and wants to express that religious people should not be forced to sing the songs of other faiths. Also, people should not cast an objection to his actions that were in conflict with his beliefs.
"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.
"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," he said.
School officials understand that while not everyone will agree with every music choice a choir director may make; the interest was based on the entire group and they have stated that they are backing Wieland and the song.
"This is about bringing diversity to the students and showing them other things that are out there," school spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. "The teacher was open with the parents and students do not have to participate in this voluntary club choir."
School officials explained the teacher's approach when selecting this particular song. When controversy about the song arose, she asked choir members to watch the song on YouTube while also passing out an English translation of the song.
Rahman, the songs composer, gained international notoriety after he won two Oscars for the soundtrack of Slumdog Millionaire.
To hear the song the students were told to sing, click below.