OTTAWA, Canada – When Canadian high school students sang the “Arabic welcome song” “Tala’ al-Badru ‘Alayna” at their December recital, they unwittingly praised Mohammad’s victory over Christian infidels.
About 285 students between grades four and six from French public schools in Ottawa performed the song Dec. 3 and a YouTube video of the performance was posted about a week later, as the country’s first two planes of Syrian refugees landed in Montreal and Toronto, the Toronto Star reports.
In a matter of days the video collected nearly a million views, and was touted by the Star and other media outlets as a Muslim welcome song, “sung to welcome the Prophet Mohammad upon his arrival in Medina from Mecca.”
Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted the video: “WATCH: Ottawa high school students sing a traditional Arabic welcome song. Well done De La Salle! #WelcomeToCanada.”
Laura Hawley, a composer hired to write “Tala’ al-Badru ‘Alayna,” told the Ottawa Citizen the link to refugees was unintentional, noting the title of the video posted to YouTube welcomed the refugees to Canada.
“The fact that it has come out at that time and kind of put a loving embrace around that whole experience is amazing,” Hawley said in late December. “We’re very happy that it’s all kind of unfolded this way.”
The story kept unfolding this week.
The Toronto Sun spoke with several experts who pointed out that the “traditional Arabic welcome song” may not be exactly what everyone thinks it is.
Munir Pervaiz, president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, told the site “the fact is this particular song is a very religious song in all its meaning.”
“It’s only sung in the praise of the holy prophet and for no one else,” he said.
Daniel Pipes, a Middle Eastern scholar, explained in an email that “most Muslims would understand this nasheed as something ancient, religious and quite innocuous. But Islamists understand it as a victory song. So, most immigrants would feel heart warmed by hearing it on arrival in Canada but some would understand it as the subjugation of the kafirs who are singing it.”
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs researcher Jonathan Halevi wrote in an online article that Islamic scholars agree that “the lyrics of the poem clearly indicate that it was composed on the occasion of the return of Muhammad victorious from the Battle of Tabouk against the Christian Romans and their Arab allies,” according to the Sun.
Intelligence expert David Harris boiled the situation down for the news site.
“Muslims and non-Muslims worldwide wrestle daily with Islamist terrorism, so it’s astonishing that Canadian public school officials could blow scarce tax money to create a children’s choir piece said to evoke images of jihadist victory over infidels,” he said.
“The only thing weirder, is the way some Canadians embrace the apparently Islamist-themed music as a welcoming song for Syrian migrants who might include non-Muslims escaping Islamist violence.”