Salman Ahmad, the guitarist who founded the acclaimed Sufi rock band Junoon, has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, and continued making music despite threats from The Taliban. He also teaches courses on Muslim music and poetry at Queens College of the City University of New York.
Above, in a video produced by The Moth, the boundary-breaking musician recounts his inspirational life story. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, he moved to New York at the age of 11. Being the "only overweight, brown, Muslim kid" in school, he lived in relative isolation--that is until Dan Spitz (later the guitarist of Anthrax) urged him "to get cool." Cool came in the form of a ticket to a Led Zeppelin concert at Madison Square Garden, which kicked off, oddly enough, with "Kashmir."
I'll let Ahmad tell the rest of his story. It's also a story about how America does good (for the world and itself) when it remains open in heart, mind, and law.
To get better acquainted with Ahmad's journey, read his recent book, Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution.
To keep America open, make a donation to the ACLU.