7 Stations is a band from the San Francisco Bay Area that fuses Arabic Islamic spiritual poems and traditional north-African melodies with an eclectic mix of modern musical styles including Rock, Pop, Metal, Country, Surf, Hip-Hop, Pop-Punk, Reggae/Funk, and Acoustic/Folk. The band currently consists of two founding members, MHMD and Meek. They began working together on various musical projects after spontaneously being asked to perform with an impromptu band for an Islamic event in 2010, and quickly formed a friendship and musical vision. Following their initial meeting, both members worked with various local Muslim musical artists as supporting musicians for performances and studio sessions, but came to realize that they could not fully express their musical vision or creativity through these projects alone. Although both members have a diverse and eclectic appreciation of many different styles of music, and both have over two-decades of experience working across a spectrum of musical styles, their passion for and experience with Rock music has always been their primary focus, even in their individual musical pursuits. Noting the predominance of Hip-Hop, Acapella (Nasheed), and traditional Islamic styles, as well as the lack of musical instruments and instrumentation, within popular "Muslim" music, they made an intention to fill the void and create a style that speaks to their musical roots.MHMD
MHMD was born into a family of Irish-American Muslim converts, and inherited his father's passion for music, as both an avid listener and guitarist. His parents converted to Islam in England in the early 1970s and joined a "Sufi" community that was rooted in the teachings, guidance, and poetry of the late Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib from Morocco, may Allah be pleased with him. The poems in the Diwan of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib are considered to be gems in their own right, and are typically sung to traditional North-African melodies. These songs have blessed many gatherings across the world since they were written, and still do to this day. His household was no exception to this phenomenon throughout his youth, and he soon came to appreciate their beauty and deeper meaning through every gathering. The first album by 7 Stations, entitled "ELECTRIC DIWAN" is a compilation of Rock style renditions and interpretations of the traditional Islamic songs that were sung in these gatherings, from the words to the original melodies.
Throughout his youth, MHMD was caught in the predicament of reconciling his love for popular Western music – notably Rock – and his family's traditional Islamic roots. He asked his father to purchase a bass guitar for him when he was 12, but his father was hesitant due to the ongoing debate about the permissibility of stringed instruments and music in general within Islam and the Muslim community. Despite this, his father decided that learning a musical instrument is a beneficial endeavor, and he got his first bass. He joined his first band, Fleur de Lis, as a singer and bass player at the age of 13, and had some local success in that band into his twenties. In his later teenage years, he worked at a record shop and played in various bands ranging in styles from Punk to Country, Metal to Hip-Hop, Jazz to Electronic Dance Music, and even as a percussionist in an orchestra and symphonic winds ensemble. MHMD began woodwork and building drums during this time, and some of the drums he built can be heard in his recordings. He studied Music Theory in college in his early twenties, and went on to complete a degree in Music Technology. It was during this time that he began experimenting with traditional Islamic songs and melodies, and met Meek, who was on a similar musical path.Meek
As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, Meek's initial influences were 80's and 90's Pop/R&B. In his teen years he got into Alternative Rock, as well as Hard Core Rap. As a young adult he oscillated between Hard and Acoustic Rock. Meek started playing guitar, drums and bass at age 15 and played piano on and off from his early childhood. He has performed with bands ranging in styles from Hip Hop to Latin Rock, and is also an ambient electronic producer.
In early 2001, Meek began practicing Islam, and, shortly thereafter, went to a mosque to see a Hip-Hop show in south central Los Angeles. He was amazed by the way Muslim emcees were using Hip-Hop to convey a message that was relevant to the Muslim community. Inspired by this, he created the first online Muslim artists database for Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, Spoken Word, and Reggae, which received attention from MSNBC, the Associated Press, and other media outlets. As a Rock musician, he was frustrated at the lack of professional Muslim Rock groups. After moving to the Bay Area, he finally got his chance to do just that when he met MHMD.
Together, MHMD and Meek are 7 Stations: composing, songwriting, performing, recording, engineering, and mixing all of their own music. Both members are multi-instrumentalists, and the first album by 7 Stations was a collaborative effort by both of them. Guitar, vocals, and some percussion and bass on the album were performed by MHMD, whereas drums, piano, and some percussion and bass were performed by Meek. Song-writing and creative direction were collaborative efforts in rehearsal and in the studio. The album consists of a mixture of Metal, Rock, Country, Surf, Hip-Hop, Pop-Punk, Reggae/Funk, Acoustic, and traditional North-African influence, of course. The album "Electric Diwan" begins with a heavy epic title track, and remains consistently heavy throughout, with a few softer pieces in the mix. 7 Stations backs off at times to give listeners a taste of their softer side, just to shift back into high-gear and get heavy again. Overall, ELECTRIC DIWAN provides a little bit of something for everyone, but always stays true to 7 Stations' vision and unique sound.Why "7 Stations"?
In Sufi Mysticism, the human soul goes through stages on its path to God and Divine enlightenment. These stages are known as Maqaam (Singular) and Maqaamat (Plural) in Arabic, which can be translated as "station" or "stations" respectively. There is said to be seven of these stations, each of which gives way to more intense spiritual purification, maturity, and closeness to God (Allah). While the number of stations is not universal among every Sufi path (Tariqa), most agree that there are seven. The ultimate goal of this spiritual journey results in complete oneness with God (Allah). The journey begins with the station of "Repentance" (Tawba), where one must leave their transgressions and commit to never transgress again. The following stages include "Watchfulness" (Wara'), "Renunciation" (Zuhd), "Poverty" (Faqr), "Patience" (Sabr), "Trust" (Tawwakul), and the final station of "Satisfaction" (Rida). The name 7 Stations also has unique parallels in other faiths like, the seven Stations of the Cross (in Catholicism). The spiritual notion of "stations" is not unique to just Sufism or Islam, or even to Christianity, as spiritual stations seem to be a universal phenomena within religion and spirituality in general. In our case, 7 Stations holds the powerful meaning that is found within Sufism, and consistent with spiritual journey that most Muslims endeavor to pursue. The words of Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib illuminate this spiritual journey in the most beautiful way.