The last time I saw my friends from Karachi, Pakistan, I was in Rhode Island. Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers had just finished the first Caravanserai tour through New England and Montana in the fall of 2011.
After one look at the Caravanserai itinerary, Majid Bekkas smiled and said, “We’re going to ‘Deep America!’” Even though this was the Moroccan musician’s first trip to the United States, he already knew a lot about the country’s major cities as well as American music and U.S. history. But Nashville, Tennessee was the only name he recognized from our four tour stops.
The peaceful chanting of the Qur’an filled the Caravanserai van as we wound our way through the Tennessee countryside. After Brahim Fribgane connected a recording of the chant on his iPhone to the van’s audio system, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw peace on the faces of my fellow travelers, who were far from their home on an important religious holiday.