13 Eid songs to listen to during the holiday: from Umm Kulthum and Sami Yusuf to Tamer Hosny and Yusuf Islam

Songs of celebration have been performed by a wide variety of artists over the years

From left to right: Singers Umm Kulthum, Yusuf Islam and Tamer Hosny are some of the artists who sang odes to Eid. AFP
From left to right: Singers Umm Kulthum, Yusuf Islam and Tamer Hosny are some of the artists who sang odes to Eid. AFP

The Eid song has a special place in the region.

Where normally religious tracks are mostly sung by artists from the nasheed genre, songs celebrating the Eid holidays have also been created by pop stars since Umm Kulthum in 1939.

It’s not hard to understand why. Eid songs, with their message of joy, family and hope, are perfect foil for some of these stars and a welcome opportunity to ditch the love songs and appeal to a family-friendly audience.

From an Kulthum classic to South Africa’s Zain Bhika and “The Muslim Justin Bieber”, here are 13 songs to soundtrack your Eid holidays:

1. 'Ya Leilet El Eid' by Umm Kulthum

One of the most renowned singers from the region, Kulthum needs no introduction. This 1939 song resonates even 80 years later – and is a staple in many Arab households on the eve of Eid.

The song begins with lyrics welcoming the holidays and how it "warms our hearts" and renews our hopes.

2. ‘The Beloved’ by Yusuf Islam

Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, released this in 2006 as part of his comeback album An Other Cup. The Beloved is a sublime folk song in line with the Eid spirit.

Gratitude courses through the lyrics as Islam traces the characteristics of the Prophet Mohammed and his message of mercy and compassion for all. “He was born to be the beloved, he was born to be kind.”

3. 'Ahlan Ahlan Bel Eid' by Safaa Abu Al Saud

Sung in the Egyptian dialect, this one from the early 1980s is dedicated to children and comes with a cheerful video. With parents passing on the song to the next generation, it remains a favourite of the festive season today.

As well as being a renowned actress, Al Saud was also well known for her roles in children's musicals and plays.

4. 'Eid Song' by Sami Yusuf

Considered a family-friendly classic of Yusuf's rich body of work, Eid Song, from 2005, is full of joyful imagery of children preparing for and celebrating Eid.

“Children are wearing new clothes and bright colours fill the streets,” he sings. “Their faces full of laughter. Their pockets full of sweets. Let us rejoice indeed, for this is the day of Eid.”

5. 'Assalamu Alayka' by Maher Zain

A standard for Islamic celebration, expect this song to be shown repeatedly on regional channels across the Eid holidays.

Despite it being a decade old, having been released in 2012, this beautiful ode to Prophet Mohammed by the Swedish-Lebanese singer Zain continues to tug at the heart strings.

6. 'El Lila Eid' by Saber Rebai

The Tunisian pop star brings his musical nous for this jubilant Eid anthem from 2015.

Over celebratory percussion and swirling strings, Rabei looks forward to the holidays with all the joy and great meals it brings.

7. 'Ahlan bil Eid' by Al Thulathi Al Mareh

This is an Egyptian favourite because of its memorable melody and cheerful lyrics.

It was sung in the mid-1980s by the all-girl band Al Thulathi Al Mareh (The Triple Fun Squad), made up of Wafa Mustafa, Saffa Lutfi and Sana Al Baroni, a group that was most famous throughout the 1950s.

8. 'Min Almayadeen wa Min Alfaizeen' by Mohammed Abdu

Saudi singer Abdu is known as "The Artist of the Arabs" and this song from the 1970s is especially popular in the Gulf region.

"Min almayadeen wa min alfaizeen" is a common greeting during Eid, which translates to “we wish you enjoy many Eids and gain their blessings”.

If someone greets you with this phrase, the perfect response is "wa min alghanmeen, wa alsalmeen”, meaning “we wish you good blessings and good health”.

9. 'Eid-un Sa'Eid' by Zain Bhikha

The title translates to "happy Eid" and this sweet track from 2010 has become a favourite for many Muslim communities living in the West.

While the song by the South African singer is a rallying cry for children to get excited about Eid, the enthusiasm rubs off on young and old.

“It's a time of happiness, a time of joy,” Bhikha croons. “Thank you Allah for this blessed day.

10. 'Kol ‘am wa antum bekhair' by Talal Maddah

Premiering on Saudi television in 1982, this anthem by Saudi singer Maddah remains popular today in the wider GCC.

Its appeal lies in the simple lyrics and rhythm. The song is named after the common Arab Eid greeting "kol ‘am wa antum bekhair", which means “we wish you goodness every year".

11. ‘Sheilat Al Eid’ by Fahad Al Aibani

Released for Eid Al Fitr in 2020, it’s not hard to see why this song by Kuwaiti singer Fahad Al Aibani became a hit across the Gulf.

This is a giddy Khaleeji pop number that not only conjures the excitement of the occasion but it has a melody destined to become an earworm.

12. ‘Hatakbar’ by Tamer Hosny

Many Eid songs have been composed with children in mind.

For Eid Al Fitr last year, Egyptian pop star Hosny performed a tender ballad dedicated to Egyptian youth, imploring them to dream big and study hard.

Not exactly the typical Eid message, but his young fans lapped it up.

13. 'Eid Mubarak' by Harris J

Dubbed at the time as the “Muslim Justin Bieber”, British singer Harris J delivered his nod to Eid in 2015 with an RnB vocal style The Biebs would have appreciated.

"Friends and families all joined together," he coos. "Smiles and laughter all around us shining through."

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Updated: May 9, 2021 01:34 PM

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