GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- A Grand Junction High School student is dropping out of choir rather than sing an Islamic song he says goes against his strong Christian beliefs.
The song is “Zikr,” and was written by internationally acclaimed composer A.R. Rahman.
Rahman won an Oscar and a Grammy for his songs in Slum Dog Millionaire. Zikr was written for a 2005 movie about an Indian independence leader. The song contains the phrase “There is no other truth but Allah.”
It's that phrase to which senior James Harper objects.
“This is worshipping another God” and prohibited by the Bible, Harper says.
But Imam Abdur-Rahim Ali, from the Northeast Denver Islamic Center says “Allah translated into English is only saying ‘the God, one God.” He says the student is misunderstanding the language.
“I think it’s a lack of knowledge," he says. "There’s some ignorance on his part concerning the name Allah. It’s the same God that Jesus prayed to, Moses prayed to, Mohammed prayed to.”
School District 51 stands by its decision to perform the song and says this is not the school endorsing or promoting any particular religion or other non-educational agenda. The school says the song, which has been performed by other schools, was chosen because of its rhythms and other qualities.
The composer tells FOX31 Denver the song is not intended for worship ceremonies, but respects the student’s decision to opt out of singing it.
Choir is a voluntary club.