Speed Reads

Jihadi hit factory

Islamic State has a de facto national anthem — and it's actually quite pleasant

ISIS has a whole branch dedicated to creating propaganda music, "almost like a Motown hit factory," British journalist Alex Marshall told Piya Chattopadhyay on Canadian public radio show Q. One song in particular, "My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared," has "become de facto the sort of national anthem" of Islamic State, a "massive tool of nation-building," Marshall said, though like the Taliban, "the whole concept of an anthem to them would be sort of anathema."

Nobody knows who works at the ISIS hit factory, Ajnad Media Foundation, which cranks out propagandistic "nasheeds," or a co-opted style of traditional Islamic vocal music. The lyrics are pretty terrible, in a jihadist sense, but "My Ummah, Dawn Has Appeared" isn't really a recruitment tool, Marshall says, since most people in the West don't speak Arabic and "the fact it sounds like sort of a yoga meditation tape isn't really going to appeal to foreign fighters."

But it is a slick, well-produced song. And it's actually quite pretty. The beginning of the song is "undeniably beautiful," Marshall writes in The Guardian. "Musically, it's better than just about any other religious song you could name." That's probably an overstatement — I'd take Schubert's "Ave Maria" any day, for example — but you can judge for yourself below or in the audio clip at Q. --Peter Weber