Approximately 1.6 billion Muslims around the world observe Ramadan, a month of spiritual rejuvenation, humility, and togetherness, and the holiest period of the Muslim year. Whilst the fundamentals will remain the same for many of those observing Ramadan, each country has its own cultural nuances, as shown by new data from Spotify.
The rise of Nasheeds and Maher Zain
Audio and spirituality are intricately connected to provide inspiration, an outlet for expression or to create the right atmosphere for prayer and contemplation.
Last Ramadan, Spotify saw a 68% increase worldwide in streams in nasheeds (Islamic devotional songs or spiritual hymns) during April than the previous month. This trend is expected to continue this year and based on streams in March 2022, Egypt is streaming nasheeds more than any other Arab country followed by Morocco and Saudi Arabia.
There are also clear listening trends on Spotify that reflect how the Muslim community around the world embraces Ramadan. Lebanese-Swedish R&B singer Maher Zain was one of the most streamed artists with Ramadan-related songs last April. His song Ramadan, the english version, saw more than a 1000% increase in listens in Egypt, United Arab Emirates, and Jordan during Ramadan last year followed by his song Ya Nabi Salam Alayka which witnessed a 134% increase in Egypt alone.
Interestingly, Zain’s songs in different languages also appealed to different Muslim communities around the world such as Assalamu Alayka, arabic Version, in France, UK, USA and Morocco and Neredesin, in Turkey, Germany and Indonesia. Whilst spiritual British singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Sami Yusuf’s track You Came to Me, trended in the US with a 260% increase in the same time frame.
A month defined by tranquillity on Spotify
Muslim communities globally are creating user-generated playlists of their favourite nasheed and spiritual music, with Ramadan related words such as zikir (remembrance), ilahi (divine), hati (heart) and doa (supplication) to share with friends and family to soundtrack the month.
Each year, Spotify refreshes its dedicated Ramadan Destination offering content for every Ramadan moment throughout the day whether it’s nostalgic Ramadan songs, Oud soundscapes, or health and fitness podcasts.
Looking ahead to Ramadan this year, streams for Chill-oud have risen over 260% in March across Egypt when compared to streams in January-February of this year. Whilst Stargazer, an instrumental playlist, continues to be a popular Ramadan associated playlist in Egypt with streams skyrocketing 40% in the same time frame. Ramadan Spirit, a playlist featuring known amdah and anashid, is also popular in Egypt. With families and friends gathering around their TVs to catch their favorite Ramadan series, it was not surprising to see the Ramadan Series gaining momentum.
Those observing Ramadan are also turning to podcasts for an audio journey of self-reflection. Spotify has curated a list of podcast recommendations for listeners in Egypt. There is a top five list of must listen to podcasts this Ramadan including Juha, 1001 Nights, Mindful Muslimah Speaks, The Kitchen Counter, and Sukoun.