One of Salman Ahmad’s earliest gigs was a talent show at King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Pakistan, where he was studying to be a doctor. Moments after he strummed his first chords, Islamic fundamentalists barged in, smashed Ahmad’s guitar and drum set, and broke up the show.
Ahmad quipped that he wasn’t scared as much as confused about the incident. “I thought rock musicians were supposed to break their own instruments,” he said with a smile.
Little did they know at the time, but those fundamentalists helped spawn the international stardom of a performer whose faith-based music reaches millions of Muslims, prompting comparisons to another do-good rocker, U2’s Bono.
Perhaps more important, by promoting interfaith understanding, Ahmad has become a pivotal figure in the war between moderate and extremist Islam.