Salman Ahmad — founder of the Pakistani rock band Junoon — regaled a packed audience with his music at the recently concluded Sharjah International Book Fair. A rock star with a conscience, Ahmad has evolved from his Pakistani roots into a global peace envoy with the United Nations, as well as a bold humanitarian activist, who has risen to the occasion when natural calamities overturned the lives of millions of his countrymen. The musician was there to help when a massive earthquake struck Pakistan in 2005. When unprecedented floods devastated vast stretches of his country, Ahmad and his wife Samina were around to help rebuild homes and lives. The couple has been knocking on all possible doors to promote women’s education in the conflicted Swat valley; a cause movingly highlighted by Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education activist who is battling for her life at a U.K. hospital.
Hoping to firmly ground their humanitarian and cultural aspirations, the couple launched the Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative (SSGWI) four years ago to promote interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue, global health and wellness issues and music education.
Ahmad made his appearance at the Sharjah book fair as an author whose writings evolved from the cataclysmic events of 9/11. His book Rock and Roll Jihad is an autobiographical work that hopes to eliminate the negative connotation of violence associated with the term jihad. “I published Rock and Roll Jihad after wrestling with the personal and social consequences of 9/11. All my life I wanted to perform music but after 9/11, I started asking myself what a Muslim artiste can do,” he told Khaleej Times.
Despite the departure of Ali Azmat and Brain O'Connell Ahmad soldiers along, without shedding the label Junoon, as a solo artist pursuing imaginative goals that easily transcend the narrow confines of pure music.