Guest: Salman Ahmad, guitarist, Junoon; author: Rock & Roll Jihad: A Muslim Rock Star's Revolution. Salman Ahmad is South Asia's biggest rock star (which is saying something, since South Asia is home to around two billion people). With more than 30 million record sales, Salman is not just popular, he's GOOD - a terrific guitar player and visionary who's always pushing the artistic and communicative envelope.
I read Rock and Roll Jihad compulsively, cover to cover. It's an amazing story: A Pakistani teenager in New York falls in love with rock n' roll, is dragged back to Pakistan by relatives who want him to be an M.D....and the rest is history.
I'm about the last person on earth who'll ever fall for "hooray for American popular culture as it does battle with fanatical medieval Islam" stories. But that's not what this is about. Salman Ahmad is not some kind of red-white-and-blue cultural warrior doing battle with the mullahs. He's an intensely spiritual, thoughtful Muslim who has a "junoon" (creative obsession) with music, and a knack for peace-making and cultural bridge-building. The fallout from his musical obsession, as he takes enormous risks to pursue his musical muse in an ever-changing Pakistani (and American) political and cultural landscape, and manages to hang onto his values in trying circumstances, is the greatest rock and roll story I've ever read.