"A Way of Life" was Zain’s first album. It was very well received and sparked the beginning of further independent album releases such as "Praise to the Prophet (P.B.U.H)" (1996), "Fortunate is He" (1997) and "The Journey" (1998). These albums fast became popular in South Africa and led him to his long-lasting relationship with mentor, Yusuf Islam, better known as Cat Stevens.
Working with Yusuf Islam under Mountain of Light ….(1999)
Yusuf Islam was working on a project close to his heart entitled “A is for Allah”. As chance would have it, he heard Zain’s songs from The Journey and believed that Zain could contribute by lending his voice to some of the songs. In 1999, Zain flew to the United Kingdom to join Yusuf Islam’s Mountain of Light Studios - a lifelong dream for him. It was during the production of this album that Zain was brought on board as an artist under Mountain of Light’s cultural label, Jamal Records. With the backing of Jamal Records, Zain stretched his wings further through the worldwide release of two compilation albums incorporating all material he had done thus far. These albums were entitled Children of Heaven and Towards the Light, featuring a number of remixed songs.
Under the guidance of Mountain of Light and through the global distribution power of Jamal Records, Zain released Faith in 2001. The songs on this album deal with a broad spectrum of emotions from hardships to happiness, invoking a constant consciousness of the Almighty. The album also brought about collaborations between Zain and close friend and well-loved Canadian singer and songwriter, Dawud Wharnsby Ali. Their duets, Wonderful World and Glory be to Allah are still amongst the most recognizable of all Zain’s releases
With his popularity rising and live performances around the globe, Zain Bhikha released Our Worldin 2002. This album is a portrayal of the diversity of mankind and the richness of all cultures, languages and traditions that are united through the Will of God. Zain’s eldest son, Rashid’s, melodic voice is introduced to us on this album. The title track Our World has been used by many production companies over the years and is a song that has been adopted by many world peace organizations. Other favorites from Our World are the heartfelt track Salaamun Salaam with Khalid Berhlouzi, Selewaat with Malaysian group Raihaan and Orphan Child.
With the birth of his new company came the first album to be produced under the Zain Bhikha Studios label, Mountains of Makkah (2005). This album was inspired by Zain’s pilgrimage to Makkah in 2004. Both the content and composition of this album have been praised for showing a maturity and a stronger definition of Zain’s unique voice. The lyrics are a reflection of his thoughts and feelings while partaking on the profound spiritual journey of the Hajj. Mountains of Makkah is still amongst the most popular Nasheed CD’S ever released. Undoubtedly it remains one of Zain’s most powerful albums. There is hardly a muslim the world over that does not know Zain Bhikha’s Mountains of Makkah
Most of Zain’s songs are inspired, written and composed through personal experiences and feelings. This is especially true of the heartfelt lyrics that resonate throughout his album following Mountains of Makkah. Allah Knows was released in 2006 as a tribute to his eldest son, Rashid. It is dedicated to the journey of children into young adults and is an album for the young (and young at heart) Allah Knows features the musical talents of Dawud Wharnsby, Abdul-Malik Ahmad and Rashid Bhikha in his first ever rap song Can’t You See. In addition the album also introduces Naadira Alli and Zain’s second-born, Muhammad Bhikha who made his recording debut on this album. The album is a collection of songs to help the youth through the early mysteries of life and the social challenges that present themselves. Allah Knows has become iconic for its lyrics which resonate with people regardless of race or faith. My mum is Amazing, is one of Zain’s personal favorites of all his songs. This album also sparked the beginning of beautifully shot videos that have become a signature of Zain Bhikha’s music.
In 2009, marking fifteen years since his first independent debut album, A Way of Life, Zain released 1415. Earmarked by Zain’s recognisable mellow tones and accompanied by only drums and choral echo, 1415 pays tribute to Zain’s beginnings and offers twelve emotionally charged tracks including Mum and Dad, I Remember your Smile and the Prophets Faithful Friend. The album also features a fresh new approach to classic songs such as Fortunate is He. 1415 further includes collaborations with Abdul Malik of Native Deen, an Urdu classic duet with Dubai-based artist Hoosain, and the gripping song, Freedom Will Come. 1415 is a true tribute to the work of Zain Bhikha in its inspiring messages, quest for peace and remembrance of God.
First we need the Love was written by Zain, together with internationally acclaimed artist Khalil Ismail. This powerful duet featuring Zain’s son, Rashid, is about making a difference through love, and sparking that change by beginning with yourself. In a unique audio and video release featuring another trademark song, Who I am! The album, released in June 2010 received positive reviews worldwide. Zain’s motivation for the song was in celebration of South Africa’s multi-cultural society and, as an Islamic artist, to lend support to the country’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In his own words, “in the littlest or grandest of ways, you can change the world, you can make it better!”
Throughout his career, Zain’s most loyal fans have remained young children. As a father of four boys, he is passionate about invoking a sense of pride and identity amongst Muslim Children. This, together with the request to re-release some of his earlier songs resulted in an album especially for children, but with definite appeal for the whole family. Aptly entitled, A Way of Life, the album captures the essence of Zain Bhikha, with traditional nasheeds that tug at the heartstrings and strengthen the resolve towards faith. Interestingly, the album, which features Zain in collaboration with young artists as well songs by his second-born, Muhammad Bhikha, has the same title as his first album released in 1994. Featuring tracks such as A Way of Life, 25 Prophets, Although I never saw his Face, Give thanks to Allah, Welcome ‘O Ramadaan, Salaamun Salaam and the ever-popular Eid un Sa-Eid this album remains a family favorite.
In 2011, Zain produced Hope, an album that has a contemporary, urban mix with a strong resonance of African culture. The array of songs addresses various issues of humanity, that inspire a sense of positivity and Hope. Zain worked with some impressive local and international talents, including his 18-year old son Rashid. Other artists include American rapper Khalil Ismail, Fadi Tolbi of the Middle East and Canadian-born Dawud Wharnsby.
Songs on the Hope album took over three years to compose and produce. They include One God, in the traditional Nasheed style characteristic of Zain, a remake of Michael Jackson’s Heal the World, with a South African twist and Guantanamo Bay. The album also includes a beautiful a tribute to women through the Woman I love, which speaks of three different roles that women play in a man’s life that of mother, wife and daughter.
Better Day is a single that aims to inspire people to act against abuse and creates awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children. Zain wrote the song as part of the ‘Better Day Campaign’, which ran alongside the International 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign from 25 November to 10 December 2011.
The sounds of Zain Bhikha are legendary. They are synonymous with Faith, Hope and the need for global peace. Commemorating twenty years, Songs of a Soul captures the best of Zain Bhikha as voted by the fans. The CD’s are a timeline of memories that have shaped his work and have made him one of the most beloved nasheed artists of all times. Highlights of the CD are old favorites such as Mountains of Makkah, Allah Knowsand Zamilooni. However, his collaborations with long-time friends and fellow artists, Dawud Wharnsby, Khalid Belrhouzi and Khalil Ismail have also resulted in the outstanding new release Someday that will leave you with goose bumps. Also new, are King of the Worldand From Within. They capture Zain in the present and give the message of thanks and love that he feels after all these years.
Songs of a Soul- the DVD release, is unique in that it contains a triple disc with all Zain’s videos, a live show and an inspiring documentary that give insight to this artist who has touched the lives of millions of fans for the past twenty years.
Though Zain Bhikha’s music has always remained constant in its powerful messages of God-consciousness and social issues, his foresight in the Islamic Nasheed genre has proven time and again that he is willing to take the road less travelled, often setting the pace for other artists.
‘The Passing Traveller,’ is evident of this ‘true-to-yourself’ mindset that sets Zain Bhikha apart. Whilst, the trend for Islamic artists globally, is towards a more contemporary sound akin to mainstream music, Zain Bhikha comes full circle with this latest album. Having explored a variety of sounds throughout his career, his latest works offer deep introspection, spiritually moving tracks, and an a deeply purist feel. Undoubtedly, the songs on this latest album are classic nasheed, though highly sophisticated in their production, feel and messages.
Reflecting on the album, Zain says, “Over recent albums, I needed to look at more socially conscious material especially given the issues that face our world. However, as part of my own personal growth, these past years have been quite profound. Getting older brings about more contemplation and this coupled with a lot more Islamic and philosophical studying than I have done before, have helped me express myself in a way that is true to my nature. I’ve always said that life’s purpose is to grow and get closer to our Creator. If we can achieve that, then we are really living. For me, all of this growth is epitomized in this new album, one that I am very inspired by and hopefully it will inspire others as well”
Zain is pleased that ‘The Passing Traveller’, mirrors his spiritual journey. It is a labour of love that has been years in the making. The general feel of the album takes one back to the simplicity and beauty of ‘Mountains of Makkah’ and ‘Allah Knows’, but with a maturity that only comes through life experience.
The title, “The Passing Traveller’, seems to epitomize the feel of album as whole. It highlights our purpose on Earth as traveller’s towards an ultimate destination that is one with our maker. In fact, the track under the same name is so inspiring; it will move even the most ardent of hearts.
Other songs on the album include ‘Free’, a song that highlights freedom to the submission of the Almighty. Through its powerful message it instills the liberating feeling that Our Creator is near and always there for us. Another high note on ‘The Passing Traveller’ must be the sequel to Mountains of Makkah, a track aptly entitled ‘Land of Revelation’. It was written during Zain’s recent Umrah trip, when he felt so moved to be back in the Holy Cities that he felt the song almost wrote itself. Another track that is sure to become a firm favourite is ‘That Moment He Smiled” Based on a hadith about the day the Prophet (PBUH) passed away and a moment he had with his companions was so inspiring that Zain felt very moved to write this song.
The entire album serves to delight, and in true Zain Bhikha style, has songs that will garner the interest of all. Children will surely love ‘Ca Ce La Vie’ and ‘Allah made Everything’, whilst fans will surely be drawn to the powerful concept and imagery of ‘Allah Remains’, which was composed with Zain’s dear friend Dawud Wharnsby. Finally, as we reflect upon our Life’s purpose, smile, cry and rejoice in being Passing Travellers, we come to ‘Hasbunallah’, which teaches, as this album does, that Allah is enough and all that we ever need.