India's Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar has denounced those who attack music in the name of Islam as the enemies of the faith."What more equisite expression of faith can there be than the aazan," he asked, referring to the musical call to prayer with an affirmation of the Muslim faith that is made everyday from mosques."The highest form of religion is expressed through music," Akbar said here on Tuesday at the inauguration of an exhibition on the life and times of M.S. Subbulakshmi, the famed Indian singer.As a Muslim, he said, he was saddened by some who are attacking music by invoking religion.Killing music would be "cultural suicide," Akbar said. Music has the power to heal, to glorify, and the fertility symbolised by music is to be honoured, he added.
The power of music is that it "brings out the universal in the individual", he said.Devotional Islamic songs were performed at a concert by A.R. Rahman that followed the opening of the exhibition. The soulful music appeared to affirm Akbar's assertions about music being the expression of faith.Speaking at exhibition's inauguration, UN Under Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu said, "At the UN we communicate with six languages with interpreters," but music is the "universal language without the need for interpreters." The exhibition was organised by India's Permanent Mission to the UN and the Sankara Nethralaya, a civil society organisation that runs eye hospitals and educational and research institutions.Photographs show Subbulakshmi's career, her major performances, meetings with world leaders and the concert at the UN in 1966.
India's Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin recalled that Subbulakshmi had sung the Sanskrit hymn "Maithreem Bhajatha," at the UN and it captured the "essences of humanity" -- the renunciation of war, the cultivation of peace and the ideals of sustainable development.Earlier, along with India's Consul General Riva Ganguly Das, Akbar rang the closing bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange, an honor for India's Independence Day. The market's index soared 29 points or about half a percent to set a record at 5,262.In the morning, Akbar raised the national flag in front of the Indian Consulate General.The Empire State Building was lit up in the colours of the Indian national flag for the day.