Shahaab, Zafar, Saad, Omar and Saeed all hail from Detroit, USA. As 786, in the couple of years that they've been around, they have had tremendous success in North America and the UK with their slick harmonies and R&B inspired melodies. Nasheeds like 'Heaven's Keys' are deceptively profound while others like 'Palestine' tap into the sentiments of Muslims around the world.
They are guys who are comfortable with their Muslim and western identities and utilise both cultural influences in their songs. The contemporary sounds they generate are directly informed by a rich, spiritual Islamic heritage and influences from different parts of the world as well as different communities they have grown up with. The fusion makes for some distinctive nasheeds. Rap, Gospel, R&B, Qawwali, Soul are all absorbed into nasheeds evoking positive messages.
And yet it is only when you see them live that you truly begin to appreciate their art. Comfortable singing in English, Arabic and Urdu, these guys convey a passion and an intensity that has to be experienced to be believed - ask anyone who witnessed their shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham’s Symphony Hall!
On July 17, 1977 the world was introduced to Shahaab Nawa Quraishi. Shahaab was born in Livonia, Michigan and raised in Canton by his parents Nawa and Shahar Bano, with his younger brother Shaariq. They moved to Canton at the ripe old age of 13 months and have been there ever since. The Muslim Community of the Western Suburbs (MCWS) has been the other hand in raising Shahaab. "Alhumdulilah, I have been so blessed in my life. To have parents, like the ones I do; to have a little brother who is more than just a brother, he is a friend; and to have a community of Muslims who looked out for me as if I was their own son."
From an early age, the kids of the Quraishi family were put in front of the camera, and behind the microphone. "I still remember, my cousins and I used to make mini movies and dance videos when we were as young as 8 years old. I guess that was some pretty good foreshadowing there." All the early exposure to performing fostered the drive in Shahaab to sing. In early 1998, Shahaab started his first group. In preparation for a friends wedding, he put together a group of five guys (including himself) to sing at the event. The group, Soundz of Heaven, also included future 786-er Muhammad Saadullah. On the other end of town, there were two other guys who were known for their singing abilities as well. A friend of all four of theirs was getting married and that is what sparked the initial chemistry of the future group. Shahaab and Zafar got together and talked and ended up with a roster count of Saad, Omar, Zafar, and Shahaab. The four had an amazing harmony. But they wanted some guitar to be played while they sang at the wedding so they got Saad's little brother Saeed to play. In one practice, while they were singing and Saeed was playing the guitar, the harmony was instantly changed by the addition of an amazing note that magnified the sweetness of their sound. It was Saeed; 786 was born and the rest is history. Being the oldest of the group, Shahaab brings his experience and work ethic to the group. Lending a hand in song writing and producing, Shahaab is a key element to the on going chemistry of 786. With all that is happening around them, Shahaab and the guys stay grounded and humble. "We are using 786 as a tool for propagating Allah's message. Although we all love to sing, that is not the reason for the group. It is something we do well together and share a passion for. But more importantly we share a passion for being Muslim and spreading the message of Islam. None of us claim to be perfect, or that we do everything correctly, or even try to preach to others. We just want to open peoples eyes to what Islam truly is about and to tell the youth of this country that we know what you are going through and simply "we understand."
Syed Omar Razzacki was born September 30, 1981 in Fort Wayne, IN, second son to Syed Taher and Nafees Razzacki. In 1982, his family moved to Southeastern Michigan, and they've been there ever since. In 1999, Omar was accepted to the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, where he's now studying in preparation for law school.
One of Omar's most meaningful experiences took place in 1997, when he was given the opportunity to travel to Makkah and Madinah for the blessed journey of Umrah with his family. You can't move when you behold the beauty, majesty, and history of the Haramein standing right there before you. You never want to leave. It's the simplicity and tranquility of the masaajid even in the midst of two modernizing Saudi towns. I pray they're always preserved that way.
In the summer of 2001, Omar got the chance to sing with four guys who would return to play a significant role a year later. Along with Saad, Saaed, Shahaab, and of course his brother Zafar, he performed at a wedding in Hamilton, Ontario. These five would come together again in summer of 2002 in Ann Arbor, MI, and after a few group-name and personnel changes, to form today's 786 and record their first track, …YaAllah. The rest, as they say, is history. Despite the new position singing plays in Omar's life, as 786's projects are for the benefit of Muslims and in the Name of Allah, he continues to value the simple aspects of life before it became so busy. …I'm excited to get my degree, go to law school, make more Islamic music, and move on in life in sha'Allah, but sometimes I just want to unwind and check up on my best friends or toss around the football; it helps to clear my mind and to keep me motivated.
Omar also maintains that as beautiful as some music is, his preferred type of music remains the recitation of the Holy Qur'an or the adhaan. …I'd trade away all my vocal talents for the ability that most Qaris and mu'addhineen have to transcend our ears and convey the most powerful spiritual messages straight to our hearts.
Born to Syed Taher and Nafees Razzacki, Zafar spent his first four years in Ft. Wayne, IN. After the birth of younger brother Omar, the family moved and settled in Troy, MI. A shy young boy, Zafar slowly became involved in the local Islamic community at the Islamic Association of Greater Detroit. At home, his parents guided him with a strong focus on academics and athletics to complement the Islamic foundation that the family built at home. In school, he exhibited a knack for math and the sciences. After school, Zafar was busy playing tennis, soccer, and basketball.
It wasn't until college that Zafar developed a love for writing and performing music. This became a passion during his studies in Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan. His first attempt was participating in qawwali and nasheed at Muslim Students Association functions. This sparked a new interest in Indo-Pakistani devotional music such as naat and qawwali, as well as Arabic nasheed. While exploring this new area of musical interests, he continued to follow his favorites like Boyz II Men, ‹Å“NSync, and other groups that brought multiple voices together to build rich and smooth harmonies. Zafar began bringing these influences together, trying new ideas vocally by organizing a qawwali performance which playfully incorporated rap and hiphop. With audiences of up to 4,000 people, it was hard to resist the thrill of being on stage. While treating these endeavors as extra-curricular activities, Zafar quietly watched as others attempted to build vocalist groups and performed at MSA functions and other community activities. Then, Shahaab of then disbanded group …Soundz of Heaven extended an invitation to Zafar to sing with the group at a friend's wedding. After performing together on songs like ‹Å“NSync's …This I Promise You and PM Dawn's …I'd Die Without You the group decided to stay together and pursue something bigger. Zafar suggested directing the groups talents towards delivering an Islamic message to anyone that was willing to listen. The group agreed, deciding that would be the best way for the group to use the gift of voice and harmony that Allah had blessed them with. Thus, 786 began.
Once upon a time in Karachi Pakistan on February 5th, 1978 there was a birth of a baby boy to Muhammad Saadullah. He is the oldest of three-including the future 786er Saeed. After moving to the States in 1989, they decided to settle in Canton, Michigan. The Muslim Community of Western Suburbs (MCWS) was a great and loving community. Saad felt right at home. Since then the family has loved the community and decided to stay for good. At home Saad and his siblings have been raised with a strong background in Islam and the Pakistani culture. At school Saad found his niche in quite a few different areas. But he never gave up what he loved the most Singing, Art, and Soccer. At Eastern Michigan University he is a double major in Economics, and Fine Art, concentrating in Drawing- with future plans to go to Dental School which is in progress.
Saad took up singing very early in life. His first performance was at an art fair in Karachi, Pakistan at the age of 7. "Behind the confident little kid holding the mic was a very scared boy, I was very scared but I knew I couldn't show that to the public, and I knew it would interfere with my singing so I had to belt it out and do the best I could." When he moved to America, he and his cousins took up interests like qawwali and ghazals. Saad showed a passionate love for the tabla. "In the beginning we couldn't afford a tabla so we had to play on shoe boxes and Tupperware." He had a strong likeness for Jagjeet Singh ghazals. He also showed a very strong interest in rock music. Songs of the 80's were his favorite while growing up, some bands included Guns N'Roses, and Boyz II Men. As the 90's came around he expanded his horizons and started to explore different areas of music. In the 90's Saad particularly got into U2. He loved BonoÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â¹s style, and the grace that the band brought to the stage. Some of his all-time favorite songs are "November Rain" by GNR, "One" and "With or without you" by U2. Another unexpected interest popped up around 1996 when Oasis came out with their song called "Wonderwall". Oasis would go on to become one of Saads' favorite bands.
On his cousins wedding, four friends got together and decided to do what became 786 history! Jameel was getting married and Saad, Shahaab, Zafar, Omar, and Faisal decided to perform a love ballad by N'sync called "This I promise you." The way that the five of them sounded together was just wonderful, so they decided to actually do something beneficial with their voices and started a band called 786. Long hard days of working on songs and music finally paid off when they first went on stage in Austin, TX. "It was quite a big thrill to be performing in a different city with your friends." From there they got quite a few offers in different cities to do what they love to do. With the vast musical experience, Saad brings quite a flavor to 786. Along with Saeed, he prepares, and arranges all the music for 786. Having worked with quite a few producers, Saad has picked up a thing or two about the music industry, and sound. "There are a lot of projects that I'm working on at the moment, trying to expand my horizons as a singer."