Dalia considers herself as an interfaith activist and peace bridge-builder between different faiths through her voice. Despite criticism, Dalia performed Christian sacred music inside churches in Egypt in several occasions in Arabic, English, French, Syriac and Latin.
Dalia considers herself as an interfaith activist and peace bridge-builder between different faiths through her voice. Despite criticism, Dalia performed Christian sacred music inside churches in Egypt on several occasions in Arabic, English, French, Syriac and Latin.
As a teenager, Dalia was first introduced to sacred music of other faiths by watching an online video for a Good Friday hymn by Lebanese Diva Fairouz. 15 years later, she became the first Muslim, veiled, Egyptian woman to perform Christian hymns in churches in Egypt.
How it began
Dalia performed sacred music in public for the first time when she was hosted on a TV show in early 2018 to congratulate Coptic Christians with Christmas. Videos from this episode were widely shared on social media with positive welcoming reactions from Christians who saw Dalia’s initiative as sincere, noble and tolerant.
This encouraged Dalia to take further steps in this project. She recorded the hymn "O Virgin Mary" inside Princeton University Church in America during her fellowship at Drew Institute Program on Religion and Conflict Transformation 2018 in Drew University, NJ, USA in the summer of 2018:
Later on the same year, she performed "Roses to you, Mary" at St. Joseph Church in downtown Cairo after Father Boutros Danial welcomed her inside an Egyptian church for the very first time:
Many media reports and articles on Dalia’s initiative to sing inside the church were misleading. Some claimed that Dalia only sings Christian songs, others claimed she sings during masses. This created a high wave of controversy on social media. Massive negative comments accused Dalia of ‘disfiguring Islam’ and even described her as a non-believer or apostate.
Nevertheless, Dalia was determined to clarify through her official channels that, although she’s very proud of what she did, she is a multidisciplinary artist and sacred music was only a part of her musical endeavors. As a practicing Muslim, Dalia doesn’t see a contradiction between her beliefs and singing other belief’s songs. She says: “Sacred music is a beautiful music genre that I like. It’s like when you admire and own a miniature of an ancient Egyptian god, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with the ancient Egyptians’ doctrine!”
Watch one of the best media reports on the topic from DW:
In 2019, Dalia started singing Christian songs in live performances. She was a guest performer at the "Together for Egypt ” interfaith dialogue program closing ceremony at Gusour Cultural Center, Cairo. During this performance, she proudly announced that she wrote an Arabic cover for the lyrics of St. Francis Prayer popularly known as “Make me a channel of your peace”:
Bishop Mounir Hanna endorsed Dalia’s suggestion to arrange a Christmas performance inside All Saints Cathedral in the same year where Dalia will sing Arabic Christmas songs for the first time. Here are some excerpts from the performance:
In 2020, joined by Klaxics members, Dalia performed at the interfaith Thanksgiving service at St. John the Baptist church, Cairo. During this performance, she presented another Arabic cover written by her for the Thanksgiving catholic hymn “For the beauty of the earth”:
In the same performance, she made an A Capella arrangement for her Arabic cover of “Make me a channel of your peace” that was selected by the International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM) to participate in the World Choral Music Day 2020:
In 2021, Dalia was a guest performer with Om El Nour Orchestra, the only Coptic Symphony Orchestra in Egypt, during their concert at Cairo Opera House. Watch one of the concert's songs:Later on the same year, she performed inside the historic Our Lady of Carmel church in Cairo. This was the first time that the church hosted a performance by a Muslim artist on the occasion of St. Francis' Day. Dalia performed a group of hymns to Virgin Mary, popular Franciscan hymns and humanitarian songs written by her. Here are some photos from the performance:
In the Christmas season of 2021, Dalia made history by performing at New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, first time in cathedral’s history to host a muslim Egyptian singer to sing Arabic Christmas carols. Read the press release and watch the concert below:
Dalia is keen on raising awareness on sacred music in different cultures. Seeing how Egyptians admired the hymn of Isis performed at the Golden mummy parade but struggling with the lyrics, she created a how-to video explaining the Ancient Egyptian Lyrics pronunciation that went viral on social media, making half a million views on facebook in only 2 months: