HIS release of the Quran-reading app, Mengaji.com, last May took many Malaysians by surprise, especially with his image and profession as a hip-hop artiste.
But that’s actually what Caprice, whose real name is Ariz Ramli, had in mind: breaking the stereotype of religious appearances.
“I notice that most Muslims in Malaysia judge a person’s level of religion based on appearances,” the 29-year-old said at the launch of nasyid group UNIC’s latest single, Sedar, which he was featured in, at Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur branch in Kampung Baru recently.
“People have asked me ‘How come a rapper can create an app for mengaji?’
“I replied: ‘The Internet has been around for 30 years, but how come no ustaz had done so before me?’”
Caprice said he met a Singaporean ustaz who had put up his religious class’ posters next to a nightclub, and was surprised to find his next class filled with the entertainment outlet’s Muslim patrons.
“It shows Islam isn’t just for an exclusive group of Muslims. Being more religious doesn’t mean you’re better than others. No one has the right to determine a man’s relationship with his God but the man himself.”
Caprice has been actively promoting Islam for five years through his Jihad In Education programme, in which he gives motivational talks at schools
Mengaji.com, which provides users with access to various ustaz to improve their Quran reading techniques, is his other approach.
It currently has 120,000 users. He is glad to have received testimonies from app users, saying that it has enriched their lives. “Even if it had attracted only one (user), I’d still consider myself victorious.”
Before Mengaji.com, Caprice had released an educational app in 2013, called Classruum.com.
He is working on a new one called Rajin.
“I wouldn’t want to be called an Islamic icon. I just want to help in any way I can to change and enhance people’s lives.”
The lyrics for the rap portion of Sedar, composed by Omar K, were written by Caprice.
“I’m very nervous about how Sedar will fare, as hip-hop and nasyid don’t exactly mix. I also wonder if nasyid fans in particular will be able to accept me,” he said, with a smile.
“Nevertheless, I’m positive that Sedar will be a breath of fresh air for the music scene.
“It has a powerful universal message about life and relationships,” he said.