“Fear and Faith Cannot Coexist”

25/09/2020

Yunus Emre Institute hosted the star of soul music Della Miles for the program "Rethinking, Reinterpreting”. Sharing the same stage with Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston for a long time, the US singer Della Miles shared previously-unheard information about her life story and career journey. During the program presented by English journalist Lauren Booth, Miles talked about why she liked Turkey and chose Islam. 

Yunus Emre Institute hosted the queen of soul rock music Della Miles on September 17, 2020. In the program presented by English journalist Lauren Booth living in Istanbul, Della Miles addressed her music, life, love for Turkey and journey towards becoming a Muslim. Broadcasted in Turkish and English, the program was watched by thousands of people.

Sharing the same stage with Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston for a long time, the US soul rock singer Della Miles stated that she came to Turkey for the first time nearly 10 years ago. She said that she did not have any expectation before she came to Turkey but everything changed when she arrived.

Converting to Islam in 2019, Miles purchased a house in Dalyan, Muğla to strengthen her ties with Turkey. There are Turkish songs sung by Miles, who started learning Turkish.

"COMING HERE WAS ONE OF OUR BEST EXPERIENCES"

Indicating that she gave a concert in Çeşme when she first came to Turkey, Miles said: "We have made new friends here. Our taste improved with food. Owing to the weather, sun and the kindness of people, we feel the same with the friends coming with me. Coming here was one of our best experiences."

Lauren Booth also touched upon her first experience with Turkey as follows:

"When I got to know Muslim communities nearly 10-15 years ago, I attended a dinner. That is what I wrote in my diary: I felt like a strange adult among sweet children."

"SACRIFICE COMES TO MY MIND ABOUT TURKISH PEOPLE"

Della Miles: Türkiye ile ilgili sanırım “fedakâr” kelimesi akla geliyor, yani veren. Dünyada çok iyi insan var ama herkes vermeye gönüllü değil.

Responding to Booth's question as to what the difference was for her when compared to other countries, Miles answered:

"What comes to my mind regarding Turkey, I guess it is the word "self-sacrificing" or, in other words, "altruistic". There are many good people in the world but not everyone is willing to give. One night, I needed a candle, which was not available at home. I went to the market, it was not available there, either. Someone working there came and said, “Wait a minute". He went home and brought me a candle. Then, he said goodbye and saw me off. There are many stories like this. I wanted to prepare something like an omelet one evening when I was working late. I also wanted to use tomatoes and onions. But there was nothing in the fridge. There is a place serving kebab around, they had tomatoes and onions. I went there and I said "I do not want kebab but I want to buy onions and tomatoes." He put them all in the bag and said "Goodbye" to me. He did not take my money. There are so many similar examples that this is something I experience very frequently in Turkey."

"COMING TO TURKEY WAS MY BENEDICTION AND LUCK"

Della Miles said that coming to Turkey was an important turning point in her life. Stating that this was part of her destiny, Miles said, “My mother always said: “Whatever will be, will be. While God gives abundance, He turns abundance into benediction." It was a great blessing for me to come to Turkey. Actually, someone else would have come to Turkey instead of me. But she could not make it. That is why they called me. So this was my benediction and fortune."

That is how Lauren Booth interpreted the remarks of Miles: "That is what Muslims say: "If Allah has a plan for you, you are always guided towards that path. We call it the destiny of Allah.”

"FEAR AND FAITH CANNOT COEXIST IN A BODY"

During her concert in Konya in December 2019 under the International Commemoration Ceremonies for the 746th Ultimate Union Anniversary, Della Miles sang two songs called "Mustafa" and "Bismillah".

Stressing that she liked giving concerts in Turkey very much and the COVID pandemic also affected her, Miles said: "It was very good until COVID. It set us all back a little bit. Despite it, I am giving concerts. I have started singing again for the last two months. I feel very happy about this. When I sing in Turkey before or after COVID, my Turkish listeners always carry their hearts with them. They are such nice people. As singers, we draw strength from the audience."

Addressing the connection of being tender-hearted with faith, Lauren Booth asked the following question to Miles: "What do you think faith does to the human heart? What are your thoughts on it? What is your faith?" This is her answer:

Della Miles: İnanç ve korku aynı anda olamaz. Dolaysıyla benim inancım çok uzun yıllar evvel başladı. Annem şundan bahsediyor, korku bu dünyanın korkusu, yani bu dünyada yaşanan şeylerin korkusu. Ondan korkmuyorsun, Allah’a bırakıyorsun. Zaten kontrol onda. Bu senin inancın, eğer inanırsan korkmazsın.

“My journey of faith started when I was little. I grew up in a religious family. We used to go to church with my mother 3-4 days a week. My mother is a very strong and faithful person. As I have always said, there is only one God. We call Him Allah. I believe these two are the same. The person my mother talked about and the creator she taught me are the same. My faith started with my mother. At those times, I started believing in God and growing up with faith. When I was young, I always said I was very excited when I was on stage. My mother used to say: Did you pray? Yes, I prayed. So, do you believe in your prayer? Yes, I do. So, do you have faith? Yes, I do. Faith and fear cannot coexist. Therefore, my faith started long years ago. What my mother talks about is that fear is the fear of this world or, in other words, the fear of what is experienced in this world. You are not scared of Him and you entrust yourself to Allah. He's already in control. This is your faith and if you believe, you will not be fearful. My mother raised six children. I have followed my faith many times."

A STORY FULL OF CHALLENGES

Miles answered Lauren Booth's question about how reputation affected her:

“Beauty in art actually brings about ugliness. I always say this. Actually, I love singing a lot and I love being on stage very much. I would like to give something from myself. But this business itself is ugly. However, I never lost faith in myself. I remember what I said to my mother when I became an adult: 'I will go to California, I will be a star.' Then, she asked me: 'OK. How will you go?" And I said: "I will go there with all the money I have." I would have gone there by bus. A young girl would take a bus from Houston-Texas all the way down to California. My mother said: "Definitely not!" and bought a plane ticket for me. She knew that I would go and therefore, she wanted me to be safe. I had a friend there and we did not have any relationship. He was a man and I was a woman. He said: 'You can stay with me, no problem about it. You can stay in my room and I lie on the sofa.' While staying there, I was trying to find my way. Los Angeles is a big city and California is a very big city. I tried to meet people and they started calling me to sing in the studio. My friend saw this. And first of all, I did not know he fell in love with me. I really did not know. Anyway, let me cut it short. Then, he told me to get out one day. I had a blue suitcase. I packed my suitcase, put it next to my bed and slept like a baby. The next day, I took a shower. I sat on my bed and thought what would happen then. I did not know where to go. Then, someone called me on the phone. She was a woman I met through him. She said: 'I will go out of town for 6 months, I have an apartment and I have a car, but my daughter is 5 years old and will stay at home. I need someone to take my daughter to school. Would you stay home and take my daughter to school?' I immediately accepted her offer. I took her child to school for those 6 months. I met people and worked a lot of jobs. 6 months later, I rented my own apartment.”

DO NOT LET THE GLAMOUR OF THE MUSIC WORLD DECEIVE YOU

Stating that the glamorous image of the music industry was not real, she responded to the following question of Lauren Booth: "You worked with Whitney Houston. She had a great voice. Based on your church background, do you have any warning to the youngsters who would like to make their way into the music industry?" Miles gave the following answer:

“Do not believe in this exciting image. The artists' biggest problems are that we are princesses, princes, queens and kings during the tours and everything is granted to us. We do not do anything. Everything is offered to us. Business class, red carpets... But when this tour is over, you go home, you have to look in the mirror and live with the person in front of you. Many artists cannot handle this. They cannot bear to accept this false feedback. The audience are chanting 'I love you' but sometimes I want to say this. Do you like what you see? You like what you know about me, you love music, but you do not know me. It is a different kind of love. All the artists believe in this and when they go home, they are alone. Even if they have families, they do not know how to close this gap. I would like to thank Whitney for that because I learned a lot from her. I noticed this when I got home. I wash my own dishes and I do my own stuff. There is a huge difference between these two situations. Do not believe in this exciting image and do not believe in that excitement.

I HEARD AZAN FOR THE FIRST TIME IN TURKEY

Della Miles: What led me to be a Muslim was the philosophy of doing what one says. Set an example. That is what Allah wants from us. If we set an example, people want to know more.

Stressing that she heard azan for the first time in Turkey, Della Miles said: "When I heard azan for the first time in Turkey, I told my crew that it had to be heard in all cities. Even if you are not a believer, when you hear the azan or if you are thinking of doing something such as ending your life, the azan moves something in you and you give up. When I listen to the azan, I think: It is as if someone thinks about me and remembers me five times a day."

 

I WOULD LIKE TO PREPARE A TURKISH ALBUM

Telling Lauren Booth that she wanted to compose Turkish songs before the coronavirus pandemic, the famous singer Miles remarked:

“I definitely think about that. Before COVID, we were actually talking about this. Now, it has become an agenda item for us again. I do not think that I will be able to prepare all songs in Turkish but there will be some Turkish songs for sure."

Stating that she had a great interest in psychology, Della Miles said, “I worked with psychologists. I have a tendency to psychologically analyze people who leave their home and school because of bad behaviors. I can see who will change the situation in a group. I am trying to reach that person and I think s/he can affect everyone in the form of a ripple effect. I am using it for the audience and trying to understand how I should react to them.”

THE PHILOSOPHY OF "DO WHAT YOU SAY" WAS WHAT DIRECTED ME TOWARDS ISLAM

Lauren Booth asked: "We had the opportunity of seeing different places due to our travels. But it saddens me that other people do not have such an access. So how can we get closer to them and make them kinder through faith?” Della Miles answered this question as follows:

Della Miles: What led me to be a Muslim was the philosophy of doing what one says. Set an example. That is what Allah wants from us. If we set an example, people want to know more.

What led me to be a Muslim was the philosophy of doing what one says. Set an example. That is what Allah wants from us. If we set an example, people want to know more. How can a person growing up in Texas know about Islam? Because I did not grow up in this environment. But when this person put me in the situation I was in, I wondered about the moral background behind this behavior. In other words, we should set an example first." Stating that she wanted to learn religious knowledge after she converted to Islam, Della Miles said: "I plan every day as they come. I have to move forward day by day in terms of private life and my own spiritual improvement.” Lauren Booth also referred to Imam al-Haddad's book "The Book of Assistance" and the phrase in the book, "If you do very different things in small blocks, power will not run away from you." Miles confirmed this by stating that sometimes a song could be completed at the studio in 30 minutes.

"DO NOT BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU HEAR; COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELF"

During the Operation Peace Spring, American singer Della Miles visited Akçakale district of Şanlıurfa and came together with the people of Akçakale.

Emphasizing that there were many unsubstantiated claims about Turkey in the foreign press and indicating that she informed her family about Turkey, Miles said: "They do not know anything but I am their dictionary. They learn all information on Turkey from me. I am telling them how nice Turkey is. In particular, the German media was saying very bad things about Turkey. I was telling my family to visit the country. Do not always believe in what you hear. It is obvious that each big city has its own peculiar problems and we are all human beings. Therefore, every country experiences the same bad things, every country has the same mistakes but every country has its specific good characteristics, too. It is bad to generalize. I grew up in Texas. They ask me: 'Is everybody drawing a gun to each other there?' I grew up in Texas but I have never seen a gun. Therefore, go and see for yourself if you want to get information on a place.

MOSQUE IS A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE TURN TO THEMSELVES

Lauren Booth asked: "How did you feel when you went to a large mosque? How did you feel when you first visited the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and how do you feel when you visit such places?" Della Miles responded: "It was so beautiful that you felt very good. All worries and bad thoughts are left behind. You go there, turn to yourself and become one with Allah. When your mother tells you to go to your room and think, I think this is the mosque for me. I go there and think to myself 'What have I done and am I doing for Allah and my family."

COVID LED TO MANY GOOD THINGS

There are a lot of negative thoughts about Covid. For example, I lost more than 50 concerts. But such things happen and we were meant to experience this. While I was in Dubai and things started getting worse, my son would have studied online. He arrived in Dubai and the airport was shut down. I brought my son home. My son and I had our most pleasant time. We spent 3 months together, just the two of us. I thank Allah for this period of time. Fathers started spending time with their wives and children. At least, the ties of families got stronger.

Della Miles said that she would continue to sing in a concert hall in Bodrum every Saturday until the end of October.