In a lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, he stated that he met a relative of John Coltrane who told him that Coltrane believed in Islam. This is also confirmed by academics such as Moustafa Bayoumi of Brooklyn College, City University of New York, who states that in Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” one can hear Coltrane and one of his bandmates chanting “Allah Supreme.” Other scholars, such as Dr. Hussein Rashid of Hofstra University, also have studied the effects that Islam has had on Blues, Jazz, and other forms of American music. You can read some of Dr. Rashid’s work here.
Coltrane, a deeply spiritual musician, married his second wife Juanita Naima Grubbs in 1957 and through her came into contact with Islam. It is also for her that he wrote the song entitled “Naima.”
In the inner linings of “A Love Supreme” Coltrane wrote:
“[d]uring the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music.” In his 1965 album Meditations, Coltrane wrote about uplifting people, “…To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life.”
Below is the recording of “A Love Supreme.” Listen carefully from 7:07 to 7:43 and feel lifted by Coltrane and his fellow musicians chanting like Sufi mendicants the praise of “Allah Supreme”. Whether one acknowledges Coltrane’s faith or not is ultimately irrelevant, for every listener and lover of his music is already a witness.
Below, for good measure, is one of Coltrane’s other classics, “In a Sentimental Mood”