And everyone in this New York Times story is scratching his head over why he did it, but the answer is plain: for whatever reason, whether it be the jihad in Syria or something else, he became more fervent in his commitment to Islam, and thus began to take seriously texts like these:
Hadith Qudsi 19:5: "The Prophet said that Allah commanded him to destroy all the musical instruments, idols, crosses and all the trappings of ignorance." (The Hadith Qudsi, or holy Hadith, are those in which Muhammad transmits the words of Allah, although those words are not in the Qur'an.)
Muhammad also said:
(1) "Allah Mighty and Majestic sent me as a guidance and mercy to believers and commanded me to do away with musical instruments, flutes, strings, crucifixes, and the affair of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance."
(2) "On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will pour molten lead into the ears of whoever sits listening to a songstress."
(3) "Song makes hypocrisy grow in the heart as water does herbage."
(4) "This community will experience the swallowing up of some people by the earth, metamorphosis of some into animals, and being rained upon with stones." Someone asked, "When will this be, O Messenger of Allah?" and he said, "When songstresses and musical instruments appear and wine is held to be lawful."
(5) "There will be peoples of my Community who will hold fornication, silk, wine, and musical instruments to be lawful ...." -- 'Umdat al-Salik r40.0
That was the first step. Then he also had to take seriously texts like these, all from the Qur'an:
"And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter..." -- 2:191
"They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them..." -- 4:89
"Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle - nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning)." -- 7:179
"Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies..." -- 8:60
"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." -- 9:5
"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." -- 9:29
"Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens..." -- 47:4
"Those who reject (Truth), among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures." -- 98:6
"Once a ‘King of Romance,’ Now an Angry Militant," by Ben Hubbard for the New York Times, July 27 (thanks to Block Ness):
SIDON, Lebanon — His success was a dream come true for this tough port city on the Mediterranean coast: a poor kid whose honeyed voice and ballads of love and heartbreak rocketed him to wealth and fame far from the gun-ridden neighborhood where he grew up.
The transformation of Fadel Shaker has raised dire questions about how the civil war in Syria has inflamed splits in Lebanese society.
More recently, Mr. Shaker has grown a scruffy beard and has taken up with a hard-line sheik.
Fadel Shaker became a superstar, hailed as “the king of romance,” his songs wooing masses throughout the Arab world. He bought a vast, three-story villa with a swimming pool overlooking the city, cars, a private orchard and a beachfront restaurant where he performed at parties.
Then last year, in a move that has baffled fans and friends alike, he renounced popular music as forbidden by Islam, grew a scruffy beard and took up with a hard-line sheik.
Last month during a deadly turf battle with the Lebanese Army in a Sidon suburb, he denounced his enemies as dogs and pigs and boasted that his group had killed two men.
He has not been seen in public since, and is believed to be in hiding from the authorities in the refugee camp near where he grew up.
The transformation of Mr. Shaker, 44, (pronounced SHACK-er) from a baby-faced crooner to an angry militant has left many here dumbfounded and others angry, and raised dire questions about how the civil war in Syria has inflamed splits in Lebanese society.
“We were all shocked,” said Ahmed al-Naaj, a waiter in Mr. Shaker’s former restaurant. “Why would a famous singer that the whole world knows change all of a sudden like that?”
While even those close to Mr. Shaker cannot fully account for his turnabout, most people here see it as yet another symptom of worsening sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
For years, many in this majority Sunni Muslim city have complained of the growing clout of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that is Lebanon’s most powerful political force. But the civil war in neighboring Syria brought relations to a new low, with Hezbollah intervening to support President Bashar al-Assad and the Sunnis backing the rebels fighting for his overthrow.
Those issues clearly rankled Mr. Shaker, a Sunni, and accelerated his militancy.
“God willing, we’ll take what we deserve with our own hands, because there is no state, there are no judges, there is nothing,” he threatened in a live television interview shortly before his disappearance. “We’re living in the jungle.”
Mr. Shaker’s early life in many ways resembled the script of an Arab television melodrama. Born to a Lebanese father and a Palestinian mother, he grew up in a poor neighborhood adjacent to the Ain el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon. He never finished high school, but his neighbors discovered his musical talent early and booked him to sing at weddings.
As his fame spread, he gave larger concerts in Lebanon and abroad, releasing albums and music videos that made him a household name throughout the Arab world. His hits included romantic ballads like “O Absent One,” “I Forgot to Forget You” and “Come, My Love.”
His former chauffeur, Hani al-Sin, said that Mr. Shaker had been religious but not zealous. He prayed, but his restaurant served alcohol, and Mr. Shaker liked to play cards, which some strict Muslims consider sinful.
The first changes came gradually. A few years ago, he informed the restaurant staff without explanation that alcohol would no longer be sold there. Some of his friends attributed the decision to family pressure. His mother was devout, and his older brother, Abdel-Rahman, had joined the Sunni militant group Jund Al-Sham.
In 2010, Mr. Shaker took the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. He accepted fewer performances after his return and announced last year that he would sing pop music no more.
Other signs of religiosity followed. He let his beard grow and performed religious ballads at mass rallies held by Sunni groups in support of the Syrian rebels.
He also took up with a local firebrand sheik, Ahmad al-Assir, who had gained notoriety for calling for the disarming of Hezbollah and orchestrating media stunts to draw attention to his cause. Sheik Assir also spoke in support of Syria’s rebels, once traveling to Syria, where he was filmed firing a machine gun from a rooftop.
Mr. Shaker became a regular at Sheik Assir’s mosque and appeared with him in public and on television talk shows. During one interview, Mr. Shaker sang a jihadist anthem, declaring, “Do not cry for me if I fall, for death does not scare me and I intend to die a martyr.”
Underpinning Mr. Shaker’s new activism was a sense of Sunni empowerment. Lebanon’s Sunnis have complained of marginalization, and many have taken inspiration from their brethren in Syria to assert themselves in Lebanon.
Samih Arnaout, a longtime associate of Sheik Assir’s mosque, said the sheik explained his outspokenness with an Arab proverb: “Every rooster crows atop his pile of trash.”
The sheik felt that the Sunni political leaders were failing to defend their community. “So he said, ‘I’m going to crow,’ ” Mr. Arnaout recalled.
Other Sunni leaders feared such activism would create a violent backlash and sought to steer Mr. Shaker away from it. Ahmed al-Jardali, a leader in the Lebanese branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sidon, said he tried to persuade Mr. Shaker to focus his piety on spiritual songs.
Hani al-Sin, a former chauffeur, in what remains of Mr. Shaker’s villa. Mr. Shaker is now believed to be hiding from the authorities in a refugee camp.
“Someone like Fadel could send a message much better than someone holding a rifle, so it was important for us to try to put him in the right place,” Mr. Jardali said. “But then the problems started and it was too late for him to choose a different direction.”
Last month, clashes broke out between the Lebanese Army and gunmen inside Sheik Assir’s mosque. Each side accuses the other of instigating the violence, and Sheik Assir’s followers claimed that Hezbollah fought alongside the army. More than two dozen people were killed in two days and more than 100 were wounded, most of them soldiers.
The sheik and Mr. Shaker have not been seen since, but in a video posted online, Mr. Shaker, his beard specked with gray, raised two fingers and spoke into the camera.
“We sent home two corpses for you yesterday, you dogs, you pigs,” he said. Someone off camera told him 16 soldiers had been wounded, and he responded, “May God increase their number!”
Mr. Shaker’s pride at fighting the army enraged many of his fans, and other prominent musicians denounced him.
“Sure, you can give up music and decide to be religious, but that doesn’t mean you can shoot at people,” said Azzam al-Mal, 20, who was fixing a computer in a small music store in Sidon’s old stone-walled market....