Diabate, himself a devout Muslim, explained simply that the song his "way to attract and inspire people toward Islam" according to MTV Multiplayer. "It is quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed (Peace on his Soul) in my country in Mali," he explained. "You can see this on television all the time," he added.
Unlike the Mohammed cartoon controversy of 2005, when images of the prophet were drawn against the explicit rules of the religion, music borrowing lines from the Qur'an does not break a rule but could be construed as offensive by certain interpretations.
"The idea of a prohibition that there shouldn't be verses of the Koran, in music... that's an implied or interpreted rule," said Dilshad Ali, a Muslim editor for religion site BeliefNet. Ali added that the Queen classic "Bohemian Rhapsody" included a word from the Qur'an and didn't cause any backlash.
A statement from Diabate's record label explains the meaning of the song along with the context for the two lines from the Qur'an. Reproduced from Multiplayer is the statement in full:
In the song, "Tapha Niang" (taken from the World Circuit/Nonesuch album "Boulevard de l'Independance"), the singer, Moussa Diabate, adapts a traditional Malian song about the death of a much-loved hippopotamus who has been shot by a white hunter.
In the original song (Mali Sadjo) the griots of the village sing about how difficult it is to be separated from your loved one in death.
The singer adapts this song in "Tapha Niang" to lament the death of his brother Mustapha, who died very young as a child.
Moussa draws on the excerpts from the Koran to console him & help him overcome his bereavement.
In this way, his intention ("Neeyah" in Islam) is a good one. He is not blaspheming or taking the Koran out of context.
He is trying to draw strength from the words of the Prophet.
"kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", literally: 'Every soul shall have the taste of death'.
"kollo man alaiha fan", literally: 'All that is on earth will perish'.
It is important to remember that everyone--no matter who you are or what you do--will die one day. It is the will of God.