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Food for the Soul
October 14, 2009 12:31 PM   Subscribe

The other side of Islam - Abida Parveen (last.fm) sings verses by the Sufi saint Bulleh Shah. and here is Main Nara-E-Mastana and Mast Qalandar. She is sometimes called the natural sucessor of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan though there is also his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan
Begum Abida is associated most closely with the verses of the Sufi saint Shah Abdul Latif, (wiki) some of whose illustrated veses are shown here. She has also sung the verses of other Sufi saints, including Amir Khusrau, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Sultan Bahu, and others such as Kabir and Waris Shah.
More about Qawwali (Related: - kosem's outstanding post

Disclaimer: I speak none of the languages here. It is just that the feeling and emotion is something that is no longer found in the west. Listening to this music makes the hairs stand up on my arms and my eyes fill with tears and I feel a deep peace.
posted by adamvasco (5 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
The other side of Islam? I thought Islamic culture was famous for its amazing architecture, invention of algebra, religious tolerance during the dark ages, beautiful art and culture, etc.

Thank you for this post.
posted by explosion at 12:45 PM on October 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's been a resurgence of interest in Sufi and Sufi-influenced music in India recently. Rabbi Shergill had a huge hit single based on Bulleh Shah called Bulla Ki Jaana a few years ago.

I saw Rahat in concert on the Indian side of Punjab a few years ago; outdoors in the cold with a sore throat, he still blew our socks off. His uncle was better though.
posted by vanar sena at 12:46 PM on October 14, 2009


stunning. I was lucky to see Nusrat a number of times and this is absolutely on the level! gorgeous.
posted by frankbooth at 12:49 PM on October 14, 2009


Beautiful post. People don't realize that Islam is much more than a bunch of jihadi, and in fact it's a faith that incorporates a very wide range of beliefs about all sorts of things, and more importantly, practices which differ widely from region to region. This is "my" Islam, for sure.

Where I'm from, Sarajevo, the Sufis and a more meditative (and quite musical) form of Islam are the norm. Many Bosnian Muslims are descended from families who converted to Islam when the Ottomans were in power, and often this was solely because of practical benefits in doing so. For instance, taxes were much *lower* for believers, so landed gentry were quick to convert! As the Ottomans were fairly benign rulers (compared to their Christian peers at the time), there wasn't much dogmatic aspect to Islam. But while many of those who converted did so for suspect reasons, Islam did take hold and believers *were* believers . . . it's just that the brimstone-and-fire zealotry one might see in many Arab states never took hold.

Many more strict Muslims don't consider Sufism to be "real" Islam - it's remarkably free from preachiness, and fits better into the mold of Buddhism or Taoism, though it obviously reflects aspects of a culture rooted in Islamic tradition.

Qawwali has its roots in Persia and is therefore different from the similarly great Sufi music one can hear in Bosnia's mosques and in open spaces dedicated to this space-consuming form of worship. (Yes, dervishes do exist, and they do whirl in their beautiful outfits!) Bosnia's Turkish-rooted musical tradition of sevdalinka is pretty cool too. "Sevda" means "love" in Turkish, but it implies a real longing. This often aching and bittersweet / unrequited love has both a spiritual and a sexual dimension. It's not something that people consider when the think of Islam, but good sevdalinka feels as beautiful profoundly about God as qawwali, while also being quite overtly physically erotic. (And come to think of it, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had some pretty fine pieces about this kind of erotic longing, as well.)

Mostah Sevdah Reunion are a nice sevdalinka band to check out (although they've done other things as well - I especially love their collaborations with the great and now-departed Gypsy artist Saban Bajramovic. Working from East to West, it's interesting to consider the wonderful continuum of music that goes from raga to qawwali to Sufi to sevdalinka to Gypsy in such a graceful and beautiful way. But while I agree with the original poster's sense of the beauty of this music, one can still find things as beautiful as these pieces in the West. I saw a Marta Sebestyen (famed Hungarian interpreter of folk songs) performance so transcendent that it made me think of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan . . . and there are all sorts of folk artists in Hungary and Romania, through Ukraine and straight up to the Sami lands of northern Finland who operate on a similar emotional level. You've just got to find it!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:30 PM on October 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


thanks so much for this!
posted by inquilab at 9:48 PM on October 14, 2009


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