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Spotlight: Sufi sounds

August 05, 2012

The nimble steps of the whirling derveshes and the qawwal group of Tahir Ali, Mahir Ali and Shakir Ali Nizami Qawwals who sang the poetry of Amir Khusrau defined Journey into the Lyrical Realms of the Sufis, recently organised by Friends of Welfare Society for Patient Care. It was hosted by Salma Adil Ahmad.

The qawwali session saw the Nizami Brothers start the evening with Allah Malik-i-Mukhtar, warming up with Tajdar-i-Haram on request and followed by Chaap Tilak, Munkuntau Maula, Namudum Naqsh-i-bismal, Zehra ki Shaadi and other popular qawwalis.

The Nizami Brothers’ father, Jafar Nizami Qawwal, a descendent of the qawwals who performed for centuries at the mausoleum of Nizamuddin Aulia in Delhi, India, taught them to sing the kalam of Amir Khusrau, Sheikh Saadi, Rumi, Hafiz and Bo Ali Shah Qalandar, giving preference to the manqabat of Amir Khusrau. When approached, Shakir Ali, the leader of the group, said, “Due to its bright future we are encouraging our children to continue with the legacy of our ancestors.”

In between the performance, Chitrali dancers made a brief appearance. They danced in the style of the Turkish whirling derveshes who are trained from a young age.

The whirling derveshes are a Sufi, Mevlevi order founded in Konya, Turkey, the last resting place of Jalaluddin Rumi, theologian and poet of the 13th century. Their whirling denotes dhikr or remembrance of God and the musical ceremony is known as Sama. It is said that the tradition of this dance came into being due to Rumi, who was walking through the market one day.

He heard the goldsmiths’ rhythmic hammering and their recitation of the kalma as they worked. The effect of the sounds made him stretch out his arms and he began spinning in a circle. Today the Sama and whirling derveshes are known throughout the world. Unesco has proclaimed the Mevlevi Sema ceremony of Turkey as one of the ‘masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’.