In Paris on 8th and 12th December,2008, it was a historical concert of the Sufi music which was performed by the 60 talented artists from the Muslim world, Pakistan, Algeria, Bosnia, Iran, Syria, Tajikistan and also from North America to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the Imamat of Mawlana Hazir Imam. It was a unique occasion in Paris which is the capital of the Europe for the culture and artistic world, that such flair performance from rich diversity of the Muslim world in the form of Culture, language and traditions, in which they expressed devotion although in different form, but find unity and harmony in their peaceful search for the spirituality and divinity. This programme was contributed for a better understanding of the diversity and pluralism of the Muslim world, it has also provided a unique musical and cultural experience. The vital importance of the music all over the Muslim world and also in Europe and North America, and it is also evident that the music is not only source of entertainment and pleasure for the diverse Muslim communities but also as a way to express the spirituality and devotion and also as a medium for strengthening and harnessing the cultural values and traditions and also a source of sensitiveness of being close to Allah.
Thursday, 11 December 2008
Today Mawlana Hazar Imam granted the final Darbar of his Golden Jubilee to the Jamat gathered in Paris, France. Hazar Imam was joined by Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya at Parc des Expositions, where thousands of members of the Jamat from France and around the world had gathered for the historic occasion.
Complete at the source.
From Al Jazeera English – By Mark Levine
The festival, organised by the Ismaili Council of the United States, also serves as a reminder to both Muslim Americans and a broader western society of Islam’s long history of inclusiveness.
For 1,400 years, the religion has embraced a number of cultures and traditions, and art and music have long been central vehicles for expressing and sharing the faith with others.
Shortly before his death in 1997, the Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti declared that “music is the weapon of the future”.
Since then, however, more than $3 trillion has been spent on far deadlier weapons of war which are fought in the name of peace and stability.
But these conflicts have brought neither peace nor stability.
Not all Christians, Muslims and Jews are enamored of these wars. But as a Canadian television host recently pointed out, though violent people constitute a small minority of their religion’s followers, “they sure make a lot more noise” than those in the mainstream.
Imagine if Muslims, Jews and Christians decided to combat that noise with musical, cultural and religious harmony of their own? Perhaps the three Abrahamic faiths could drown out, and even silence, the war drums that seem to grow louder each day.
Such a strategy is being tested by performers of A Mystical Journey, a 2008 US tour that features dozens of Sufi musicians from across the Muslim world, including Pakistani rock superstar Salman Ahmed, Algerian chaoui (Berber) legend Houria Aïchi and the Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble from Iran.
Their concerts, which premiered in Canada, are spiritually uplifting tributes to the often ferocious joy and love that have long characterised mystical Islam’s experience with the divine, and through it, humanity’s potential for spiritual transcendence and renewal.
From Indo-American News.
“Politics and theology do not make a culture,” Dr. Amirali Popatia, President of the His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States, pointed out in his address at the pre-event reception. “There is much more, including the arts, from architecture and literature to music.”
He pointed out the bias or ignorance in stereotyping Muslims from the actions of a minuscule minority. “Unfortunately, the lens through which many view Muslims is narrowly focused on either a small minority or on their actions. Few are aware of, or recognize, the rich history and pluralistic nature of the Muslim world which ranges from Morocco to Malaysia and includes 1.2 billion people from some 45 countries.,” he said.
Dr. Popatia said that the Aga Khan has rejected the prevailing thesis of “Clash of Civilizations” between the West and the Islamic world and instead has described it as a “clash of ignorance.”
HOUSTON – A Mystical Journey rolled on to a new milestone in Houston with thunderous applause and standing ovations by a nearly packed auditorium at the George R. Brown Convention Center on Sunday, March 30.
The concert of Sufi music and other expressions of devotion from the Muslim world, organized by His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States, included nine performances by over 60 artists and musicians that took the audience on a journey through the ages, traversed by Muslim mystics and saints, in their spiritual quest which found expression in devotional music, qawwalis, dhikr and ginans.
Sufism has often been described by its exponents as “a science through which one can know how to travel into the presence of the Divine” and end the duality of body and mind, spiritual and temporal, and self and divine. The esoteric theological doctrine, based on the love of Divine, influenced generations of Muslim poets, singers and artists.
From Narmeen Makhani’s blog:
On Saturday evening, my friends and I decided to attend a Sufi musical concert in New York called A Mystical Journey. They mainly attended it because I really really wanted to go and checkout an Islamic musical concert out of sheer curiousity and because a lot of people I know recommended it. It turned out be AWESOME. I was amazed at the range of instruments and performers; I had expected it to be slow religous tunes, but some of them were as fast as head-banging rock tunes.
Click above to read the article.
Also, another interesting blog post:
but the real mind blower came from damascus, syria where the worlds oldest music is said to have originated. tahleeleh with sheikh hamza chakour is one of the world’s best known groups devoted to classical arab music.
after chanting a bit together, 4 of the musicians quietly stood up, gently removed their massive capes to reveal their long white dresses. and with their tall hats, they sauntered out in front of the band to whirl.
to my delight ,my first whirling dervish experience.
and there’s no way to explain what that feels like.
Chicago Public Radio’s program Radio M recently profiled Choir Hazreti Hamza, a group of sufi singers who are performing at A Mystical Journey – Sufi Music and other Expressions of Devotion from the Muslim World, which is a Golden Jubilee International Programme commemorating the Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan.
Choir Hazreti Hamza is a choir which performs in the naqshibandi tradition of Sufi music. The Choir was founded in 1993, during the civil war occurring in the former Yugoslavia. The Choir first came together at the Hazreti Hamza mosque in Sarajevo.
Initially, the Choir performed traditional qasidas in Sarajevo, and then began performing nationally and internationally with tours in Croatia, Germany, Pakistan, Switzerland and Turkey. The Choir’s first album, Jedna Je Istina (There is Only One Truth), was released in June 2004 and featured nine devotional songs, six of which were written by the Choir members. Their second album, Leptir (Butterfly), was released in 2006. Their website. Artist Profiles at theismaili.org/amj.
You can listen to the show here
His blog post at Washingtonpost’s On Faith: Who Sings for Islam?
The piece I was going to write – “Who Speaks for Islam”, based on the exceptional new book by Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito – is going to have to wait for another day.
Last Saturday night, I went to see A Mystical Journey, a concert bringing together Muslim musicians from all over the world. It was everything that music should be. There were moments of hush and moments of roar, there was calm and there was storm. Which is to say, it felt like prayer.
I believe that discussions of the prose of religion – the rules and the laws of the tradition, statistics measuring what the members of the community think – are crucial. Those matters are the subject of most of my columns in “The Faith Divide”.
But I think the heart of faith itself is not prose, it’s poetry – songs and art, not statistics and laws. And if, when we talk about faith, we focus on the prose and ignore the poetry, then we miss the deeper possibilities, especially the possibility of cosmic connection. Which is to say, we miss the point.
From Tanya Ghaziani at Fellows Alliance
This past Saturday I attended a concert entitled A Mystical Journey: Sufi music and other Expressions of Devotion from the Muslim world. The concert included a variety of artists from different countries, including Salman Ahmed, member of a popular Pakistani rock band Junoon, who undoubtedly was the crowd favorite to Choir Hazreti Hamza, a Sufi Bosnian group that was founded during the civil war in Yugoslavia to a group of American Ismaili men and women that recited devotional “songs” called ginans.
A mystical journey may also be in order. Stop two of our Three to See is Saturday Night, where you can witness the music, dance and poetry by some of the Muslim world’s most talented performers.
The U.S. tour is in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, an ethnically and culturally diverse people. Nizar Jiwani is a volunteer helping coordinate the Chicago event. He says their diversity comes through in the performances.
JIWANI: You’ll see various different communities. Various different people from various different countries that believe in Islam, but have very different ways of showing Islam with different languages. But their still performing through one common language, which is music, that many of us understand.
The U.S. tour of A Mystical Journey is Saturday Night at the Cadillac Palace on West Randolph Street, in Chicago’s Loop.
Report from 1:10 – 2:10
While this concert will be of great interest to followers of the Muslim faith, Rafiq Lakhani, spokesman for the council, said target audiences include non-Muslims as well.
“In today’s world, there needs to be better understanding of Islam,” Mr. Lakhani said. “And these types of international initiatives, expressing the faith through music and dance, help to change stereotypes and show the diversity that exists within the Muslim world.”
Music has always played an integral part in the religious experience – from the Jewish liturgical poems heard at the Temple in Jerusalem in biblical times, to Gregorian and Buddhist chants and gospel and contemporary Christian music.
Now, North Texans will have a rare opportunity to hear and learn more about the devotional music of the Muslim world.
“A Mystical Journey: Sufi Music and other Expressions of Devotions from the Muslim World,” will be presented at 2 p.m. March 29 in McFarlin Auditorium at Southern Methodist University.
The concert is being presented by the Aga Khan Council for the USA to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the imam or spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.
Houston Chronicle is giving away a pair of $150 tickets to the March 30 concert in Houston, “A Mystical Journey”.
Go to http://www.chron.com/channel/houstonbelief/
Click on the AMJ banner, read the contest rules, and complete the sentence “I Believe…..”
To read the Chronicle’s article on “A Mystical Journey”, please visit http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/life/religion/5621002.html
Three parts video interview.
Salman Ahmad, Highlights – His Journey of Faith – His Journey for Music.
March 14, 2008, 5:43PM
Celebrating diversity through music
Concert shines a light on a Pakistani rock star, other Muslim acts
By RICHARD VARA
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
A Pakistani rock star, a choir of nine young Bosnian men, swirling dancers from Syria and a woman who performs music rooted in the Berber traditions of North Africa.
Their diversity is key to A Mystical Journey: Sufi Music and Other Expressions of Devotion from the Muslim World, a March 30 concert in Houston.
“What we want to showcase is that there is a rich diversity in the Muslim world,” said Dr. Amirali Popatia, president of the Ismaili Council for the Southwestern United States, based in Sugar Land. “When it comes to devotional expression, there is also a rich diversity.”
The concert is the council’s solution to combating a myth that Islam is a “monolith,” the Pakistani-born physician said. “When you say Muslim, Americans think of Middle Eastern Arabs. But the largest Islamic country in the world is Indonesia. There is a lot of stereotyping, and we want to get rid of that stereotyping.”
The nationwide tour also celebrates the golden jubilee of Prince Karim Aga Khan, spiritual leader of 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims worldwide.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into on the Canadian leg of the tour (last year), but it was just incredible,” said headliner Salman Ahmad, the rock star in his native Pakistan. “The music is very soulful.
“You will never have such amazing artists on the same stage on the same day ever again.”
Sufi Muslim concert
An all-star group of Sufi Muslim singers will perform in San Francisco on Tuesday night as part of a nationwide tour to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Aga Khan‘s spiritual reign. Rizwan and Muazzam Khan, nephews of the great Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, headline the concert, along with Algerian singer Houria Aichi, Iran’s Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble, Tajikistan’s L’Ensemble Samaa and Syria’s Tahleelah, which is led by Hamzeh Chakour, the choir master at the Great Mosque in Damascus. Like the Khans, Chakour has a voice that brings his songs otherworldly crescendos.
The Aga Khan is imam to the world’s 15 million Nizari Ismailis. Tickets to the 8 p.m. performance at the Palace of Fine Arts are $30-$125, and are available at the door, or online at theismaili.org/amj.
WORLD MUSIC REVIEW
‘A Mystical Journey’
The showcase of Muslim devotional sounds had eight acts and a quick pace.
By Elijah Wald, Special to The Times
March 10, 2008
What can you say about a three-hour concert that includes Syrian whirling dervishes, a wandering minstrel and a qawwali group from Pakistan, a Bosnian choir, an Iranian ensemble, an Algerian diva and one of South Asia’s most popular rockers?
Billed as “A Mystical Journey,” the show at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Saturday afternoon was intended to show the range of Muslim devotional music. With eight acts and more than 60 performers, it could easily have filled a daylong festival. Instead it was a tasting menu of Islamic religious music — consistently intriguing, frequently thrilling but a bit frustrating, since most artists barely hit their stride.
Sain Zahoor, the wandering bard, strummed a one-stringed instrument, the ek tara, hung with dozens of multicolored tassels, and sang in long wailing phrases.
Houria Aïchi, an Algerian chaoui Berber singer based in France, was more obviously comfortable in the concert hall atmosphere. She first sang a cappella, her undulating phrases answered by a reed flute, or ney, and a banjo-like gimbri. She swayed in time with her vocals, and as the tempo quickened, began to snap her body at the waist, her voice soaring to an ecstatic finish.
All the music was religious, but the sense of attending a ceremony came through most clearly with Tahleeleh, the Syrian group. Sheikh Hamza Chakour, a gray-bearded man with a resonant bass voice, led half a dozen singers backed by zither, oud and percussion. Starting quietly, the music grew in strength as three dervishes came forward, bowed to one another, then began to turn, slowly at first, then faster and faster, until their white skirts billowed like gyroscopic mushrooms. It was dizzying, then hypnotic, then over far too soon.
With the quick pace, one group tended to blend into the next, but each had distinctive touches. Bosnia’s Choir Hazreti Hamza built to a climax punctuated with propulsive, gruffly stressed syllables. L’Ensemble Samaa from Tajikistan had a sweeter vocal tone and arrangements that ebbed and flowed over a bed of plucked strings.
To a Western ear, Salman Ahmad’s acoustic-guitar-based rock fusion was the evening’s least distinctive sound, but much of the audience was clearly there to see him, cheering with recognition at the first notes of each song.
The final performer was Rizwan Khan, nephew of the late superstar of Pakistani qawwali singing, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Khan had much of his uncle’s style and energy, alternating quick, drum-like vocal phrases with Rahat Ali’s virtuosic harmonium runs.
The standing ovation was a foregone conclusion and was met with a brief encore by the entire troupe, humming behind Sheikh Chakour as the dervishes gently whirled.
From official website of the Ismaili Muslim Community
A Mystical Journey brings together nine world-class performances. Over 60 artists and musicians will take the audience on a musical journey of the mind, body and soul, enlightening as well as entertaining through various music pieces: qawwalis, kalams and rock songs and dance performances of whirling Sufis.
Salman Ahmad, from Pakistan, is a doctor by training and a rock musician by profession. Salman founded South Asia’s biggest rock band, Junoon selling over 25 million albums worldwide. He has performed at the United Nations General Assembly and has also been appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS.
Rizwan and Muazzam Khan
Rizwan and Muazzam Khan, from Pakistan, are nephews of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the world’s most celebrated singer of qawwali. Rizwan and Muazzam lead a group of singers, harmonium (small bellow-blown reed organ) and tabla (hand-held drum) players in performances in the qawwali tradition. Their inventive interpretations of spiritual love songs based upon classical Muslim and Sufi texts have been showcased on CDs and in performances around the world.
Tahleeleh, from Syria, is rated among the best groups devoted to classical Arab music. Their performances are steeped in the musical traditions of the near and Middle East. Sheikh Hamzeh Chakour is the choir master at the Great Mosque in Damascus and, as one of the foremost performers of Arab vocal music, carries on a rich tradition of Sufi devotion.
L’Ensemble Samaa, come from Badakhshan, Tajikistan, and their performances are rooted in the ancient, highly original and deeply spiritual musical practices and forms of the region. Samaa is currently under the artistic direction of Chanorov, a young acclaimed singer who has toured with his musicians across South Asia, Europe and North America.
Choir Hazreti Hamza
Choir Hazreti Hamza, from Bosnia, perform in Naqshibendi - a tradition of Sufi music. The group has released two albums, Jedna Je Istina, (There is Only One Truth), and Leptir, (Butterfly), and has toured in Croatia, Pakistan, Turkey, Germany and Switzerland.
The Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble
The Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble, from Iran, was founded by Masoud Habibi, one of the leading daf ( an Iranian percussion instrument) players in the region. Habibi’s music can be heard on over 300 albums and films. His repertoire also includes the poems from great mystical poets such as Jalal al-Din Rumi. His group has performed in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.
Sain Zahoor is a travelling folk singer from Pakistan who began performing at the age of five. His musical abilities have since received international acclaim including a BBC World Music Award in 2006. Sain’s intense rendition of Kafi ( Sufi) poetry has earned him devoted fans in every corner of the globe.
Houria Aïchi was born in Algeria and performs chaoui music which is rooted in the Berber traditions of North Africa. She has released a number of CDs, participated in the sound track of Bertolucci’s film Un Thé Au Sahara and performs internationally.
His Highness Prince Aga Khan
Shia Imami Ismaili Council for the Midwestern United States presents
A MYSTICAL JOURNEY
Sufi Music and Other Expressions of Devotion from the Muslim World
Saturday, March 22, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.
151 W. Randolph, Chicago
For further information, please visit
or contact AMJChicago@goldenjubileeusa.org
Tickets also available by calling 312-902-1400 or at any Broadway In Chicago box office.
A MYSTICAL JOURNEY: Sufi Music and Other Expressions of Devotion from the Muslim World seeks to express the rich diversity of devotional expressions in Islam reflecting different geographies, languages and traditions. Though different in form, these acts of devotion are common in their peaceful search for the divine and represent the pluralistic traditions and mystical unity among different communities of interpretation within the Muslim world. Over 60 artists and musicians from Algeria , Bosnia , India , Iran , Pakistan , Syria , Tajikistan , and the United States will take the audience on a musical journey of the mind, body and soul.