A New Milestone in ‘Mystical Journey’

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.

Indo-American News

The performances by artists from Bosnia, Syria, Algeria, Iran, Tajikistan and Pakistan provided glimpses of Sufi traditions and diversity of Islamic culture.

Although the languages in which the lyrics were sung may not have been understood by many listeners, the audience would often break into rapturous applause as the music and lyrical notes would build into crescendo. The shahada by Algeria’s Houria Aichi, the devotional songs by Syria’s Tahleeleh group and Iran’s Dalahoo ensemble, and the performances by Pakistan rock star Salman Ahmad showed that music is a universal language and is an integral part of the Islamic religious ethos.

The concert was part of an international Golden Jubilee initiative by the Ismaili Council of USA to commemorate the 50th anniversary of His Highness the Aga Khan as Imam of the Shia Ismaili community. A Mystical Journey, which is touring throughout the United States, is aimed to provide “a window into the pluralistic nature” of Muslim cultures, people and traditions.

“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.”

He said “we hope that we may see the value of music in helping build a bridge over real or illusory chasms that exist between people today…for music is a language that all can communicate through. It is a window into a culture…sometimes even a mirror…where our own values and concerns are reflected in the voices of others.”

The concert included the following performances:
1. Choir Hazreti Hamza from Bosnia was founded in 1993 during the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. The group came together at the Hazreti Hamza Mosque in Sarajevo and performs in Naqshibandi – a tradition of Sufi music. The songs praise the dervish or saints who guide the community.

2. L’Ensemble Samaa, a group of musicians and vocalists from the Badakhshan region of Tajikistan, brings out the spiritual power of love in its performance which is rooted in the traditions of Central Asia.

3. The Ginan Reciters from the United States, who have non-musical professional careers, recited Ginans, religious lyrics which have been part of the poetic tradition of the Shia Ismaili community in South Asia.

4. Houria Aichi from Algeria performs chaoui music rooted in the Berber traditions of North Africa. Her passionate rendition of Shahada reflected the intensity of Sufi devotional music.

5. Tahleeleh from Syria, led by Sheikh Hamzeh Chakour, the choir master at the Great Mosque in Damascus, is one of the world’s best-known groups devoted to classical Arab music and is one of the foremost performers of Arab vocal music.
6. The Dalahoo Sufi Ensemble from Iran, founded by Masood Habibi, is one the leading daf players in the world.

7. Salman Ahmad from Pakistan, who founded South Asia’s biggest rock band, Junoon, that sold over 25 million albums worldwide. He has performed at the United Nations General Assembly and been appointed United Nations Goodwill Ambassador on HIV/AIDS. He was aided by Samir Cahtterjee on tabla and the presentation included a dance performance by Parul Shah, based on kathak.

8. Sain Zahoor from Pakistan, an internationally acclaimed traveling folk singer who has received international acclaim for his deeply devotional songs and use of Ek Tara, a one-string instrument,

9. Rizwan and Muazzam Khan, nephews of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, sang qawwalis, the popular form of Sufi music in South Asia.

The concert has already performed in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas. It will perform in New York City on April 5.

For more information, please visit http://www.TheIsmaili.org/AMJ

Indo-American News

Author: ismailimail

Civil society media.   Find Ismailimail blog on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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