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Sufism Unleashed

Yes, you correctly read the headline at first sight. Breaking away from the always-rock-article tradition, this column will discuss the mystic genre of “sufi music”. However, before one listens to the songs, it is very important to dwell upon the ideas imbibed in this revolutionary music movement. It began at a time when the world was torn into different religions, each proclaiming its superiority over the other, and sought a way to answer the eternal question of oneness with God. The followers of “Sufism” believed that self-abnegation from all that is material, and devotion to God by singing in his glory leads to salvation. Although its origins lie in Islam, Sufi music can be enjoyed by anyone irrespective of color, creed or religion. The credit of bringing Sufi music to our generation perhaps lies with Pakistani qawalli singers Wadali Brothers ( Damadam Mast kalandar) and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan ( Afreen and Kaisa yeh pyar hai), for their success paved way for Indian artists such as Kailash Kher, A.R. Rehman and Rabbi Shergill to perform this genre. This expression of ecstasy symbolizing the alignment of God with the World needs no “cool” tag, as goes the saying,

“To each, his own”.

The very first song on the list is “Afreen Afreen” sung by the great maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It is a sincere depicture of the love one professes to a lover in the beautiful background of Sufi mysticism. The words Afreen Afreen which are chanted through the entire course of the song mean “Behold! O the most beautiful one”. As the song unfolds one gets to know the creative side of the love portrayed in an unabridged confession which draws comparisons to various sights of beauty present in nature and long discussed fables.

Dhaani – a soulful number coming from the Pakistani band “Strings” – combines in itself the rhythmic frivolity of musical harmony and never tends to give up the joyful tempo throughout the whole song. Dhaani signifies the light green color associated with the outer covering of a grain of raw rice. The song is groovier as compared to other previous compositions (of the same band) and carries the quaint touch of Sufi in the otherwise perfect blend of classical fusion.

Tere Bin Sanu Soniya – a song by the contemporary great Rabbi Shergill – is a song for the die-hard romantics and music lovers. The beautiful syllables of the song spelt out in lyrical symphony combined with the energetic profusion of love stymies the brooding and longing heart and furnishes glimpses of youthful exuberance – when the mere prophecy of loves stimulates the phlegmatic into a never ending frenzy. The same words of the song when spelt out in English can even put Shakespearian romance to shame. For the English translation of the song – http://rabbism.blogspot.in/2005/07/tere-bin-rabbi-shergill-lyrics.html

For a Sufi music aficionado the song by the very great AR Rehman- Piya Haji Ali, from a bygone movie,Fiza, is a rare treasure. The music by Rehman embodies everything that Sufism is known for – mysticism, devotion, preaching and eternal love for the omnipresent almighty. As if his ingenuity with the music was not enough, Rehman shares the stage with Ghulam Mustafa in crooning out the lines with extra ordinary panache.

So we save the best for the last! It’s the maestro again – the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan – who this time does his magic through “Allaa Hoo”, the traditional Sufi chant relating god to the eternal truth. Words can’t impress the magic strung by its lyrics and thus create the vibes generated through a live audition. So there’s no equivocation on its greatness but we would best leave the ball rolling in your court to perpetuate an enthralling listening experience!

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