Monday, 16 March 2009


Sufism is a mystical practice that guides a pathway to actualization of truth and single-minded focus towards the Supreme One. It cultures the inner mind and soul towards selflessness and adorns it with love, purity and Divinity. It is the heart of all religions that nourishes the inner self with utmost peace and spiritual well being. The ‘tariquat’ or the spiritual path carving the nuances of Sufism leaves an enthralling effect on the pilgrims of serenity. It has its roots in the Quran of the Islamic sect and refers to profoundness of truth and its importance.
It is hard to explain the existence of Sufism without the elements of music and the sand dunes that bear its origin. Sufi music has survived through the scorching suns of Africa and the mountains of Pakistan and Iran, sailing through the Atlantic waters to spread its influence in Egypt, Palestine, Uzbekistan and India to name a few. Its widespread popularity in the Middle-East and South-East Asian countries is inevitable owing to the philosophical roots and melodious compositions. The Islamic Sufis believe that the divine practice is a means to detach one’s soul from the physical self. This can be achieved by dissolving the physical realm into an ocean of spiritual oneness. The Sufi evokes to the soul’s consciousness and transcends to a state of trance, whirling and singing in ecstasy. The trance enables complete renunciation from worldly attachments and establishes a powerful connection of the soul with God, an achievement which is rare of its kind.
The very concept of Sufism lies in sounds that enhance spirituality and music that promotes sanctity. The Dhikr is considered to be the most integral component of the rituals of Sufi music. It involves meditation to concentrate all the divine energy to reverence. ‘Mawlid Annabawi’ confines to praising the prophets who serve people as messengers of God and his teachings. The rhythmic and instrumental practices of Dhikr depict variance as per the region of practice. The ‘Nay’, an instrument used in South-East Asian nations of Pakistan, Iran and Uzbekistan is a channel through the hollowness and purity of human mind to congregate the celestial powers of God. The reed flute, as the concept demands, is indeed hollow and resonating. Another instrument often used by Sufis, called the ‘Bendir’ or the frame drum in the West especially in Morocco is a symbol of repetition that materializes into a trance. It also represents pulsating rhythms of life at different stages or in philosophical terms, the cool calm layers of water bodies beneath the lashing surfaces of deep blue seas on the onset of torrential rains, tornados and rippling quakes. Later, more instruments like the santoor, sitar and tar, derived from Persian music added flavours to Sufi.
The dervishes (or practice of Sufi music) is said to have intangible healing powers. In Morocco, it is practiced for improving physical and mental health. The therapeutic purposes are served through the concept of ‘medicating the mind’ which is conveyed through various therapies. The Sufi brotherhoods implemented other uses of such mystical practices- protection from mental illnesses, scorpion stings and haunting spirits. They have diverse ways of depicting their musical practices with complex rhythmic and melodious modes. The contemporary widespread of Sufism is through its blend with other forms of music, which are more or less the most popular methods of promoting it. The ancient carriers of Sufism philosophy such as Rumi still prevail in derived modern forms.
The flourishing culture of Sufism is believed to be as a result of the explicit teachings of Prophet Muhammad and poetic messages designed by renowned philosophers such as Rumi and Al-Ghazali. Well-acclaimed for its diversity and uniqueness, the core message of Sufism remains the same: spreading love, peace, harmony and beauty through complete freedom of one’s soul from his body.