Moin Qazi is a well-known banker, author and Islamic researcher. He can be reached at moinqazi123@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Spiritual sounds from mystics

Published Jan 16, 2019, 2:10 am IST
Updated Jan 16, 2019, 2:10 am IST
Sufism has always provided the religious justification for the fine arts.
Sufis believe that music is not only a path to the divine, but a means of spiritual healing.
 Sufis believe that music is not only a path to the divine, but a means of spiritual healing.

When we pay attention to nature's music, we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony.
— Hazrat Inayat Khan

Every human culture produces some form of music. And yet it seems as though the music that human cultures produce could hardly be more varied:  the assortment of rhythms, harmonies, melodies and dynamics found in cultures around the world stands as a testament to human creative diversity.

 

Spiritual traditions have their own musical genre, the foremost being Sufi and gospel music. It is the richness of Sufi music and poetry that is drawing bankers, politicians, academics and scientists to    the philosophy of Sufism.  The highest level of consciousness for Sufi is that it is no longer the singer who sings the song but it is the song which impels   the singer with a divine power to   weave a mystic resonance comparable to the highest levels of cosmic beauty. The immense propulsion of this music is enough to raise even the most secular listeners to a state of bewildered grace, irrespective of what they know of the music's essential, religious connection with Sufism. For Rumi, the greatest Sufi master, music helps devotees to focus their whole being on the divine, and to do this so intensely that the soul is both destroyed and resurrected. "Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened," notes Rumi. "Don't open the door to the study and begin reading," he writes. Instead, "Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do."  

Sufis believe that music is not only a path to the divine, but a means of spiritual healing: if there are diseases that appear to be physical, but have their root in an affliction of the spirit, these can be cured by listening to it. The mass spread of Sufi music is attributed to Fakirs who travelled to different parts of the world and picked up local tones and styles giving birth to many new forms that still continues to mesmerize us.

The Sufi poets frequently allude that music awakens in the soul a memory of celestial harmonies heard in a state of pre-existence, before the soul was separated from God.  Sufism has always provided the religious justification for the fine arts. It is like the sea and a boat: one cannot exist without the other. The Dalai Lama emphasizes the role of music into the process of cosmic transformation:"Among the many forms in which the human spirit has tried to express its innermost yearnings and perceptions, music is perhaps the most universal. There is something in music that transcends and unites". Like language, music is universal among humans. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it:"Music is the universal language of mankind."

Gospel music has been called "the language of the soul" .It plumbs the depths of misery, gives deep inspiration to the downtrodden, and triumphs in the new day of spiritual freedom.

This music was itself rooted in the music of Africans brought to America as slaves. Rhythm, the beat, the indefinable pulse from Africa has given American music its vitality for over a century. Searching for the origins of what is now known as 'Black Gospel', author Robert Darden saw "a people so extraordinary that they could make something out of nothing. When denied a spoken language they created a language of song of such complexity that researchers are still trying to tease out its meanings."

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