Opinion Op Ed 23 Jan 2018 Mystic Mantra: Sima ...
The writer is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and doctoral scholar with Centre for Media, Culture & Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia. Contact him at grdehlavi@gmail.com

Mystic Mantra: Sima’a - Listen to language of love

Published Jan 23, 2018, 12:37 am IST
Updated Jan 23, 2018, 12:37 am IST
Sufi music or sima’a is a universal language of love and harmony.
Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's Dargah in New Delhi
 Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's Dargah in New Delhi

Recently, the annual ceremony of Urs was held at the Dargah of Delhi’s prominent Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia (r.a). A variety of cultural activities, including qawwali (popular Sufi music), sima’a (ceremony of whirling and listening to the Sufi recitals) and zikr (remembrance of God) were performed by the Sufi lovers and devotees amid a cyclone of rapture. Across the world, Sufi lovers engage in sima’a listening to different kinds of musical melodies coming from the heart. But the sole purpose is not merely playing a particular trend of Sufi music or promoting it, but rather connecting people’s hearts to one another and thus attaining the divine pleasure with unity in multiplicity.

When our hearts connect with each other so closely, we attain Qalb-e-Hafiz (a heart that remembers) and thus we understand each other properly and amicably and, subsequently, acquire the hidden truths of the visible universe.  Just as the popular Turkish folk or Sufi music—Mevlevi Sima’a—was conceived and evolved by Maulana Jalauddin Rumi, India’s traditional Chishti Sima’a was popularised by Ameer Khusrau Dehlvi, the closest disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia.  An Indian poet at heart, Khusrau was actually the “father of Qawwali” as well as a scholar, philosopher, linguist and an influential Sufi saint himself. Writing his poetry mostly in Persian and Brij Bhasha (a language similar to Hindi), he used to weave his Hindavi songs and dohas into the oral transmissions and teachings of his Murshid (spiritual master), which were later collected in the famous Sufi document ‘Fawa’id-ul-Fu’ad’ (discourses benefiting the heart). Today, the audience at the Dargah Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia soaks in the experience and understanding of the saint’s words in his beautiful songs and dohas.

 

The Chishti sima’a is especially performed during the Urs occasions, out of an overflow of spiritual inclinations, with an adherence to certain Islamic guidelines. An integral and vital part of the Sima’a ceremony is the recital of Na’at (poetry in praise of the beloved Prophet) which is mostly composed in Urdu and Persian. Those listening to Na’at are exhorted to lend an ear and comprehend its profound meanings. Thus, they fall deep into spiritual ecstasy moving arbitrarily to the verses and couplets being sung by the na’atkhwans (reciters). Sufi music or sima’a is a universal language of love and harmony. But its popularity in India is attributed to Ameer Khusrau.

One does not find words to express the deeper spiritual emotions and mystical experiences that emanate from Khusrav’s kalam (poetry). However, the most popular musical genres in his Chishti tradition are qawwalis and folk Sufi songs. Remarkably, while Khsrau’s Hindawi dohas and riddles have reached us through oral traditions more than in written documents, they have enlightened the Indian masses, regardless of religion and creed, for more than seven centuries. Khusrau’s all-time favourite kalam (couplets) which he composed for his beloved murshid, Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, is: “main to piya se naina mila ayi re” as well as “chhap tilak sab chini re mose naina milaike”.  Khusrau says in his ecstasy: “I play the game of love with my beloved, if I win, he is mine, and if I lose I am with him!”

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