Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Sufi Soul | William Dalrymple

In anticipation of my soon to start The Sufi Saints of Rajasthan & Kashmir Photo Expedition-Workshop, which I described in an earlier post as  the first and only photo expedition-workshop whose objective is to record the commemoration of the death anniversary of a Sufi saint, I thought I'd feature the first part of William Dalrymple's Sufi Soul which appeared on Channel 4 in Britain, and which traces his personal journey into the mystical and musical side of Islam as he describes traditions of Sufi music in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco.

It starts rather brusquely and clumsily with snippets of Western media reports on radical Islam; presumably to highlight the disparity beween this and the pacifist nature of Sufism.

For the followers of Sufism, music is a way of getting closer to God. The documentary traces the shared roots of Christianity and Islam in the Middle East, and presents Sufism as a peaceful and intellectual offshoot of Islam. It features many acclaimed performers, including the legendary Abida Parveen and Youssou N’Dour. 

Sufism is deeply rooted in Islamic cultures across the globe -- the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian subcontinent particularly -- and in each region has local characteristics.

Islamists ban singing, dance and musical instruments and regard them as diversions from devotion and subservience to Allah. In contrast, Sufi cultures are rich in these traditions, and few are better qualified to present this than writer, historian and longtime resident of New Delhi, William Dalrymple.

My thanks to Stephanie Ravel for having shared this with me.