Archive for December, 2013

Sufi music to enthral the Land of Nizams | Business Line

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Akbar Latif Khan on the tabla

Sufi music to enthral the Land of Nizams



It is that time of the year when you wear your woollens and jackets and step out in the chill of the winter evening. What better way to enjoy the season than with some soulful Sufi.

This pure music form, a blend of devotional music inspired by the works of Sufi poets, cuts across all barriers. In this land of Nizams, Sufi music thrived in the courtyards of Nawabs and was patronised in palaces but was equally popular everywhere.

The All-India Markazi Majlis-e-Chistia, a body of Sufi elders, has lined up some of the artistes from the Dilli Gharana, who will render their delectable numbers. Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan Nizami, head of Dilli Gharana, and his team will form part of the ensemble.

The Jashn-e-Khusro, spread over three days, seeks to enthral audiences with the best of this mystical poetry in celebration of the music of Hazrat Ameer Khusro. Khusro is credited to have invented the sitar and the tabla in the 13th century.

Sitar maestro Zafar Khan will present some rare ragas of Arabi and Hindustani music composed by Khusro. Akbar Latif Khan of Dilli Gharana will play the tabla.

Muzaffar Ali Sufee, the convenor of the event, said the idea is to bring to the fore the versatility of the great musician Khusro and his works and his great contribution for peace and harmony during the period he served.

He explained that Sufi songs are popular among those who understand Persian, Urdu and Hindi. But significantly, one does not have to know any language to enjoy the music. It easily beats all barriers.

via Sufi music to enthral the Land of Nizams | Business Line.


Data Ganj Bakhsh Urs begins today – The News

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013
Urs at Data Ganj Baksh Dargah in Lahore, Pakistan

Urs at Data Ganj Baksh Dargah in Lahore, Pakistan

[Note from Imam Salim – My visit to the Dargah of Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore in 2005 was one of the most profound moments in my life! The actual day of his departure is 20 Safar which in the US is Monday, but the Urs is celebrated for at least 3 days.]

by Asim Hussain
Sunday, December 22, 2013
From The News – Print Edition

LAHORE: The 3-day celebrations of 970th annual Urs of Hazrat Ali bin Usman Hajveri known as Data Ganj Bakhsh will begin on Sunday (today), led by Provincial Minister for Auqaf and Religious Affairs Ata Muhammad Manika.

The minister will inaugurate the 3-day festivities by laying floral wreath and inaugurating the milk Sabeel at the shrine of the 10th century saint who was among the pioneers of preaching and spreading Islam in the sub continent, particularly in Punjab.

As per traditions, the milk sellers community will bring thousands of litres of milk as a donation for the milk Sabeel which will be distributed among the devotees and visitors. Millions of devotees and visitors from all parts of the country came to witness the Urs and offer special prayers. Besides, a large number of philanthropists provided them food as part of worship. The district administration had taken all necessary measures to maintain peace and security during the Urs.

Briefing newsmen at Smaa Hall Data Gunj Bakhsh Complex on Saturday, Minister for Religious Affairs Ata Muhammad Manika said sufficient arrangements had been made with the collaboration of district administration for boarding and lodging of devotees.

The minister said that eight million rupees had been allocated for Urs ceremonies and other arrangements besides making foolproof security arrangements. In this regard, 100 close circuit cameras had been installed. He said as many as 1700 police officials had been deputed besides 12 walkthrough gates and metal detectors had been provided for security of devotees.

The original article is here.


First woman tabla player breaks social barriers – The Express Tribune

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Aminah Chishti and “Fana-Fi-Allah”

First woman tabla player breaks social barriers

By Maha Mussadaq
Published: December 5, 2013

ISLAMABAD: As the nation’s capital, Islamabad is home to numerous foreigners who are seen donning local dresses in a bid to assimilate with the natives.  However, Aminah Chishti, a US national, not only changed her appearance to fit in, but has managed to assimilate into the man’s world that is classical music by becoming the first female tabla player in the history of classical music to perform at Sufi shrines around Pakistan. 

Chishti is part of the band “Fana-Fi-Allah” — a group of nine devoted foreigners who have dedicated their lives to spread the message of Sufis in the West since 2001. They have performed at hundreds of festivals and concerts worldwide where they share their passion for qawwalis.

Chishti has performed at a number of Sufi shrines and festivals since 2001, the most famous ones being the tombs of Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore, Baba Ganj-i-Shakar in Pak Pattan, Baba Bulleh Shah in Kasur and Baba Lasuri Shah in Faisalabad. In India, she has performed at the tombs of Khwaja Nizamuddin Aulia, Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Pir Inayat Khan and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.

With her devotion, she has changed boundaries for women across Pakistan by performing at various shrines where women rarely take on a prominent role.

Chishti’s journey towards Sufism and devoting her life to classical music began when she was given a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan music cassette eleven years ago. “It was then that classical music just immediately touched my soul and my quest began,” she said.  While travelling back and forth between America, India and Pakistan, her journey led her to the legendary Dildar Hussain Khan, a tabla master who worked and toured with Khan during his heyday. He practices a unique style of tabla playing known to be over 1,000 years old and drafted by the legendary poet Amir Khusro. The style is a combination of ‘jori’ which is used as the treble and ‘dhamma’ which creates a deeper sound. “I came to Dildar with the hope and will to learn” she said “Today I not only perform to spread the message of Sufis in the West but I also teach the rare music form” she added.

Apart from playing classical music she also sings to the tune. Her master, Dildar, while praising her dedication, said she came to him years ago wanting to learn. “People around me raised eyebrows…[why does] a girl from America want to learn the tabla?” he said.

Dildar said Chishti has taken the first and most difficult step of defying the norm and has thus opened the floodgate for many women who want to learn the tabla. “There are many women in our country who admire the sound of the tabla but are restricted to performing in small gatherings or weddings.

The lead vocalist of Chishti’s group, Tahir Qawwal, studies from vocal masters Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Pashupati Nath Mishra, Sher Ali Khan and Muazzum Qawwal. Tahir plays the harmonium and sings the qawwalis. “I was pulled out of my cultural and religious roots at an early stage. I have lived like a beggar in the Himalayas and it has been a journey full of spirituality”.

At a qawali workshop organised by the Institute for Preservation of Arts and Culture in collaboration with the US Embassy at Kuch Khass on Tuesday evening, a number of music lovers gathered to listen to and learn about classical music. The band got an opportunity to play with the Bakshi brothers and Ustad Dildar Hussain’s group. The workshop started with the expert artists explaining the qawaali form of singing, its various styles and techniques. While explaining each stage systematically, Tahir managed to elaborate the style of singing with personal experiences and historical significance. All three groups got a chance to perform individually and ended the performance with a remarkable fusion of all three groups.

Fana-Fi-Allah will be touring all of Pakistan this month, hitting Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Multan, Pak Pattan and Faisalabad.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2013.

Read more at: First woman tabla player breaks social barriers – The Express Tribune