In a world so scarred with a burgeoning culture of religious intolerance and fanaticism, Sufism breathes in an air of love, tolerance, and peace. Also known as ‘tasawwuf’ in the Arabic-speaking world, Sufism is actually a form of Islamic mysticism that rejects materialism and stresses individual introspection and inward spiritual closeness with God. Belonging to a different Turuq or ‘order’ within Islam, Sufis propound a broader way of worshipping Allah, the God that transcends communities focuses on the soul and explores spiritual contemplation. Shaping literature and art practices for centuries, Sufistic rituals foster an inherent relationship with music and dance. Through the steady rhythmic flow of music, the Sufi poet, in a state of spiritual ecstasy, devotes himself completely to the God. In a society where religious fundamentalism is on a rise to overtly creep into art practices, Sufism seems to draw a bridge between them, supporting on the pillars of individualism and freedom. It speaks of a society where boundaries and conflicts originating from all social constructs would cease to exist and thereby promotes a liberal view of life.
Kader Shah discusses about Sufism, a faith of which his family has been a traditional adherent. He explains how this Sufi ideology teaches to cherish tolerance and pluralism. He also speaks of his strong passion for music and believes that practicing music actually inspires people to love humanity, which is the crux of his faith as well. Delineating his prolonged and illustrative journey of musical education, Kader Shah asserts that the experience has helped his overall perception of music to develop both in terms of approach and aesthetics. He identifies that ignorance and bigotry are giving rise to fanaticism and unfortunate chaos across the world and he feels that it is his moral duty to explain the truth to people, to eliminate the misunderstanding among them through his songs. He, while explaining why music can never be associated with the concept of Haram in Islam, mentions that there are no set rules to pray to the God and so the conflicts between the religious practices are basically meaningless. He says it is the misinterpretations of the religious texts that sow the seeds of intolerance and fundamentalism in the first place. Speaking of his encounters with music, Kader questions the institutionalized distinction between folk and classical music and wishes the division to ultimately dissolve. He has observed that these two genres of music might be different in their origin and constitution but they are aesthetically very similar in their essence. Kader’s life revolves around music and it is his claim that the ‘Khyapas’, the practitioners of Sufism or Fakiri will always be there fighting against the religious fundamentalism restricting the liberty of living an individual’s life.
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