Spirituality through music is an integral facet of Sufism, and an important dimension in the practice of many interpretations of Islam, including the Ismaili tariqah. Sufism (tasawwuf in Arabic) is the esoteric expression of Islamic tradition, dedicated to the inner search of the heart and soul to reach a higher realm.
Musical expression is helpful in observing a Sufi’s path in life. Through dhikr, meditation, prayer, poetry, and the recitation of the Qur’an, Sufis immerse themselves in contemplation and spiritual reflection.
From North Africa to South Asia, and Central Asia to Eastern Europe, distinct musical traditions have evolved throughout the Muslim world, including the qawwali, the naat and the mugham. In modern times, tradition bearers such as Houria Aishi, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Alim and Ferghana Qasimov have found an international audience, allowing the melodies of Islam to be appreciated outside their habitual milieu.
“The heart of man has been so constituted by the Almighty that, like a flint, it contains a hidden fire which is evoked by music and harmony, and renders man beside himself with ecstasy.”
— Concerning Music and Dancing as Aids to the Religious Life: from The Alchemy of Happiness, Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), translated by Claud Field.
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Source: The Ismaili