International Mystic Music Sufi Festival in Karachi

Posted on May 4, 2007
Filed Under >Bilal Zuberi, Culture & Heritage, Music, Religion
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Bilal Zuberi

I had heard of Doctors without Borders and Reporters without Borders, but when I saw a headline in a Pakistani newspaper about Mystics without Borders, it was a first for me and certainly caught my attention.

It turns out a fascinating festival by the name of the “International Mystic Music Sufi Festival” is currently being celebrated in Karachi at the Bara Dari. The festival is being organized by the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, which is also the group that has been responsible for the popular World Performing Arts and Theatre Festival held annually in Lahore.

This Sufi festival is the first of its kind in Karachi and certainly an encouraging sign that people are able to express and share their sentiments, devotion, spirituality and passion in diverse ways. This festival is expected to last until May 7, and with an entrance fee of just Rs 300, it promises a lot of entertainment and education to Karachiites. According to the organizers, performers from over 70 countries have been invited to present their specialties in muslim sufi rituals, including music, songs and dances. There are performers from as far away as Syria which can be a delight to watch.

ATP has written before (here, here, here, here, here and here) on some of the great mystic poets and we wish to join the participants in this festival in spirit.

According to the media report:

Usman Peerzada of the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop said that the group’s main aim had been to bring festivals to Pakistan since 1992 and now, as a result of their efforts, the World Performing Arts Festival had become the largest festival of Asia. “Festivals are living festivals and we aim to make the Sufi festival into just that. So please, own the festival,” he said in his address to the audience.

Daily Times spoke to Faizan Peerzada, the master-mind behind the show, to ask him what his audience could expect out of this festival. “A lot of variety. Some of these performers, like the Syrian performers can alone perform for four hours, but we have condensed it into a performance of 32 minutes so that we can manage 17 performances in one day. We have tried to bring together as many performers here as was possible and each one of them is performing a different Islamic tradition, so there’s a collection of so many aspects, which makes this festival unique.”

and the performances so far seem to have kept up to their high expectations:

The curtain raiser began with a performance by Zain-ul-Abideen Shah also known as Jumman Shah and his troupe of five people who sang a qafi by Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. Their performance was followed by a mind-blowing performance by Mithoo and Goonga Saeein, who presented an instrumental using dhols while three of their members whirled around, representing the ecstasy so indispensable to the Sufi tradition. The next performance was by an Iranian four-member group called Bidaat, after which Kathak dancer Sheema Kirmani stole the show with her brilliant performance on Ameer Khusro’s aaj rang hai. With her group of two male dancers and two female, she brought the words to life and used the vacuum of the stage as a canvas portraying a beautiful painting that she successfully displayed to an audience that erupted in a round of applause for her.

Another one of the most appreciated performances of the curtain raiser was by Saeein Zahoor who performed a kalaam by Baba Bulleh Shah. Zahoor is a recipient of the BBC World Music Award and performed for an approximate 10 minutes, not a single second of which could be termed as a ‘drag’. A Syrian group called “Sham group of Syrian and Andalusian Music” performed next and recited verses from the Holy Quran.

We hope this Sufi Festival will become a local tradition, and that such art, folk, mystic, music, poetic, dance, and religious festivals will be held regularly in a city that still hosts one of the most diverse and culturally steeped citizenry.

87 responses to “International Mystic Music Sufi Festival in Karachi”

  1. mahi says:

    Bilal and Prophecy, well said. Appreciate your posts.

  2. prophecy says:

    well Marks also said ‘Die Religion … ist das Opium des Volkes’…but lets not go into this debate here.

    There is book…more than 100 pages by Imam Ghazali where he wrote about his 11 year long quest to explore all available doctrines of his age and have explained why he preferred Sufism over other doctrines…’AL-Munqidh min al-Dalal’,

    ‘I brought my mind to bear on the way of the Sufi’s. I knew that their particular Way is consummated only by knowledge and by activity. The aim of knowledge is to lop off the obstacles present in the soul and to rid oneself of its reprehensible habits and vicious qualities on order to attain thereby a heart empty of all save God and adorned with the constant remembrance of God’

    ‘Then it bacame clear to me that their most distinctive characteristic is something that can be attained, not by study, but rather by fruitional experience an dthe state of ecstasy and the exchange of qualities’

    ‘In general, how can men describe such a way as this? It’s purity – the first of its requirements – is the total purification of the heart from everything other than God Most High’

    and i know there are people who don’t have time to go over lenghty details but some may find time to read it before commenting on it.

    I really like how Zuberi usually puts down his point of view but unfortunately tragedy here is that

    issue for mankind
    – global warming
    – stem…how to save life
    – exploration of outer space, how to survive if earth become hostile toward human life…

    the issues we, the Muslims, Kherrul-Ummah, best of the best are trying to solve for the WORLD
    – our female minister hugged french guy
    – music, videos, TV , photography everything is haram
    – Raish Mubarak, the beard…force people to grow one
    – Women running marathon in shorts…

    i used to think more schools will solve this problem, but libararies are also required…with books that can teach our children that they are human first and their affilication to a religion is secondary…

  3. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    Mufti Akif follows the footsteps of his peer-e-Kamil parvaiz musharraf and issues a fatwa about me. Peer of Akif once issued a fatwa that those who opposed WPB are “Munafiq”[hypocrites]. Thanks Mr.Nizam! *grin*

  4. rashid khan says:

    [quote comment=”46386″]Mr. Zuberi: The ‘Shrine Culture’ over a period has developed in Pakistan and elsewhere under its own dynamics and compulsions. Whether this sub-culture is of our personal liking or not, let us all recognise that it exists. Now the fact that this popular sub-culture has developed around the shrines of the noble men has very little to do with Islam and Tassawaf itself. This cultural event organised and presented by the Pirzada family is an international folk music festival. Let us enjoy it for what it is. Don’t bring Islam into it please. Why the fig leaf.[/quote]
    atleast sufi’s do not kill any body, as other ppl believing other school of thought do
    they believe live and let live unlike other school of thoughts in islam for whom ahmadis, shia and etc are wajibulqatal, sufi’s never say or do it

  5. Adnan Ahmad says:

    Good comments, Bilal.

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