Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Music cannot be partitioned


Muslims and Hindus often play together in India together to celebrate the universal message of humanity, with Hindus singing Sufi qawwali, and Muslims singing Hindu bhajans. The music tradition of the Indian subcontinent stretches back to the Vedic period (c. 1500-500 BCE) and is notable for its religious neutrality. One of the many products of the pluralism practised by the early Sultans of Delhi was qawwali music, which sprang from the poetry of the 13th century Indian Sufi Amir Khusrau. Qawwali is still performed every Thursday evening at the dargah (shrine) of his spiritual master the Sufi Chisti saint Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya in the old Muslim quarter of Delhi. The dargah welcomes non-Muslims, and I took the photo above of a qawwali session there. But despite the prevailing pluralism Nizamuddin Auliya was accused of heresy, namely indulging in music and dancing with both Muslims and infidels, by the ulema - Muslim scholars - of the court of the notorious Sultan Balban (1200-1287). Nizamuddin Auliya survived the accusations by answering that for him there were no differences between Muslims and Hindus, because they are both children of God.

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