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Message from Melissa Etheridge
In November 2007, at the Nobel Peace prize concert, I met a man from Pakistan, Salman Ahmad. He is a talented rock musician with quite a story. We met again in April 2008 and talked for two days and dreamed of peace. Peace within ourselves and peace in our world. We vowed to create something. Something that could bridge the east and west and maybe bring a little light to the whole world. We created a song called Ring The Bells. We’ve recorded it, and now we give it to the world. Our friend Deepak Chopra and his Alliance For A New Humanity have taken the song as a call to action.
Come, let’s join together. Let’s go further now, than we’ve ever gone before. On December 21st 2008, let’s all join together at the same time and ring the bells.
There’s nothing to buy, no competition, nothing to sell, no religion or dogma, no government, no borders, nowhere you have to be, just be wherever you are. Start with yourself. Just you. You can ring a bell. Now, is there anyone else in your house? Maybe they’ll join you. Do it together, a family affair. How about your neighbors? Mention it to them. Arrange a street ringing. Maybe the whole town wants to get involved. Churches, schools, where you work, it’s all up to you.
There’s no expectation, just an invitation. The change is here. It is time to acknowledge all our differences, accept them all with peace and move forward in unity. We can do this. Imagine every heart touched by the sound.
Visit www.ringthebellsofpeace.com to find out the time in your part of the world.
Thank you and peace on earth.
October 16, 2008
The interfaith lyrics Guru Nanak Dev (1469–1539) composed were based on both his Hindu and Muslim mentors – Kabir, Namdev, Ravidas, and Sheikh Farid. Sikh tradition has it that at the age of 30, Nanak Dev would say no more than repeating: “There is no Hindu; There is no Muslim.” Accompanied by Mardana, a Muslim rabab player, and another colleague Bala, a Hindu, Nanak traveled extensively in India and abroad as far as Mecca and Baghdad.
Today the great sitar player Ravi Shankar embodies this marvellous tradition. He was born into a Hindu Brahmin family in Bangladesh and studied under Allaudin Khan (1862–1972), the founder of the Maihar gharana of Indian classical music. Ravi Shankar married his guru’s daughter, the sister of Ali Akbar Khan, a famous player of sarod. The Indian sitar is said to have been invented by Amir Khusrau (1253-1325), a devotee of the Chistiyya order, after the Persian ‘Setar’, from the saz group of musical instruments. The international cultural connotation is also evident from the Persian musical ensemble, rabab, sarod, sarangi and tabla, which became an integral part of South Asian musical instruments.
- Madanjeet Singh
October 13, 2008
However, it was not until Khwaja Moinuddin Chist (AD 1141-1230) arrived in India and promoted music and dance in centres called khanqah that a new composite culture of syncretism began to develop. Chisti skillfully combined the notions of Bhakti devotion with Sufi mysticism in order fully to assimilate India’s multicultural plurality. These cultural centres gradually developed into gharanas, a system of social organization in which groups of musicians are linked by lineage and/or apprenticeship and who adhere to a particular musical style. The gharanas also served as the cradle of Indian classical music. The phirat or ‘free run’ of the classical music, Raag, was devised and sung for the first time by Ustad Bade Mohammad Khan at the Gwalior gharana. Another stalwart, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan, is credited with the invention of dohri or dugun ki phirat.
The tradition of classical music and its creative individuality is very much alive in the numerous gharanas flourishing in many parts of north India. Abdul Karim Khan created the Kirana gharana, and his style later came to be known as the Indore gharana. Alladiya Khan founded the Atrauli-Jaipur gharana that has his own musical style. Omkarnath Thakur, Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, and D.V. Paluskar each have an entirely different style of singing even though they all hail from the same Gwalior gharana. Similarly, Bade Gulam Ali Khan gave a new dimension to the Patiala gharana while Ameer Khan provided a completely new colour and character to the Kirana gharana. The other best-known gharans of vocal and instrumental music are located at Gwalior, Agra, Jaipur, Rampur, Bhendi Bazar, Banaras, Bishnupur Kasur, Mewati, Sham Chourasi, Delhi, and the Sufiana Gharana, Kashmir. Thus the shared values of the gurukul concept of music became closely interwoven with gharana musical innovations, creating a common culture in the field of vocal and instrumental music.
- Madanjeet Singh
August 17, 2008
The deepest of emotions are invoked by language. The word junoon means “obsessive, passion” in Urdu, an Indian language born between the Ganges and Jamuna Rivers near Delhi. Its multicultural tradition developed side by side with the growth of Sufism that resulted from the literary products of earlier varieties of dialects, variously known as Gujari and Hindawi. It was also called Dakhani (southern), because in the sixteenth century Urdu literature, inspired by Sufi notions, developed in the courts of Golconda and Bijapur rulers in the Deccan. Aurangabad became the centre of Urdu literary activities in the late-seventeenth century and, with the migration of scholars from Delhi in the eighteenth century, Lucknow too became an important centre of Sufi culture.
The multicultural and pluralist culture of India, which became a catalyst for the interaction between the traditional and modern music of today, may be credited to a number of male and female Bhakti saints – Mahavira, Kabir, Chisti, Nanak, and Mirabai, among others – poets, and musicians from all walks of life and religions. With the advent of Vedanta (end of the Vedas), also called the Upanishads, during the 10th-11th centuries, the intellectual basis for the Bhakti (devotion) movement was mainly provided by the great Hindu theologian and philosopher, Ramanuja. Several, often contradictory, schools of thought arose, representing an unprecedented diversity in beliefs spanning monotheism, polytheism, and atheism. In the Nyaya-Sutras, the overwhelming focus is on rational and scientific thinking and analysis that emphasizes human understanding as natural phenomena and physical processes occurring in nature.
- Madanjeet Singh
June 23, 2008
June 23, 2008
The acoustic Sufi music concert was dedicated to the lawyer’s movement in Pakistan, the restoration of the Supreme Court judges, and the independence of the judiciary. It was yet another landmark in support of Pakistan's civil society, media, students, and rights activists who have heroically protested against the government’s illegal action in imposing emergency in Pakistan.
Like the western rock stars, Sting, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Bono, and Bob Geldof, among others, who are supporting worthy campaigns – against poverty, disease, vanishing rainforests – Junoon music is an antidote against religious extremism and terrorism. Salman Ahmad was designated a UN Special Representative for HIV Aids.
Junoon’s collaborative concerts include a piece composed by Yoshikazu Fukumora for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, titled ‘Tribute to Hong Kong’; and duets with guitarist Charley Byrd, violinist Igor Frolov, soprano Glenda Simpson, guitarist Barry Mason, and cellist Matthew Barley. He has been a Visiting Professor at the universities of Yorkshire, Washington, North Eastern, and New Mexico.
Junoon imparts a thrilling passion to its live performances, combining a blend of powerful arena rock with the spiritual tranquility of Sufi poetry. Founded in 1990 by guitarist-songwriter-medical doctor Salman Ahmad, the band took both Pakistan and India by storm in 1998 with the hit single ‘Sayonee’. It was a part of the band’s tremendously successful fourth studio album ‘Azadi’ (Freedom). The band’s hybrid Sufi music is blended with some of the world’s most innovative rock’n’ roll tunes and carries a powerful message of peace and tolerance by sharing stages with bands such as Oasis and Pearl Jam.
- Madanjeet Singh
April 15, 2008
Like the Sufi music patronized by Khwaja Moinuddin Chist who founded the Chistiyya order in Ajmer, Junoon invokes the necessary ideological support to Salman’s musical mission to bring about emotional integration of the people worldwide.
Chisti’s teachings emphasized tolerance and respect for religious differences. He interpreted religions and customs in terms of human service and exhorted his disciples “to develop river-like generosity, sun-like affection and earth-like hospitality.”
Salman Ahmad does not subscribe to the notion of “art for art’s sake.” The Junoon group recently performed at the prestigious Nobel Ceremony in Oslo, in honour of the laureates of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, Al Gore, former US Vice President and Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN international climate panel.
- Madanjeet Singh
March 25, 2008
MUSIC HAS NO RELIGION
“Music has no religion – like water, air and fire – and it connects the world, rather than divide,” declared Salman Ahmad, founder of the Sufi-rock band of Pakistani musicians. He denounced the culture of intolerance and asserted that his music has been enriched because he worked with renowned musicians throughout the world. A devotee of the Islamic mystical tradition of Sufism, Salman believes in humanity’s oneness with the divine, and has furthered that vision in his lyrics by making the Junoon band a voice for peace and international understanding.
- Madanjeet Singh
October 23, 2006
SUFI IS THE NEW BUZZWORD
The war on terrorism has changed many things and we may never go back to how things were. Our children won't even know that there was a time family and friends could walk with you to the gate of the airplane. Airports were actually fun places, now they are like police states. At New York's Grand Central Station one could get dropped off right in front of the station door; now train stations and airports all have ugly concrete pillars in the front, and cars are not allowed. Sometimes even people are not allowed. What really makes me laugh is the hair salon I visit when I am in NEW YORK. They actually have to see my license to let me in the building. In fact in most if not all buildings in New York, you can no longer just walk in to check out the lobby, you have to show an ID card and explain why you need to be in that building.
As the world is changing, even abstract items are up for reevaluation -- among them, the word SUFI. All of a sudden the government of PAKISTAN and the government of UK are using the word to stress moderation in religion, to be exact the Muslim religion. SUFI is now synonymous with moderate.
I have always thought of SUFISM as a state-of-mind. I have always thought that SUFISM does not belong to any one religion; in fact it is interesting to see how different countries interpret the word SUFI. In PAKISTAN and INDIA the word SUFI right away brings up the SUFI SAINTS, and then their poetry and mysticism. In TURKEY people will say whirling dervishes is what it's all about. IRAN has its own interpretation. Regardless of interpretation, SUFISM boils down to being good and nobel -- good to mankind and good to mother earth. A Sufi can whirl and get lost in spirituality, sing gospels to soothe their soul, or simply be positive in their daily work. SUFISM is fulfilled by whatever one does which either produces goodness or creates goodness.
We welcome the new SUFIS to our midst, and we will go on spreading good karma, and hope the rest of the world does the same.
September 14, 2006
September eleven was a day full of sad images and touching moments.
Many a times watching the images on TV one was moved to tears. Brave people like some of the 9/11 widows saying they actually took the money the government gave them when their husbands died in the twin towers to widows in Afghanistan. They felt those women deserved to be helped more than they did. Talk about selfless love for humanity. I can't imagine a bigger Sufi gesture than not thinking of your own grief but helping someone else who is powerless and destitute with no hope of ever recovering.
I salute the ladies who traveled to Afghanistan and personally handed the funds to the widows in Afghanistan. BRAVO LADIES.
I hope that all good people send good karma around the world and our combined good will creates the kind of goodwill that we never have another event like 9/11 again.
April 21, 2006
MRS. PARVEEN AHMAD once a year invites the gospel singers from the DATA GUNJ BAKSH SHRINE to an evening of spiritual Sufi hymn singing. This year the date coincided with my visit to LAHORE.
Sitting under the open sky of LAHORE, unfortunately, no stars were visible. Pollution has taken over the air of the whole city; but the twinkling lights and beautiful canvas tent made up for the missing stars. Some of us sat in chairs while others choose to sit on the carpet in front of the stage. The program started with praise to God, and then moved to inspirational hymns. Some ladies were moved to tears. The highly emotional gathering ended with a group prayer. Everyone was invited to say their special request prayer loudly so all could participate in asking for that prayer.
Evenings like this are a nightly occurrence at some of the SUFI SAINT SHRINES all over PAKISTAN and INDIA. Some shrines have a weekly session. The prayer is known as DUA. People like to participate in group prayer because they feel the more voices requesting, the stronger, the quicker the prayer may be answered.
SUFI SAINTS always preached group activity. We hope you have a group or find a group that you feel comfortable with. Here's to our friends.
- Seeme Gull Khan
April 12, 2006
GOING TO THE LAND OF SUFI SAINTS.
I am going to the city of sufi saints, LAHORE, PAKISTAN. DATA SAHIB whose one thousand birth anniversary was JUST celebrated brought his sufi teachings to this ancient city. In fact LAHORE is sometimes referred to as DATA'S NAGRI, meaning the land of DATA. DATA SAHIB was a true sufi saint preaching tolerance of all religions; thus, his shrine is favored by people of all religions whether they be Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs. It's the place to go ask for prayers that are almost miracles, if they get fulfilled. Everyday the shrine is full of people who say their prayer was fulfilled. They are the true believers who visit the shrine month after month, and year after year.
My mother always took us there before we left on a trip to pray for our safety. Afterwards, we came back to give thanks. Walking on the cold marble slab floors was an experience one never forgot, especially in the winter. Then as one approached the windows of the mausoleum, the white marble carved grills revealed multicolored threads tied in little knots. It seemed like some folk artist had created a sculpture from silk threads. Actually, each thread represented a prayer that had been said and was waiting to be fulfilled. Perhaps so many prayers, so close to each other, fused to create their own strength to make themselves happen. As tradition goes when your prayer is fulfilled, you go untie a string. Most likely it will not be the original one you tied, since among the many threads it would be impossible to find yours. Yet, as you open one someone else tied, eventually someone will find yours to untie.
Opening a knot on a string creates so many emotions including strength, the feeling of being blessed, and ultimately empowerment all stemming from the fact a prayer was fulfilled. The truth is that tying and opening knots are symbolically the sufi way of saying, if you believe in something, you can make it happen. As you tie the knot, whatever you are asking for becomes your personal resolve, your commitment to making what you want come true.
DATA GUNJ BAKSH, a sufi saint of sufi saints, a man whose karma is still alive generation after generation providing comfort and blessings. Imagine the strength of this saint that his light shines through a thousand years, and is still going strong. DATA DURBAR will always be waiting for us in LAHORE. Some will go there to pray, others to find peace and comfort.
I hope you will find a DATA DURBAR in yourself and learn to give yourself the gift of peace.
BEST WISHES FROM LAHORE,
city of DATA GUNJ BAKSH, SAINT OF SAINTS.
- Seeme Gull Khan
April 3, 2006
Salman Ahmad - Al-Vida Lyric Translation
AL-VIDA, means good bye in URDU. AL-VIDA is a sweet song that touches my heart and brings tears to my eyes. SALMAN has sung it beautifully, and the video is powerful also. AL-VIDA is the true story of a strong woman, SHUKRIYA GULL. She contracted HIV/AIDS from her husband; and then, had to not only suffer through the loss of his life, but also deal with her health issues as well as suffer the retribution of family and friends. She was treated as an un-touchable and left to raise her two children in isloation.This woman after suffering the pain and anxiety of all that had happened to her decided to speak up for those women who may suffer the same fate, but not be able to stand up for their rights. She became an activist and started a non-profit to help educate people about HIV/AIDS, including how not to contract it and how to deal with it.
In this song the partner who is dying as a result of HIV/AIDS says to the surviving partner, thank you. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for letting me go in peace. Here are the exact lyrics translated in English:
"How should, or how can I tell this secret to you. (RAZZ means SECRET.)
My heart is --------?
May you stay the same after I have passed away.
May my memories give comfort and peace to you.
AL VIDA, AL-VIDA, AL-VIDA.
You gave me support and comfort, my friend, thank you.
This is a powerful message, even though I am dying of a disease that has still has a social stigma attached to it, I am hoping that my memories give you peace and comfort. In a way saying look towards the positive. Look towards the bright side. Think happy thoughts and memories.That is the best way to remember, honor, and love me.
Which is exactly what SHUKRIYA GULL did. She did not mar the memories of her husband with pain or unhappiness. She took the path of recovery, enlightenment, and is now trying to help people understand this disease better. To extrapolate from the Robert Frost poem, she has taken the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference.
LOVE ALL THE LIVING.
- Seeme Gull Khan
February 10, 2006
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iSufiRock Contributors >>
The iSufiRock team is a strong and talented group of people who offer unique perspectives on sharing Sufism with the west.
Co-Founder of Sufi Rock, which married traditional Sufi music of South Asia to western rock music.
Asma Gull Hasan:
Founder of the Word “American Muslims.” The first book ever written about American Muslims in totality was written by Asma “American Muslims the New Generation.”
Seeme Gull Khan :
Co-Founder of iSufiRock.com and our spiritual leader.
Malik Muhammad Ali Hasan:
Co-Founder of iSufiRock.com.