Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Parables from the King of Baghdad: Qawwali

Ghaus-e-Pak Abdul Qadir Jilani


Islam, we repeatedly tell each other, spread throughout northern India, and in particular the places we now call Sindh and Punjab, not  primarily because of violent and evangelistic marauders who had itchy sword hands, but through restless poets who preached a tolerant and mystical faith.

And usually the mystical sermons were blended with the folk music of the local area to create several powerful styles of devotional music, the most well known of which is qawwali.  One of great  pleasures of visiting saintly shrines on the Subcontinent is to drop in on impromptu concerts by wandering musicians and singers. With only a battered harmonium, a dhol (drum) and a clinking chimta the singers gather a small crowd and entertain them with musical parables and tales of the saint’s wonderous miracles.

Tonight’s selected disc delivers a slice of this sort of story-telling qawwali. Several different qawwals put the amazing works of one of Islam’s most revered holy men, Ghaus-ul-Azam Sayed Abdul Qadir Jilani, of Baghdad to music.  We are told of a Wedding Party in Basra, and hear the poignant story of an Old Woman’s Prayer and how Baghdad’s great saint intervened. There is also a parable of the Dinar and of the Disciple On His Way to Baghdad.


Unlike much other qawwali which has as its goal a trance or ecstatic state in the listener, these samples are presented in simple, everyday Urdu and tell fascinating stories of the sort that inspire awe and hope and joy in the audience. The tales are of thieves, the ill, and the poor. Characters and circumstances of which the listeners would have intimate knowledge. In an earlier post I called this sort of qawwali Muslim gospel music and indeed, if you have any familiarity with the New Testament, it is hard not to think of the Parables that Jesus told to those who followed him.

Here is but one of the many stories told about the miraculous powers  and intervention of Abdul Qadir Jilani, the King of Baghdad.

I was travelling with a group of traders along with fourteen camels carrying sugar. We stopped for the night in a dangerous jungle. In the early hours of the night my four loaded camels disappeared, which were not found even after a lot of search. The group also departed. The camel driver stayed back with me . In the morning I suddenly remembered that my Mentor, The King of Baghdad Huzoor Ghous-e-Pak had told me that whenever you get stuck in any problem then call me (my name), Allah willing that problem will be solved, hence I requested this way: YA SHAIKH ABDUL QADIR! MY CAMELS ARE LOST.
All of sudden I saw a saintly man dressed in white clothes on a sand dune towards east, who was signaling me to come to him. As soon as I along with my camel driver reached over there the saintly Man disappeared from vision. We were strangely looking here and there when we suddenly spotted those four lost camels sitting under the sand dune. Then what happened was that we caught the camels and re-joined the group. When Sayyed-e-na Shaikh Ab-ul-Hasan Ali Khabbaz was told the incident of the lost camels He said that Hazrat-e-Shaikh Ab-ul- Qassim has said that I have heard Sayyed-e-na Shaikh Muhi-ud-Din Abdul Qadir Jilani saying:
"THE ONE WHO CRIES OUT FOR MY HELP DURING SOME PROBLEM, THE PROBLEM GETS SOLVED, THE ONE WHO CALLS OUT MY NAME IN ANY HARDSHIP, THAT HARDSHIP; GETS DISMISSED, THE ONE WHO USED ME AS A SOURCE TO ASK ALLAH FOR SOME NEED, IT WILL BE FUFILLED. THE PERSON WHO PRAYES TWO RAK'AT OF NAFL AND IN EACH RAK'AT AFTER SURAH FATIHA RECITIES SURAH IKHLAS ELEVEN TIMES, AFTER SAYING SALAAM i.e AFTER FINISHING THE PRAYER, SENDS DUROOD-O-SALAAM ON THE KING OF MADEENAH AND THEN WALKS A DISTANCE OF ELEVEN STEPS TOWARDS BAGHDAD SHAREEF AND CALLS OUT MY NAME AND PRESENTS HIS NEED, ALLAH WILLING, THAT NEED WILL BE FULFILLED'.
Why should I go from door to door when I have a mentor like You. I received every thing from you 'O, Ghous-e-Azam Dastgir.



            Track Listing:
            01 Basre ke Barat (Yusuf Azad Qawwal)
            02 Niyaz-e-Gyarhavin Sharif (Jani Babu Qawwal)
            03 Nek Budhiya ki Dua (Master Habib Qawwal      Nizami)
            04 Dinar ka Waqya (Aziz Nazaan Qawwal)
            05 Ek Murid Baghdad ko Ja Raha (Chote Yusuf Qawwal and Yusuf Azad Qawwal)
            06 Bhai Murad aur Tajo Bahen (Abdur Rab Chaus)

Listen Here.

3 comments:

Doug Young said...

As ever, your music is a revelation. Thank you.

ajnabi said...

you are most welcome, Doug.

Musical Curiosity said...

Please reup if possible!