Amir Khusrau’s legacy to come alive again

Sunday, February 27, 2011

NEW DELHI - The legacy of 13th century Sufi poet Amir Khusrau will come alive in the capital at ‘Jahan-e-Khusrau’, the World Sufi Music Festival, to be held March 11-13.

Sufi musicians from India, Pakistan, Iran and Canada will congregate to revisit the music and poetry of the Sufi saint at the 14th century Arab ki Sarai, adjacent to the Humayun mausoleum in Delhi.

Conceptualised by filmmaker, poet, designer and revivalist Muzaffar Ali, the festival, which began in 2001, is part of a campaign to promote the poetry and music of Khusrau by the Rumi Foundation.

The foundation is a non-profit platform Ali created with a group of like-minded scholars to foster a one-world vision based on mutual respect of communities.

“Amir Khusrau is one of the most important Sufi poets of India. We are trying to build on his poetic legacy,” Ali told IANS.

“Khusrau was one of the poets who innovated on the culture and idiom of Sufi poetry. He was the creator of a third dimension in Sufi poetry, which combined Arabic and Indian musical and poetic elements, he said.

The festival will host musicians Azalea Ray from Canada, Masood Habibi from Iran, Hans Raj Hans from Punjab, Malini Awasthi from Delhi, Saami Brothers, Wajahat Hussain Badayuni, Ustaad Shujaat Hussain Khan and Shafqat Ali Khan from Pakistan.

The filmmaker, a patron and promoter of Sufi music and poetry, is taking the festival to London this year.

We took the festival to Boston in 2006 and this year we are taking it to London. A lot many people don’t understand the value of Sufi music. They need to understand it and be inspired by it, Ali said.

The cast for the London edition of the festival will be Indian, he pointed out.

A Sufi seer, Khusrau was the disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya of the Chisti order, who brought Sufi spiritual music and poetry to the capital in the 13th century, marking a shift in the outlook of Islam.

Khusrau, who is known as the founder of “qawaali”, “khayal” and “tarana” music, wrote in Persian and Hindavi. His oeuvre of work includes ghazals, masnavi, qata, rubai, do-beti and the tarki bhand.

“I have been inspired by Sufi poetry and made several smaller films of Sufism. In 1989, when I was held up in Kashmir, I felt the healing power of Sufism and I realised that its value was getting lost.

“Sufism can promote peace, but you cannot do it as a device, as a fashion or commercially. It has to be a natural process, Ali said.

According to Ali, Sufi music and poetry have not changed much over the centuries.

He said: “I was at a ‘mushaira (poets’ meet) in Lucknow this week and I found that the response to the call of Sufism was huge, even among the average residents.”

Ali, known for his seminal movies Umrao Jan, Gaman, Anjuman and at least 20 big and small productions, said Sufi poetry required more translations and trans-creation in English to reach the GenNext.

My foundation (Rumi Foundation) is transcreating Rumi’s work. Khusrau will have to happen. We require enterprising young translators and my foundation can print the trans-creations, Ali said.

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