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RLST 4551 - Islamic Mysticism: Sufism Audio-Visual Material

Scholarly Talks

  • Sufis.Org: Born in India, the descendant of an Afghan family, Idries Shah (1924-1996) was a famous Sufi master and scholar of Sufism who wrote various books. You can listen to his lectures titled 'On the Nature of Sufi Knowledge', 'An Advanced Psychology of the East', 'Learning from Stories', 'Overcoming Assumptions that Inhibit Spiritual Development' on the link above.

Medieval Persian & Arabic Sufi poetry

Did you know that Rumi (1207-1273), the eponym of the Mawlawi order, is a best-selling poet in the US and in the world today? For the article click here.

Below you will find some classical examples of Arabic and Persian poetry among thousands of Sufis who wrote very popular poems.

Mercan Dede and New Age Sufism

Mercan Dede: Mercan Dede is a Turkish-born and Montreal-based contemporary Sufi musician. His albums are available on his webpage as well as his artworks, videoclips, interviews, etc. His album "800" was produced in 2007, and its title is an allusion to 800th anniversary of Rumi's birthday. The album was selected as the Best Album of 2008 by Womex, and one of the top-3 records of 2008 within 913 nominated records by World Music Charts Europe.

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Erkan Oğur and Anatolian Mysticism

One of the most important living Turkish musicians, Erkan Oğur plays the stringed instruments.

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The words uttered in the music below are from the Qur'an (Q:2.138): "(We take our) colour from Allah, and who is better than Allah at colouring. We are His worshippers." (M. Pickthall translation.)

Ulaş Özdemir and the Anatolian Baglama

Ulaş Özdemir is a Turkish musician, who is conversant with the Alevi-Bektashi tradition.

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Shams Ensemble: Rumi and His Master

The Shams Ensemble is a musical group that performs traditional Sufi and classical Iranian music with the tanboor, Daf, Ney and various other percussion instruments. The group was founded by composer Kaykhosro Pournazeri. The group is most famous of their interpretation of Rumi's poems.

A two-volume documentary on the Shams Ensemble with English subtitles and great performances can be found here (Vol.1) and here (Vol.2).

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Below you may find their interpretation of a poem of Rumi titled "O'devotees."

Sharajian and Human Breath

Mohammad-Reza Shajarian is an internationally and critically acclaimed Persian traditional singer and composer of Persian music. He has been called "Iran's greatest living master of traditional Persian music."

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The following video was part of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series. It voices the poems of Sa'di Shirazi (d.1292), and Baba Taher Hamedani (d.1010) and contemporary Iranian woman poet, Simin Behbahani. Tahmoures Pournazeri (tar) and Sohrab Pournazeri (kamancheh) (members of the Shams Ensemble) and Robin Vassy (percussion).

Kayhan Kalhor and the Kemancheh

Kayhan Kalhor is another Iranian world-class musician who plays kemancheh in the classical "radif" tradition. As a solo artist and as a member of the Silk Road Ensemble, a project that explores and shares musical traditions from around the world, Kalhor performs across the globe. The following video was part of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert Series, while more can found in his official webpage.

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Shahram Nazeri and Rumi

Shahram Nazeri is a contemporary Iranian tenor who sings classical Iranian music from Kermanshah. He is famous with his unique interpretation of Rumi's poems. His rich webpage contains a gallery, a list of his albums, articles, sample songs, the translations of lyrics and many other things.

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Below you may find his interpretation of Rumi's poem "How Shall I know," unter title "The Passion of Rumi." The translation of the first two lines can be found here.

Qawwali in Pakistan

Qawwal is a blog about the Qawwali Music, with links on Sufi poetry and other traditions of Sufi music.

Below you can watch Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's interpretation of a poem by the famous Pakistani reformer Muhammad Iqbal (d.1938). The translation of the lyrics can be found here--on the same page.

Hossein Alizadeh and the Tanbour

Hossein Alizadeh is a renown Iranian musician who plays the tanbour.

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Yansımalar - "Reflections" from a Turkish tradition

Yansımalar is composed of Aziz Şenol Filiz and Birol Yayla who play the reed-flute and tanbour in Turkish style.

Their official Youtube webpage contains great examples of their music.

Kudsi Erguner and the Mevlevi Reed-Flute

Kudsi Erguner is a Turkish musician living in France, and he is one of the most well-known reed-flute players in the world.

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