Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

RLST 4551 - Islamic Mysticism: Islam Audio-Visual Material

BBC Documentaries and Radio Talks

(Socrates and his students, ca.13th c., Saljuqi period.)

BBC 4's Science & Islam Series by the British scientist Prof. Jim al-Khalili has three episodes:


BBC Radio 4 broadcasts accessible and fun talks with experts in the field of Islamic Studies on various related themes, concepts, thinkers and politics.

  • People:

al-Kindi (d.873)

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (d.1037)

al-Biruni (d.1048)

Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (d.1198)

Maimonides (d.1204) (the Jewish philosopher)

Ibn Khaldun (d.1406)


  • Works:

Shahnameh of Ferdowsi (d.1020)

The Arabian Nights 

The Translation Movement (Classical Greek ideas in the Arabic and the Islamic world) 


  • Concepts:

Islamic Law and its Origins

Sunni and Shia Islam

The Silk Road


  • Politics:

Muslim Spain

The Spanish Inquisition

Genghis Khan

The Arab Conquests

The Safavid Dynasty

The Abbasid Caliphs

The Mughal Empire

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.

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

Sample Music 3

Erkan Oğur and Anatolian Mysticism

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

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

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.

Sample Music 1

"The Star of the East," Umm Kulthum's Concert

To watch a 40-minutes performance of the great Egyptian musician Umm Kulthum (d.1975) with the English subtitles, click on the image (source: The National - UAE):

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.

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."

Sample Music 1

Online Visual Materials

The Aga Khan Museum, in Toronto, Canada, is dedicated to the acquisition, preservation and display of artifacts – from various periods and geographies – relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities. Its webpage contains links to its collections, exhibitions, and links to other resources.

Arts of the Book: Illustrated Texts, Miniatures Arts of the Book: Manuscripts, Folios, Bindings Carpets and Textiles Ceramic, Mosaic Glass, Rock Crystal and Jade Ivory and Mother-of-pearl Marble and Stucco Metalwork Paintings Wood and Lacquer

One can also limit the results in terms of the region, dynasty and art form, and look at the related pieces of art!

Two excellent exhibitions, titled "Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum," contain valuable material on Islamic art and related scholarly information.

* Its 376-page first volume catalogue can be dowloaded for free, and is available here.

* The 292-page second volume of the Treasures of the Aga Khan Museum can be found here.

* The 364-page third volume titled "Architecture in Islamic Arts" can be found and downloaded here.

The web site is a resource adjunct site supporting the (LACMA) Los Angeles County Museum of Art's 2003 exhibition of Islamic Art, The Legacy of Genghis Khan.

"The ascent of Muhammad to heaven (mi'rāj)," a folio in the Khamsa of Nizami Ganjavi (d.1209), ca.1539-43, Safavid period.

Historical Maps & Journeys from Pre-Modern Islam



  • Nasir-i Khusraw (d.1088)'s Travels and Safar-nama: a virtual Map of the Middle East (750 - 1300 AD). Follow the steps of the famous Isma'ili intellectual and preacher, Nasir-i Khusraw, and observe the places that he visited from his eyes according to his "Book of Journeys" [Safar-nama]!

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.

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

Sample Music 3

Arabian Waltz & The Silk Road

Silk Road Project, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, initiated by the cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, promoting collaboration among artists and institutions, promoting multicultural artistic exchange, and studying the ebb and flow of ideas among different cultures along the Silk Road. The Silk Road Ensemble draws together distinguished performers and composers from more than 20 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The videos of some of their performances can be found here, in the official Youtube Channel.

Islamic Studies Videos

  • Harvard Islamic Studies Videos; Dept. of Islamic Studies at Harvard Uni. shares the videos of the conferences and scholarly presentations that they organize. To access the list of 46 videos, click here.

Medieval Persian & Arabic poetry

Below you will find some introductory, classical samples of the vast Arabic and Persian poetry. 

Hossein Alizadeh and the Tanbour

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

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

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.

  • 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.

Anouar Brahem and the Oud

A Tunisian oud player and composer, Anouar Brahem is widely acclaimed as an innovator in the field.

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

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.

Sample Music 1

Sample Music 2

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).

Sample Music 1