What is Sufi Music? The Sound of Islamic Mysticism

In this episode, we finally dive into one of my favorite topics – Sufi Music. We discuss its history, practical uses as well as theoretical, philosophical perspectives on the role and power of music to affect the human soul, all from the perspective of Muslim Sufi writers.

Thank you again to Mosa’ab Elshamy for kindy allowing me to use his footage. Check out more of his work on his official website: http://www.mosaabelshamy.com/

Sources/Suggested Reading:

Abu Nasr Abdallah b. Ali al-Sarraj al-Tusi – Kitab al-Luma’ fi al-Tasawwuf. Translated & summarized by Reynold A. Nicholson. E.J. Brill. 1914.

Adamson, Peter (ed.) (2005). The Cambridge Companion to Arabic Philosophy. Cambridge University Press.

Addas, Claude (1993). Quest for the Red Sulphur: The Life of Ibn ‘Arabi. The Islamic Texts Society.

Al-Qushayri’s Epistle on Sufism – Al-Risala Al Qushayriyya Fi ‘ilm Al-Tasawwuf. Translated by Alexander Knysh. 2020. The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization.

Alvarez, Lourdes Maria (2009). Abu-l Hasan al-Shushtari: Songs of Love and Devotion.
In the “Classics of Western Spirituality” series. Paulist Press.

Alvarez, Lourdes Maria (2005). The Mystical Language of Everyday Life: Vernacular Sufi Poetry and the Songs of Abu Al-Hasan Al-Shustari. Exemplaria. 17:1, 1-32, DOI: 10.1179/exm.2005.17.1.1.

Avery, Kenneth S. (2004). A Psychology of Early Sufi Sama: Listening and altered states”. Routledge.

Chishti, Muhammad Tanveer Jamal & Dr. Abdul Zahoor Khan (2015). Approaches of The Early Sufis From 10th Century to 12th Century Towards ‘SAMA‘. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. 6, 5:51.

Cornell, Vincent J. (transl.) (1996). The Way of Abu Madyan: The Works of Abu Madyan Shu’ayb. The Islamic Texts Society.

Ernst, Carl W. & Bruce B. Lawrence (2003). Sufi Martyrs of Love: The Chishti Order in South Asia and beyond. Palgrave Macmillan.

Hammarlund, Anders; Tord Olsson & Elisabeth Özdalga (1997). Sufism, Music and Society – In Turkey and the Middle East. Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul. Transactions Vol. 10.

Homerin, Th. Emil (2011). Passion Before Me, My Fate Behind: Ibn al-Farid And the Poetry of Recollection. SUNY Press.

Homerin, Th. Emil (2001). From Arab Poet to Muslim Saint: Ibn al-Farid, His Verse, and His Shrine. The American University in Cairo Press.

Ibn Sina – A Treatise on Love. Translated by Emil L. Fackenheim. Medieval Studies.

Khan, Inayat (1991). The Mysticism of Sound and Music. Revised Edition. Shambala Dragon Editions.

Lewis, Franklin D. (2000). Rumi: Past and Present, East and West. Oneworld publications.

Ibn ‘Arabi – The Ringstones of Wisdom (Fusus al-Hikam). Translation by Caner K. Dagli. Great Books of the Islamic World.

Qureshi, Regula Burckhardt (1995). Sufi Music of India and Pakistan: Sound, Context and Meaning in Qawwali. The University of Chicago Press.

Ridgeon, Lloyd (ed.) (2015). The Cambridge Companion to Sufism. Cambridge University Press.

Shehadi, Fadlou (1995). Philosophies of Music in Medieval Islam. E.J. Brill.

Wright, Owen (translated and edited by) (2010). Epistles of the Brethren of Purity: On Music. An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistle 5. Oxford University Press.


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