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Monday, October 5, 2015

Qawwali Lessons (Washington DC) - the beautiful language of inclusion.

Qawwali in Washington | TheGhouseDiary.com 

Saturday, October 3, 2015 - Washington, D.C. – The Qawwali* program at Turkish Community Center Auditorium in Lanham, MD was out of the world. Here are some of the notes I have made, and hope it resonates with you.   

First thing first, I am pleased to share the emotional side of the equation. Being a pluralist and a human aspirations observer, whenever and wherever people include each other in their normal conversation it brings happiness to both the includer and the included.

When they sang, “Bhar do Jholi meri ya Muhammad… and came to the line, “O Muhammad ka pyara Nawasa”… every one rejoiced it, but particularly men and women from the Shia tradition, by going to the stage and honoring the Qawwal (singers) in the traditional way by doing money aarti (honor) and placing it on their harmonium, lap or even their head, a beautiful tradition of telling, we like you.

I was in a different world, the world of harmony and inclusion, my eyes soaked and I felt tender with joy. I was happy!  I was happy to see the Shia community feel included.

Of course most of the Qawwali lines have the name Ali included in it as a reverence to Hazrat Ali (RA), but when the lines include the “Nawasa” that is grandson of the Prophet, it has special significance to all, but particularly the Shia tradition.  Video at Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/MikeGhouse/videos/10156190763450249/

You know what I wished? I am sure you are wishing the same; i.e., to have our language routinely include each other’s revered figures with utmost respect. Karbala or Kurukshetra, our language should be inclusive, it builds a society of harmony.

We may consider sprinkling some of the inclusive poetry amidst all other poetry recitation or singing. Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite Bhajan “Allah Tero Naam, Eshwar tero Naam” or many a Sahir Ludhianavi or Shakeel Badayuni numbers like “Yoshadha Ki Humjins, a hawwa Ki beti” need more circulation.  I have been asking every visiting poet to recite or write at least one inclusive poem in the evening.  God willing, I will continue to write a poem an event to reflect that inclusiveness.

When President of the United States says Happy Diwali, Eid or Baisakhi, we gloat and share it with everyone we know. If a congressman or a woman says Satsri Akaal, Jai Jinendra, Yali Madad, Namaste or Salaam, we gloat.  The idea is inclusion, to be treated respectfully and to be acknowledged. 

Reverse this to India and Pakistan, and see how deprived the minorities of each nation are. The Prime Ministers of both India and Pakistan do not have the courtesy to greet their minorities on their happy occasion. May God give them guidance to believe at least in their own respective religions, both are inclusive and consider the world as one family.

Minorities (religious, ethnic, social, cultural, linguistic and other uniqueness) make sincere efforts, and at times go out of their way to be a part of the larger society, they want to be included and do everything to achieve it. The smart leaders acknowledge it, and let the public focus on being constructive rather than get stuck in denials.

I hope most of us Desi Americans have learned and enriched ourselves with the rich American Culture where all humanity is respected institutionally. 

We have a choice to be inclusive and let our “Zindagi Shama’ ki soorat ho khudaya meri” and “ her jaga mere chamak ney say ujala hojaye” rather than rot with exclusion.

The consistent rhythmic beat of the Tabla, and the special voices, the inflections in singing is entirely different and gets you become a part of it.

The second item of beauty of this program was the Qawwals themselves, the Qawwals and their humnawa were a great combination, the acoustic of the auditorium ne to chaar chand lagagiye unki gayeki mein.  They were Christians, and my friend sitting next to me was a Hindu enjoying the Qawwalis. He was singing along Bhardo Jholi meri ya Muhammad. This is a (or was it?) a common tradition in India. The Qawwals can be Muslims, Hindus or Sikhs and they can sing devotional songs of any religion. I hope more of this happens now.

In the short few minutes we had between the program and break I had wonderful conversations with Fazal Khan, Razi Raziuddin and Zafar Iqbal.  They have rich stories of uthna, baithna, khana peena with their Hindu friends. I request each one of you to  start writing those stories… let our youth understand the beauty of enjoying life and hope people in India, Pakistan and elsewhere can rework inclusion in their lives.  


I hope and pray, some day we all can see the message of Jesus, Krishna, Muhammad, Guru Nanak as our own message, when we do that each one of our faiths will reach the higher level of spirituality. Amen!

·      Qawwali is a special format of singing, usually in praise of revered figures for their good work.

Link to pictures of the event will be added here upon receipt. 

Please note: 

Are you concerned about Muslim bashing in America? Find out what the newly formed American Muslim Institution (AMI) is doing about it on Sunday, October 11, 2015 - details atwww.AmericanMuslimInstitution.org 



Thank you
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a social scientist, thinker, writer and a speaker on  PluralismInterfaithpolitics, human rights, Islam, foreign policy and building cohesive societies. Mike offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More about him in 63 links at www.MikeGhouse.net and his writings are at TheGhousediary.com  

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