“Sama” Spiritual Performance of the Sufis

No comments

Sufi Music is the devotional music of the Sufis sama and that tradition of music wherein Sufism and Sufi Philosophy are presented through Sufi poems with music as the vehicle in Sufi Style. Probably there was no other aspect of Sufism that was more contentious and at the same time more popular , than the practice of music and dance .

Sufi teaching defines music as an expression of the overwhelming and perfect harmony of the whole universe and that is the secret of its amazing power to move us. Music is considered to be an integral part of Sufism . Sufi saints sing and dance in the name of their Allah, their murshid , their peer . Music is considered to be a medium through which they can directly connect with the divine . The term that sufis used was ‘sama’ ( literally listening ), which referred to listening to chanted or recited poetry that might or might not be accompanied by musical instruments.

Some of the common earliest ways of conducting Sama’ were the spiritual chanting and the ecstatic dance of the whirling dervishes who are the followers of a famous Persian saint and poet Jalal-ud-din Rumi. These Dervishes repeat their ‘zikr’(rememberance of God)  with every turn, surrendering themselves to the God and emptying their hearts of all but the thought of God, and whirl according to His breath

Human voice played an important role in bringing out powerful emotions ,starting from reciting the Quran , divine names , religions poetry to singing sufi songs . The literature of Sufism supported by the oral tradition transmitted within the Sufi Community, holds that the Institution of Sama (the “listening” to spiritual poetry in song for the purpose of attaining spiritual ecstasy) gave rise to the hereditary class of Sufi singers who were closely attached to the Sufi Sheikhs and their hospice and Shrine establishment. It is observed in all discussions of sufi music, that it is the sensitivity of the listener that holds utmost importance than anything else.

According to Regula Qureshi, author of Sufi Music of India and Pakistan, “The concept of ‘sama’ in Sufism comprises first and foremost that which is heard, the ‘divine message which stirs the heart to seek God’ (Hujwiri 1970:404).  That message is normally assumed to consist of a poetic text which is set to Music, that is, a mystical song. Indeed Sufism considers poetry to be the principal vehicle for the expression of mystical thought and feeling; thus its musical rendering becomes the means for turning this expression into a spiritual and emotional experience for the Sufi listener.

Ultimately, then the ‘Sama’ concept is focussed on the listener in accord  with its literal meaning (‘listening’ or ‘audition’) and on his spiritual capacity for receiving what he hears, including all the implications of an ecstatic  response.  Sama became ritualized beginning in the fourteenth century, especially in orders which adopted it as a spiritual method.

According to Burhan al-Dus Gharib , “ Sama” is of four types .

  1. One is lawful, in which the listener is totally longing for God and not at all longing for the created .
  2. The second is permitted in which the listener is mostly longing for the god and only a little for the created.
  3. The third is disapproved, in which there is much longing for the created and a little for God
  4.  The fourth is forbidden , in which there is no longing for God and a poetic text which is set to Music, that is, a mystical song. Indeed Sufism considers poetry to be the principal vehicle for the expression of mystical thought and feeling; thus its musical rendering becomes the means for turning this expression into a spiritual and emotional experience for the Sufi listener.

Ultimately, then the ‘Sama’ concept is focussed on the listener in accord  with its literal meaning (‘listening’ or ‘audition’) and on his spiritual capacity for receiving what he hears, including all the implications of an ecstatic  response.  Sama became ritualized beginning in the fourteenth century, especially in orders which adopted it as a spiritual method.

According to Burhan al-Dus Gharib , “ Sama” is of four types .

  1. One is lawful, in which the listener is totally longing for God and not at all longing for the created .
  2. The second is permitted in which the listener is mostly longing for the god and only a little for the created.
  3. The third is disapproved, in which there is much longing for the created and a little for God .
  4. The fourth is forbidden , in which there is no longing for God and all is for the created

But the listener should know the difference between doing the lawful, the forbidden , the permitted and the disapproved. And this is a secret between God and the listener.”

Aman Aggarwal“Sama” Spiritual Performance of the Sufis

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *