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Abida Parveen on Spirituality and Sufism

Known in global music circles as the "Uncrowned Sufi Queen", Abida Parveen’s inimitable Qawwali sound burrows its way into the soul of the listener, drawing upon love and emotion. She is one of the best contemporary Sufi singer of our time. She is from Pakistan, but her access to win the heart and mind of people is not limited to any political boundary.

Most of her lyrics come from old Sufi texts of great such as Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Maulana Rumi, and she has sung in a number of languages including Urdu, Siraiki, Persian, Arabic, Punjabi and Sindhi, as according to her, “the Sufi tradition is dependant on no language for communication.”

Recently she was addressing on the topic of “Spiritualism” under Aga Khan University’s Special Lecture Series. Abida began her lecture by stating that spiritualism had no theory, it was a direct connection that Man (and woman) shared with his (or her) Creator. “It’s a direct dialling relationship. Spiritualism is a light that Allah put in man’s heart at the time of his creation,” she explained, saying that the warmth of that flame was inexplicable except for the person who felt it in his heart or that force which had put it there in the first place.

According to Abida, the spirit was eternally in search of uniting with the Absolute, the only experience that could complete it and help it ascend to the spiritual level that every man yearned for. “To allow one’s spirit to soar that high, one should practice humility and submission so steadfastly that all that remains of this is those very traits,” she said with much force.

She repeatedly referred to the concept in Sufi tradition that the human soul was created from Divine light, therefore man strived to seek reunification with that very basis of his existence. She said that humility was the weapon with which one could defeat the ego. “When the Messenger of Allah (peace) ascended to the point of Meraj, Allah gifted him with this supplication, which has been transmitted to us through the processes of nubuyat and then wilayat.”

Quoting Hazrat Ali (peace), she said that any practice of worship that made one proud of oneself was not worth it. “Pride and spiritualism cannot go together, what does go hand in hand though is spiritualism and supplication because surrender is the core of it all.” She focussed on the all-encompassing nature of Sufism and asserted that worship and love for Allah were to bring the humanity together. “The words of the Sufis are so strong and so absolutely descriptive of Allah’s majesty that they bring Allah right into one’s heart. The one who recites and the one who listens, both become the light.”

“Sufism has no complexities within; it is as simple as love itself. Love teaches selflessness and without losing self one cannot find Allah,” she said.

“Sufism is grief and sacrifice that purify soul and strengthen forbearance of the one who surrenders his being entirely,” she said citing the example of fire that burns and qualifies to give light.

“It (Sufism) is just like fire and those who are burnt by this fire could learn the ultimate truth,” she added.

[ ] Read more from these references:
:: Abida Parveen Shares Concepts of Spirituality in Poetry
:: Abida Parveen shares her spiritual search for the Absolute
:: KARACHI: Humility key to sufism: Abida
:: Another news story of Abida Parveen presentation on spirituality at AKU

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Technology of the Heart: Abida Parveen on Spirituality and Sufism
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