Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Man Kunto Maula | Sufi Qawwali





Beauty of line and colour can go so far and no further; the joy of fragrance can go a little further; but music touches our innermost being and in that way produces new life, a life that gives exaltation to the whole being, raising it to that perfection in which lies the fulfillment of our life.

- Inayat Khan


If it were revealed a little of the heavenly music that is heard within,
even the dead will rise from their graves.

- Surat Shabd Yoga


"Man Kunto Maula", a part of a famous statement of the Seal of Prophet, upon him be holy benedictions, which is, "Man kunto maula, fa Ali-un Maula" - meaning 'Whoever accepts me as master, Ali is his master too'. This was made on returning back from the Last Pilgrimage of the Prophet (year 632, just months before his return to his Beloved Lord), he stopped at a place called Ghadir Khum and delivered a sermon. The statement therein for the sufis is the confirmation of spiritual transmission in the path (leaving aside later politicized history related to it and giving rise of party of Ali, known as shiite e Ali).

Just like Mary Magdalene and Thomas were the recipient of mystical esoteric knowledge of Christ, in Islam Imam Ali, may God ennoble his countenance and bless his soul, was one of the leading companion of the Prophet who received mystical esoteric knowledge from Prophet Muhammad. Thus a number of Sufi lineage goes back to the Prophet through Imam Ali in terms of transmission chain. The statement 'Man Kunto Maula' thus bear an archetypal significance in Islam spirituality where sufis view it as Prophet's public declaration of the transmission and declaring Ali as the bearer of the spiritual transmission. There are other famous saying which confirms high status of Imam Ali such as, "Ana Madinat al-'Ilm wa 'Aliyu Babuha", 'I am the city of gnosis (esoteric knowledge) and 'Ali is its gate'. Imam Ali is known to be a great gnostic who have perfected his realization. One of his gnostic utterances include, "I have seen my Lord with the eyes of my heart."

Thus its seen in history that Imam Ali after the passing of the Prophet was more involved in transmitting the knowledge of truth and silently took up the role of a holy teacher. Maula Ali is considered to have acquired the Prophet’s qualities and attributes when he was transmitted the spiritual baraka. Imam Ali's love, noble emulation and devotion for the Prophet was such that sufi orders like the Chishtiyya considers Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali as two expressions of one same mystical Reality.

This particular Qawwali, Man Kunto Maula is perhaps the most popular Qawwali (author is Amir Khusrau) and if you happen to attend any Qawwali gathering anywhere in Indian Subcontinent, its very likely that this one will be sung for sure among others (its called Manqabat and dedicated to Imam Ali's noble memory). The song praises Imam Ali's bravery on the face of injustice and falsehood - and also praises his high spiritual rank.

Below is its lyrics followed by approximate rendition in English:


Shah-E-Mardaan, Shair-E-Yazdaan,
Qoowwat-E-Parwardigaar,
La Fata illa Ali,
La Saif illa Zulfiqaar

King of the brave, the Lion of God
The Strength for The Lord,
There is none like Ali,
There is no sword like Zulfiqaar

Man Kunto Maula
Fa haza Ali-un Maula

Whoever I am master to,
Ali is his Master too.

(Abstract Sufi Chants follows)

Dara Dil E Dara Dil E Dar E Dani
Hum Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Om Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray
Yalali Yalali ala, Yala Ray
Tanana Tanana Tanana Tanana
Tum Tanana Nana, Tana Nana Ray...

Enter into the heart,
Enter into the heart,
Melt therein, You and me
Sing inside in sweet melody.

Maula Ali Maula
Maula Ali Maula


Master is Ali,
Master is he

Ali Shaah-e MardaaN, Imaam-ul-Kabiira
ke ba’d az Nabii shud Bashiir-un-Naziira

Ali is the king of men, the great spiritual leader,
Cause after the Prophet he became
the bearer of glad tidings and warner for mankind.*

yeh sochna hi abass hae
Kaha haha hae Ali?
Jaha jaha hae haqiqat, uha uha hae Ali
Idhar hae Zaat e Muhammad
Udhar hae Zaat e Khuda
Inhi lateef hijabon key dermayan hai Ali Maula,
Maula Ali Maula Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula

This shall suffice if you realize
at which station is Ali.
Wheresoever inner reality to be found,
there will be found Ali.
There is the mystery of Muhammad,
Here is the mystery of Lord,
and my master Ali is behind these sweet veils.

Her Qalb Ali, Jism Ali, Jaan Ali Hai
Mujh BeSar-O-Samaan Ka Samaan Ali Hai
Imaan keh matalashi yehi imaan keh doon
Iman To Yeh Hai Mera Imaan Ali Hai

Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula
Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula

In every heart is Ali, face is Ali, my life is in Ali
for this poor one, my only possession is Ali.
this I shall tell to the seeker of faith, behold!
my faith is this, that I have my master Ali
Maula Ali Maula, Maula Ali Maula.


>. The Qawwali in mp3 audio format (sung by King of Qawwali Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) can be dowloaded from here. (Right click to save)


* Notes: Al-Bashiir ("Bearer of Glad Tidings") and an-Naziir ("the Warner" [for Mankind]) are titles given in the Quran to Prophet Muhammad in Surah Ahzaab (33rd Sura), verse 44: "O Prophet! We have sent you as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings and a Warner."


This Qawwali song is famously known for its effect on the heart and mind of its listeners, specially when its sung traditionally in the presence of the great saints at their shrines. Qawwali of this nature has a certain quality that often brings spiritual rupture. The psycho-spiritual effect these sufi qawwalis bring are unparalleled. This particular Qawwali often throws people into ecstasy and can be even witnessed in present days at any Qawwali gatherings. Sacred Songs blog shared two such experiences:

"I cannot describe in words the impact Nusrat's 'Man Kunto Maula' had on me when I first heard this more than 10 years ago ... how it twirled me like a spinning top, and put me on a path to transformation..."

"I heard 'Man Kunto Maula' first time before 4 years.. It was in the voice of Sabri Brothers, and since then, whenever I listen, I never get satisfied by listening just once.. once its on.. i have to repeat at least few times before i listen anything else.."

May the sacred vibrations of this timeless qawwali open the subtle spiritual centers (lataif, chakra) of yours. May you also partake in this holy intoxication amidst the circle of lovers. Madad ya Maula Ali!


Lyrics and Translation credit
. Man Kunto Maula via Nusrat Info
. With additional Lyrics

The Episode of Ghadir Khum
. Hadith of the Pond of Khumm
. Ghadir Khumm Event via Al-Islam Encyclopedia
. Ghadir e Khumm

. Poetry of Amir Khusro
. World of Tasawwuf

Man Kunto Maula | on Youtube
. Man Kunto Maula - Presentation by Legends
. Abida Parveen *
. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
. Farid Ayaz
. Sabri Brother
. Zila Khan

Experience with Qawwali
. Qawwali at Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi
. High on Sufi Jazz Grooves | An Interview with Brooklyn Qawwali Party via Rock Om Pin It Now!

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