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

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Qawwali in Washington | 

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 –

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

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.

Pictures: Link

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 at 

Thank you

Mike Ghouse, Consultant
(214) 325-1916 text/talk

Dr. Mike Ghouse is a social scientist, thinker, writer and a speaker on IslamPluralismInterfaithpolitics,
foreign policy and building cohesive
. Mike offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. More
about him in 63 links at and his writings are at  

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