Prose on Qawwali Poetry

This work is my creative prose(/poetry) surrounding the Sufi art form known as Qawwali poetry, popularly practiced in India and Pakistan. It incorporates and makes reference to many of the discussions surrounding this type of poetry that we had in class and in section. References to the structure of Qawwali poetry, to the themes within the poetry, especially the theme of love, and to the way in which this poetry is regarded by listeners/audiences, are of particular concern.

A prominent theme in my prose is the underlying purpose of Qawwali, and how its characteristics reflect this purpose. Qawwali aims to lead listeners to a state of religious ecstasy, that is, to a spiritual union with Allah. Many of its characteristics directly reflect this; for example the fluid shifting between languages, and the shifting between different texts, poets, and authors, enhance listeners’ ability to actively engage: these different versus and languages are important for establishing a relationship between the poet and the audience which ultimately allows for this engagement. References to this characteristic are made in lines 1-2 of my prose. 

Qawwali poetry as the inspiration for, and result of, mystical experience, is also focused on throughout the entirety of this piece, especially in the second and final stanzas. The Qawwali style is founded on the idea of poetic verse as a gift from God, positioning it as divine, and resulting in the reverence of many Qawwali writings being equal to that of scripture itself.

This prose also references many aspects of the Ghazal form of Arabic poetry, which is primarily concerned with love. Through Ghazal poetry, the theme of love is reflected as central to Islamic faith. I reference the important Sufi idea of love, ‘Ishq haqiqi/’ishq majazi, one aspect  of which emphasizes the notion of a state of “drunkenness” or “intoxication” as characterizing being in love; in this, the “self” is forgotten, and the “beloved” is focused on. This idea is thus representative of what true love for God looks like. 

1   The nature of Qawwali poetry arises from its complexities, 

     Both structural and schematic

     They are works whose compositions are tapestries of powerful allusions: texts, authors, and       

     poets fluidly melt into one another, their souls harmonizing in the realm above the earthly

5   Silky voices fold in and out of mesmerizing metric melodies contained between the lines of 

     sublime stanzas

     The poet embraces the elemental exquisiteness of the words

     It is poetry that slithers into the spaces between the oxygen atoms in the air: poetry that fills  

     the space and hangs in breath of the reciter, poetry that diffuses into the ears of the people as  10 they adopt a single, shared pulse, the zarb, whose rhythm responds to that of the verses 

     Something divine visits the earth in those moments, traveling from the mystic and   

     transforming into matter, entering the hearts and heads of listeners and inducing spontaneous 

     responses, rooted in realization of the heavenly

     In the Qawwali method, poetry is architecture

15 Beautiful buildings establish their foundation on the rhyming pattern Qafiya,

     This metric scaffolding supports poetic structures, stages upon which themes of love settle 

     Love, the notion, infused into each letter: it is intrinsic to Ghazal, a reality revealed   

     gradually as each phrase punctuates the silence with pleasant rhymes

     The works are covered, blanketed in, this concept of love

20 A lover’s intoxication whines within the words, while a beloved is bound to the syllables,  

     A drunkenness daring to declare selflessness the root of love, including love of God

     This house of poetry that is formed within the verses, that is disassembled and explored and    

     expressed by the reciter, 

     Its materials are superordinary, its resulting architecture angelic, and thus poetry is both a 

25 product and source of mystical experiences

     Poetic verse as gifted from God, as inspired by the principles of the divine, has earned     

     Qawwali poetry its reverent position: as comparable to scripture.




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