This post concludes the present series, with the completion of Hazrat Inayat Khan’s explanation of Sama and Qawwali music in the Sufi tradition, begun in the previous post.
In the Qawwali the nature of love, lover, and beloved is expressed. In this the poetry of the Sufi excels the love poems known to the world, for in it is revealed the secret of love, lover and beloved, the three in one. Apart from the philosophy of the whole being, one can see the delicacy and complexity of their poems, rich with conventions and adorned with metaphor. Hafiz, Rumi, Jami, and many others among the Sufi poets have expressed the secret of the inner and outer being in the terminology of love.
The Qawwals, the singers, sing these verses distinctly, so that every word may become clear to the hearers, that the music may not hide the poetry; and the tabla players who accompany the singers emphasize the accents and keep the rhythm even, so that the being of the Sufi, already set to music, joins with the rhythm and harmony of the music. On these occasions the condition of the Sufi becomes different. His emotional nature at this time has its full play; his joy and feeling cannot be explained and language is inadequate to express them. This state is termed Hal or Wajd, the sacred ecstasy, and is regarded with respect by all present in the assembly. (Wajd means ‘presence’, Hal means ‘condition’.)
This state of ecstasy is not different from the natural condition of man when touched on hearing a kind word spoken, or moved to tears either on separation from the one he loves, or on the departure of his object of love, or when overjoyed on the arrival of his long-expected beloved. In the case of a Sufi the same feeling becomes sacred, his ideal being higher.
A pilgrimage is the same as an ordinary journey, the only difference being in the aim. In a journey, the aim is earthly, whereas the pilgrimage is made for a sacred purpose. Sometimes on hearing music, the Sufi is seen to be deeply touched, sometimes his feeling finds vent in tears, sometimes his whole being, filled with music and joy, expresses itself in motion, which in Sufi terms is called raqs.
When man analyzes the objective world and realizes the inner being, what he learns first and last is that his whole vision of life is created of love; love itself being life, all will in time be absorbed in it.
It is the lover of God whose heart is filled with devotion, who can commune with God; not the one who makes an effort with his intellect to analyze God. In other words, it is the lover of God who can commune with Him, not the student of His nature. It is the ‘I’ and ‘you’ which divide, and yet it is ‘I’ and ‘you’ which are the necessary conditions of love. Although ‘I’ and ‘you’ divide the one life into two, it is love that connects them by the current which is established between them; and it is this current which is called communion, which runs between man and God. To the question, ‘What is God?’ and ‘What is man?’ the answer is that the soul, conscious of its limited existence, is ‘man’, and the soul reflected by the vision of the unlimited, is ‘God’. In plain words man’s self-consciousness is man, and man’s consciousness of his highest ideal is God. By communion between these two, in time both become one, as in reality they are already one. And yet the joy of communion is even greater than the joy of at-one-ment, for all joy of life lies in the thought of ‘I’ and ‘you’.
All that man considers beautiful, precious and good is not necessarily in the thing or the being; it is in his ideal; the thing or being causes him to create the beauty, value and goodness in his own mind. Man believes in God by making Him an ideal of his worship, so that he can commune with someone whom he can look up to, in whom he can lay his absolute trust, believing Him to be above the unreliable world, on whose mercy he can depend, seeing selfishness all around him. It is this ideal, when made of stone and placed in a shrine, which is called an idol of God. When the same ideal is raised to the higher plane and placed in the shrine of the heart, it becomes the ideal of God with whom the believer communes and in whose vision he lives most happily, as happily as could be, in the company of the sovereign of the whole universe.
When this ideal is raised still higher it breaks into the real, and the real light manifests to the godly; the one who was once a believer now becomes the realizer of God.