Haj Harmony

Touch the Marble by Jamshid Bayrami

“Mysticism and poetry have always been important elements in Islamic cultures.  This has been the case throughout the centuries.  The Muslim world is not composed of a single color.  And it is not static at all.  It is a tapestry of multiple colors and patterns.

Sufism is not an ancient, bygone heritage.  It is a living, breathing philosophy of life.  It is applicable to the modern day.  It teaches us to look within and transform ourselves, to diminish our egos.  There are more and more people, especially women, artists, musicians and so on, who are deeply interested in this culture.” – Elif Shafak, author of The Forty Rules of Love.

Fareed Ayaz and his eight member party will be performing a Qawwali concert to open the Jamshid Bayrami exhibit at La Fontaine.

Listening to the hypnotic songs which typically last from fifteen to thirty minutes may be a new experience for the modern pop music listener, but Qawwali music is not new.  It is a 600-year old Sufi devotional music.

In the West, the best known Qawwali musician was the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  Peter Gabriel’s Real World label released five albums of his music.  In film, his contributions were included in The Last Temptation of Christ, Natural Born Killers, and Eat, Pray, Love.  Since the 1997 death of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Fareed Ayaz’s party has continued to spread Qawwali music worldwide, winning numerous awards and playing for global audiences.

Fareed Ayaz’s eight member party comes to Bahrain under the support of the Paris-based Theatre de la Ville.

Theatre de la Ville “finds beauty in the Surrealists”.  The theater’s aim is

“not to run away from the world and find refuge in dreams, not even for a second; it is rather to go to the theater to try on a new vision of things, to open up to events or experiences beyond the norm.”

Through Theatre de la Ville’s long list of Pakistani, Indian and African performers, Western audiences have been introduced to new norms.

The concert is in conjunction with the opening of Iranian photographer Jamshid Bayrami’s exhibit, Haj Harmony.  A photojournalist, Bayrami has covered the Iran-Iraq war and Middle East politics for The Economist, Time, and Agence France Presse.  He won the Grand Prize at the Fajr Festival and a UNESCO World Prize for photography.  He is represented by the London gallery Xerxes Art.

The exhibit opening and concert will be this Friday, May 25th at 7pm at La Fontaine Center for Contemporary Art.  The exhibition and concert will be 25bd and if you include dinner around the fountain, the cost is 35bd.

Perhaps You Will Feast on This Banquet of Love

We are not forced to do anything. We are only chosen. To be chosen does not mean anything by itself, but the meaning of what you are chosen to do does. Once we make that choice, the Divine comes to meet us and gives us assistance that is beyond our capabilities.

Fariba Enteshari,

Jalal al Din Rumi student/scholar

I have never been a big reader of poetry but lately I seem to keep coming across small bits of Rumi’s work.  And although no one is forcing me to read it – I am not “in school” – I find that for some reason I am drawn to his work and find a relevant truth in nearly every passage.  Perhaps this is an example of the Divine meeting me and helping me glimpse Rumi’s magnificence.

My friend Fariba Enteshari has been a Rumi student since I met her nearly twenty years ago at the Immaculate Heart College Center in Los Angeles.    While I waded through Theresa of Avila, Fariba was immersed in Rumi’s six volume book of poetry, the Mathnawi.

The Mathnawi  is 25,000 lines of lyrical verse.  It is referred to as the Persian Koran.  The verse is spoken in the voice of Rumi’s beloved muse, friend, teacher, Shams al Din.  Our bookclub recently read a novel about their relationship called The Forty Rules of Love.  

Rumi, a Koranic scholar, was a popular Imam in Koya, Turkey.   Shams was “delivered” to his doorstep and began a conversation with Rumi that, according to the stories, lasted forty-days and nights.  During that intense period of interaction, Rumi’s heart was opened.  And after Sham’s death, for the first time in his life, he began writing the poetry which has guided people for 700 years.

Indries Shah the great thinker and writer on Sufism said a great part of Sufism “must be personally communicated by means of interaction between the teacher and the learner. Too much attention to the written page can be harmful.”

This Sufism truth was probably revealed by Rumi’s and Sham’s relationship.

If you are interested in entering a conversation with a Rumi scholar, this Wednesday, March 14th, Fariba Enteshari is putting aside her writing for the day to have a Banquet of Love.  She invites anyone interested in Rumi’s poetry to come to this spiritual feast.

If you are uncertain whether you are interested in poetry or are capable of understanding Rumi’s deeper meaning, you can take heart from Indries Shah who said

“Rumi, like other Sufi authors, plants his teachings within a framework which as effectively screens its inner meaning as displays it.  This technique fulfills the functions of preventing those who are incapable of using the material on a higher level from experimenting effectively with it; allowing those who want poetry to select poetry; giving entertainment to people who want stories; stimulating the intellect in those who prized such experiences.”

Indries Shah, The Way of the Sufi, 1970.

If you are near beautiful Santa Barbara, California this Wednesday, go spend the day at La Casa Maria with Fariba and other Rumi devotees and see what message Rumi’s poetry has for you.

Banquet of Love is Wednesday March 14th 9:30-3:30 at the La Casa de Maria, in Santa Barbara, California.  Donations will be taken at the door.  To make a reservation for the $14 lunch go to www.lcdm.org or call (805) 969 – 5031.

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