Sunday, 6 September 2015


Sama or popularly known as Qawalli plays a significant role amongst the spiritual practices of the Chishtya order of Sufis. 
Though usually the word sama is often translated as “Spiritual Music”, it literally means hearing.  In Sufi terminology it is the listening with the “ear of the heart” to poetry and sweet melody while being in a special state absorbed deeply in the love of the Creator. One must understand that sama is not the aim and objective of Sufism. 
This practice is used by the Mashaikh of the Chishtya Silsila to inculcate in one’s heart the love for Allah Taala, his Rasool (S.A.W.) and the Aulia.  Sama is used to provide nutrition to the soul and it is not the staple diet. 
Hujjatul Islam Hazrat Imam Al-Ghazzali states- “Mans heart is the home of pure love and any heart without it is said to be a dead heart.  The heart is the seat of secret knowledge and it lies hidden there just as fire is secretly hidden in stone.  The only way of waking it up from its sleep is by the means of sweet sound and sweet sound cannot enter into the heart without the means of the ear.  Allah  has bestowed man with five important senses and each one has been given the ability to taste joy. 
For example : 
a)The sense of Sight (eye) – 
It takes joy in seeing things of beauty.
b)The sense of Smell (nose) – 
It takes pleasure in smelling sweet fragrances.
c)The sense of Taste (tongue) – 
It enjoys tasting sweet things.
d)The sense of Touch (limbs) – 
It enjoys touching smooth objects.
e)The sense of Hearing (ear)–
Takes great pleasure in listening to sweet sounds & melody.
Hazrat Data Ganje Baksh says-
“Anyone who finds no pleasure in music is either a liar, a hypocrite or he is mad.  In any case he is out of the category of men and animals”. 
The issue of sama being permissible or not has remained a debatable issue between the Maashaikh and certain Ulema for centuries.  Many have regarded it as permissible and many have totally rejected it.  We will now try to explain to the best of our ability the views of the Chishtya Order on sama and the position it holds in spiritual development. 
Hazrat Khwaja Naseeruddin Chiragh says that he heard his murshid Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddeen Aulia say that there are four types of sama. One is mubah, the second is halaal, the third is makruh and the fourth is haraam and then he explained the following :
  1. Mubah – If a persons heart has an inclination towards the love of Allah Taala it is mubah.
  2. Halaal – If ones heart is totally towards Allah Taala it is halaal.
  3. Makruh – If a persons heart has an inclination towards physical pleasure it is makruh.
  4. Haraam – If ones heart is totally towards physical pleasure it is haraam.
Sheikh Ruzbihan says, that there are three types of sama.
  1. One for the common people - The common people listen through their wordly nature just for pleasure.
  2. One for the ellect – They listen to sama with the heart and this is known to be seeking the beloved.
  3. One for the ellect among the ellect – They listen to sama with the soul and being in love with the divine.
  • It has been narrated by Hazrat Ayesha Siddiqa (radi Allahu anha) that once the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) (S.A.W.) undertook a journey.A Quraish girl vowed to Allah Taala that when the Prophet (S.A.W.) would return safely she would play the Duff.When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) returned Hazrat Ayesha (radi Allahu anha) explained to Rasullallah  about the girl’s vow. Rasullallah said “Tell her to play the Duff”.
  • Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa (radi Allahu anha) reported: “Hazrat Abu Bakr came to see me, and I had two girls with me from among the girls of the Ansaar. They were singing what the Ansaar recited to one another at the Battle of Buath. Upon this, Hazrat Abu Bakr said: ‘What! The instrument of shaitaan in the house of the Messenger of Allah Upon this, the Messenger of Allah said: ‘Abu Bakr! Every nation has a festival, and today is our festival, so let them play on.’”
    (Sahih Muslim, Volume 2A)
  • Hazrat Aisha Siddiqa (Radi Allahu anha) reported: “Some Abysinnians came and danced with their spears on Eid day in the Mosque. The Apostle of Allah invited me to see the dancing. I placed my head on his shoulders and began to see their playing till it was I who turned away from watching them.”
    (Sahih Muslim, Volume 2A)
  • Hazrat Abu Huraira reported: “While the Abysinnians were playing with their arms in the presence of the Messenger of Allah, Hazrat Umar bin Khattab came there. He bent down to take up pebbles to throw at them. The Messenger of Allah said to him: ‘Umar! Leave them alone!’”
  • When Rasullah S.A.W. migrated from Makkah to Madina he was welcomed by the Bani Najar family who sang the famous "Ta La Al Badru Alayna" accompanied by the tapping of the Duff.
1.  Hazrat Khwaja Mamshad Dinwari  once dreamt of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and in his dream he asked, “Ya Rasoolallah S.A.W. do you reject the practice of sama”.  The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “No, I am not against its practice but one should commence and end the mehfile-e-sama with some recitation of the Holy Quran.”
He used to celebrate the Urs of His Murshid, Hazrat Khwaja Aminuddin Basri and on that day, he used to listen to sama.  The people asked him as to what was the secret of him listening to sama on the day of Urs.  Hazrat Khwja Mamshad Ali Dinwar replied:  "Our Mashaaikh listened to sama, and today is the day of Urs.  Today is my Murshid's day of meeting with his beloved (Allah).  Death is a bridge that unites the lover with the beloved.  In rejoicement of my Murshid's meeting, I listen to sama, and just as he has become united with his loved one, there is a possibility that by Murshid's blessings, and through listening to sama on this joyous occasion, I may get a glimpse of that beloved."
2.  Hazrat Khwaja Abu Ishaq ChishtyHe loved the listening of sama.  There lived in his time many great Ulema but none has the courage to issue any fatwa against his practices.  Once during a severe drought the king requested Hazrat Khwaja Abu Ishaq Chishty to make dua for rain.  The great Khwaja immediately called some qawalls and asked them to sing.  As soon as Hazrat Khwaja began to cry it began to rain.
3. Hazrat Khwaja Abu Ahmed ChishtyHis mefile-e-sama had such an effect that if a sinner attended it he would become pious, if a sick attended he would be cured.  He believed that whatever he had attained was due to sama.  He once said, “If I declare the secrets of sama  the people would not ask Allah for anything besides sama.”

Hazrat Khwaja Abu Yusuf ChishtyIn his time there was a great mujtahid Hazrat Fuzail Makki who had rejected the practice of Hazrat Khwaja Abu Yusuf Chishty’s  mehfile sama.  When Hazrat Abu Yusuf Chishty heard about this he immediately made dua to Allah saying, “O Allah, if Abu Yusuf is doing something wrong them punish him but if Fuzail Makki is wrong punish him”.  As soon as these as words left the blessed lips of the Hazrat Khwaja, Hazrat Fuzail Makki was affected with a serious disease.  When the best physician could not cure him he directed his plea to Allah and his Rasool.  That evening he dreamt of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) to whom he requested for a cure of his disease.  The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said to him, “You had insulted the sama practice of Abu Yusuf Chishty.  Don’t you know that your insult to Abu Yusuf Chishty is an insult to the Kwajegaan and the insult to the Kwajegaan is an insult to me.  If you wish to be cured you should attend the mehfile sama of Khwaja Abu Yusuf Chishty with a pure heart”.  Immediately he attended the sama mehfil of the great Khwaja and was cured.  Khwaja Abu Yusuf Chishty then addressed him saying, “Now you have seen the status of sama and the people of sama”.
5. Hazrat Khwaja Moudood Chishty- On many occasions during his sama mehfils he used to suddenly disappear and after sometime re-appear.  One Sufi asked him the reason for this to which the Khwaja replied, “Your inner eye has not become bright as yet.  The people of sama reach a remote area of noor during sama.  One cannot see this place with one’s physical eyes”.
6. Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni- Hazrat Khwaja Usman Harooni said, “Sama is a divine secret between the creator and his creation”.  When the Ulema requested him to make tauba for his practices, Khwaja Usman Harooni said to them, “Neither have the Kwajegaan made tawba over sama and nor will I, and neither will I move away from the practices of my great predecessors”.
7. Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddeen Chishty- His mehfils used to be attended by the mashaaikh and the ulema.  Whoever attended his mehfil once, received guidance.
8. Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddeen Bakthiyar Kaki- He loved the listening of sama.  He once said, “What is music and why is there so much enchantment of love in it?  Music is the secret of divine love and love is the secret of Allah”.  Hazrat Khwaja Qutbuddeen’s love for sama was such that he passed away being in the state of wajd for a period of four days after a qawall recited the following verse :
    “For the victims of the sword of divine love, there is a new life every moment from the unseen”.
9. Hazrat Baba Fariduddeen Ganje Shakar- Once there was a discussion about the legality of sama, when Hazrat Baba Saheb said, “Allah be praised.  One burns oneself to ashes out of love while others still argue for and against sama”.  He also said, “Without any doubt, sama is the way of divine lovers who feel enjoyment when there is mention of the beloved”.
  10.  Hazrat Khwaja Nizaamuddeen Awlia- It is stated that when Hazrat Khwaja Nizamuddin Awliya used to have a mehfil-e-sama, Hazrat Khizr (Alaihis Salaam) used to attend.
Once Hazrat Baba Farid Ganje Shakar asked Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya: "Ask for whatever you wish, and I will grant it." Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya at that time asked for steadfastness on the religion on Islam.  Thereafter, Nizamuddin Awliya attended a mehfil-e-sama, in which he entered into a state of ecstasy.  After regaining consciousness, he became very sad, and said, "Why did I not ask my Murshid for death while being absorbed in sama."
He desired that his death should take place while he was absorbed in the listening of sama.
He was made to appear in court of the king due to the ignorance of the ulema  regarding his practice of sama.  He defended the practice of the Mashaaikh-e-Chist which left the ulema and the king ashamed.  This eventually brought the wrath of Allah on the city of Delhi.  Hazrat Khwaja Amir Hasan Sanjari who was a dear mureed of his, said to his murshid, “The group that denies sama, I know well their temperaments.  They say they do not listen because it is forbidden.  I do not swear but I think I speak the truth when I say even if sama were permitted they would still not listen to it”.  Khwaja Nizamuddeen Awlia smiled at his mureed and said, “Yes indeed since they lack taste how can they listen to it.  For what reason would they listen? Allah knows best”.
  Sama is indeed a most fascinating way of preaching the tenants of Islam and Sufism.  It is sweet and enchanting and serves as a guide through the Sufis tic songs whose theme is always love and peace.  When Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddeen Chishty came to India he saw that its people were steeped into the listening and development of Indian music.  Seeing the influence of music on its people he adjusted the orthodox sama with Indian music for the first time in India and used it as a means for his propogation which was very successful.  After participating in these qawalli mehfils of Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddeen Chishty  many people accepted Islam at the hands of Khwaja Saheb.  Muslims who have their origins from the Indo-Pak sub continent owe their gratitude to Khwaja Gareeb-e-Nawaaz for receiving guidance and this is a fact which cannot be denied.
Musical instruments are used to add beauty, harmony, rhythm and continuity to sweet voices.  When the song is good and lawful it can be lawfully sung with instruments and when the song is bad and unlawful so is the playing of musical instruments with it.  There were many occasions on which the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) allowed the beauty of the Duf; which was prevalent in Mecca and Medina Munnawara.  If Duf was allowed there is no reason why other musical instruments are unlawful.  Hazrat Imam Ghazzali says that sweet sound has been discovered by following the sweet sounds that animals make, and there is nothing in Allah’s creation which is not followed by men.
Nobody says that the sweet sounds that the bird makes is unlawful.  The sound of an animal with life is not separate from the sound of a lifeless instrument.  He further says that there are however certain instruments which the Shariat prohibits.  These were not made unlawful because they emit sweet sounds because if that was the reason then everything that man enjoys would be unlawful.  They were made Haraam because they were connected with the drinking of wine and adultery. 
Hazrat Khwaja Naseeruddin Chiragh says that even one verse of sweet poetry will be enough whether musical instruments are used or not, but if a person has a hard heart one can play all the musical instruments it will have no effect.
Sama is said to be like the sun, which shines on all things but affects them differently.  Some are burnt, some are illuminated, some are melted and some are nourished by it.  There is a possibility that during sama, the entire spiritual path can be completed in a few moments of being intensely drawn by the beloved.  True sama makes the mind tranquil and frees it from the heaviness of the ordinary human condition.  It discloses to man the secrets of Allah.  Sama is obligatory for those whose hearts are alive because in this state it is possible to travel the equivalent of a thousand years of the road of Ma’rifa with one taste of sama, a journey which cannot be accomplished through performing any rites.
Hazrat Sheikh Saadi says, “I will not say what sama is unless I know who the listener is.  If it is someone who can fly in the spiritual world, sama will cause him to fly higher than the angels.  But if he is inclined towards play and amusement, the pull of his worldly self will be strengthened in his being”.
Allah has bestowed upon his dear Prophet (S.A.W.) Hazrat Dawood (Alaihis salaam) with a very sweet voice which caused his throat to be as melodious as musical instruments.  When he recited the Zaboor with his sweet voice the mountains used to become like wax, water ceased to flow, birds that were flying fell dead on the ground.  Animals used to gather around him and listen to his melodies for days without any food or drink.  It is recorded that the effect of his beautiful voice was such that the dead in one sitting was seven hundred ladies and twelve thousand men.  Seeing this great spiritual effect, Shaytaan copied the tunes of Hazrat Dawood (Alaihis Salaam) and manufactured a tamborine and a flute.
He now began playing these instruments opposite the gathering of Hazrat Dawood (Alaihis Salaam) to mislead his community.  Thus causing Hazrat Dawood’s (Alaihis Salaam) gathering to being divided into two groups, the cursed and the blessed.  Those who were cursed joined the devil and those who were blessed remained with Hazrat Dawood (Alaihis Salaam).  Therefore sama effects people according to their intentions and spiritual state.
The Mashaaikh-e-Chist have said that sama is a cure to those who possess the pain of love in their heart.  Hazrat Khwaja Naseeruddeen Chiragh says that there was once, in the city of Isfahan, a king who had only one son whom he loved very dearly.  His love for his son was such that he never allowed him to be out of his sight for a moment.  It so happened that once the king left the palace and the prince found a chance to sneak away into the jungles.  While in the jungle he heard the sound of the Sarod  which caused him to fall of his horse unconscious.  The attendants brought the prince in this state back to the palace.  When the king saw the state of his son he immediately summoned the best physicians to cure his son.  All the physicians failed because they could not understand the type of sickness that had befallen the prince. 
Eventually the prince passed away in this condition.  The king then ordered the physicians to split open the chest of his son and see inside his body what was the problem because he heard his son say that he could feel a burning sensation in his body.
Upon opening his chest the physicians were astonished to find therein a red stone.  Since the king loved his son dearly he requested that the stone be broken into two pieces and that two rings should be made.  After the rings were made the king wore one while the other was kept in his treasury.  Many days had passed when one day a musician presented himself in front of the king and began playing the sarod when suddenly the red stone on the king’s finger turned into blood.  The king immediately called for the physicians and asked them to explain to him as to what was going on.  Seeing this the physicians told the king that the prince was in love and had they known they would have played for him, and had he listened to the sarod the blood would have flowed in his body, not turning it into stone.  The king then requested that the second ring be brought from the treasury and requested the musician to play his music which resulted in the second stone tuning into blood.  
The famous muslim scientist, Al-Kindh, used "Music o therapy" (therapy by use of music) to cure a paralyzed boy.  He wrote about nine books on music.
None can deny the effect of music when even children are lulled into sleep by melodious sounds, poisonous snakes can be brought to submission when a flute is played before it.
Hunters and shepherds use certain instruments to capture their prey.  Certain tribesman in the desert sing special tunes to their camels for them to move faster.
  There is a Persian saying, which says:
  “Even a camel is affected by the melodious tunes it hears. 
Thus, if man who has a higher intellect than an animal 

Is not affected by melodious tunes, then he is an ass” 
Hazrat Sheikh Saadi ~
The mashaaikh have enforced the conditions of Zamaan, Makaan and Ikwaan for the partipation of sama. 
 Zamaan (time)
  -(i) Sama should not interfere with the times of Salaah and funerals

                               -(ii) One’s mind should be at peace and not disturbed.
Makaan (place)  
Sama should be held in a Khanqa or Darbaar or in a quiet place which will help in one’s concentration.

-(ii) Sama should not be practiced on roadsides and market places which is full of disturbances.
-(iii) It should not be held in homes of oppressors as this upsets the mind.
-(iv) Womenfolk and children must be accommodated separately from the place of sama.
Ikhwaan (participants) 
– (i) Persons attending must be spiritually motivated.

-(ii) One should assemble with the intention of deriving spiritual benefit.
-(iii)  Persons attending must be in the state of wudhu.
-(iv) Persons who reject sama must not be allowed to attend.  


The spiritual masters have laid down the following rules of conduct during the Mehfile Sama.
- One should first complete his Fard duties, eg. Salaah, before attending sama, because it is important that sama should not be given priority over salaah. 
One should be in a state of wudhu.  
One should sit in a respectable posture.  
There should be no laughing, joking, eating, drinking etc.  
One should not attend sama thinking it to be some type of amusement or leisure.  
Sama should began and end with the recitation of some verses of the Holy Quran.  
 It is preferable for a spiritual guide to be present.  
Unnecessary requests should not be made to the qawal in the presence of one’s murshid as this is a sign of disrespect.  The murshid is the controller of the mehfil.  
Any presentation to the qawal should be made via a spiritual guide that is present in the assembly.  
One should not pretend to be in the state of ecstasy.  
- There should be no shouting and screaming as this causes the other attendants to be disturbed.
-   One should listen to sama with the permission of one’s murshid.
- If there is another murshid other than your own in the mehfil, one should give him the same respect as one shows to his murshid and if one receives any spiritual benefit from him, he should credit it to one’s own murshid.
- The qawwals themselves should be in a state of wudhu.
- People in the state of wajd should not be left unattended.
- People in the state of wajd should not be left unattended.
-  To hear sama from a woman because her looks can incite passion in a person.
-   If there is use of obscene poetry and useless talk.
-   If any evil or immoral desire arise in one’s mind by hearing these songs.
-   If there is habit formed to listening to sama.  Anything done in excess is unlawful.  Sama should be practiced in moderation and well-balanced.
-  If musical instruments that help in unlawful activities such as drinking alcohol and committing adultery are used.  All instruments are not forbidden.
Sama brings out from the recess of ones heart the power of sight to different matters and a deep feeling and unspeakable taste which can only be felt and not disclosed.  This condition of spiritual intoxication is termed by the sufis as Wajd or Ecstacy.  The fire of ecstasy burns away the un cleanliness of the mind as fire removes rust from iron.  These states vary according to the spiritual conditions of an individual.  Wajd is derived from the root word of Al-Wajid (which is a name of Allah) which means the bestower.  The state of ecstasy is something bestowed by Allah upon those whom he loves.  
Hazrat Khwaja Badruddeen Ishaq asked Hazrat Khwaja Baba Farid Ganje Shakar as to why people become unconscious and fall into a state of ecstacy while being absorbed in sama.  Hazrat Baba Farid replied, “On the day of original creation, when all the souls were asked by Allah in a most beautiful voice, ‘ALASTO BI RABBEKUM? (Am I not your Lord)’ they were overcome by ecstacy after hearing the divine voice.
Unconsciousness has been put into the body and soul therefore when one listens to sweet sounds it reminds them of the divine voice and one is overcome by ecstacy.  Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qaadir Jilani is of the same opinion regarding this matter.
There are two stages of wajd, one concerning spiritual state and one concerning the  unveiling of the divine.
1.  Stage concerning spiritual states
In this stage a person either feels a sense of yearning, fear, seperation, love, grief or other such qualities.  These conditions completely intoxicate a Sufi and his heart comes under the spell of these feelings.  A person in this state is unaware of his surroundings and the world around him.
2.  Stage concerning Mukashifa or Unveiling
In this stage sama cleans and polishes the mirror of the heart until the divine mysteries of Allah begin to reflect in it.  In this state one sees with the eyes of the heart many things, which are beyond the range of sensory vision.  This condition cannot really be explained by example because basically it is regarded as a secret between the seeker and the sought.  Only those who have experienced it know its reality.  This is the goal of those who love Allah.  He who reaches this stage gains his nearness.
1.  Tawajud - This is the lowest level.  Tawajud is a state whereby one attempts to put oneself into a state of ecstacy by thinking of the greatness of Allah.  Some people without any understanding and to impress people imitate a state of wajd.  This act is totally forbidden.  For those who really seek Allah and whose goal is spiritually inclined, tawajud is  permissible for him.  Tawajud is the beginning of Wajd.
2. Wajd - Wajd means grief.  This is a state where one feels the loss of the beloved (Allah).  This state is also regarded as a painful longing for the beloved.  Here one finds himself totally veiled.   The end of this stage is the beginning of Wujud.
3.  Wujud - Wujud means to find and is related to the joy of finding the beloved.  Wujud is the state of unveiling and is divine grace conferred on the lover by the beloved.  This stage is the stage of attaining divine nearness.
This is a very advanced stage of wajd whereby one becomes so overcome by divine love that one exhibits a type of dance and whirling movement known as raqs.  This involuntary body movement is not within ones control at that moment.  Voluntary dancing is strictly prohibited by the Shariat.  It is important that one should restrain oneself from allowing his emotions to take control of his bodily movements.  It is totally forbidden for one to engage in raqs just to show off a supposedly ecstatic state. 
(a) When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was told by Hazrat Jibraeel (Alaihis Salaam) that the poor amongst his followers will enter Jannah 500 years before the rich.  The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) became so happy that he requested someone to sing.  A Sahabi recited a poem which resulted in the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) entering a state of wajd.  The intensity of his wajd was such that the blessed chadar that was on his shoulders fell down.    Thereafter the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) tore his chadar into 400 hundred pieces and distributed it among the Sahabis.

(b) On the night of Meraj the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was ordered by Allah to visit a particular place.  Upon arriving at the place the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) knocked at the door.  From within a voice enquired as to who it was.  The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) replied, “It is I, Muhammad”.  The voice then said, “This is not a place of me or you”.  Thereafter the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) returned to Allah and explained the situation.  Allah then commanded the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) that upon arriving at the place he should inform the keeper that he was a non-entity.  Following this command the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) returned to that place and informed its keeper that he was a non-entity.  Immediately the door opened and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) entered.  Upon entering he heard a very sweet and melodious voice saying, “Come towards me, Come towards me”.  This voice was so beautiful that it caused the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) to enter a state of ecstasy.  While he was in this state a garment fell on him and the angels congratulated him because most of the Prophet (S.A.W.)s desired that garment.

(c) The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) once said to Hazrat Ali, “You are to me just like Haroon was to Moosa”.  Upon hearing this Hazrat Ali stood up in a state of ecstasy and began whirling and tapping his feet.


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