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The film follows William Dalrymple’s personal journey into the mystical and musical side of Islam as he charts traditions of Sufi music in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco.
With a dogmatic and fundamentalist view of Muslims increasingly predominant in the Western media, there has never been a more important time to show an alternative view of Islam. Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam that preaches peace, tolerance and pluralism, while encouraging music as a way of deepening one’s relationship with God. This documentary explores Sufism and its music in different parts of the Islamic world, including Syria, Turkey, Pakistan and Morocco.
Sufi Soul reveals the views and beliefs of devotees while examining the growing threat from fundamentalist Islam and showcasing fantastic performances from some of the world’s greatest Sufi musicians.
As Muslim extremists dominate the headlines, writer and historian William Dalrymple explores an altogether different side of Islam. Sufi Soul – the Mystic Music of Islam, follows Dalrymple on a personal journey into the mystical and musical side of Islam as he charts the traditions of Sufi music in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco.
For 1400 hundred years there has been a debate within Islam between liberal Sufi and orthodox approaches. For millions of Sufi followers worldwide, music is at the heart of their tradition; a crucial vehicle for getting closer to God. This is at direct odds with fundamentalist Islam which either disapproves of music or, at its most extreme, thinks it should be banned. This has led to varying degrees of Sufi persecution by fellow Muslims over the centuries.
Taking many different forms across the Islamic world - from the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey to the Qawwali music of Pakistan or the latest Grammy-winning CD by Youssou N’Dour - Sufism has produced some of the world’s most spectacular and inspirational music celebrated by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Exactly where and when Sufism began is difficult to say, but it’s often forgotten that Islam and Christianity have shared roots in the Middle East. Dalrymple’s film traces this common history, and discovers Sufism to be a peaceful, tolerant and pluralistic bulwark against fundamentalism.
Sufi Soul shows the music in its authentic, live setting in Sufi shrines and meeting places across the Islamic world, but also how it’s a part of popular culture. In Pakistan it features the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, his nephew Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, the extraordinary Sufi troubadour Sain Zahoor and Pakistan’s most popular pop group Junoon. In Turkey there’s ney player Kudsi Erguner, Whirling Dervishes from Istanbul and the club-Sufi Mercan Dede. Dalyrmple also charts the worldwide impact of Rumi, the 13th century Sufi mystic who was – perhaps surprisingly - the best-selling poet in America in the 1990s. The film closes in Morocco at the Fes Festival of Sacred Music where the ideals of Sufism are extended to embrace faiths worldwide. The Senegalese star Youssou N’Dour performs a song celebrating one of the Sufi saints of Fes. “Before the recent problems, for the majority of Muslims Islam was always a religion of peace and tolerance. I believe music can correct the image of Islam”.
Director Simon Broughton, a recognized authority on world music, is co-editor of the Rough Guide to World Music, and editor of the World Music magazine, Songlines.
“This programme needs to be seen by anyone who loves music” – Mail on Sunday
“This programme is a revelation” – Observer Magazine
“An intoxicating odyssey, chock-full of images as rich and various as the music it celebrates” – The Times
“And beautiful these trance-like rhythms, chants and dervishes are, so much so that they’ve attracted a modern audience of post-ravers and New Agers” – The Guardian
“This illuminating film shows there’s much more to Sufism than whirling dervishes” - Daily Mail
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