Great documentary on Sufi music

If anyone is looking for a lush, inspiring and accessible multimedia introduction to Sufism–not to mention a reminder of the great beauty also exists in much maligned places like Pakistan–I highly recommend "Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music of Islam."

It's a bit light on theory and oversimplifies a bit at times, but it makes up for that with rich footage and wonderful excerpts. It crisscrosses the globe to bring you vivid glimpses of Islamic mystical practice set to music–from Nusrat Fath Ali Khan to Youssou N'dour–articulately glossed by historian William Dalrymple.It's a sumptuous tour.

Sufi Soul: The Mystic Music of Islam

Here's an excerpt:


The uncut recordings in extras aren't to be missed. For heaven's sake, don't just watch the YouTube snippets.

I've sometimes found Dalrymple's commentary in the international press on Muslims unbalanced and overly alarmist (i.e., Eurabian)–though, one must admit, they're always a pleasure to read–so it's interesting to see how enthusiastic and knowledgeable he clearly is about Sufism. Too bad in other endeavors he seems so quick to see/assume the worst in Muslims.

I hope there are more films like this. This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential material. It's amazing how few films have been made about Sufism at a time Rumi is America's best selling poet.

It is available on NetFlix, though I think I'm going to buy it, as with the uncut extras it's practically an album, too


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