Beyond the basic religious practices, Muslim mystics have found music essential to deeper spiritual exercises. The whirling dervishes of Turkey and the South Asian qawwali tradition are examples of ways Muslims use music to draw attention to and become intertwined with the Divine. Hussein Rashid, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate studying South Asian devotional literatures, describes a typical qawwali concert as a highly interactive process between the performers and the audience, designed to bring the "listeners into communion with the Divine."
The Muslim Voices Festival will feature this broad array of Muslim music - from highly skilled Quranic recitations to whirling dervishes and Sufi music to Pakistani qawwalis. Prominent vocalists, composers, and musicians from throughout the Muslim world will perform a wide range of sacred music. There will be instrumental recitals and vocalists singing poetry from the sacred texts of Rumi.
Modern, secular poetry will also be sung at the Festival. Rounding out the full diversity of Muslim voices, the Festival will feature a number of performances by Muslims of more secular outlooks, such as the alternative rock band Zerobridge. These voices will complement the spiritual music with probing social commentary, together creating a compelling Muslim narrative for the Festival participants.
Asma T. Uddin is Editor-in-Chief of AltMuslimah.com, an online portal that explores gender relations among Muslims from the male and female perspectives, and puts the spotlight on strong, successful Muslim women.