Archive for the ‘Sheikh Habboush’ Category

Ensemble Al Kindi & Sheikh Habboush - Aleppian Sufi Transe


Aleppo has been an important center for Sufism since the thirteenth century, when the rulers of the Ayubid dynasty started building Sufi convents (khanaqa) and lodges (zawiya, pl. zawaiya) as part of their policy of fostering Sunni Islam against the threat of Ismaili Shi‘ism and the Crusaders. Aleppo was a cultural crossroad due its geographical location and its function as a trading center to where converged caravans coming from Anatolia, Iran, Mesopotamia and southern Syria. This cosmopolitan environment was reflected in the doctrinal and ritual traits of the Sufism practiced in Aleppo, which fused mystical trends developed in the Arab, Turkish and Persian religious and cultural contexts. Under the Ottoman Empire some Sufi tariqas where organized into centralized and hierarchical structures, putting the local zawiyas under the leadership of a shaykh al-mashaykh.

Nowadays despite the sociological and cultural challenges created by the industrialization and urbanization of the Syrian society as well as the rise of the ideas of secular nationalism and Islamic reform, Sufism in Syria retains its vitality and show clear signs of internal renewal and expansion. It is a fact that some zawiyas and Sufi practices declined or simply disappeared due the influence of secular ideas and Salafi Islam, which were hostile to Sufism. The nationalization of the awqaf (religious endowments) by the state also cut the economic basis of many Sufi activities. Nevertheless, many traditional zawiyas remain active in Aleppo and new Sufi zawiyas were created in the last decades, expanding the Sufi activities to the modern neighborhoods beyond the Old City. The permanence and expansion of Sufism in Aleppo shows that there is no inherent contradiction between Sufi practices or beliefs and modernity. Furthermore, the idea that Sufism is a marginal religious trend or simply “folk” Islam does not hold in Syria, where its rituals are part of the public expression of Islam and its doctrines attract followers from all strata of the Syrian society. Maybe the best example of the central place occupied by Sufism in Syrian Islam is shaykh Ahmad Kuftaru, who is both the official leader of Sunni Islam as the Grand Mufti of Syria and the supreme guide of a Sufi order as the shaykh of the tariqa Naqshbandiyya Kuftariyya.

The Zawiya of Shaykh Habbush:
Shaykh Habboush inherited his mystical knowledge from his father who was also a Sufi shaykh. He was initiated in several mystical traditions, but the tariqa Qadiriyya and the tariqa Rifa‘iyya are the main sources of his mystical teachings and of the ritual structure of his dhikr. The Rifa‘i influence on shaykh Habboush can be seen on the presence in his zawiya of the iron skewers used in the performance of the darab al-shish. While he is entitled by his initiation in the Rifa‘iyya to perform the darab al-shish in his disciples, he usually prefers other forms of evaluation of their advance in the mystical path.

Every Wednesday night disciples and followers flock into his zawiya located in the traditional neighborhood of Bab al-Hadid in the Old City of Aleppo in order to take part in the dhikr. The dhikr starts with a sama‘ during which shaykh Habboush sings mystical poems about God’s love or the prophet together with other singers. These songs are meant to induce emotions in the audience in order to help the participants to achieve the mystical states that will bring them closer to God. Shaykh Habboush is versed in the art of the inshad (mystical singing) and his capacity of enrapturing the audience through the beauty of his singing, the power of his voice and the strength of his performance are well known in the Sufi circles of Aleppo. After the sama‘ all participants stand up and start the final part of the dhikr, engaging their selves into the performance of back-forth movements and utterance of “Allah” at the sound of drums and cymbals. Then, the dhikr ends and shaykh Habboush delivers a sermon. Sweets and tea are served to the participants as a token of the shaykh’s hospitality. After some small conversation and a last message from the shaykh the participants leave the zawiya for their homes sure of having renewed their links with the divine.


  • Sheikh Habboush : chant
  • Julien Jâlal Eddine Weiss : qânun, artistic direction
  • Abdul Kader Masarani, Hasan Altnji, Ali Akil Sabah, Zakaria Mahyeddin, Jawadakh : chant
  • Mohamed Qadrî Dalal: Ud (luth)
  • Ziad Qadi Amin: nay
  • Adel Shams el-Din : riqq (percussion)
  • Mohamed Yahya : whirling dervish


  • CD 1 :
  1. Taqsim Nay Maqam Rast (05:35)
  2. Bashraf Rast 28-4, Rythme Dawr Kabir (11:53)
  3. Sama’i Maqam Rast (12:58)
  4. Djoubi (05:44)
  5. Qacida Falet, Maqam Rast (05:19)
  6. Ughniya (09:00)
  7. Taqsim Nay Et Samai Houzam (06:23)
  8. Qacida Falt (05:01)
  9. Fasl Aj Jalale (06:52)
  10. Tarqiyat Madad (04:47)
  11. Qacida Mawzun (04:12)
  • CD 2 :
  1. Taqsim ‘ud Maqam Bayati (03:02)
  2. Qacida Falet Maqam Bayati (06:06)
  3. Fasl Maqsum (12:34)
  4. Taqassim Qanou Et Oud, Dou Cythare Et Luth (02:02)
  5. Qacida Sheikh Habboush . Maqam Rast Re (01:47)
  6. Fasl As Sawi (04:07)
  7. Fasl Khammar (06:10)
  8. Muwashshah, You Who Sees And Ist Not Sawn (11:36)
  9. Fasl Bahlül (05:48)
  10. Muwashshah, My Heart Trust In Allah (05:57)
  11. Rutual Final Prayer Of Derwisch Yahyah Kamami (01:57)

Duration : 77:49 – 60:15 | Bitarte : 160 kBit/s | Year : 2003 | Size : 172 mb

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