Posts Tagged ‘Sufi’

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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Dhafer Youssef Ensemble - 1996 - Mousafer ظافر يوسف مسافر


  • Dhafer Youssef oud, voice
  • Anton Burger violin
  • Achim Tang double bass
  • Jatinder Thakur tabla
  • guest: Otto Lechner accordion


  1. Baraca (06:20)
  2. El Houb El Hindi (09:22)
  3. Am Naschmarkt (05:11)

Duration : 20:53 | Bitarte : 350 kBit/s | Year : 1996 | Size : 42 mb

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Dhafer Youssef & Wolfgang Muthspiel - 2007 - GLOW

Although it’s a dual-leader album, in which oud player Dhafer Youssef‘s performance is at least as important as that of guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, one of Glow’s chief causes for celebration is Muthspiel’s on-form presence. After releasing the shimmeringly beautiful Bright Side (Material Records, 2006)—a little-known masterpiece which may yet take its place alongside such jazz guitar iconographs as Johnny Smith’s Moonlight In Vermont (Roulette, 1953, reissued 2004) and Wes Montgomery’s Incredible Jazz Guitar (Riverside, 1960)—Muthspiel’s project with drummer Brian Blade, Friendly Travelers (Material Records, 2007), was a disappointment, interesting in conception but not entirely convincing in execution.

Glow finds Muthspiel back in immaculate form as both guitarist and producer (significantly, the Blade album was a co-production while the Youssef is solely produced by Muthspiel). The disc reunites the Tunisian oud player and Austrian guitarist after a gap of six years following Muthspiel’s playing and composing collaboration on Youssef’s Electric Sufi (Enja, 2001). The album, Youssef’s breakthrough, was a thrilling, perfectly realized collision of traditional Maghrebi music, European jazz and a lively slab of dirty, visceral rock.

Wolfgang Muthspiel Dhafer Youssef ظافر يوسف

Glow inhabits similar territory, but with a broader, and perhaps deeper, emotional range. In large part this is down to Youssef’s singing, which Muthspiel, as producer, has coaxed to new expressive peaks. At times Youssef’s voice achieves the ecstatic intensity of the late Pakistani qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, at others it suggests the winsome vulnerability of the late electric troubadour Jeff Buckley. He sounds by turns beatific and scary, caressing and chilling, alternating lustrous tenor passages with tortured, almost weeping, falsetto. It’s an extraordinary performance.

Extraordinary, too, is the instrumental content and, again, comparisons with Electric Sufi are pertinent. The earlier album was recorded by a nine-piece, the new one by a quintet. The smaller line-up retains a trumpeter, with Tom Harrell replacing Markus Stockhausen, but makes more of the interaction between Youssef and Muthspiel. Both have an exquisite gift for melody, and an understanding of the power of silence, and both place every note with precision. It’s a commonplace to say such and such a musician “makes every note count,” but Muthspiel, in particular, really does.

Glow uses electronic wizardry with a lighter touch than its predecessor, though textural post-production continues to be a feature of Muthspiel’s work. Alegre Correa replaces drummers Mino Cinelu and Will Calhoun, and works in intimate partnership with the young bassist Matthias Pichler (who debuted so brilliantly on Bright Side).

Some music has the ability to condense time, a smaller proportion stretches it. Glow, its every bar a micro-world of eventful creation, is amongst the latter.

Dhafer Youssef: voice, oud.
Wolfgang Muthspiel
: guitars, violin, programming.
Fender Rhodes
Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn.
Matthias Pichler: bass.
Alegre Correa
: drums, percussion.
Rebekka Bakken
: voice (9).

Track List:
1 – Mon Parfum (02:58)
2 – Babylon (06:00)
3 – Sand Dance (04:47)
4 – Mein Versprechen (06:55)
5 – Etude #3 (05:06)
6 – Lamento (03:31)
7 – Maya (05:10)
8 – Emmerich (05:34)
9 – Cosmology (06:01)
10 – Rhapsodie (03:34)

Duration: 49:36 | Bitrate: 320 kBit/s | Year: 2007 | Size: 118 mb

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Dhafer Youssef - Abu Nawas Rhapsody

Album: Abu Nawas Rhapsody
Artist: Dhafer Youssef
Country: Tunisia

Dhafer Youssef (born 1967 in Teboulba, Tunisia) is a composer, vocalist, and oud player. He has been living and working in various European countries since 1990. During this time he had the opportunity to perform his music on stages in Austria, France, Germany, Switzerland, the UK and other countries as well as his native Tunisia (where he started singing in the Islamic tradition  at age 5 ).

Dhafer Youssef’s music is rooted in the Sufi tradition and other mystical music but has always been wide open to ideas from any other musical culture as well as the jazz scene. With his poetic approach on the oud (the Arabic lute), his complex Arab-colored compositions and especially his deeply affecting singing when humming along with his melodies, Dhafer Youssef is one of the most impressive voices to emerge in this musical field in many years. Testifying a wide range of sound colors, stylistic facets and musical ingredients, Dhafer Youssef opens the way to a new definition of East-Western crossover.

Dhafer Youssef ظافر يوسف


  • Dhafer Youssef: oud, vocals
  • Tigran Hamasyan: piano
  • Chris Jennings: bass
  • Mark Guiliana: drums

Track List:

  1. Sacrè “The Wine Ode Suite” 4:54
  2. Les Ondes Orientales 9:09
  3. Khamsa “The Khamriyyat Of Abu Nuwas” 7:38
  4. Interl’oud 1:43
  5. Odd Elegy 4:52
  6. Ya Hobb “In The Name Of Love” 4:08
  7. Shaouk 2:07
  8. Shata “Shatahat” 5:22
  9. Mudamatan “The Wine Ode Suite” 4:51
  10. Sabaa “Hayastan Dance” 4:58
  11. Sura 6:05
  12. Profane “The Wine Ode Suite” 4:39

Duration: 60:39 | Bitrate: 320 kBit/s | Year: 2010 | Size: 150 mb

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Dhafer Youssef Digital Prophecy 2003 Front

Album: Digital Prophecy
Artist: Dhafer Youssef
Country: Tunisia


1 – Diaphanes (05:43)
2 – Aya (07:39)
3 – Dawn Prayer (03:56)
4 – Sparkling Truth (05:49)
5 – Ysamy (08:41)
6 – Holy Breath (03:08)
7 – Seventh Heaven Suite (07:42)
8 – Woodtalk (03:48)
9 – Holy Lie (09:30)
10 – Flowing Water (09:41)

Duration: 67:34 | Bitrate: 320 kBit/s | Year: 2003 | Size: 161 mb

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