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Sama falls into that legal classification of
acts which are technically called 'Mubah', which mean that they are
Permitted by the Shariah, but have no religious value or
significance. For a good purpose it is legally permissible, but if
it is used for an undesirable or an evil purpose, then it becomes
In other words, Sama or Qawwali falls under the neutral category.
There are four situations of sama:
1. First is the situation where Sama/Qawwali is held only for the
sake of entertainment and pleasure. It is not correct, legally
speaking, according to the Shariah or otherwise to hold that Sama is
haram or forbidden only because it pleases the heart and one gets
pleasure and happiness from it, for the reason that not all pleasant
and pleasurable things are made haram, forbidden. Only those
pleasurable things which contain hidden potential for evil are the
ones that are made haram. Pleasant songs and voices of the birds,
tasty foods, pleasant sights of natural panoramas and gardens and
enticing fragrance of flowers are all permissible. So it is that it
is not haram to watch entertaining dance and listen to melodious
songs to please our hearts. I refer to two sound Traditions of the
Prophet (pbuh) i.e., Sahih Ahadith to make this point clear.
Once, on an Eid day, some Abyssinians were giving a song and dance
performance right on the premises of the Prophet's Mosque in Medinah.
Bibi Aisha . r.a. narrates that the Prophet asked her if she would
like to watch it. She agreed and both she and the holy Prophet
watched it for quite a while.
Another hadith, also by Haz. Bibi Aisha, r.a. -- on the Day of Eid,
two slave girls were singing with the accompaniment of duff drums,
right in front of her and in her own apartment, when the Prophet (pbuh)
entered the house, passed by them and laid down on his bed with his
face turned the other way. Haz. Abu Bakr r.a. also happened to enter
later and chided them for doing such devilish things in the
Prophet's own house. Whereupon the holy Prophet urged Abu Bakr r.a.
to let them do it because after all it was the Eid day.
2. The second situation is where the listener of Sama has some
undesirable thoughts on his mind or evil passions in his heart eg.
love of some beautiful woman to whom he is not married and listens
to sama music in front of her, or in her company. It is obvious that
this would only increase the pangs of his love or the passions for
the carnal desires for her. With the mind occupied with such
thoughts in such a manner, such a Sama would be haram.
3. The third situation is the reverse of the second.
Here, in this third situation, the heart and mind of the listener is
not polluted with evil thoughts and passions. Instead good and
praiseworthy thoughts and intentions for doing good prevails. In
such a case Sama would enhance the good qualities of his heart and
influence him to pursue his intented course of good actions e.g. (1)
going for Hajj or for Jihad or fulfilling any other obligatory
duties such as Salat, etc. or (2) It could be for the purpose of
enhancing the consciousness and acute awareness of the regrets of
one's own sins and transgressions so that the melancholy feelings
will bring tears to his eyes and cause him to ask for forgiveness of
the sins; or (3) hold Sama on festive or pleasant occasions such as
weddings, walima feasts, Aqiqah or to celebrate occasions of return
from journeys, etc. Sama would enhance the joys and further increase
the enjoyment of such pleasures, resulting from the blessings and
favours of Allah ta'ala. The best authority or precedent is that on
occasions of the Holy Prophet's return to Medinah from journeys,
people of Medinah used to welcome him by singing songs with the
accompaniment of Duff drums. So it is that Sama is permissible on
occasions of Eid and other festive occasions or just for friends and
relatives to get together out of mutual love and affection and
comradeship, share food and eat together in order to enhance the
happy moment and make the happy moments even happier, more pleasant
and more enjoyable in the company of the dear ones.
4. The fourth kind of Sama/Qawwali actually deserves to be termed
the real Sama/Qawwali. This relates to the situation where love of
Allah Ta'ala has reached the point of an ardent love (Ishq).
In this case, Sama is not only permissible, but it becomes extremely
necessary for such a person.
Every thing or act that increases the friendship or love of Allah
Ta'ala obviously becomes the object of a plenitude of spiritual
recompense and this is why the Sufis' attach so much importance to
Sama/Qawwali is, in reality a means of increasing the brightening
light of the burning flame of the love of Allah and it has a
tremendous spiritual effect on the listeners. Many a Sufi undergoes
a state of unveiling of spiritual divine mysteries. When such states
coming from the world of the unseen thus become overwhelming, the
Sufis experience a particular kind of spiritual state of
transformation which is called 'wajd' or spiritual ecstasy.
Man, or rather man's spirit has a special connection and affinity
with the celestial world of spirits. This connection and
relationship is a mystery. It is the Sama which moves and activates
this mystical element in man in such a way that it makes the
listener totally unaware of his surroundings in this phenomenal
world to some other reality. The man thus becomes completely unaware
of this world, its surroundings and the effects of the corporeal
universe. Sometimes the effect of Sama becomes so intense and severe
that all the energy and strength of the listener's limbs becomes
suspended and he loses his consciousness. One who remains intact and
manages to stay on his original position even after passing through
such a state of deep ecstasy reaches and attains to very high
spiritual positions indeed!
SAMA - Sufi Poetry
It is said that the very essence of Sufism is
poetry and the Sufi's are never tired of speaking or writing at
great length on the 'Ishq', or 'love of Allah'.
The Mathnawi of Maulana Rumi teaches in the sweetest strains that
all nature abounds with love divine. The works of the celebrated
Jami and the lyric odes of Hafiz are so full of ecstatic rapture
that these works together with the moral lessons of Sa'di may be
termed the scriptures of the Sufis in the Persian language.
In their poetry, the Sufi's often exchange the external features of
all things for the internal, the corporeal for the spiritual, and
thus give an imaginary significance to outward forms. They behold
objects of a precious nature in their natural character and for this
reason, the greater part of their words have a spiritual and
For instance, when, like Hafiz, they mention wine, they mean a
knowledge of God, which figuratively considered, is the love of God;
wine, figuratively viewed, is also love.
The tavern or the wine-shop, with them, means the murshidul Kamil,
or spiritual director, for his heart is said to be the depository of
the love of God.
The wine-cup (Jam) is the TALQIN, or the pronunciation of the name
of God in a declaration of faith, as "There is no God but Allah" or
it signifies the words which flow from the Murshid's mouth
respecting divine Knowledge, and which, when heard by the disciple
or salik (one who pursues the true path), intoxicates his soul, and
divests his heart of passions, giving him pure spiritual delights.
The sweetheart/beloved means the excellent preceptor, because when
anyone sees his beloved, he admires her perfect proportions, with a
heart full of love. The sweetheart is the object of a worldly
affection, but the preceptor of a spiritual attachment.
The salik/disciple beholds the secret knowledge of God which fills
the heart of his spiritual preceptor, or Murshid, and through it
receives a similar inspiration, and acquires a full perception of
all that he possesses, just as the pupil learns from his master. As
the lover delights in the presence of his sweetheart, so the salik
rejoices in the company of his beloved Murshid, or preceptor.
The curls or ringlets of the beloved are the grateful praises of the
preceptor, tending to bind the affections of the disciple.
The mole on her face signify that when the pupil, at times, beholds
the total absence of all worldly want on the part of the preceptor,
he also abandons all the desires of both worlds -- he perhaps even
goes so far as to desire nothing else in life than his preceptor.
The furrows on the brow of the beloved one, which they compare to
verses of the Qur'an, mean the light of the heart of the Murshid.
They are compared to the verses of the Qur'an, because the
attributes of God, in accordance with the injunction of the Prophet:
"Be ye endued with divine qualities" are possessed by the Murshid.
SAMA - Rules of Etiquette
It is necessary to bear in mind that three
things are essential for Sama/Qawwali gatherings: --
1. Time: It is not appropriate to hold sama at a time when salat/namaz
is to be offered or when food is usually served. If sama is held at
a time when the heart is occupied with other things and other
thoughts, sama would be ineffective and useless.
2. Place: It should be held in a clean & pure place.
3. People: It should be held in the company of people who are
sophisticated and capable of observing the importance of the rules
of good conduct and etiquette. If people who object to or believe
that holding Sama is not permissible under the Law, or people of
proud nature and worldly pomp and show are allowed to attend, then
the Sama sessions are likely to be tainted by frequent hypocritical
ecstatic outbursts and showy dance performances of such undesirable
Imam Ghazzali prescribes the following ten rules of etiquette: --
1. Sit in a seriously attentive manner by keeping the head down.
2. Do not look at each other.
3. Every one should concentrate and occupy himself fully in the Sama.
4. Should have no conversation during sama.
5. Do not do distracting things -- do not even drink water.
6. Do not look, gaze or stare hither and thither.
7. Do not move your arms or legs unnecessarily and do not make any
movement with a show.
8. Sit in a position which is presented for Qaida/Tashhahud in salat.
9. Occupy the heart and mind fully with the thought and remembrance
10. Keep yourself under control so that you do not stand up or move
about in a voluntary manner, of your own accord. However, if anybody
does so under the condition that he has no control over himself and
involuntarily (that is, not of his own accord or volition) then,
others should also stand up and help him in order to prevent him
from losing his balance and hurting himself.
To the above points I would add:
11. There should be no applause from the
audience, especially by way of clapping and saying 'wahwah'. The
audience must appreciate the fact that the musicians might feel
insulted by such undesirable means of expressing their appreciation
. For, one must always bear in mind that the musicians/qawwals are
to be respected because of their devotion and dedication to their
performance for the sake of Allah alone, and only for the purpose of
hoping to achieve the pleasure of Allah.
All praise belongs to Allah and all rewards for the performance and
audition is from Allah. Musicians should neither be encouraged nor
discouraged by the lack of clapping or lack of requests for
repeating certain lines of Poetry or any other form of applause.
However, the audience, when overwhelmed by certain lines of poetry
or music, feeling obliged in an uncontrollable manner to express
their delight, may express satisfaction by uttering subhan'Allah, or
12. According to Indian/Pakistani tradition, the audience may offer
donations of money to the head of the Sama assembly, that is the
chairman presiding over the Qawwali sessions.
It is in the discretion of the chairman to use that donated money
for the purpose of defraying the costs of holding the Qawwali
session eg. rental of accommodation, equipment and other incidental
expenses. Sometimes, the presiding chairman may symbolically accept
the donation by simply indicating his blessings by touching it
momentarily and re-directing the donations then to be passed on to
Offering money directly to the Qawwals may very well be regarded as
ill-mannered and unethical.
Traditionally too, the Qawwal, the person who is held in great
respect for the good work he does, only for the sake of Allah, can
and does often often take a hint for repeating a particular couplet
if the audience indicates their special appreciation by making
further trips to make additional donations to the chairman in a
repetitive manner at the time of singing a particular couplet or
This procedure continues on throughout the Sama (Qawwali) sitting.
Qualification of a Qawwal Sama
A perfect Qawwal is one who is the master of
classical Indian music gifted with a sweet and fascinating voice on
the one hand, and is thoroughly conversant with the variety of
selective poetical compositions on Sufism by distinguished Persian,
Urdu and Hindi poets on the other. In addition to many years’ hard
practice consistent with the varied knowledge of the said poetry, a
really good Qawwal still needs the "spiritual blessings" of any
great Sufi saint for his ultimate perfection and general
recognition. There are many instances of excellent Qawwals who have
risen to frame and fortune under the blessings of one or the other
Sufi saint in India
Composition of a Qawwali Sama
A group of qawwali musicians, called a party,
typically consists of eight or nine men — women are, for all intents
and purposes, excluded from traditional Muslim music as respectable
women are traditionally prohibited from singing in the presence of
men, though these traditions are changing — including a lead singer,
one or two side singers, one or two harmoniums (which may be played
by lead singer, side singer or someone else), and percussion. If
there is only one percussionist, he plays the tabla and dholak,
usually the tabla with the left hand and the dholak with the right.
Often there will be two percussionists, in which case one might play
the tabla and the other the dholak. There is also a chorus of four
or five men who repeat key verses, and who aid and abet percussion
The performers sit in two rows - the lead singer, side singers and
harmonium players in the front row, and the chorus and
percussionists in the back row. Before the fairly recent
introduction of the harmonium, qawwalis were usually accompanied by
the sarangi. The sarangi had to be retuned between songs; the
harmonium didn't, and was soon preferred.
History of Ajmer
to Reach Ajmer
Ajmer Map |
Places to See Ajmer
Holy Shrine Daily Time Table