Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"if god is a dj"

For a long time now, I've realized that there is an intriguing comparison/contrast which can be made between the music and chanting which forms a part of sufi dhikr sessions and secular dance music played in clubs, (especially the less verbal genres like techno, house and trance). But recently when I heard the following lyric:
If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
Love is the rhythm
You are the music
If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
You get what you're given
its all how you use it
"If God is a DJ", Pink

it made me wonder if the lines had some antecedent among some form of Sufi poetry (e.g. "If God is a tabla player"?). It turns out I didn't find exactly what I was looking for but I did come across the following from musician and mystic, Hazrat Inayat Khan:
Why is music called the divine art, while all other arts are not so called? We may certainly see God in all arts and in all sciences, but in music alone we see God free from all forms and thoughts. In every other art there is idolatry. Every thought, every word has its form. Sound alone is free from form. Every word of poetry forms a picture in our mind. Sound alone does not make any object appear before us. Music, the word we use in our everyday language, is nothing less than the picture of the Beloved.

In some ways, Hazrat Inayat Khan is a controversial figure. Some people almost consider him to have played a large role in creating the false notion that Sufism is something which is seperate from Islam, instead of seeing that Sufism (tasawwuf, tazkiyah, the fiqh and science of acquiring ihsan) as something very integral to Islam. So I would say that he has definitely been influential, but I wouldn't recommend his works as a way to understand authentic Sufism. But in any case, if you want to get a sense of the rest of his opinions you can check out:
The Sufi Message of Hazrat Inayat Khan
Wahiduddin's Hazrat Inayat Khan site


rabfish said...

i love it

DA said...


Khan may nto be an exampler of traditional sufism, and I do think new age, non-Islamic "Sufism" is kinda whack...But I also looked at Abdalqadir As-Sufi's page the other day and BAM right on the front, conspiracy minded Jew and Shia bashing. I'm not really sure I could say one is worse than the other.

Abdul-Halim V. said...

From my perspective, no group is really perfect. I would say that there are some broad parameters of correctness. If we are talking about religion, then the basic categories would be (for me) "those who believe in Allah and the last day and do righteous deeds" (which I think is more inclusive than just people of the book), "Muslim" and "Ahl al Sunnah wal Jamaat".

But in my opinion, every group out there is a work in progress and has room for improvement. Every group has its positives and negatives.

And it is certainly possible that some "unorthodox" groups are more positive in terms of their impacts on society than some "orthodox" groups.

DA said...

I agree, though some groups' negatives outway their positives pretty heavily (and vice versa). But yeah, there is no perfect "73rd Sect" though many try to pass themselves off as such.

Incidentally, I feel to some extent that practitioners of traditional tassawuf have more in common, oftentimes, with Chasidic Jews than with a lot of what calls itself Sufism. This isn't (nessiscarily) me dissing anyone, just an observation.

Of course though, as you say, the Qu'ran does offer a fairly large variety of people that could be said to be on the Sirat-al Mustaqin, and warns us that oftentimes those we speak badly of could very well be better in Allah's site than we are :-) So probably best to use the criticism sauce sparingly.

Abdul-Halim V. said...


I think a lot of traditional mystical paths share certain similarities.

Actually, you could probably find certain broad similarities between orthodox Judaism, orthodox/traditional Islam and the orthodox/traditional Christians (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox folks [Coptics, Ethiopian Orthodox, etc.])

My theory is that the prophets come by with a core message but then the later commentators, scholars, developers etc. have to similar basic situations/problems (i.e. providing the core values for a theocratic civilization.