A tribute to Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
CD's of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are burnt and destroyed by the heretics and Talebans. The extremist clerics single him out as their enemy number one, charging him with polluting and corrupting the minds of young. Nations who do not have access to music and deal in monosyllables, irrespective of poverty or wealth, will descend to the lowest profundity of existence. It is not deviation but truth that all gun toting cultures around us are devoid of the intricacy of music, sound and poetry; anything that reaches out to the soul is called heretical. Why should 'food for the soul' be heretical?
The account of Indian traditional music is one of the matured musical institution in the world. The Indus Valley society has sculptures that illustrate dance and old melodic instruments, like the seven holed flute. Hindustani music was influenced by the Persian performance practices of the Afghan Moguls. To abrogate a culture so entrenched in the soul of the region is example of an unprecedented mass cultural holocaust and genocide of talent.
Anything that touches our soul and our higher faculty of senses which the animal kingdom is deprived of needs to be endorsed and encouraged. Al-Farabi, known as Al-Phrarabius in the West, contributed to philosophy, logic, sociology and science. He was best known as the "Second Teacher" (al-Mou'allim al-Thani), Aristotle being the First. He was an expert in music, contributed to musical notes and invented several musical instruments.
Farabi who wrote 'Kitab al-Musiqa,' is therefore an unknown hero and a heretic. Al-Farabi could play his instrument so well as to make people laugh or weep. He attempted to reconcile Platonism and Aristotelism with theology and wrote commentaries on physics, logic, and meteorology. Al-Farabi held the belief that philosophy and Islam are in harmony. Music has grown with the ability of our academic and cultural understanding; the more complex our brain became, the better the music was written. The development of Music, like philosophy, runs parallel and tracks the abilities of the prowess of our cerebral and logical refinement. Music is a direct relative to our faculty of excellence.
Principal boost to music has come from the inception of renaissance; as human mind progressed so did the skill of composing complex music - from its modest beginnings from music of Greece which was a major part of the ancient Greek theater, to more complex chords and much longer musical works used by romantic composers Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Gustav Mahler who relied on more dissonance. As humanity progressed so did the quality of composers like Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart among the central figures of the Classical period.
An argument can be made why did land of Mozart and Beethoven engaged in the most heinous crime of holocaust, the land of rich culture could avoid such dastardly acts. If Music can bring tranquillity and quiet amongst people and breed higher faculties why man becomes an animal sometime? Perhaps rich cultures go to other extremes of ‘patriotic narcissism.’ The case can be made of ‘progressive minds’ busy with exporting pre-eminence of their own race, if Taliban’s are primitive medievalists, a progressive mind that engages in kind of ethnic dominance amongst man can also become a perpetrator of crimes against mankind. Restraint in living and composure in defining others is integral alongside fine notes of music.
In architecture, music and life any kid of extreme destroys fine balance of life based on everlasting frozen notes of mathematical integrity. Composition and design is mathematical truth.
Take the 'Nusrats' or 'Farabis' out of our nation's culture and the backlash from the decadence of minds ruptures any semblance of serenity. After all music is food for the soul, without music soul dies. The region sans culture is devoid of love too, it ends up in the hands of vandals and barbaric tendencies emerge to the top. Radicalism is rooted in 'zealots' inability to be appreciative of higher human faculties. Beauty and love are such faculties and need to be encouraged and appreciated.
The rise of 'extremism' in our region has a lot to do with failure of our generation to appreciate the profound amorous nature of a deep culture that is rooted in our genes as human beings. Imposing sounds of guns and bombs over melody have destroyed our abode.
Why are nations without the depth of understanding of the seven notes of music usually culturally comatose? Philharmonics orchestras of any city are reflective of enlightening creative insightfulness of the city; there is a reason that cultural black holes like Mogadishu, Kabul and Karachi do not have a Philharmonics, any attempts for culture to breed are nipped in the bud. Many a Zubin Mehta die in these primitive medieval societies without being able to express their pre-eminent inborn skill; tyrannical, authoritarian societies led by clerics kill initiative and dexterity. They rule by dictation of mind and through totalitarianism of thought process.
Let's get back to harmoniums, tablas and our Mir’s, Daagh’s, Ghalib’s, Hasrat’s and Faiz. This is a great combination of destroying hatred with great blessing of our innate higher nature. Those who want to encourage our bestial nature and make us more like animals than humans are our enemies; it is our higher human faculties and functions that distinguish us as the great super creation of Providence. Ghazals and music are food for any living soul.
Take the 'soul' out of existence and one is a fossilized being. In ‘The Journey of Man’ - A Genetic Odyssey, a book by Spencer Wells, an American geneticist and anthropologist, he traces the human evolution, summing up the recent progress in genetics and evolutionary biology. Chimps are genetically quite close to humans but are nowhere near in comprehending higher faculties of fine arts. The complete mapping of the chimp genome in the summer of 2005 showed the genetic difference with humans to be 1.23% (ie 98.77% similarity). Nature (journal) of September published the seminal paper on this comparison studies by 67 prominent scientists. Art, music and poetry are functions of higher creativity of our human creation; let's never compromise on them. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghulam Ali or Mehdi Hasan are figurative representations of that higher faculty.
Real human 'love' stems from poetry and free minds of evergreen besotted failed lovers... Human neuronal cells are unique and participate in 'higher order' brain functions. The part of the human soul with reason is unique to humans. The Human Function Argument of Aristotle's whole ethical theory is found in Book I, Chapter 7 of the Ethics (approximately between lines 1097b24 and 1098a9). He argues that the human function is activity of the soul that expresses or requires reason.
Promote love as product of reason, promote music and promote understanding; that is how humans are designed - a machine that cannot operate without love. And our software needs new updates and downloads from the prophets of love, like Nusrat Ali Khan. These are the genuine mystics of mankind, let's revert to them...
Tum jo a jaa tay ho ada kerney masjid mein namaz
najane kitnoon kee khaza hot hai .............
meray daman mein kantoon key sawa kuch nahin
tum too phooloon key kharidar nazar aita ho........
When you come to pray in the mosque,
do you know how many lose concentration gazing at you,
you are looking for flowers,
I have nothing but thorns in my possession,
this mild intoxication.
Is the fault of your gaze.
since you have taught me how to drink
Ye Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai
Lyrics By Mohammad Iqbal Naqibi
Sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali
Translated by Ayesha Khanna