May 19, 2012

Sufi Music - Sain Zahoor Ahmed

"Saieen Zahoor or Saeen Zahur Ahmad (Urdu: سائیں ظہور) (born circa 1937) is a leading Sufi musician from Pakistan. He has spent most of his life singing in Sufi shrines, and didn't produce a record until 2006, when he was nominated for the BBC World Music awards based on word of mouth. He emerged as the "best BBC voice of the year 2006"wikipedia

I first laid my eyes on Sain Zahur a couple of days ago, in a documentary "Sufi Soul - The Mystical Music of Islam" in Youtube. In the opening introduction of the documentary, the host introduced him as

Sain Zahur, is a sort of holy minstrel. He sings and praise of god in Sufi shrines in Pakistan. "The cuff of love are long and complicated" he sings, for it is love rather than fear of god that lies at the heart of Sufism.

while this fascinating figure singing while playing the most intriguing string instrument I ever seen, seemingly lost in ecstasy in his songs.

 Though to be honest the first thing that came to my mind is how badass this guy really look. Just look at me he looked like some great, forgotten pirate lord who had repented, or at least someone who had killed a couple hundreds of pirates bare-handed in his free time. Slap him some pirate uniforms and a little make up and you got yourself an uncle of Captain Jack Sparrow here.

A half-brother of Cap'n Teague, mayhaps?

But what really amazes me is his powerful voice..and his way of carrying the songs. When he sings, he sounded like a doting grandfather singing advices to his grandchildren, warning them of the traps of worldly desires and to seek the love of god. He is an illiterate, and some sort of fakir I believe, so most (if not all) of his songs are from the poems of the great Sufi poets such as Bulleh Shah and Jalaluddin Rumi. He is, however, one of the most celebrated Sufi musician in Pakistan, in the league of legends such as Fateh Ali Khan and Abeeda Parveen.

 Article; The Sufi Magic of Sain Zahoor, Desiblitz

Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na

(You read to become
all knowledgeable
But you never read yourself)

You read so many books
to know it all,
yet fail to ever read your
heart at all.

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

(You run to enter temples and mosques
But you never entered your own heart)

You rush to holy shrines to play a part,
Would you dare enter the shrine of your heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

(Everyday you fight Satan
But you never fight your own Ego)

You are quick to attack the evil one,
yet pride is a battle you have not won.

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

(Bulleh Shah you try grabbing that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of What sits inside you)

You grab for a star you can control,
yet fail to grasp the light in your soul.

Bas kareen o yaar
(Stop it all my friend)

Let the race end, my friend

Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar
Ik Alif teray darkaar

(Stop seeking all this knowledge my friend
Only an Alif is what you need)

Stop trying to be the one who knows,
for ‘God is One’ you need to know.

Bas kareen o yaar
(Stop it all my friend)

End the race, my friend

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan
(God is the Master, God is All)

God is All we need! God is All!

Nee main jaanaa Jogi de naal

(I shall follow the Yogi {ascetic/sufi})

Follow the wandering dervish!

Jo naa jaane, Haqq ki taaqat
Rabb naa devey us ko Himmat

(Those who deny the Strength of Truth
Lord does not give them courage)

If you deny the power of all that’s true,
God will not grant strength to you.

Hum Mann ke darya mein doobey
Kaisi nayya? Kya manjhdhaar?

(We have drowned in the river of Self
the boat and the flowing waters do not matter)

We are lost in this river of self,
no boat or streams are of any help.

Bas kareen o yaar
(Stop it all my friend)

End the race, my friend

Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar
(Stop seeking all this knowledge my friend)

Stop trying to know it all, my friend.

Allah Sayyaan Allah Sayyaan
(God is the Master, God is All)

God is All we need! God is All!

- English Translation and Lyrics originally in Punjabi | English in bracket is approximate literal translation. A more poetic rendering in bold by Naomi. translation source

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