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Amr Khusro was a 13th century Sufi poet who is widely credited with merging the musical traditions of Persia and India to create Qawaali–a musical and poetic form of spiritual practice. Drawing from Islamic culture, Qawaalis use poetry to explore and describe ideas of devotion, mysticism, purpose, and truth amongst many other spiritual concepts.

The poem below, Khabaram Raseeda, is one of Khusro’s most renowned works and is an excellent example of spiritual and introspective exploration

Khabaram Raseeda poem

Khabaram raseed imshab ki nigaar khuahi aamad;
Sar-e man fidaa-e raah-e ki sawaar khuahi aamad.
Ham-e aahwan-e sehra sar-e khud nihada bar kaf;
Ba-umeed aanki rozi bashikaar khuahi aamad.
Kashishi ki ishq daarad naguzaradat badinsaa;
Ba-janazah gar nayai ba-mazaar khuahi aamad.
Balabam raseed jaanam fabiya ki zindah maanam;
Pas azan ki man na-maanam bacha kar khuahi aaamad.

It means:

Tonight there came a news that you, oh beloved, would come –
Be my head sacrificed to the road along which you will come riding!
All the gazelles of the desert have put their heads on their hands
In the hope that one day you will come to hunt them….
The attraction of love won’t leave you unmoved;
Should you not come to my funeral,
you’ll definitely come to my grave.
My soul has come on my lips (e.g. I am on the point of expiring);
Come so that I may remain alive –
After I am no longer – for what purpose will you come?

In many ways, Sufism is less concerned at explicit religious rules when compared to the core search for spiritual relief. As such, Sufi poetry often allows the reader the flexibility to interpret and extrapolate the core material as relevant to the individual’s spiritual journey. As such, the experience of the Qawaal becomes highly synergistic between reader and poet (or singer and listener) given each is required to provide deeper meaning to the underlying content. The spiritual pursuit thus focuses less on the actual destination and rather more the shared exploration of purpose and meaning.

In this classic Poem, Khusro’s waxes in one of his most resonating verses:

“The attraction of love will not leave you unmoved; Should you not come to my funeral, you will surely come to my grave…After I am no longer– for what purpose will you come?”

A divine love or a material love? The beauty is the interpretation depends entirely on the reader, yet Khusro’s words can still empower readers across all spectrums of spiritual belief to explore concepts like love, time, and devotion. Quite mystical indeed!

Check out this phenomenal rendition of Khabaram Raseeda by Pakistani Qawaals Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad to hear this spiritual exploration come to life:

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