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Prof. Dr Stefan Teofanov has converted to Islam after translating the Quran into the Bulgarian language.
  • wwwpages: worldbulletin.net/headlines/166490/bulgarian-professor-converts-to-islam

Researching, translating and publishing continuously, Teofanov also said that “At first I translated the pagan Arab poetry. I studied medieval Arabic literature. We also have a new book published, called “The Phenomenology of the Prophet”. This book is based on the old bible. I examined the effect of important religious figures in the Middle East and I have discussed the phenomenon. This was a serious academic study. The book has generated alot of interest. It was chosen as the best book for the month of October. There is a growing interest in religion,  and religious differences”.

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A Muslim Vocalist Ustad Is The Star Of This Beautiful Marathi Film

By Vidyadhar Date

It is a measure of the sterling role played by Muslim vocalists in Hindustani classical music that the central character in a dazzling new Marathi film is an Ustad Khan sahib. The film Katyar Kaljat Ghusali is based on a popular Marathi musical drama of the same name written by Purshottam Darwhekar.

The Ustad is portrayed superbly by Sachin, for many years an actor in the Hindi film industry and more recently a Maha Guru in musical programmes on television. It is also remarkable that the other major role of the rival Hindu vocalist Pandit Bhanu Shankar Shastri is played by Shankar Mahadevan whose mother tongue is Tamil but who has adapted Marathi as his second language and he too is a popular figure in Marathi musical programmes on television apart from concerts and other prorammes elsewhere.

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This is a haunting and spectacular film directed by young actor Subodh Bhave and he has made a wonderful debut in his role as a director and also played a fine acting role in the film as the younger rival of Khan saheb.

The film has got its fundamentals right. Its theme is that true music triumphs over differences of religion and gharanas. There is a bit of Shylock in the Ustad. He seeks revenge for the humiliation he has suffered in the princely court for 14 years having lost the annual contest to the Shastri and cannot get the Shastri’s post of the court musician.

The Ustad’s wife plays a trick, helps him become the court musician but then emerges another young rival singer. Supporting roles are beautifully played by Sakshi Tanwar, Mrunmayee Deshpande, Amrita Khanwilkar and Pushkar Shrotri. The unforgettable music is by Jitendra Abhisheki, and Shankar-Ehsan-Loy trio. This film should appeal to all irrespective of language.

There are some stunning visuals including a qawwali scene in the Dargah in Miraj in south Maharashtra and a song by a lake shot in the dark of the night against the backdrop of fireflies.

Hindustani classical music owes a debt of gratitude to some of the Ustads of old including Alladiya Khan and Abdul Karim Khan from whom some of the top Hindu vocalists have learnt their art. The Ustads sang with exuberance and interacted with the audience while the style of some of the Hindu vocalists was rigid and inhibited, observed critic M.V. Dhond.

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U.S. based academic and author Janaki Bakhale points out that V.N. Bhatkhande and Digambar Paluskar did pioneering work in streamlining the compositions from all over the country, dwelt on theoretical complexity and paved the way for a knowledgeable, wider audience. But they may not have done adequate justice to the Ustads, who despite their major work, did not go into theory and writing.

The film makers are from fairly privileged family backgrounds in comparison to the new crop of very talented youngsters emerging from rural Maharashtra and with very unprivileged backgrounds. One such director is Bhausaheb Karhade whose current release Khwada dwells on the life of the dhangar or shepherd community in Maharashtra and its exploitation by rural politicians. One does not support violence but when the exploited shepherds wield their axes against the exploiters one feels justice is done. The sad part is that finally the well-to-do dhangars are seen coming to the city as refugees.

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The history of Hindustani music would have emerged quite differently if Pakistan had not virtually banished it. This reminds me of an extremely lively film Khayal Darpan on classical music in Pakistan made by Delhi-based director Yousuf Saeed some years ago after living for months in Pakistan. One of the most colourful characters in the film is a veteran Pakistan lawyer of international renown Raza Kazim who is also a great music lover, researcher, innovator and collector and has some very irreverent, stimulating ideas on music, especially Indian classical music, which he thinks, has sadly drained itself of emotional content.

After the film this writer did a bit of search and found that Mr Kazim is really someone who needs to be widely heard and known. He is a former Communist, was abducted by Pakistani military intelligence in 1984 and an appeal for his release was issued by such intellectual stalwarts as Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmed and published in the New York Review of Books. He is also a staunch critic of Pakistani society and has lamented the pursuit of personal economic growth and moral corruption.

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In the initial years after partition several classical singers migrated from India to Pakistan but soon found that the music was discouraged, partly because of its association with Hindu names and gods. The names of some ragas were changed. (In India Hindu nationalist V.D. Savarkar had tried to purify Marathi by replacing Persian and Urdu words with Sanskrit ones.).

Till 1965 Pakistani radio broadcast a lot of classical music but then the decline started. Some musicians later switched over to gazal and thumri which were accepted as they seen to be more close to the Pakistani ethos.

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There is a very endearing interview in the film with Alia Rashid, a blind girl, who got a record four-year visa to study classical music with the Gundecha brothers in Bhopal. An excellent point made in the film is that instead of focusing exclusively on classical music, which can become boring, it should be used as a base to create a new form of music which is more appealing to the masses.

A rebel Pakisani poet Habib Jalib asked an interesting question in a poem many years ago. The punch line in the poem was `Pakistan ka Matlab Kya? Laillaha, Ilallah?

The question was – What is the meaning of Pakistan? Is it only reciting the lines and invoking the name of God? He was posing a question to fundamentalists many years before the onset of Taliban and the current wave of attacks on Shias and other minorities in that country. Habib was jailed for his views like other left wing intellectuals and poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

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But I realized recently that if fanatics can give the invocation of Laillaha a very aggressive connotation, the truly devoted can make it highly soothing. I was enchanted by the singing of the invocation in a documentary film by simple rural Muslim folk from Nagore in coastal Tamil Nadu. These men wearing turbans and holding dholaks, percussion instruments in their hands, were a picture of humility and goodness, real hardworking men with their weatherbeaten faces. They looked like warkari devotional singers from Maharashtra or Karnataka.

The music is by A.R. Rehman and it is similar to bhajans. It was a wonderful experience. This singing was part of a documentary film Laya which focuses on the folk music tradition of coastal regions of six Tsunami hit countries ranging from India to Thailand and Indonesia. This singing by simple men makes one humble. It makes one realize how much talent there is among simple men. The film is produced by Earthsync, a company based in South India and is directed by Harold Monfilms.

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At a people to people level there has been excellent relationship between followers of different religions in India. When I mentioned the singing of the singers from Nagore to a retired sociology professor Kamala Ganesh because she hails from Tamil Nadu and is interested in music, she told me something quite interesting. She said her mother went through her mundan (hair cropping) ritual in the dargah in Nagore from where the musicians hail. So here is an interesting connect between an otherwise orthodox Brahmin family and a Muslim dargah.

Prince Aga Khan rejects ‘clash of civilizations’ between Muslim World and West


By Khaama Press

The spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan called for greater cultural understanding between the Muslim World and the West, rejecting the notion of a fundamental ‘clash of civilizations’.

In his speech at Harvard University, Prince Aga Khan once again insisted on pluralism and said the society must strive to be more ‘pluralist’ and ‘cosmopolitan’.

His remarks were apparently aimed at searching for the difference and diversity by the people who should learn it.

Addressing a packed audience at Memorial Church, Prince Aga Khan said globalization should not mean the creation of a single, homogenized society where all differences are erased, rather it means people should seek out diversity and learn from it.

Insisting on mutual respect regarding what we have in common and what makes us different, Prince Aga Khan said “In my view, the deeper problem behind any prospective clash of civilizations is a profound clash of ignorances. And, in that struggle, education will be an indispensable weapon.”

Issuing a reminder to the Muslims of the world, he said the central tenet of Islam is to celebrate the ‘common humanity’ among all the people of the world.

He said “My hope is that the voices of Islam itself will continue to remind the world of a tradition that, over so many centuries, has so often advanced pluralistic outlooks and built some of the most remarkable societies in human history.”

He also went through several key obstacles that pluralism faces today, including marginalizing the intelligentsia of a given community by some governments and institutions, lack of “respect for justice & equal opportunity for all”, lack of a “concerted educational effort” to teach pluralistic values, and others.

Considered a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H), Prince Aga Khan is the 49th imam of Ismaili Muslims who are a branch of Shia Islam with followers in Asia, Africa the Middle East and North America.

Prince Aga Khan’s international development organization, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), actively operates in developing countries to address poverty, health care and education.

moonani monnani

14 November, 2015 Saturday 2 Safar, 1437
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