“If you want to be free, be a captive of love”
Nur ad-Din Abd Ar-Rahman Jami, Persian poet, mystic and historian of the 15th century.
In Muslim Sufi spiritual traditions, art is the expression of divine love and beauty in the material world.Ramzi founded The Jerusalem Sufi Ensemble in order to recreate these traditions in new form and in their historic Palestinian center, Jerusalem. While the relics of Sufi shrines, once living sites of pilgrimage, worship and learning, dot the Palestinian landscape, they are today largely abandoned and unattended. Jerusalem was a prominent center where Sufi mystics had built numerous tariqas (pathways or schools of wisdom) that, between the 10th and 15th centuries, enjoyed the following of the majority of the population in Palestine. Over the 20th century these traditions declined. Intervening forces included modernization and secularization, the spread of new Muslim trends, and the dispersal of numerous Palestinian rural communities during the war of 1948, all of which have pushed Sufi practices to the margins of Palestinian society.
The Jerusalem Sufi Ensemble is dedicated to the documentation and revival of Sufi traditions in the city that for centuries has provided a home and inspiration to these traditions. Its members are documenting the endangered local Sufi heritage, but are also broadening the tradition by including classical and folkloric repertoire from Palestine and the Arab worldalong withoriginal compositions.The ensemble features the vocal talents of Palestine-based muezzins along with instrumental fusions of Arabic and Sufi traditions. The voice-centered tradition is here enhanced by an ensemble that includes bouzouq, oud, qanun, nay and percussion.The ensemble’s current performance project, titled “Forgiveness,” explores an international body of Sufi poetry that includes Mansur Al-Hallaj (Persia), Muhammed Ibn-Arabi (Andalusia), Jalal Ad-Din Muhammad Rumi (Persia), Imam Al-Busiri (Morocco & Egypt), Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari (Bukhara) and Ibn Al-Farid (Syria & Egypt) among others.
“If music is about expanding your horizons beyond the borders that are imposed on us— the world that becomes more constricted everyday—then Sufi music and poetry opens up for you the sky in addition to the earth,” says Ramzi. “And the texts are timeless. They reflect the essence of my personality, how I see things, how I want to share them. They reflect humanity.”
Voices of the Ensemble
Hailing from Hebron, Munther was a muezzin before he became a singer and interpreter of classical and folkloric Arabic repertoire. The Sufi repertoire is his favorite field and longtime passion, which he interprets with unparalleled feeling and accuracy.
Currently a muezzin at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Firas enjoys the love and admiration of Jerusalem’s Muslim community for his call to prayer chants. An heir to a family tradition that goes back for over 500 years, Firas feels that his voice is a gift from God that he must honor by filling the mosque with its deep resonance.
A muezzin of the unified mosques of Nablus and the Great Mosque of Nablus, Mossab is also a member of the Nablus based ensemble “Ahbab el Mustafa,” which is connected to the Sufi Tariqa el Qadiria and Naqshabandia of Nablus.
A muezzin of the unified mosques of Nablus and the Great Mosque of Nablus and a member of the Nablus based ensemble “Ahbab el Mustafa,” for whom the Sufi Tariqa el Qadiria and Naqshabandia of Nablus is a living tradition.
Upcoming in 2018.