Ahl-e Qulub is a Sufi music group based in Charleston, IL, and has traveled across the Midwest to perform and teach meditation. All members are initiates of the Qadriya Sufi order and students of Sufi teacher Shaykh Dr. Ghulam Jilani, who was given the khilafat by his master, Hazrat Chaman Qadri RA. This gentle, venerable saint of India upheld and advocated the values of tolerance and spiritual pluralism for over 50 years, and spent his life in spiritual service to humanity. People of all faiths and creeds found spiritual peace under his guidance, irregardless of their beliefs or particularities, and he was essential in maintaining harmonious relations among the diversity of faiths in his town of Bundi. It is in this line of the unconditional service of our Sufi Grandmaster that Ahl-e Qulub performs, and we are dedicated to continuing this legacy of spiritual pluralism and tolerance.
We perform music from all spiritual traditions, acknowledging that each path is a way toward the Divine Beloved. As such, we want to clarify that we do not represent or advocate a particular religious or faith group, but encourage them all equally. Rather than being "religious" about there being "one way," Sufis simply strive to follow and emulate the Perfect Ones (Prophets, Messengers, Avatars, etc.) and saints from every line. The term Sufi, as we use it, simply means one who strives for closeness with the Beloved with intense, unconditional love, rather than denoting a religious sect.
Meditation Through Music
Sufis perform music for only one simple purpose: to cultivate love for the Beloved. Many describe the Beloved in different ways--that from which we come, and that to which we will return; the infinite source of all love, compassion, and gentleness; that which gives meaning, purpose, and fulfillment to our lives; the love that is within us, and around us. Regardless of however one conceives of the Beloved, our purpose is to help them increase their love.
Our songs have lyrics and melodies from different spiritual traditions, all of which longingly reach out to the Divine in a different way. Each path has a different taste and vibration for people to connect to and, from a Sufi standpoint, each is considered a vehicle leading to the same Ultimate Goal.
While there are lyrics and (rough) translations into English, the benefit comes not from understanding the words and meanings, but from connecting to the sound, vibration, and spirit of the music. The singing and listening is a meditative practice in itself, and we invite our listeners to sing along or hum quietly to themselves.
We have mixed musical backgrounds, and while some have received a bit formal training, this has little to do with the music of the group. We are, by no means, professional musicians--instead, we rely on our love and devotion to evoke love in the hearts of listeners, rather than focusing on entertaining ears and minds with the music.
Throughout the ages, Sufis have found a home in the hearts of people from many different cultures. The core practices have remained the same, but have been expressed differently depending on the preferences and particularities of the people practicing it. One could observe Sufis in India, the Middle East, and Africa each conducting their gatherings in a unique way, and similarly our group in the United States has adapted the music to our culture. Rather than preserving and displaying a particular form of Sufi music, our litanies and arrangements are influenced by the musical backgrounds of both ourselves and our teacher. Click here to learn more about our music.
Rather than being a "performance" for an audience, our sessions are an occasion of devotion toward the Beloved, and an opportunity to share a spiritual practice that can liven the spirit and soften the heart of any person.
Since the sole purpose of our music is to connect individuals with Beloved, we keep our music simple by only using vocals and percussion. Our particular Sufi order refrains from using more melodic instruments, so as not to allow the musical aspect to distract ourselves or listeners from connecting with the Beloved.
For more information on the Qadriya Sufi Tradition visit: QSFA.org
Free Sufi meditation sessions: Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15 at 1113 Lincoln Ave., Charleston, IL
Fridays, 5:00-7:30 at University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana YMCA