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Saif-Ul-Malook Orchestra: Safar Ul Ishq

Shafaq Hussain

Saif-Ul-Malook Orchestra: Safar Ul Ishq is an international project by Shafaq Hussain (UK) celebrating the many forms and communities in the UK and in South Asia in which the 19th century Sufiana Kalam (Sufi devotional music) by saint-poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh is recited, performed and revered today.

The three videos produced for this project are couplets from the work of the famous Kashmiri poet Mian Mohammed Bakhsh, who wrote in the regional languages and dialects in Pahari, Punjabi, Hindko and Potwari, and includes Urdu and Farsi (Persian). 

Most of the powerful verses are being taken from their famous book ‘Saif–ul–Malook’ Safar-ul-Ishq (Journey of Love). This is world-renowned poetry sang by many famous artists from South Asia and emerging British Artists. 


Hymns of Saints 

The Hymns of Saints is set in Mirpur, Kashmir, at the near birthplace and Shrine of Mian Mohammed Bakhsh, Kharri Sharif. 

A city often called Little England, Mirpur is surrounded by mountainous glaciers. Many British people visit the Shrine every year. The Hymns of Saints is one of very few performances given permission to shoot within the Shrine complex. 

The video involves Kashmiri artists, who sing and perform the poetry couplets in one of the popular versed styles with different musical instruments. 

The Hymns of Saints reflect and intrinsically relate to Mian Bakhsh’s message of love, equality, personal fulfilment and social purpose. The work’s main themes are the safety of women, equality of life, friendships and the ideas of social value. It carries powerful messages of love and aspirations to make mothers feel happy and valued.

The British Aarfaanaa-eh-Kalaam (Spiritual Poetry Readers) 

The second video shows emerging artists from Britain reading Mian Mohammed Bakhsh’s poetry in the spiritual poetry style known as Aarfaanaa Kalaam (Spiritual Poetry).

The poetry is read in both Pahari/Punjabi and English and expresses the readers’ feelings of profound love and admiration for this great saint.

The couplets selected portray the popular themes and words of wisdom that Mian Mohammed Bakhsh had expressed through self-reflection and pursuit of social purpose in life. 

Saif-Ul-Malook Orchestra Bakhsh Style Singers 

The third video is a combination of poetry reading and singing in a traditional Bakhsh style with music, and often described as ‘qawwali’ and ‘Sufi’ base.

The two main artists, Lala Qadir and Tariq Mehmood, are possibly the best Saif-ul Malook singers in Britain and have contributed to enhancing this form of music in the south Asian communities. 

The two artists sing a flavour of the themes and couplets popularly recognised in the community. 

The video ends with Rashid Diwana, a popular Kashmiri poet who has a large following as a reader of Saif-ul- Malook and translates well the meaning and themes of one particular and famous couplet. 

Images: Stills from Shafaq Hussain, Saif-Ul-Malook Orchestra: Safar Ul Ishq

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