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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Genius, and His Religious Beliefs

I'm a huge fan of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and listen to him regularly. He was, of course, a Muslim. I understand isolated words of his songs because I spoke Nepali, which is related to Urdu, and it's easy to make out bits of Arabic prayer ("there is no God but Allah" in Arabic, for example), but for the most part I pay no attention to the lyrics. 

In any case I think NFAK's genius transcends his faith. His gift is not about Islam, to me. It's about something much bigger. 

I was just listening to a youtube video and saw that it had subtitles. One of the subtitles moved and surprised me. "Why do Hindus and Muslims fight?" The audience made approving noises. 

I re-watched the video and paid more attention to the subtitles. NFAK is expressing ideas straight out of the psalms: God is omnipresent; all creation is witness to God; creation yearns for God: Psalm 19, Psalm 139, Psalm 42.  

I googled "Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan religious beliefs" and found a page that quotes the lyrics of one of his songs. I find these lyrics immensely moving. They speak of one finding God in a temple, another in a mosque:

"One lover was in the temple and another in the mosque
but to me, immersed in the joy of love, both seemed same
Chanting on rosary, the name of Shyam [Lord Krishna], I become him.
I am worthless except that

I surrender to the name of my beloved, all the time." (source)

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