Piety, Poetry, and Politics: Sufi Muslims in South Asia


Thursday, April 28 | Friday, April 29 | Saturday, April 30 | Special Events


Johns Hopkins University
Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

SESSION 1: Sufism in South Asia, 10 am–12:30 pm

10–10:10 | Opening Remarks
Walter Anderson, associate director, South Asia Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University

10:10–10:30 | The Beliefs of Blind Men: The Dangers of Definition
Kenneth X. Robbins, Board of Directors, Friends of the Asian Division, Library of Congress

10:30–10:45 | Welcome Invocation
Haji Syed Salman Chishty, Maulana Kari Al-Haj Syed Mahzar Ali; Salman Ahmad of Junoon

10:50–11:20 | Sufis of South Asia: An Overview
Carl Ernst, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

11:20–11:50| Politics and Sufis in Pakistan
H.E. Mr. Abdullah Hussein Haroon, Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations

11:50–12:30 | Discussion

SESSION 2: Sufis: Shared and Contested Spaces, 2–4:30 pm

2–2:30 | The Good, the Bad, and the Highly Problematic: Complicating Notions of Muslim Engagement in the Indian Public Sphere
Rachana Rao Umashankar, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2:30–3 | Grave Danger: Deoband, Sufi Devotions, and Saints’ Shrines
Brannon Ingram, Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

3–3:30 | Sharing Saints, Shrines, and Stories: Practicing Pluralism in Maler Kotla and North India
Anna Bigelow, associate professor of Islamic studies, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh

3:30–4:30 | Discussion

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FRIDAY, APRIL 29, 2011

Library of Congress
Members’ Room
Thomas Jefferson Building, First Floor
Washington, DC 20540-0002

SESSION 1: Sufis in India Today, 10 am–12:10 pm

10–10:20 | Opening Remarks
Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress

10:20–10:50 | The Chishtys and Sufism in India Today
Syed Riyazuddin Chishty, Gaddi-Nashin – Dargah Ajmer Sharif
Haji Syed Salman Chishty, Gaddi-Nashin – Dargah Ajmer Sharif, director, Chishty Foundation, Ajmer

10:50–11:20 | Shah Madar and the Madariyya Sufis
Maulana Kari Al-Haj Sayed Mahzar Ali Jafferi Waqari Madari, Sajjadah Nasheen, Madariyya Sufi Order; Boghani Sameer Aziz, general secretary, Al-Madar Educational & Charitable Trust; Kenneth X. Robbins

11:20–11:50 | Sufis and the Openness of India
Muzaffar Ali, executive director, Rumi Foundation

11:50–12:10 | Discussion

SESSION 2: Sufi Music and Poetry, 2–3:40 pm

2–2:10 | Opening Remarks
H.E. Ms. Meera Shankar, Ambassador of India to the United States

2:10–3:10 | Sufi Music
Salman Ahmad of Junoon; Dhruv Sangari, leader of the Shahi qawwals of Ajmer Sharif; Brian Q. Silver, sitarist and ethnomusicologist

3:10–3:40 | Qadir Bedil (1644–1721): The Most Important Mystical Poet of the Indian Subcontinent
Moazzam Siddiqi, director, South and Central Asia Division, Voice of America (retired)

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Freer Gallery of Art
Meyer Auditorium
1050 Independence Ave SW
Washington, DC 20560

SESSION 1: Sufis and the Arts, 2–4:20 pm

2–2:15 | Opening Remarks and Introduction
Dr. Julian Raby, director of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Debra Diamond, associate curator of South and Southeast Asian art, Freer and Sackler Galleries

2:15–2:45 | Landscapes of Sufi Space in Mughal Delhi and Lahore
James Wescoat, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Architecture, School of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2:50–3:20 | Qawwali: Sufi Music and Poetry in the Tradition of Amir Khusro
Scott Kugle, associate professor of South Asian and Islamic studies, Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Emory University

3:25–3:55 | Royal Albums to Romance Literature: Sufi Themes in Deccani Painting
Navina Haidar, associate curator of Islamic art, Department of Islamic Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

4–4:20 | Discussion

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Digital Image Presentation: Visualizing the Sufi Path: Paintings, Posters, and Photographs
Shown at the beginning of each morning session
Prepared by Kenneth X. Robbins

South Asian Sufi Book Display
Friday, April 29, 10 am–4 pm, Library of Congress
Prepared by Nuzhat Khatoon, Library of Congress

Concert: Sufi Music from South Asia: Salman Ahmad and the Chishty Sufi Sama Ensemble
Saturday, April 30, 7:30 pm, Freer Gallery of Art, Meyer Auditorium
Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear one of South Asia’s leading ensembles of Sufi qawwali music, made famous in the U.S. by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The Chisty Ensemble appears regularly at major Sufi shrines and festivals in India. For this occasion, the ensemble is led by guest artist Salman Ahmad (vocals and harmonium), founder of the South Asian rock band Junoon. He performed for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and was profiled in the PBS special The Rock Star and the Mullahs. Joining him are Dhruv Sangari, Ashlam Hussain, and Asraf Hussain, vocals; Amjad Hussain, dholak (double-headed drum); and Akhtar Hussain, tabla.

Free tickets required. Up to four tickets can be reserved (with service fee) beginning 10 am on Monday, April 18, by contacting Ticketmaster at 800.551.7328 or ticketmaster.com. Unreserved and no-show tickets (two per person; no service fee) are distributed at the Meyer Auditorium beginning one hour before showtime.

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Conference overview