As Muslim extremists dominate the headlines, writer and historian William Dalrymple explores an altogether different side of Islam. Sufi Soul – the Mystic Music of Islam, follows Dalrymple on a personal journey into the mystical and musical side of Islam as he charts the traditions of Sufi music in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, India and Morocco.
For 1400 hundred years there has been a debate within Islam between liberal Sufi and orthodox approaches. For millions of Sufi followers worldwide, music is at the heart of their tradition; a crucial vehicle for getting closer to God. This is at direct odds with fundamentalist Islam which either disapproves of music or, at its most extreme, thinks it should be banned. This has led to varying degrees of Sufi persecution by fellow Muslims over the centuries.
Taking many different forms across the Islamic world - from the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey to the Qawwali music of Pakistan or the latest Grammy-winning CD by Youssou N’Dour - Sufism has produced some of the world’s most spectacular and inspirational music celebrated by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Exactly where and when Sufism began is difficult to say, but it’s often forgotten that Islam and Christianity have shared roots in the Middle East. Dalrymple’s film traces this common history, and discovers Sufism to be a peaceful, tolerant and pluralistic bulwark against fundamentalism.