When the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomehni banned all music in Iran and declared it to be sacrilegious, his views by no means reflected the outlook of all Muslims. In fact, Islam’s Sufi sect believes music to be a sacred and necessary element of spiritual life. Like Hindus, the Sufis passionately encourage meditation, dancing and chanting. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is a master of traditional Qawwali, the music of the Sufis. Soulful and hypnotic, Khan’s passionate singing on these songs of praise underscores the richness and vitality of Sufi culture. While Qawwali music goes back centuries, the use of synthesizers adds a modern edge to the highly absorbing Mustt Mustt.
Born: October 13, 1948 in Lyallpur, Pakistan
Years Active: ’70s, ’80s, ’90s
Without doubt the most important qawwal is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Party — “Party” is a generic term for a qawwali ensemble but is also used in Sikhism and to describe some classical music ensembles, for example, shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan & Party. Dubbed Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali (the Brightest Star in Qawwali), he was…