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Vishnu Purana, Plotinus, Ibn al-Farid, Cornelius Agrippa, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Confucius, The Rasail of the Ikhwan al-Safa: On Music

Vishnu Purana, Plotinus, Ibn al-Farid, Cornelius Agrippa, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, Confucius, The Rasail of the Ikhwan al-Safa: On Music
Photo: Young Dom gypsy girl dancing to the beat of a drum in Palestine, 1935.


​All songs are a part of Him, who wears a form of sound.

(Vishnu Purana)

Harmonies unheard create harmonies we hear and wake the soul to the consciousness of beauty, showing it the one essence in another kind; for the measures of our music are not arbitrary, but are determined by the Principle whose labor is to dominate matter and bring pattern into being.


How splendid is it to drink to the sound of music!

(Ibn al-Farid)

Musical harmony is a most powerful conceiver. It allures the celestial influences and changes affections, intentions, gestures, notions, actions and dispositions...Fish in the lake of Alexandria are delighted with harmonious sounds; music has caused friendship between dolphins and men. The playing of the harp affects Hyperborean swans, Melodious voices tame Indian elephants. The elements themselves delight in music.

(Cornelius Agrippa)

Allah has not sent a Prophet except with a beautiful voice.

(Prophet Muhammad ﷺ)

Music expresses the harmony of the universe, while rituals express the order of the universe. Through harmony all things are influenced, and through order all things have a proper place. Music rises from heaven, while rituals are patterned on the earth. To go beyond these patterns would result in violence and disorder. In order to have the proper rituals and music, we must understand the principles of Heaven and Earth.


Since the celestial spheres revolve and the planets and stars are moved, it follows that they must have musical notes and expressions with which God is glorified, delighting the souls of angels, just as in the corporeal world our souls listen with delight to melodies and obtain relief from care and sorrow. And inasmuch as these melodies are but echoes of heavenly music, they recall to us the spacious gardens of Paradise and the pleasures enjoyed by souls dwelling there; and then our souls long to fly up thither and rejoin their mates.

(The Rasa'il of the Ikhwan al-Safa')



Recommended Movie:

'Latcho Drom' (1993) 

Written and Directed by Tony Gatlif. Starring La Caita.

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The film takes the viewer on a journey west, from India to Spain, with stops along the way, to dramatize Romany's nomadic culture. This journey takes place over a year's time, from summer through fall and winter to spring. Gatlif holds his camera on the elemental essentials of this life: water, the wheel, fire, beasts of burden and of sustenance, colorful clothes, jewelry, musical instruments, song, and dance. Throughout, via song and dance, young and old celebrate, embody, and teach the cultural values of family, journey, love, separateness, and persecution.

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