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International Sufi band blesses Atlanta, City of Peace

By Mahadev Desai
July 2014
International Sufi band blesses Atlanta, City of Peace

Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad sang qawwali with seven accompanying singers. (Photo: Akbar Hakim, Hakim’s Studio)

Atlanta's dream of becoming a beacon of peace was propelled forward on May 23, 2014 with the visit of international Sufi recording group Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal, and Brothers. They performed for "An Eve of Global Music" fundraising event in Berkmar High School auditorium, Lilburn, Georgia, to benefit the envisioned Global Peace Museum (GPM) slated to be Atlanta’s newest international tourist destination.

After light refreshments and pre-show entertainment from Hema Shilpa Uppala, founder of the Indian Classical Dance Academy and her talented students; veil dancer Funda Yilmaz; and singer Jaya Kamlani, music lovers of Atlanta were treated to soul-touching, spiritually elevating Sufi qawwali. Arabic for "utterance," qawwali is the devotional music of the Sufis mystics of Pakistan and India. The term includes both the medium and its performance, and has been a dominant feature of their culture since the 12th century. Sufi music is appreciated by people from every faith for how it builds bridges across nationality, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, politics, and culture. As Dr. Alan A. Godlas, UGA-Associate Professor in the Department of Religion noted: “...the essence of Sufi practice is quite simple. It is that the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and over.”


Ms. Terry Hester, event organizer, and John Naugle, founder of the Global Peace Museum, with Mustafa Ajmeri and Shaveta Jain. (Photo: Akbar Hakim, Hakim’s Studio)

Emcee Shaveta Jain, social activist and former Mrs. India International, created the agenda and led the production. With professional poise, verve, and beautiful dress, she first introduced Ms. Terry L. Hester, event organizer. Terry is a former VP for Atlanta: City of Peace, Inc. (ACP), and is Founder and CEO for “Unity in the Community” campaigns (UITC), which brings multiculturals together to form bonds of peace.

Ms. Hester read a letter from Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry, stating, “I would like to recognize and thank these international recording artists Mr. Ayaz and Mr. Muhammad for their service of creating ‘unity within our community’ through their beautiful art of music… Thank you for being Global Ambassadors for Peace!” Dr. Hari Dayal, the band’s USA promoter, also read a proclamation from Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall.


The envisioned Global Peace Museum. (Photo: Akbar Hakim, Hakim’s Studio)

GPM Founder John R. Naugle invited everyone to become cocreators and ambassadors of the Global Peace Museum, which “celebrates the goodness of our global family." The GPM will be developed next to “ATL,” the world’s busiest airport, and the Georgia International Convention Center. It will promote “Tourism: The World's Biggest Peace Industry.” The GPM vision is to propel Atlanta's global peace legacy and help it to eventually become formalized as a global capital of peace so it may inspire our global family.


Aslam Pervez inspired the audience with a beautiful panegyric in his native language, celebrating the widely respected artistic talents of the featured international stars, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad. The ensemble commenced singing, and the auditorium became quiet. The hypnotic and elevating music transported the audience—an indescribable bliss to be experienced, with positive vibes enveloping all. Their seamless switch from one language to another elicited huge applause. They performed beautifully and powerfully, about 11 songs in almost 3 hours. Two stars were accompanied by seven other musicians: Ghulam Akram, Ghayoor Ahmed, Moiz Uddin, Mubark Hassan, Hamza Khan, Tahseen Fawad, and Mustafa Khan (four of whom are sons of Fareed Ayaz). Instruments included two harmoniums, one dholak, one electric ragini, and one tabla.

According to Dr. Scott Kugle, Emory University Associate Professor of South Asian and Islamic Studies, “The artists, Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad and party, are among the best singers of our era…. Their late father, Munshi Raziuddin, was a wonderful artist and much-recorded singer. They … are descended from the very first qawwals of Nizamuddin Awliya in Delhi, over 700 years ago. Fareed Ayaz is an extremely knowledgeable person about Sufism and music. For those who love qawwali, this was a rare opportunity."

John R. Naugle, GPM Founder, declared, "for Atlanta and the GPM to be blessed with an amazing Sufi performance of such an international and spiritual magnitude, during the 50th anniversary year of Dr. King's Nobel Peace Prize (1964-2014) is such a wonderful gift to the attending audience, plus everyone who will come to learn of this.”

And Ms.Terry Hester commented, “Historically music has been the entity which has been used to heal, connect, and transcend many into higher levels of tolerance and understanding. Our ultimate goal was obtained last night as the message of ‘peace through music’ was joyously received by all.”

Website Bonus Feature


Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal, & Bros.: http://www.qawwal.com

Thanks to
Mustafa Ajmeri, the unofficial ‘Ambassador for the Global Peace Museum’
Sandeep Savla, co-founder and music director of Nritya Natya Kala Bharati,
A.V. Creations
Ejaz Naqvi
Sanjay Pandya of Davis Printing
Other sponsors.
Photos: Akbar Hakim & Jean G. Dominique 

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