World Sacred Spirit Festival


Zainab Afilal
Andalusian Sufi Songs

The sacred poetry from Andalusia
From Ibn Arabi to Abu Madyan sufi poets

Now I am called the Shepherd of the desert gazelles
Now I am a Christian monk
Now a Zoroastrian
The beloved is three, yet one.
Just as the three are in reality one.

- Ibn AL Arabi

Zainab Afilal is today the new voice of Andalusian music from the city of Tetouan,one of the centres of historical andalusian music in Maghreb.

She will come with AYHAM AYESH, Qanoun, (Palestine) and Rajasthani musicians will be joining her during her performance.

From the eighth to the fifteenth century, Arabs occupied and controlled much of southern Spain, establishing the Muslim-ruled empire known as al-Andalus, or Andalusia. Regarded by many as a golden age of tolerance and cultural exchange, these eight centuries were a time when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together in an atmosphere of intellectual and cultural symbiosis despite the existence of political tensions and religious differences. Complex social and class structures allowed religions and races to coexist peaceably on social, professional, and political levels, even to intermarry with relative ease. In Andalusia, the Arab East met the European West and each contributed to the other in culture, science, mathematics, philosophy, and the arts.

The music of al-Andalus has a rich and colorful history, and many traces of this music are still present in modern Arabic musical forms. Most of the musical traditions from Andalusia were brought to the Maghreb, or North Africa, when the Arabs were forced out of Spain with the fall of Granada in 1492. Today, vestiges of Andalusian musical developments can be found across much of the Arab world as a result of musical schools settling in different isolated environments subject to local influences. The musical history of Andalusia begins in Cordoba in 822, when a young Persian freedman from Baghdad named Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Nafi’ (789-857), popularly known as Ziryab (“blackbird”) arrived from Baghdad. Ziryab was first known for his musical endeavors in the Abbasid court as a student and faithful disciple of the famed ūd player, Ishaq al-Mawsili. All accounts state that his musical excellence was equal to and may have even surpassed that of his teacher, and that he left Baghdad to fulfill his own ambitions.