The People of the Heart
Ahl-e Qulub (ay-lay koo-lube), which means People of the Heart, is a Sufi music group based in Charleston, IL, and has traveled across the Midwest to perform and teach meditation. All members are initiates of the Qadriya Sufi order and students of Sufi teacher Shaykh Dr. Talha Muadh Ghulam Jilani, who was given the khilafat by his master, Hazrat Chaman Qadri RA. This gentle, venerable saint of India upheld and advocated the values of tolerance and spiritual pluralism for over 50 years, and spent his life in spiritual service to humanity. People of all faiths and creeds found spiritual peace under his guidance, irregardless of their beliefs or particularities, and he was essential in maintaining harmonious relations among the diversity of faiths in his town of Bundi. It is in this line of the unconditional service of our Sufi Grandmaster that Ahl-e Qulub performs, and we are dedicated to continuing this legacy of spiritual pluralism and tolerance.
Meditation Through Music
Sufis perform music for only one simple purpose: to cultivate love for the Beloved. Many describe the Beloved in different ways--that from which we come, and that to which we will return; the infinite source of all love, compassion, and gentleness; that which gives meaning, purpose, and fulfillment to our lives; the love that is within us, and around us. Regardless of however one conceives of the Beloved, our purpose is to help them increase their love.
Our songs have lyrics and melodies from different spiritual traditions, all of which longingly reach out to the Divine in a different way. Each path has a different taste and vibration for people to connect to and, from a Sufi standpoint, each is considered a vehicle leading to the same Ultimate Goal.
While there are lyrics and (rough) translations into English, the benefit comes not from understanding the words and meanings, but from connecting to the sound, vibration, and spirit of the music. The singing and listening is a meditative practice in itself, and we invite our listeners to sing along or hum quietly to themselves.
We have mixed musical backgrounds, and while some have received a bit formal training, this has little to do with the music of the group. We are, by no means, professional musicians--instead, we rely on our love and devotion to evoke love in the hearts of listeners, rather than focusing on entertaining ears and minds with the music.
Throughout the ages, Sufis have found a home in the hearts of people from many different cultures. The core practices have remained the same, but have been expressed differently depending on the preferences and particularities of the people practicing it. One could observe Sufis in India, the Middle East, and Africa each conducting their gatherings in a unique way, and similarly our group in the United States has adapted the music to our culture. Rather than preserving and displaying a particular form of Sufi music, our litanies and arrangements are influenced by the musical backgrounds of both ourselves and our teacher.
We perform music from all spiritual traditions, acknowledging that each path is a way toward the Divine Beloved. As such, we want to clarify that we do not represent or advocate a particular religious or faith group, but encourage them all equally. Rather than being "religious" about there being "one way," Sufis simply strive to follow and emulate the Perfect Ones (Prophets, Messengers, Avatars, etc.) and saints from every line. The term Sufi, as we use it, simply means one who strives for closeness with the Beloved with intense, unconditional love, rather than denoting a religious sect.
The Sufi Path
Sufi orders trace their origins through a strong lineage of spiritual masters. The Qadriya Sufis trace their lineage back to Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani RAA. The Sufi master lived almost 1000 years ago and was known for his exuberant, effulgent love of the Beloved. He was also famous and venerated for many amazing miracles and sublime writings that have been preserved to this day. Following his example, Qadriya Sufis live a life of gentle simplicity, tolerance, compassion, and intensely joyous devotion to the Beloved.
As Qadriya Sufis, we believe that every spiritual path leads to the same goal. What matters is not the path one chooses, but how much one practices the spiritual principles of the path. As H. Rumi, a Sufi master, once said:
"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."
Rather than being a "performance" for an audience, our sessions are an occasion of devotion toward the Beloved, and an opportunity to share a spiritual practice that can liven the spirit and soften the heart of any person.
Since the sole purpose of our music is to connect individuals with the Beloved, we keep our music simple by only using vocals and percussion. Our particular Sufi order refrains from using more melodic instruments, so as not to allow the musical aspect to distract ourselves or listeners from connecting with the Beloved.
Sufis practice a 1,400+ year old spiritual tradition that emphasizes love and devotion toward the Beloved, however an individual may conceive of it, and actively encourages all people to seek depth in their own particular path. Rather than focusing on and adhering to certain beliefs, creeds, and dogmas, Sufi practice is spiritual in nature and is concerned only with an individual's transformation into a gentle, compassionate, and gracious being. A Sufi's ultimate goal is to attain to waliyat, or closeness to the Beloved. This notion is synonymous to the ultimate goals of other traditions such as enlightenment, moksha, sainthood, self-realization, God-realization, etc. From a Sufi standpoint, they are all one and the same--actualizing the spiritual potential within oneself and attaining freedom from the shackles of the self-concerned ego--a goal that can be attained by anyone, regardless of their path.
Ahl-e Qulub is always searching for new places to share our Sufi music. Sessions are appropriate for music venues, as well as more workshop-oriented locations. It's essential that the group can take a few minutes in the beginning of the session to teach and practice the basic meditation, so as to soften the hearts of listeners to be more receptive to the love in the music.
With gratitude and reverence, each of our sessions is dedicated to an individual who has moved hearts with love toward the Beloved.
These sessions are an act of spiritual service for Ahl-e Qulub, so out of principle we do not charge any fees for booking, nor do we accept donations--our only motivation is to incite love for the Beloved.
For booking and scheduling inquiries, contact us
Check out other events, concerts, and workshops Ahl-e Qulub was involved in over the years here!
For more information, questions, or regarding booking, contact us
To learn more about our Sufi group visit QSFA.org