A night of Qawwali in a Synagogue

A night of Qawwali in a Synagogue


What would seem a most unlikely place to hear the Zikr of Allah, was the venue for an enchanting night of Qawwali.

Tucked away near Manhattan’s Gramercy Park in New York City, the Brotherhood Synagogue hosted Pakistan’s internationally-acclaimed ensemble Farid Ayaz and The Abu Mohammad Qawwals. The evening’s line-up included a performance by Jewish musician Basya Schechter, who is a native Brooklyn, New York, and is studying to be a Cantor.

For organising party The Cordoba Initiative, it was precisely the kind of gathering that serves their objective: to bring faith groups together.

1Jewish Musician Basya Schechter with Farid Ayaz and The Abu Mohammad Qawwals
2Musicians rehearse for the ” Qawwali and the Spiritual Alchemy of Music” event.

The Cordoba Initiative, which was founded in 2004 by Egyptian American Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is a multi-national, multi-faith organisation working to improve Western understanding of Muslims.

“As Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi said; it is the same light. It just looks different on different walls,” said Dr Asma Jamil Sadiq, a member of Cordoba’s Advisory Board for Spiritual and Cultural Affairs.

3Farid Ayaz and The Abu Mohammad Qawwals performing in a Synagogue in New York.
4Inside the Synagogue.

The energy and enthusiasm witnessed in the Synagogue’s prayer hall was nothing short of moving. To see these two communities, who share a complex history of hate and misunderstanding, come together through music was truly remarkable.

The video above gives a glimpse of how the night faired and what participants had to say about it.