Muslims have the distinction of being the pioneers in the sphere of fine arts in the world. They have patronised and actively participated in the propagation of fine arts wherever they have gone. A wrong impression has been created in the minds of our educated class by the orthodox type of people that Islam forbids all pursuits of fine arts by the Faithful-an idea which does not stand the test of historical records. The Muslims whether Spaniards or Arabs, Persians or Afghans, Turks or Indians have exhibited a lively interest in the development of fine arts which ultimately led to produce in their ranks some of the greatest exponents of these arts.
According to H. G. Farmer, the celebrated writer on oriental music, "music accompanied the Arabs from the cradle to the grave, from the lullaby to the elegy. Every moment of his life seems to have had its particular music--joy and sorrow, work and play, battle throng and religious exercise".' Arabs were the great exponents of music and according to another western critic, "The cultivation of music by Arabs in all branches reduces to insignificance the recognition of this art in the history of any other country."
Under the Abbasid, Spanish and Saljuqid kings music was elevated to the rank of a science., its cultivation was officially patronised and it was recognised as a fine art. People had developed a taste for music and according to Ameer Ali, "A large literature grew up on the subject; songs were collected and classified according to their melodies and keys, and the musical instruments of the ancients were improved and new ones invented.
The first known Arab author on music is Yunus AlKatib (d/765 A.D.) who was followed by Al-Khalil (d/791 A.D.) who has the unique distinction of being the "Systematiser of Arab Prosody and the first Arabian lexicographer". His theories were borrowed by Ibn Firnas who popularised them in Spain. Some of the earliest contribtutions of Arab Muslims on music were Al-lqd-al-Farid and Kitab-al-Aghani written about 1,000 years before. During the 1Oth century A.D. music was included in the course of mathematics and was studied as such by the mathematical student. The celebrated Arab writers on music are Al-Rindi, Thabit bin Qurra, Sarakhsi, Ziryab, Al-Khwarizmi anci Ibn Firnas. The most outstanding Muslim theorists on music are Farabi, Ibn Sina, Toosi, Ishaq Mausili, Isfahani, Razi and Shirazi who were actually Persian nationals but adopted the Arabic language as the medium of their expression.
Al-Kindi (d/260 kH.) is one of the greatest Arab theorists, who has written about a dozen treatises on music. "In one of which" says G. Sarton, "we find the first definite use of notation among Arabs. He is the earliest Arab writer on music whose work has come down to us".' His works contain a notation for the determination of pitch. Out of his-seven treatises on music three have been preserved upto the present time, namely: The essentials of knowledge in music, On the melodies, The necessary book in the composition of melodies. Ahmad Ibn Muhammad AlSarakhsi (d1286 A.H.) and Mansur Ibn Talha bin Tahir who were disciples of Al-Kindi wrote a number of books on the composition of Melodies. The former has the distinction of writing at least half a dozen books on the subject. Thabit Bin Qurra, (d1288 A.D.), the famous mathematician, enriched Arabic music with his valuable contributions.
Ibn Abd Rabihi (d/940 A.D.) was a great exponent of music who championed the cause of music in his famous work The unique necklace which contains the biographies of prominent musicians aswellas"a spirited defence of music against the puritans"
Al-Buzjani (di998 A.D.), one of the greatest Arab mathematicians composed a compendium on the sciences ef rhythm. Ikhwan-al-safa (1Oth century A.D.), well-known writers association of the era, wrote a treatise on music which was widely read and appreciated.
Al-Khwarizmi, the greatest mathematician of the Islamic world is the author of the Key of sciences in which he discussed the theory of music. His views on music which were conveyed to Europe through the translation of the work by Adelard of Bath in the 12th century.A.D, was according to Philip K. Hitti "one of the first to introduce Arab music into the Latin world".' Alam Al-Din Qaisar (d 1251 A.D.) an eminent mathematician of Egypt has earned a distinguished place among Arab Theories on music due to his valuable contributions.
The Arabs of Spain did not lag behind other Arab countries in the pursuit of fine arts and produced a number of outstanding theoretical as well as practical musicians.
Ziryab was patronised by Abdur Rahman II and he has the distinction of running a model musical academy at Cordova which according to a western writer "became the conservatory of Andalusian music" He was an outstanding musician of his time who had migrated from Baghdad to Spain. Both in theoretical and practical music he has earned a very high reputation. He was the head of a family of talented musicians .
Ibn Firnas, the eminent musician who introduced oriental music into Spain, was the first who taught the science of music in Andalusia. He popularised the theories of Al-Khalil in Spain.
Ibn Bajja or Avempace (d/1138 A.D.); He is knownas theFarabi of the West. He was an outstanding musical theorist whose musical theories received the same reception in the West as those of Farabi in the East.
Seville became a great centre of music in the 11th century A.D. and developed into a big market, for manufactured musical instruments. Europe learnt Arabic music through Spain while the Chinese acquired it from Baghdad. "Arab Music", says G. Sarton, "Was crossing the Pyrenees upon the wings of Song. Troubadours, Trouvers, and Minne singers popularised the new art and improved it" According to Farmer, "the greatest contributions of the Arabs was in the field of mensural music. Arabs supplied Europe with the name and forms of musical instruments. The English words like lute, rebec, guitar, organ and naker were derived from the Arabic AE-ud, Rabab, Qitara, Urghun and Nagqara".'
"With these instruments came several material benefits", says a European writer. "European minstrels, prior to the Arabian contact, only had the cithara and harp among stringed instruments and they only had their ear to guide them when tuning. The Arabs brought to Europe their lutes, pandores and guitars with the places of notes fixed on the fingerboard by means of frets, which were determined by measurement. This alone was a noteworthy advance. Indeed, it was perhaps the fretting of the Arabian lute that registered the employment of the major mode for Europe"."
The source of Arabian music may be traced to early Persian and Byzantine works. Long before the advent of Islam, Persians were the pioneers of music in the East. In the early days of Islam, the mensural music adopted by Hijaz and other theories connected with it had been influenced by Persian elements. Inspite of these borrowings there was a marked difference between Arabian, Persian and Byzantine music and later on the Persians also borrowed from the developed Arabian art. The golden period of Persian music begins with the 1Oth century A. D., when Persia produced some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. The greatest luminaries amongst these were Farabi, Ibn Sina, Razi, Nasir-ud-din Toosi, Isfahani and Momin. Persia, the land of culture and arts has made invaluable contributions to the development of music.
Ishaq Al-Mausili (d/850 A. D.) recast the "Old Arabian system" and put forward his theories in a Book of Notes and Rhythms. He was attached to Abbasid court and being the master musician of his time he was the teacher of several talented musicians including Ziryab. He was a great patron of art and learning.
Isfahani wrote his celebrated musical work Great Book of ,Songs in the 1Oth century A. D. The book contains songs which were suitable for functions and occasions from the cradle to the grave. Different types of songs and music were prescribed for different functions and occasions. There were suitable songs for war and peace, rejoicings and mournings. As Ibn Khaldun says, "No art begins until there were artists. We see a professional class of musicians in pre-Islamic days, and with the rise of the Caliphate, this class was held in highest esteem" The monumental work of Isfahani--The great book of songs, runs into 21 volumes which according to Ibn Khaldun may be called the "Diwan of Muslims". He has also written other books on music.
Al-Ghazali, born in 1058 in Toos, a small village of Khorasan, a province of Persia, rose to the high position of the celebrated principal of the Nizamiyah University. He has written a treatise on Music and ecstasy. Inspite of the legal condemnation by theologians the spiritual effect of music was clearly recognised. The Sufi looked upon it as a means of revelations attained through ecstasy, whilst the dervish fraternities regulated their rituals by it. The patronage of music by Sufis produced some outstanding writers on the subject including Alghazall who in his celebrated work Music and ecstasy, says, "Ecstasy means the state that comes from listening to music", and gives seven reasons for holding that singing is a very potent factor for producing ecstacy.
Abu Nasr Farabi, born in Farab (Persia) is the greatest musical theorist the Muslim world has produced. He died in 950 A.D. He composed several outstanding works on music. Among his books were the Grand book on music (Kitab Mausiqal Kabir), and Styles in Music on the classification of Rhythm. Besides the above, he has also dealt with musical topics in two of his voluminous works on the sciences--the Classificatian of the sciences and the Ongin of the Sciences. His Grand Book on Music, is recognised as the highest authority on the theory of oriental music and according to Farmer, a well known writer on Oriental Music, this work of Farabi, "deserves to be ranked as one of the greatest works that has been written on music" Out of the several great works of Farabi on music Kitab Mausig aKabir has survived which has been recognised as the most important treatise on the theory of oriental music. According to Farabi he wrote this book because he found that the earlier books written by Greeks, Romans and Persians were full of obscurities and short-comings. Farmer pays glowing tribute to this great work of the famous musician, saying, "Al-Farabi's treatment of physical and physiological principles of sound and music is certainly an advance on that of the Greeks". Farabi has made a detailed reference of musical instruments which is non-existent in the works of the Greeks. He invented the musical instruments Rabab and Qanun He also knew mensural music and recognised the major third (4:5) and the minor third (5:6) as consonances. Al-Farabi made a valuable contribution to physiological acoustics, which was not touched by the Greeks. He was also an outstanding practical musician of his time and when he played the flute in the presence of his patron Saif-ud-daulah he used to cast a spell over the audience directing their sentiments as he liked so as to cast his hearers into a fit of laughter, drew tears from their eyes and made them all asleep. Undoubtedly Farabi, a versatile genius is the greatest theoretical musician that Persia has produced. The works of Farabi had an universal appeal and influenced the musical thought of the West as well as Muslim Spain. According to Farmer"Al-Farabi still continued to attract the attention of the scholars until the 17th century A. D.".'
Ibn Sina (980--1037 A.D.), a Persian national was the greatest thinker and encyclopaedist of Islam who ranks next to Farabi as the Musical Theorist. His Kitab-al-Shifa a philosophical encyclopaedia of repute also contains much original work on music. He also wrote an introduction to the art of music, whilst a few definitions regarding music are also found in his book Division of Sciences. The work of Ibn Sina considerably influenced the western writers of the subject and Roger Bacon recognised the contribution of Ibn Sina on the therapeutic value of music. According to a western critic, "Both Farabi and Ibn Sina are claimed to have added to what the Greek taught". Persians have made valuable contributions to the theory of the physical bases of sound, specially regarding the spherical propagation of sound.
The great oriental physician Al-Razi born in Rayy (Persia) in 865 A. D. has also contributed to the theoretical side of music.
Nasir-ud-din Toosi, a prolific writer on multifarious subjects, born in Toos, a village of Persia has written two books on music (1) Kitab Ji Nmi Mausiqi and (2) Kanzul Tuhaf The musical theories of Toosi were elaborated by his great disciple Qutb-ud-din.
Saif-ud-din AI-Momin,(294A.D.) a Persian by birth and one of the greatest theorists of music has expounded his theories on music in his celebrated books SharaJiyya and "Book of musical Modes" (Kitab al-ddwar). He laid down a new theory of scales in which the octave was divided into 17 intervals, which according to Sir H. Parry is, "the most perfect ever divided" Haji Khalifa says, "He was amongst those taking the front rank in the writers on the theory of Music" He was also a practical musician and had the distinction of inventing two stringed instruments(1) The Mughari (an archlute) (2) Nuzha (a kind of a psaltery). Numerous commentaries have been written on the theories of Momin.
Qutub-ud-din Al-Shirazi, a disciple of Nasir-ud-din Toosi wrote Durrat-e-Taj which is counted as one of the most authentic contributions on the systematic theory of music.
Abul Faraj Al-Afghani, wrote his great compendium Kitab al-Afghani, which is a remarkable contribution to the subject. This monumental work was published in 20 volumes by the Bulaq Press, Cairo in 1868. According to several Western critics of Music, the Western World during the last 1,000 (Thousand) years has produced nothing to compete with this book. This book may rightly be called the encyclopaedia of oriental music.
Besides the above other notable Persian Theorists on Music are Abdul Qadir Ibn Ghaibi and Amuli.
Persians were also responsible for giving verse forms to vocal music, such as the ode and many shorter forms like Qita (Fragments), Ghazal (Love songs) and the more popular Mawals. Of these Zajal and Muwanshah were introduced into Europe. Persians also invented many new musical instruments which were adopted and became very popular both in the East and the West. Of these "Al-iud" (Flute) Tabl (drum) Tanbur (Pandore), Qanun (Psaltery), Nay (Flute) are noteworthy ones whose introduction revolutionised the practical music of the world .
Persian Muslims have undoubtedly made the greatest contribution to the cultural treasures of Islam and it was they who played the dominant part in the Islamic development of sciences and arts. In the contribution to music Persian theorists and practical musicians have had the lion's share and some of the celebrated works of the famous Persians like Farabi, Ibn Sina and Momin are unparalleled in the annals of the musical works of the world.
Arabs and Persians who produced many of the outstanding theorists and practical musicians of mediaeval times invented many musical instruments which were adopted and became popular throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. One of these was Mizaf which was very popular and which included all open string instruments including the lyre, the cithara, the harp the psaltery and the dulcimar. The Ud or lute was one of the earlier instruments commonly used during the first century A.H. which according to a western writer was "the most important musical instrument of Islamic people from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. Two kinds of Ud were used in those times. The Persians called their's Barbar and made no provision for a separate neck while the Arabs added a neck to it.
The musical instruments used by the Arabs during the early periods of Islamic history were Tanbur (Pandore) and Mizmar. The only difference between the Tanbur and lute was that the latter had a smaller sound chest and longer neck. Mizmar were the wind instruments which were very popular among Arabs. The flute belongs to the same category and it was much used by Persians. Farabi had described the Mizmar as having eight holes for the movement of fingers over it, which was called Nay or Swnay by the Persians.
The Qadib or "Wand and Duff" or Tambourine are percussion instruments. The Duff acquired great popularity in different parts of the world where it was known by different names, namely--Dep in Iran Defik in Kurdistan, Dep in Albania and Adufe in Iberia. The Spanish Moors were responsible for popularising Duff and Tamboure De Basque throughout the length and breadth of Europe.
The musical instrument which was commonly used in martial and processional music throughout the Islamic Domains was the "Buk" or horn or trumpet which were of different types namely Karn, Nafrr, Shabbzlr and Karana. These were made of conch or of horn or of metal and were either straight or crooked in shape.
The Tabl was the most important instrument of martial music. It was of two types--the cylinder type and the bowl type. Drums and kettle drums were also commonly used in martial music.
During the early period of Islamic History the Sanjo was very popular among the Omyyads which was played to regulate the rhythm in dancing. It was of different shapes and sizes.
The Abbasid Caliphs were great patrons of sciences and arts and during their periods theoretical as well as practical music registered phenomenal progress. Zalzal a musician of repute attached to the court of the Abbasids invented a new type of Ud known as Ud Shabbur which may correctly be called a 'perfect lute'. Ziryab another musician improved upon the existing lute and introduced strings made of silk and entrails of young lions, which were much superior to the old ones. The Shabrud or arch lute was another musical instrument of importance introduced during the Abbasid reign. It was very popular in Baghdad. The Rabab a stringed musical instrument which is played with a gawn (stringed bow) was also invented during this period. This instrument has retained its popularity even up to the present time.
The Qitara which was later named Guitar in Europe was very much in use during the reign of the Moors in Spain.
Several types of bells or Jaras, large as well as small accompanied processional and martial music and were sometimes used in such manner as to increase the din of the battle so as to affright the enemy.
The enlightened West has considered all people inhabiting the vast Indo-Pakistan Sub-continent as Hindus--hence Indian music has wrongly been taken to be entirely contributed by the Hindus. Unfortunately the western historians being inspired by their Hindu counterparts have not only ignored the cultural, political and artistic enterprises of Muslim India but they have formed a biased opinion in favour of the Hindus. Not withstanding their profound efforts in under-rating the cultural achievements of Muslims, such well-known historians and critics as Sir William James, Lt.-Col. James Tod, Augustus, W. Hunter Surendra Mohan Tagore, Anand Kumar Swami and Prof. Ranade had to admit though half-heartedly the valuable part played by Muslims in the development of Indian music. The Muslims since the time of Ameer Khusro who lived in the reign of Alauddin Khilji formed the vanguard of all cultural movements in India and were the pioneers in the domains of music. Ameer Khusro, born in 1253A.D. at Pati Pali near Kanauj (U. P.) was a master musician, a man possessing extraordinary abilities and a versatile taste. He wrote enchanting geets and composed many new songs. which acquired great popularity even during his lifetime. He also invented a new type of Sitar. He enriched Indian music through his compositions, and innovations of Khiyal, Kaul Kalbana, Zelf, Ghaza, Kadar and Tarana. Sazgiri and Khiyal composed by him formed the culmination of his achievements which has earned an eminent place for him in the domains of Indian music. Prof Ranade writing in his book on Indian Music says, "At the close of the 13th century when Muslims conquered Deccan after overthrowing the Devagiri ruler, the Islamic music began to influence the Indian music".' According to latest historical researches the originator of a new type of music in Northern India was Ameer Khusro, who not only formed new avenues but developed them to a high degree. Even after a lapse of 700 years, he is considered an authority in many branches of theoretical and practical Indian Music. Nawab Zulqadar Durgah Quli Khan, a courtier of Mughal ruler Muhammad Shah writing in his book, Delhi in 12th century A. D., mentions more than 50 musicians including Qawwals Taj Khan, Moinuddin and Burhani who had earned great reputation as vocal musicians.
The rulers of Sharqi dynasty of Jaunpur were great patrons of music and were the first to advance active patronage to this fine art. Khiyal had become very popular during this era. Round about this period the Bahmani dynasty of Deccan and later on the rulers of Bijapur also showed much interest in the development of music. ''Ibrahim Adil Shah"
says Zahuri, "was a master artist whose profound interest had popularised music in every house of his domain"
Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor was a well known patron of cultural activities specially of fine arts. He had drawn to his court a team of at least 50 musicians from all parts of India who were experts in vocal and instrumental music. During the last 1,000 years India has not produced a greater vocal musician than Tan Sen Khan of Gawalior, who was a distinguished courtier of Akbar. He has become a legendary figure in the annals of Hindustani music. Other notable experts of instrumental music in the court of Akbar were Shahab Khan, an all-round instrumental artist, Dost Mashhadi, the flute player and Yusuf Mirasi, the Tanbur master.
Tozak-i-Jahangiri written by the cultured emperor himself mentions some celebrated vocal musicians who enlivened the durbar of Jahangir. These included Jahangir Dad Khan, Parvez Khan and Khorrum Dad Khan.
During the reign of Shah Jahan, Lal Khan the grand son-in-law of the famous Tan Sen had earned a great reputation as a vocal musician. Abdur Rahim Khankhanan a distinguished courtier of Akbar the Great was a benevolent patron of musicians and poets, whose munifcence knew no bounds and has become proverbial.
India has produced many prominent Muslim theorists. Sher Khan wrote Miratul Khiyal, Abdul Baqj Nahawandi wrote Maasarul Umara, Rag Darpan and Risala Tan Sen, and Syed Nizam-ud-din is the author of Risala Ameer Khusro and Maadan-i-Mausiqi. Hakim Muhammad Akram wrote a voluminous book entitled Maadan-i-Mausiqi, (The mine of music) detailing in it the achievements of innumerable vocal and instrumental musicians. The Nagmat-i-Asafi (The songs of Asafi dynasty), an outstanding work of Raza Khan published in 1813 revolutionised Indian music. He systematised and graded the songs in an orderly manner and introduced a systematic notation of Indian music which influenced the later musicians.
Maulana Abdul Halim Sharar, the well-known Urdu novelist in his presidential address delivered at the Music conference held at Baroda in March, 1916, said, "During the preceding centuries, Muslims dominated the Indian music and left far behind their Hindu counterparts in the pursuit of this fine art. At present all the eminent musicians in India specially in the courts of State rulers are Muslims who are experts in their professions"
The Muslims have undoubtedly dominated Indo-Pakistani music for the last thousand years. Even during the current century a galaxy of talented Muslim artists adorned the firmament of Indo-Pakistani music. Tan Sen of Delhi and Ustad Fayyaz Khan of Baroda have occupied the most distinguished place as musicians in the present century. Ustad Fayyaz Khan was recognised till his death as the best musician of the Sub-continent and in several all-India music conferences he was honoured with the title of "The Master Musician of India", and the "Sun of Indian Music." The late Piare Saheb of U. P. was one of the best singers modern India has produced, who excelled in the art of singing Pucca songs (classical songs). Ghulam Ali Khan is universally acknowledged as one of the best vocal musician of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent; Muslims did not lag behind in instrumental music and produced some of the leading artists of our age. Inayat Khan in Sitar, Bundoo Khan in Sarangi, Abid Husain and Nathu Khan of Delhi in Tabla and Khan Saheb- Hafiz Ali Khan in Sarod have been matchless.
Ustad Munir Khan (d/193X A. D.) whose 89th birth anniversary has recently been celebrated at Bombay had been the most outstanding Tabla artist of India. Belonging to a reputed family of hereditary musicians of U. P. his father Ustad Kale Khan was a great exponent of the art of rhythm. Ustad Munir Khan was one of the few legendary figures who greatly contributed to the development of Tabla music throughout this Sub-continent.' His disciples Amir Husain Khan, Shamsuddin Khan and Ahmed Jan have maintained the high reputation of their Ustad and according to a Hindu critic, "Their dexterity and originality are today unrivalled among Tabla players."
A few-years back Ustad Mushtaq Husain and Alauddin Khan have been honoured as the best musicians of Bharat by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Bharati Republic.
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