The Urdu Marsiyah: Text and Performance

presented by the
Society of Fellows in the Humanities and the
Southern Asian Institute at
Columbia University, and by the
American Institute of Pakistan Studies, and by the
South Asia Center at the
University of Pennsylvania

Saturday, February 28, Heyman Center for the Humanities, 2nd floor

PART ONE: Literary Workshop
10:00-12:30 = Discussion of marsiyah texts
12:30-1:30 = Lunch
1:30-3:30 = Marsiyah in literary and cultural history

PART TWO: Marsiyah Recitation
Saqlain Naqvi, marsiyah reciter
Yavar Abbas, marsiyah reciter
4:00, at 301 Philosophy Hall

We regret to announce that due to difficulties with the visa application process, Professor Sibt-e Ja'far Zaidi will be unable to perform. We are sorry to miss the opportunity to hear his recitations after our months of preparation, but are pleased to announce that reciter Yawar Abbas of London has graciously agreed to join us and recite taht-ul-lafz marsiyah. The program will continue as scheduled, with both soz and marsiyah by Syed Ghulam-us-Saqlain Naqvi and Yawar Abbas. We look forward to seeing you there.

This whole Saturday workshop is free and open to the public, but please register for Part One in advance: email Manju Sadarangani <> and include a mailing address for the packet of study materials.

*A related performance at the University of Pennsylvania, featuring Yavar Abbas*
*A related performance at Harvard*
*Some background on the performers*
*Some background on the marsiyah*
*Some background on Shi'a Islam*

A related performance at the University of Pennsylvania ~~

Marsiyah reciter Yavar Abbas will be featured in a performance at the University of Pennsylvania on the evening of Friday, February 27th. "The Art of the Urdu Marsiya: An Evening with Yavar Abbas" will take place in the Hamilton House Rooftop Lounge, from 6:00-9:00 pm.

A related performance at Harvard ~~

Marsiyah reciter Saqlain Naqvi will also perform at the International Council for Traditional Music colloquium/Radcliffe Advanced Seminar entitled "Local Theory/Local Practice: Musical culture in south Asia and beyond." This event will be held at the Harvard University Music Department, Paine Hall, Feb. 27, 2004. The goal of this seminar is to broaden the discourse among scholars of South Asian music and to forge new connections with allied disciplines and areas. Participants include: Richard K. Wolf, Michael Herzfeld, Regula Qureshi, Stephen Blum, Amanda Weidman, Rustom Bharucha, Martin Clayton, Susan Reed, Adam Nayyar, Gregory Booth, Shubha Chaudhuri, Gert-Matthias Wegner, Ashok Ranade, Rolf Groesbeck and Anthony Seeger. A day of paper presentations and discussion will be followed by a concert of South Asian folk and religious music. The colloquium and concert on Feb. 27 is free and open to the public. Full details: on the Harvard website.

Some background on the performers~~

Saqlain (Shanne) Naqvi is an excellent amateur reciter of soz and marsiyah with a vast repertoire of classical poetry, which he performs in declamatory or melodic modes. Naqvi hails from a prominent Shi'a clan whose mourning assemblies in the rural township of Mustafabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, are still remarkable for their intensity and high literary quality. Shanne's mother, Begam Atiya Naqvi of Lucknow, and his aunt, Aliya Imam of Karachi, are also aficionados of the marsiyah and talented reciters. Naqvi grew up in Mustafabad and Lucknow, was educated in Delhi, and now lives in Lucknow. More information: on the Harvard website.

Sibt-e Jafar Zaidi is a published author, a trained vocalist, and a professor from Karachi, Pakistan. Zaidi is much in demand for his beautiful, clear renderings of majlis texts. He has visited some sixteen countries, and he and his vocal accompanists have performed throughout Pakistan and internationally. In his book, Sauti 'ulum o funun-e islam, Professor Zaidi claims a high-art status for the recitation of soz and marsiyah, explaining the genres' classical Hindustani musical settings and regional variations.

Yavar Abbas is a writer, broadcaster, journalist, and film-maker from Lucknow. Educated at Allahabad University, he derives his taht ul-lafz recitation style both from family tradition, and from a special love for the poetry of Mir Anis. He has translated many English writers into Urdu, and has produced for the BBC World Service a number of widely-distributed films on South Asian and English literary topics, some of which have won awards. Yavar Abbas is currently based in London, where he lives with his wife Hamida. He has recited the poetry of Anis in Britain, America, the Gulf countries, and India. More information about Yavar Abbas: on the U. Penn website.

Some background on the marsiyah~~

Muhammad Husain Azad, in his famous Urdu literary history Aab-e hayaat (1880), described the history of marsiyah-composition and recitation as he saw it, and its two most famous masters, Anis and Dabir. Here's that passage *in Urdu*, and here's an *English translation* (in PDF format) of that passage, taken from *a recently published book*.

*Karbala and the Imam Husayn in Persian and Indo-Muslim literature*, a fine general overview by the well-known scholar Annemarie Schimmel.

If you'd like to hear some nauhah and marsiyah singers, try **. There are even some *videos of majalis sessions* available online.

Some background on Shi'a Islam ~~

*A world map* of Shi'a-Sunni population distribution.
*Shi'ism in perspective*, from Alan Godlas's excellent site
*Isfahan*, with an architectural and cultural tour.
*Shi'* a general site with a Shi'ite perspective
**, a Shi'ite site with some *explanatory articles*
*The Origins and Early Development of Shi`a Islam*, a book by S. H. M. Jafri.

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