Occhialì. Rivista sul Mediterraneo Islamico

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Call for Papers
November 30, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Islamic History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies, Music and Music History


The use of music in Islam and, more specifically, within Islamic mysticism, has been a

subject of a never fully exhausted debate between literati, theologians and spiritual masters.

The studies based on the Quran and on the h̩adīth tradition led, more or less to the

consolidation of two partly opposite positions: on the one side, the rigorists, among whom

we can count Ibn Abī l-Dunyā (823-894), criticized the blaspheme potential of music,

especially when played through certain instruments and according to particular ways; on the

other side, the spiritual masters, such as Muh̩yī l-Dīn ibn al-ʽArabī (1165-1240), described

music beneficial capacity to facilitate the mystical union (fanāʼ) with God and the attainment

of the divine truth (h̩aqīqah). The famous Andalusian mystic identifies in particular two types

of listening (samāʽ): mut̩laq, i.e. without any sensible form, and muqayyad, i.e. the one

associated with music. The latter is further divided into ilāhī (divine), rūh̩ānī (spiritual) and

t̩abīʽī (natural). Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tūsī al-Ghazālī (d.1111) wrote a book wherein he

proposed an interesting analysis of the role of music in Islamic mysticism, also with regards

to the use of particular instruments (drums and flutes).

In contemporary Sufism, music is usually played and listened within hthe brotherhoods

(t̩uruq) during the practice of dhikr and on other occasions. However, listening is allowed so

long as the music does not undermine the “purity” of the believer’s heart: music and dance

are discouraged for Sufi disciples who have yet to be or have just been initiated, due to their

“corruptive” potential.

Today, Wahhabism and other rigorist tendencies forbid music, reducing its use to certain

religious and social settings. In the modern age, however, the globalization of Westerns pop

culture has facilitated the development of alternative musical tendencies, as expressions of

political, cultural or youth movements of protest or resistance vis-a-vis political and religious

(Muslim or otherwise) mainstream, such as Saudi metal or Iranian rap. Furthermore, some

Sufi orders exploit the artistic potential of samāʽ to give birth to forms of touristic

entertainment – a practice which has rather commodified the use of mystical music. Lastly,

some ethnic, local and linguistic minorities use, create and (re)invent music to reclaim their

rights and their particular/local instances within the global space (see for example the

Kurds in Turkey or the Copts in Egypt).

The circulation (both physical and virtual) of musical material, texts and melodies has

greatly facilitated exchanges and borrowings between different local and super-local

traditions and cultures, favouring the emergence of new artistic tendencies which are not

necessarily linked to an identity claim.

Drawing inspiration from these reflections, “Occhialì – Rivista sul Mediterraneo islamico”

intends to promote the discussion on music starting from the Islamic phenomenon, declining

it in multidisciplinary terms according to the following axes of development:


• MUSICAL LANGUAGES: Geographical areas (Arab, Ottoman,

Persian, Armenian, Balkan, Andalusian, Indian music and so on); Traditional

music; Musical Instruments; Musical theory; Modes (maqām); Music and


• MUSIC AND MUSICALITY IN ISLAM: Recitation of the Quran;

Music and ecstasy; Sufism.


the Islamic world; Musical syncretism.

• RITUAL MUSIC: Anthropology.

• MUSIC AND SOCIETY: Raї, music and protests; Music and

jihadism; Musical subcultures; Music and politics; Narrations of love; The

narrative of migration through music.

The articles must be sent by 30/11/2018 in a form compatible with the procedure of blind

review: in the first page, the author’s name, surname, email address, a brief biographic note,

title and abstract; in the following pages, title, text and notes. Texts are accepted in Italian,

English and French, written according to the editorial norms presented on the website

(http://phi.unical.it/wp34/occhiali/), and no longer than 30.000 characters, including

spaces (and including the notes and an English abstract no longer than 150 words),

bibliography excluded.

The article and the abstract must both be sent in a single file (.doc or .docx) to laboratorio.occhiali@gmail.com

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