CALL FOR PAPERS: MUSIC IN ISLAM
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
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.
• MUSIC/SONGS OF OTHER RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS within
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),
The article and the abstract must both be sent in a single file (.doc or .docx) to email@example.com