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Turkey: Music in Ramadan that is food for the soul


İSTANBUL, (Today's Zaman):

Once again we are enjoying the pleasure of getting into the spirit of Ramadan, the sultan of the other 11 months.

We all hope to get rid of our spiritual stains during this beautiful month. While our stomachs go hungry, we want to fill our souls with the blessings of this month.

However, it should be noted with sorrow that the recommendations concerning this month are generally limited to hunger, iftar (the fast-breaking meal) and suhoor (the pre-dawn meal). Of course these recommendations bear points that should be taken into consideration. But this month isn’t just a period which is just limited to staying hungry or eating and drinking. We should be endeavoring to fill our souls with fasting, praying, reading the Quran, worshipping and contemplation.

During this journey, music may be a good companion for us. If you happen to ask, “Is it proper to listen to music in Ramadan?” there are so many special genres that will help us feel the spiritual climate of this month. Thanks to this music perhaps our ears will be purified just like our heart. This month, several very talented artists will greet us during suhoor and iftar programs as well as on various events on TV. However, we have prepared a small anthology for those who want to discover others beyond those on TV. You will be addicted to these rhymes not only during Ramadan but also for life.

Ramadan incomplete without the Quran

The month of Ramadan is the month of the Quran as well as the month of fasting. We therefore start our anthology with Quranic recitations, as the spirit of the Quran is felt with hatim (reading the Quran from beginning to end) during this month. We should make an effort to read and understand our holy book and to take in the spirit of the Quran. Besides reading it, listening to Quranic recitations will also bring great peace to our hearts. In mukabele you will be able to listen to the recitation of our holy book by a hafiz (a person who has memorized the entire Quran) with a melodious voice. In addition, you will also be able to listen to it on your mp3 player or on your computer during the day. You can also listen to Quranic recitations by world-renowned hafizs from Mustafa İsmail to Abdulbasit Abdussamed.

Ramadan surprise from Sami Özer

The music album “Alim Allah” (All-Knowing God) which Sami Özer released after 10 years was a big surprise before Ramadan. Striving to make Sufi music popular with the masses again after many years, Özer, as always, interprets musical works in his own way in “Alim Allah.” The album is named after a Rifai (a Sufi order) verse composed by Nâyî Ali Rıza Bey. The Prophet and Ahl al-Bayt (the family of the Prophet Muhammad) come into prominence in verses of poetry that were included in “Alim Allah” in which Özer sings 12 musical pieces, most of which are classics but also include his own compositions. If you are listening to Özer for the very first time, we also strongly recommend that you listen to his series of albums “Ey Allahım 1,” “Ey Allahım 2” and “Ey Allahım 3.”

Discover Ramazaniye

With the arrival of Ramadan many traditions are revived while some traditions of Ramadans past have been forgotten. One of those is the ramazaniye. The verses of poetry sung between four cycles of the terawih prayer peculiar to Ramadan, rhythmic “amens” uttered after the prayer and composed qasidahs (odes typically written for the Prophet) are called ramazaniye. Unfortunately, you cannot come across ramazaniye music everywhere. You can hear the best examples of ramazaniye, which is one of the indispensable parts of Ramadan, in the musical album of the same name produced by İBB Kültür AŞ in 2009.

Enderun Teravihi: an ancient tradition of Ramadan

“Enderun Teravihi” and “Cumhur müezzinliği” feature a tradition that was undertaken during Ramadan 70 or 80 years ago in all mosques of İstanbul and in mansions where terawih prayer was performed. However, this tradition was forgotten and even abolished in big mosques. “Enderun Teravihi” or “Enderun Usûlü” (Enderun Style), which refers to performing each of the four cycles of the terawih prayer by reading verses from the Quran in different musical modes of Turkish classical music and singing verses of poetry in between each of the four cycles was revived in previous years thanks to the efforts of Ahmet Şahin and Mehmet Kemiksiz. In addition to the book which was prepared for the purpose of continuing this tradition, a musical album was also produced. You may download it from free of charge and listen to Şahin and Kemiksiz sing.

‘Meşk’ of Karaca and Kutbay

If you haven’t heard of them yet, this Ramadan might be the time for you to discover great master reed flute players Aka Gündüz Kutbay and Kani Karaca. Three years ago Kalan Müzik Corporation released for the first time recordings by Karaca and Kutbay, who filled his short life with a great music career and who is the voice, which comes to life with a reed flute, of a life that is devoted to music. Musical albums dubbed “Aşk” and “Meşk” were prepared by reed flute player Aziz Şenol Filiz. In the musical album “Aşk,” Kutbay’s previously unreleased works are included while “Meşk” features his work with master singer Karaca.

Yansımalar and Tekbilek

Yansımalar is a musical group that has helped Turkish classical music gain favor with young generations again and you may prefer to listen to them instead. The reed flute played by Aziz Şenol Filiz and the melodies sung by Birol Yayla will definitely lead you to contemplation. We strongly recommend the musical albums “Bab-ı Esra,” “Serzeniş” and “Pervane.” Ömer Faruk Tekbilek’s compositions which have a slow rhythm and are rich in spirit will cause you to experience different feelings. You should definitely listen to his “Best Of” album.

Commemorate Hafızs

If you haven’t yet discovered Hafız Kemal and Hafız Burhan, who are among the great singers of Turkish classical music, Ramadan would be a good time to do so. Kemal was an artist who was both talented and modest and whose name was written in gold letters in Turkey’s artistic history. It will be a very different experience for you to listen to him singing Mevlid-i Şerif (a literary work on the birth of the Prophet Muhammad). Listening to the great master Hafız Burhan singing odes will open a different window to your spiritual world. If you are interested in finding these albums, Kalan Müzik Corporation released both albums in previous years and they are still available on the market.

Each is precious, each is special

Of course there are many additional names to mention here. Do invite the singing of Ahmet Özhan, Hafız Celal Yılmaz, Mustafa Demirci, Mehmet Emin Ay and others into your spiritual world. We also advise you to listen to Niyazi Sayın, Kudsi Erguner and Sadrettin Özçimli playing the reed flute.

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