Last week, Sufi chants filled the air during a blissful night — the night of Al-Qadr, which is known to be one of the holiest nights of the Ramadan month for it is when the Quran was first bestowed upon the Prophet Mohammed.
Zahiid Project is the brainchild of oud player and music composer Haitham Darweash. “The idea was to revive the magic of classic folk Arabic poetry, and as well as the spirituality that is washed out nowadays,” explained Darweash to Ahram Online.
Zahiid Project’s debut performance was in Ramadan.
The band draws on famous Sufi chants, such as El-Nakshabandi’s famous song, Mawlai enni bebabek qad basat yadi (O God, I rely on your doorstep), and other sufi poems that Darweash transforms into spiritual songs.
Though a relatively new musical initiative, at only three months old, Zahiid (which means apathetic) delves deeply into the rich Sufi realm.
With the deep voice of Omneia Zahran and Amina Salah El-Din, together with the drum beats of Mohamed Shebl and the resonance of qanoun player Haitham El-Masri, Zahiid creates an intense spiritual experience.
Sufism and spirituality in general became a great attraction to young Egyptian artists lately. Within the past five years or so, a growing audience from all walks of life became interested in their spiritual origins, embracing the core human values all religions have called for.
Bands such as El-Hadra, and concerts created by Intesar Abdel Fattah with a mélange of Coptic and Muslim Sufi chants, were great crowd pleasers throughout recent years. Ghalia Ben-Ali’s great success in Egypt also highlights the idea that Sufi and authentic folk chants are on the rise, in parallel to pop songs.
Reviving the art of listening, another basic Sufi concept, is how Zahiid carve their mark. “Like our name, we are free from any musical form. We aim to represent an air of Sufism in all forms,“ Darweash concluded.