ABSTRACT

The magnitude of this ritual reveals the importance of Islamic roots in Azerbaijanian culture and the significance of chanting in Muslim religious

practice. The tone and the intensity of voice and the clarity of articulation are important both for the azan who calls for prayer and for the imam who recites the holy verses of the Qur'an. Yet the Muslim attitude towards music is ambivalent. On one hand, historians refer "the greatest troubadours of spirituality in Islam. . . who combined music and spirituality with religion and poetry" (Nasr, 1997: 219). On the other hand, there is a history of Islamic condemnation of music as an activity which awakens the profane and unholy aspects in man. To explain this apparent ambivalence, Lois Al-Faruqi developed a hierarchical scale that classifies musical activities ranging from halal (lawful, permissible) to haram (unlawful, forbidden). The word 'musiqa,' derived from Greek, refers to music of preIslamic (pagan) and non-Islamic (Greek) origin, which is inappropriate for sound intended to repeat the divine Message. The sound involved in religious rituals thus rises above all other music-related activities; it is identified as non-musiqa. According to Regula Qureshi, "an exclusive and exquisite melodic-rhythmic system has been developed to sound the divine Word and articulate its distinct uniqueness, different from any other words or music" (Qureshi, 1997: 264). The distinction between the oral expression of the Word and all musical activities is specified on Al-Faruqi's chart by the division between non-musiqa and musiqa, while the paradigm of halal and haram defines the legitimacy of each genre.