Language Issue
The Art of Libyan Sufi Hadrah Music: Instruments and Rhythms
The Art of Libyan Sufi Hadrah Music: Instruments and Rhythms
Issue 53

Dr. Nasser Naji Bin Jaber

Tripoli, Libya

An ancient lyrical heritage with a rich history, the Sufi Hadrah occupies a prominent position in the countries of the Arab Islamic world, in East Central Asia, and in the African countries that border Arab countries.

The Sufi Zawiya, the official location of the Hadrah, was the only beacon of science and education in our country during the Ottoman era, which lasted for four centuries. The Zawiya taught the fundamentals of Arabic and Islam, and the memorisation of the Holy Qur’an. They also teach the conventional approach to religion. Zawiyas publish religious supplications, letters, poems of remembrance and praise for the Prophet, and the Andalusian Maluf. The Sufi Hadrah has developed considerably over the centuries.

This study attempts to shed light on this type of lyrical heritage (the arts of the Libyan Hadrah and its rhythms and instruments) by collecting the art of the Arusiah Zawiya and recording the musical rhythms and folk instruments used.

The paper focuses on the Sufi singing, instruments and rhythms of the contemporary Libyan Hadrah. It starts with an introduction to the study of the Sufi Hadrah, which includes interviews conducted during field research, and feedback about people’s interest in Hadrah from other parts of the region. I also introduce the concept of Sufism, the Ribat, the Zawiyas in the city of Zliten, the spread of Sufi practices in Libya, and the history of the Hadrah. I then highlight the importance of rhythm and describe the types of rhythms in the Araousi method and the musical instruments used in the Zawiyas.