International Sufi Band Blesses Atlanta: City of Peace
By Mahadev Desai
Pics by: Akbar Hakim & Jean G. Dominique
Atlanta's true destiny of becoming formalized as a global
capital and beacon of peace was propelled forward significantly
on May 23, with the first-official visit to Metro Atlanta of
international Sufi recording group; 'Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad
Qawwal & Brothers.' They performed for "An Eve of Global Music"
fundraising event at Berkmar High School auditorium, Lilburn, GA
to benefit the envisioned Global Peace Museum (GPM) slated to be
Atlanta’s newest international tourist destination.
Fareed Ayaz and
After light refreshments, the music-lovers of Atlanta were
treated to soul-touching spiritually elevating Sufi ‘Qawwali’.
To those unfamiliar with ‘Qawwali’ it is an Arabic word meaning
"utterance." It is the devotional music of the Sufis mystics of
Pakistan and India. The term includes both the medium and its
performance, and has been a dominant feature of their culture
since the 12th century. Sufi music is appreciated by people from
every faith and how it builds bridges across common boundaries
of nationality, gender, class, ethnicity and religion, plus
preferences in politics and culture.
As Dr. Alan A. Godlas, UGA-Associate Professor in the Department
of Religion noted: “...the essence of Sufi practice is quite
simple. It is that the Sufi surrenders to God, in love, over and
over; which involves embracing with love at each moment the
content of one's consciousness (one's perceptions, thoughts, and
feelings, as well as one's sense of self) as gifts of God or,
more precisely, as manifestations of God.”
Muhammad,Ms.Terry Hester,John Naugle,Fareed Ayaz and
The program was emceed by Shaveta Jain, former Mrs. India
International,and a social activist, who did an excellent job of
creating the agenda and leading the production. Her professional
poise, verve and beautiful dress helped the smooth flow of the
program. After she welcomed all, she introduced Ms. Terry L.
Hester, event organizer. ‘Terry’ is VP for Atlanta:
City of Peace, Inc. (ACP), and is Founder and CEO for “Unity in
the Community” campaigns (UITC), an ‘at-will’ Community
Organization dedicated to bringing multiculturals together to
form bonds of Peace. Ms. Hester read out the Letter of
Celebration from Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry which stated, ”I
would like to recognize and thank these international recording
artists Mr. Ayaz and Mr. Muhammad for their service of creating
‘Unity within our community’ through their beautiful art of
music… ‘Thank You’ for being Global Ambassadors for Peace!”
Ms. Hester then introduced GPM-Founder John R. Naugle who came
to the stage and invited everyone to become co-creators and
Ambassadors of the Global Peace Museum. Shaveta then invited Dr.
Hari Dayal, the band’s USA promoter, to the stage and he read
out the inspiring Proclamation from Kwanza Hall, an Atlanta City
Council member, “We extend a heartfelt welcome to your ensemble
as you delight Georgians with your music. Mr. Ayaz and Mr.
Muhammad are internationally-respected Sufi musicians whose
singing is based on classical ragas. … Please accept my best
wishes for a memorable concert.”
Hester,John Naugle,Mustafa Ajmeri and Shaveta Jain
Shaveta also called to the stage the amazing Mustafa Ajmeri;
event organizer and Atlanta’s performing arts supremo, plus
India Tribune-Public Relations Rep, and the unofficial
‘Ambassador for the Global Peace Museum’. She also recognized
and thanked co-Founder and Music Director of Nritya Natya Kala
Bharati, Sandeep Savla & A.V. Creations and Ejaz Naqvi who
excelled in producing, respectively, the wonderful audio and
stage design; and Sanjay Pandya of Davis Printing who provided
the historic inaugural event program. Other major sponsors were
also thanked for their help in propelling success for this
first-ever GPM Fundraiser.
Finally, in advance of the main show, Mr. Aslam Pervez inspired
the audience with a beautiful panegyric in his native language.
His words celebrated the widely respected artistic talents of
our featured international stars: Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad.
Maestros Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad’s Atlanta ensemble commenced
singing, and the auditorium became quiet. Slowly the singing and
music became hypnotic and elevating and transported the audience
into realms of wonder. It was an indescribable bliss to be
experienced. The positive vibes enveloped all. Their seamless
switch from one language to another also wowed the audience and
elicited huge applause. They performed beautifully and
powerfully for almost 3 hours. Their band was composed of 9
musicians and their instruments included two harmoniums, one
dholak, one electric ragini, and one tabla. The 2 stars were
accompanied by a team of 7 other musicians: Ghulam Akram,
Ghayoor Ahmed, Moiz Uddin, Mubark Hassan, Hamza Khan, Tahseen
Fawad and Mustafa Khan. They performed about 11 songs.
According to Dr. Scott Kugle, Emory University Associate
Professor of South Asian and Islamic Studies, “The artists,
Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad and party, are among the best
singers of our era... Their late father, Munshi Raziuddin, was a
wonderful artist and much-recorded singer. They are directly
descended from the very first Qawwals of Nizamuddin Awliya in
Delhi, over 700 years ago. Fareed Ayaz is an extremely
knowledgeable person about Sufism and music. For those who love
Qawwali, this was a rare opportunity."
John R. Naugle, GPM-Founder, "for Atlanta and the GPM to be
blessed with an amazing Sufi performance of such an
international and spiritual magnitude, during the 50th
anniversary year of Dr. King's Nobel Peace Prize (1964-2014) is
such a wonderful gift to the attending audience, plus everyone
who will come to learn of this. The GPM sends it sincere thanks
and gratitude to Fareed, Abu and their inspiring musical
The Global Peace
On the following day, Ms.Terry Hester commented,”
Historically music has been the entity which has been used to
heal, connect, and transcend many into higher levels of
tolerance and understanding. Our ultimate goal was obtained last
night as the message of peace-through-music was joyously
received by all.” Maestro Fareed Ayaaz and Mrs. Ayaaz have 6
sons (4 of whom were among the performers) and 5 daughters.
Apart from the movie The Reluctant Fundamentalist they have been
featured in two other movies. They have traveled extensively to
many countries of the world. Mr. Ayaaz feels that the USA seems
to be a growing market that is especially receptive to spiritual
An elated John R. Naugle profusely thanked the participants,
sponsors, volunteers and the audience and urged all to help in
whatever way they can to make the dream of Global Peace Museum
become a reality. GPM MISSION:
"The Global Peace Museum (GPM) celebrates the goodness of our
[The GPM will be developed next to “ATL” the world’s busiest
airport, and also the Georgia International Convention Center.
It will promote "Tourism: The World's Biggest Peace Industry.
Success with the GPM will propel Atlanta's global peace legacy
and help it to eventually become formalized as a global capital
of peace so it may inspire our global family. Sponsors,
supporters and stakeholders from around the USA & outside are
To further support the efforts of the GPM, donate now at:
Those who wish to learn more about Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad
Qawwal & Bros.
"Everything in the Universe is a pitcher
brimming with wisdom and beauty.”
--- Rumi (1207-1273)
The evening was a great success. A BIG word of thanks also goes
out to the pre-show entertainment: to Hema Shilpa Uppala,
founder of the Indian Classical Dance Academy and her talented
students, plus Funda Yilmaz with her Veil Dance, and to Jaya
Kamlani, for her beautiful singing.