Concert, Lecture Series Features the Mystical Music of Islam

August 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

In a time when Islam is too often misunderstood, Qawwali music reaches listeners regardless of their spiritual background.

A unique performance of Muslim mystical music is coming to the Upstate as part of a special concert and lecture series sponsored by the University of South Carolina Upstate, Wofford College, Furman University and the Humanities Council of South Carolina.


The internationally acclaimed ensemble Fanna-Fi-Allah will perform “Mystical Sounds of Islam: Voices of Qawwali,” 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 2, in the Performing Arts Center on the USC Upstate campus.

“Qawwali music is very popular in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” said Dr. David Damrel, associate professor of religion at USC Upstate. “It is passionate devotional music, and is meant to reach listeners regardless of their spiritual background. This kind of rhythm-driven religious singing goes back more than 500 years, but it is so accessible that it shows up in Bollywood soundtracks even today.”

Fanna-fi-Allah is a troupe of American and Pakistani artists with more than 15 years of experience studying and performing in South Asia. They have served recently as cultural ambassadors on a state department-sponsored goodwill tour throughout Pakistan and are profiled in an upcoming feature film release on Qawwali culture in the region. Learn more about them at

“This is a great opportunity to experience a little bit of South Asian culture,” Damrel said. “As far as we know, this will be the first ever Qawwali concert in South Carolina.”

The event is free and open to the public but tickets are required. Tickets are available through the Performing Arts Center Box Office at (864) 503-5695 and online at


Two interpretative lectures to provide context for the performance will be held in the Barrett Community Room at the Spartanburg County Public Library, 151 S. Church St. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

  • On Monday, August 24, Dr. Philip C. Dorroll, assistant professor of religion at Wofford College will speak on ‘’Introducing Islamic Mysticism’’ from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
  • On Wednesday, August 26, Dr. David Damrel will speak on “The Sounds of Islam” from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the event and lectures please contact Dr. David Damrel at or (864) 503-5798.