The volunteer-ran festival will bring a dazzling array of acts to The Tramway later this month
Organisers are making their final preparations for an inaugural festival of Islamic culture in Glasgow.
The Sufi Festival, a music and arts spectacular showcasing the art, culture and mysticism of Sufism will take place at the Tramway Theatre in Glasgow on 28 July.
Sufism is an ancient mystical tradition with an emphasis on universal love and peace, with a rich heritage of creative arts that are internationally appreciated as among the most prepossessing and majestic in history.
The festival brings audiences music, poetry and theatre inspired by Muslim cultures, with art exhibitions, storytelling, workshops, and ceremonial rituals of devotion, and much more.
A family-oriented, community event, the Sufi Festival welcomes all ages, abilities, faiths, ethnicities, gender identities, and mindsets to share in a unique experience of Islamic culture.
Festival organiser Tariq Mahmood told Third Force News that volunteers are committed to putting on an event to remember.
“The idea for the festival came from myself having a personal interest in the theme of Sufism. I’d been interested in it for about 10 years and started thinking about how to get like-minded people together to create a programme of events that would be of interest to people.
“That was maybe mid-2017 and here we are two years later with a full calendar of events planned! We started by putting out a Survey Monkey asking for people’s thoughts, and we got about 75 responses. This was really positive as it gave us a lot of insight into the demographics of people that were interested, and the type of things they wanted to see.”
At the heart of the festival is a drive to bring communities together, and to tackle negative stereotypes of Islam often portrayed in the media.
“I think it’s hugely important to have Islamic cultural events,” Mahmood added. “This project has a number of objectives, and one of them is bringing communities together. We want to tackle discrimination and Islamophobia.
“I think this can be done through creating positive outputs in the community. If we don’t do this then the negative stereotypes that are there will remain.”
Highlight acts of the festival include: Shah e Mardan, Qawwali ensemble led by former apprentice to the late master, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Islamic 90s hip hop and Nasheed group Mecca2Medina regrouping for a one-off performance; the multi-award-winning Khayaal Theatre, staging performances of Rumi’s Tales of Wisdom; and an exhibition of unique rarely seen artefacts and artworks from the Islamic world.
The festival is funded by Creative Scotland, Amal (a Saïd Foundation programme), Safera Foundation, and the University of Edinburgh Al Waleed Centre. Its lead partner is Glasgow Life, through the Tramway; and charity partner is the Human Appeal.
Graham Reid, equalities and diversity officer at Creative Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Glasgow’s first Sufi Festival. This new addition to the city’s cultural calendar will present high quality music, visual art, storytelling, theatre and talks exploring traditional and contemporary cultures of Sufi Islam.”
Councillor David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “This one day festival welcomes families to take part in activities and offer a chance for anyone to gain insight into the philosophy of one of the oldest living mystical traditions and the related art forms. Tramway’s unique spaces provide opportunity for a number of activities to take place with 12 headline artists exploring themes such as social consciousness, spiritually and culture as empowerment.”
A long term aim of the festival is to build a Sufi movement in Scotland. Despite a sizeable Muslim population in areas such as the southside of Glasgow, the majority of acts for this year’s event are from other parts of the UK, however organisers hope this will change.
Mahmood added: “The majority of acts are from the UK – from places such as London, Birmingham and Bradford - but there are also people coming from Europe too.
“If we are to build a movement here we need a catalyst to draw focus and ideas that can become inspirational for others. Through the festival we hope people can become involved and engaged.”
The festival takes place on Sunday 28 July, between 10.30am and 9.30pm at the Tramway in Glasgow. Tickets are available via Eventbrite, and for more information visit the festival website.