Ali Sethi pays ode to regional poets with Harvard Professor Dr Ali Asani

This recital poetry evening highlighted the work of regional masters and Sufi visionaries including Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Abdul Latif Bhatti and many more

Ali Sethi pays ode to regional poets with Harvard Professor Dr Ali Asani


LAHORE: Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) in collaboration with LUMS School of Education (LUMS SoE) and Harvard South Asia Institute organised an exclusive music and poetry evening.

Renowned musician Ali Sethi and Harvard University Professor Ali Asani put together a special set which they performed at an enthralled audience at Ali Institute of Education.

Titled ‘Misaq-e-Ishq’ (The Covenant of Love), this recital poetry evening highlighted the work of regional masters and Sufi visionaries including Amir Khusraw, Bulleh Shah, Abdul Latif Bhatti and many more. Ali Asani, Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion & Cultures at Harvard University, recited from the works and biographies of the aforementioned poets showcasing recurring motifs of "birha" (separation) and "wasl" (union with the beloved).

Throughout the evening, Professor Asani’s readings and recitations were interspersed with musical performances of the poems from classically-trained vocalist and ‘Coke Studio’ sensation Ali Sethi and his six-member band.

Expressing his love for poetry Ali Sethi commented, "I first met Professor Ali Asani in 2002. This was post-9/11 country, a time of alienation and radicalisation, and Professor Asani’s emphasis on humanism and empathy. I can now see that my early exposure to the study of Sufism in Professor Asani’s courses led me into the study of classical music after I graduated and returned to Pakistan. ‘Misaq-e-Ishq’ is a synthesis of those ideas and experiences: an exploration, through poetry and music, of the dialogue between humanity and divinity."

Professor Ali Asani added, "Historically, the vast majority of Muslims have experienced and understood their faith principally through the sonic, visual and literary arts, and they continue to do so today. Traditionally, the arts have provided important vehicles through which religious ideas and teaching are transmitted and given expression; indeed, for many Muslims, the arts aptly evoke the complexity, beauty and aesthetic power of their faith."

Supported by Institute for Policy Reforms, this event also featured an introduction to the inaugural Lahore Biennale by Rashid Rana, Artistic Director for Lahore Biennale 01, who is also one of Pakistan’s foremost contemporary artists. The Lahore Biennale, scheduled for early 2018, will be the largest contemporary art event to ever take place in Pakistan. This was followed by a brief talk by Country Director Harvard South Asia Institute and Associate Director LUMS School of Education Dr Mariam Chughtai who spoke about the work Harvard SAI and LUMS SoE are doing in Pakistan.

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