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The Philosophy of Azan Peer and Assamese Zikir

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The ‘Assamese Zikir’ is a vital component of Assamese culture. Nowadays, it is seen that in various state and national platforms, Bihu Geet, Borgeet and other folk songs and dance of Assamese society are performed to promote the culture and heritage of the region, but in these platforms somehow Zikir songs are less highlighted. As we know that zikir is one of the popular folk songs of Assam. Hence it should be equally highlighted along with others folk songs of Assam. The language used in composing zikir is simple. Employing indigenous theme and imagery is its speciality which can easily appeal the sentiments of the common people. Zikir are usually sung in a group on socio-cultural occasion. It contains the essence of fraternity, harmony and, integration occupies a distinct place in Assamese culture both for its lyrical beauty and theme. Originally “Zikir” is derived from the Arabic word “Zikr” which means singing and remembering the Allah or God. These are composed by Shah Miran, who later known as Azan Peer, a Saint who had migrated from Bagdad the capital of Iraq in 1634/35 to this region. During his stay, people of Assam were under the influence of Neo-Vaisnavism philosophy founded by Srimanta Sankardeva. In that time majority of the Muslims had embedded some Un-Islamic practices. In the initial period of his stay in Assam, he had learned the Ojahpali, Borgeet and other folk songs of Assam and thus takes hints from all these while composing the Assamese Zikir in considering the situations of that period. Through Zikir in one way he spreads the principles of Islam, on the other way emphasised for creating harmony and brotherhood among different religions, caste and creeds.  He used his Zikir as a tool to spreads the tenet of humanism among the common masses. In a short span of time, he became popular far and wide. It is known that, Azan peer mother tongue was Arabic but had learned Assamese language and assimilated with the Assamese society. He is said to have translated the Quran in the Assamese language for the common people. “Hindu ki Musalman Eke Allah r Farman…. Mur Manat Bhed Bhav Nai o Allah…..Mur Monat Bhed Bhav Nai.”  This melodious stanza of Zikir is composed and sung by Azan peer. It means “Hindus and Muslims are same, it is the creation of same God/Allah and there is no difference in my mind”. In present context of time, some communal forces are trying to polarise the masses on religious pretexts, sowing the seeds of hatred for their own benefit. In such a situation, reviving the philosophy of Azan Peer has become of utmost important. Hence, to spread his philosophy we need to popularise the zikir songs among all sections of people. To promote it in electronic and social media, the prominent and aspiring artists of Assam should come forward by making some musical videos on Zikir and should also perform it in various folk cultural festivals of the region.

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Author : Aminul Islam

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