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Musical notes

If you think that secularism is the only antidote to Islamic fundamentalism, you should hear the Sufi music of Abida Parveen, Pakistan's Nina Simone

By Kamila Shamsie   June 2005

Karachi, 3am, winter 1999. I am sitting in a garden where the temperature is several degrees higher than in the adjoining driveway. It could be because of all the people packed into the garden, but it seems more plausible that the heat is generated by the woman on stage. With her hands raised above her head, she is belting out songs in a voice that can veer from heartbreak to ecstasy as though they are adjacent emotions. Someone sitting next to me asks, “Do you think the neighbours mind?” Another responds: “Mind? Are you crazy? This is Abida Parveen!”


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