In a bid to add value and knowledge to zikir, considered to be a part of Assam’s rich folk literature and songs, the Azan Peer Dargah Parisalona Committee has invited articles pertaining to zikir, its origins and propagation for a souvenir.
Nekib Ahmed, joint secretary of the committee and a zikir singer said on February 10 and 11, the annual convention of Azan Pir Dargah at Houraguri in Sivasagar district will be held in which the souvenir Houragurir Azan will be released.
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“There are very few people who have studied zikir or done in depth research into the lyrics which sing of harmony and brotherhood, of love and oneness and humanitarian goals and ideals,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed further said he knew of only one person who had received a doctorate degree in Sikorsky and that was Bhubaneswar Deka of Guwahati.
Narrating how tale of Azan Pir who had composed about 160 zikirs, Ahmed further said all but 40 existed now, the others having been lost to time.
“Shah Miran accompanied by his brother Shah Navi had traversed thousands of kilometres by foot from Baghdad in Iraq to reach Assam and then he took a boat and alighted at a place named Sonpur now Sonari in 1634. His father had asked Shah Miran come here after he had had a dream in which God had commanded him to send his son here,” Ahmed said.
The story goes that Shah Miran had called the people to prayer through Azan and soon he became known as Azan Pir.
Jealous of Azan Pir’s growing influence, a plot was hatched by a highly placed official of the then Ahom King and he was jailed.
Azan Pir, it is said, was tortured and both his eyes were plucked out. When thrown into the Brahmaputra, waters rose from the spot and swamped the King’s palace and surrounding although it was not the rainy season.
The people deduced that the flooding had occurred due to Azan Pir’s eyes being thrown into the waters and the King sought forgiveness for this act.
Azan Pir was freed and given an isolated spot at Houraguri, the place got its name because of the large number of Houra trees, to continue preaching Islam.
“Being influenced by Srimanta Shankardev’s philosophy of equality and brotherhood, Azan Pir composed his zikirs in the same vein and spread Islam with the help of 120 disciples who carried his broad minded philosophy to different parts of the state,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed said as the zikirs were an oral tradition and not written anywhere most have been lost over the years.
“We would like to have more discussions on these compositions, their literary value, the rules of how they should be sung if any and if they can be codified and more,” he said.