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Sufi Music and Poetry Evening Derby

‘Was a stellar night, thanks again for leading it!! I am bewildered in the wake of all we discussed’

-Jarrett Smalley, Quantum Physicist- Rolls Royce

In May 2023, I organised and hosted a Sufi Music and Poetry evening in Derby. I wanted to recreate an experience which would take us back in time to the beauty of the Ottoman Empire or Andalusian Spain during the golden age of Sufism. This meant taking care and paying attention to detail when designing the space and only selecting that which would tantalise the senses. From the jasmine fragrance of the incense floating through the space, the romantic palette of golds, wines, soft pinks and mauves, the patterns and textures of the cushions and rugs, the amber glow from the candles and lamps and the delectable Baklava and Turkish tea served to the guests.

A local friend commented,

'It looks wonderful. Events like this used to be held regularly in Afghanistan two years ago'.

I had no idea when putting this work out in the ‘modern world’, it would gain so much traction but, having had several discussions since, it seems as though, there is a yearning, particularly post COVID, for connection, community and authenticity (truth).

Our environment is everything. From the aesthetic feel of a space to the people within it. Therefore it was important to set the scene and create something beautiful that people would feel cocooned and nurtured in.

‘Saima created an intimate and safe space in a local art gallery to introduce a small group of us to the principles of Sufi teaching.

This was done through short talks, poetry, music and ending with a meditation. It was all very inspiring and accessible, with people able to share their experiences. All in all a very uplifting evening. Ooo and we were served some delicious masala tea and baklava!’

-Sue Alanson, World music DJ and Sculptor

On the night, the space filled up with an eclectic group of individuals, diverse by age, gender, ethnic origin, vocation and life experience. Individuals with generosity of spirit. This was a dream come true for me as i'm a big believer in surrounding yourself with people from all walks of life. This opens up the mind and the heart and makes life so much richer or certainly, in my life it has. This eclecticism resulted in an alchemy where discussion and self expression transformed into awakening.

One of our guests, very beautifully fed back,

‘Was a stellar night, thanks again for leading it!! I am bewildered in the wake of all we discussed’

-Jarrett Smalley, Quantum Physicist- Rolls Royce

Having the Love and Starfish Art Gallery as a backdrop enhanced the experience. Talking about Art in an Artistic soulful space.

I’m not quite sure what the next step in this journey is. We are being asked to run it again which we are intending on doing. For now though, I’d like to take some time for self reflection.


Professional photography and videography @oh.sarah.y

All other photographs taken by guests

Video editing by Saima Majid and @oh.sarah.y

Music~ Bahir Al Bakir, Walk from Agadir

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