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117 – Dawr “Ahīn el-nafs” 1



025 ASB A, Ahmad Saber, Ahin El Nafs III 3018 INSF A, Seleiman Hassan, Ahin El Nafs


The Arab Music Archiving and Research foundation (AMAR), in collaboration with the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), presents “Sama‘ ”.

“Sama‘ ” discusses our musical heritage through comparison and analysis…

A concept by Mustafa Said.

Dear listeners,

Welcome to a new episode of “Sama‘ ”.

Today, we will study and analyse dawr “Ahīn el-nafs” written by Muḥammad al-Darwīsh, a poet and a jurist or faqīh (expert in Islamic Law/jurisprudence) at the khedivial court during the second half of the 19th century, to whom we may dedicate a whole episode as he is one of the period’s major writers of dawr.

We know nothing about the composer Aḥmad Afandī Abū Ghunayma, except that he was an Afandī and not a Sheikh, and that he probably lived in the 19th century since ‘Abduh Afandī al-Ḥāmūlī sang this dawr.

The dawr is to the maqām ḥiār –the ordinary ḥiār not the ḥiār sikāh–.

We have numerous recordings:

  • Two recordings of ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī, one made in 1906 by Zonophone, and one made in 1907 by Odeon;
  • One recording of Sheikh Aḥmad Ṣābir made in 1906 by Zonophone;
  • One recording –among the early electrical recordings– of Sulaymān Ḥasan made in 1927 by His Master’s Voice;
  • One recording of Sheikhs Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sayyid Shaṭā made around the mid-20th century by the Tunisian Radio. Both presented a totally different concept of this dawr.

Let us listen to Sheikh Sayyid Shaṭā introducing a part of this Radio recording –they both introduced it together–, the dawr included in this waṣla. Let us listen to his introduction and to his interpretation of the dawr’s lyrics…

(♩) Madhhab:

Ahīn el-nafs wa-etdhallal ilēkum w-a’ūl li-el-albi dū’ nār el-gharām

Y-aḍḍīnī ‘adhābī ḥarām ‘alēkum yidūm lī ḥusnukum ‘ala el-dawām


Alū-lī el-nās ‘ala awṣāf gamālak anā ḥabbēt we-zād albī huyām

Fa-bi-el-lāhi gūd lī bi-waṣlak anā ‘āshi’ we-lawwa‘nī el-gharām

  • Beautiful!
  • Shall we go ahead?
  • Let us go ahead…

Sheikhs Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sayyid Shaṭā did not name the poet but attributed the composition of the nawā athar melody to Dāwūd Ḥusnī.

On the other hand, all the books preceding Amīn Ḥasanayn, Sayyid Shaṭā, and Dāwūd Ḥusnī attribute the writing of this dawr to Aḥmad Abū Ghunayma. 

Did Dāwūd Ḥusnī make changes in the madhhab or in the ghuṣn?:

Sayyid Shaṭā and Amīn Ḥasanayn sing the madhhab in a totally different manner –we will discuss this later. So they either sang it following Dāwūd Ḥusnī’s rearrangement, or forgot the correct melody because they were old… Anything is possible. Yet he also said that the dawr is to the nawā athar.

I think they both decided to name the maqām ḥiār playfully nawā athar. Dāwūd Ḥusnī surely knew the difference between the ḥiār and the nawā athar, while Sheikhs who had studied inshād could get mixed up because their studies mainly focused on uūl and on sub-maqām derived from uūl and they learned very few compound maqām such as the ṭāhir, the ḥiār būsalīk, the sūzdalār, the ghūlīzār, the nawā athar, or the ‘arḍbār/arzbār.

So, the nawā athar is a compound maqām, not only a ‘ushshāq sub-maqām like the ḥiār.

Now, concerning the fact that Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sayyid Shaṭā may have sang this dawr after it was rearranged by Dāwūd Ḥusnī:

We do not have a recording of this dawr in the voice of Dāwūd Ḥusnī. Yet he may have sang it a lot and Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sayyid Shaṭā may have memorized it from him as they are both from the following generation that also included Ṣāliḥ ‘Abd al-Ḥayy… so they surely learned from Dāwūd Ḥusnī and Ibrāhīm al-Qabbānī..etc. Consequently, they may have learned the dawr rearranged by Dāwūd Ḥusnī.

Why does this hypothesis exist?…

Let us listen to the madhhab version agreed upon by the first generation, i.e. ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī –twice, Sheikh Muḥammad Ṣābir, and Sulaymān Ḥasan –today’s surprise.

Let us listen to the madhhab in the voice of ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī…


Let us listen to the madhhab interpreted by Sheikh Amīn Ḥasanayn and by Sheikh Sayyid Shaṭā…


With the exception of the madhhab’s overture, i.e. the first sentence in the madhhab, the interpretations are totally different. Both Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sayyid Shaṭā sing it following a pattern resembling the nawā athar’s, yet not exactly the same, since the nawā athar is an extremely compound maqām. So, this first sentence that they agree on does not abide by this pattern.

…This was about the madhhab of the dawr.

Now let us listen to the full dawr in the voice of ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī and recorded by Odeon. Even though this recording is more advanced, the version ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī sings is abridged… it is the shortest one we have, and was possibly never broadcasted before.

At first, I admired ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī excellent salṭana throughout the four 30cm record-sides of the Gramophone recording, i.e. no less than 15 minutes of salṭana. Yet, Odeon’s recording, while very short, i.e. seven minutes, surprised me with the numerous beautiful tafrīd phrases including salṭana.

Let us listen to the full Odeon recording of the dawr in the voice of ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī to have an idea of the tafrīd, the ascension, and the qafla of the dawr. We will later resume the analysis.

‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī is accompanied by the takht of Ibrāhīm Sahlūn (violin), Muḥammad Ibrāhīm (qānūn), and ‘Alī Ṣāliḥ (nāy). It is the same takht that accompanied him in the Zonophone recording but excluding Ṣāliḥ playing the nāy. In our next episode, we will mention the same takht, i.e. Muḥammad Ibrāhīm and ‘Alī Ṣāliḥ excluding Ibrāhīm Sahlūn, and including Sāmī al-Shawwā and Sheikh Aḥmad Ṣābir.

Let us listen to the Odeon recording that starts with a dūlāb followed by layālī ‘ala al-waḥda, then the dawr, followed by taqsīm and layālī performed by Ibrāhīm Sahlūn and ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī. Then the qānūn tries to perform tafrīd on a phrase but the disc ends…


Such beautiful salṭana performed by ‘Abd al-Ḥayy!

So let us start with the tafrīd “Alū-lī el-nās ‘ala awṣāf gamālak”. ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī in both his recordings says the same phrase, the same intro, of the madhhab. So do Sulaymān Ḥasan and Sheikh Aḥmad Ṣābir.

Let us listen to ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī’s recording made by Gramophone since we just listened to the full Odeon recording…


Here, “Alū-lī el-nās ‘ala awṣāf gamālak” descends to the fundamental position like the ḥiār.

Let us hear how Sheikh Amīn Ḥasanayn and Sheikh Sayyid Shaṭā sing “Alū-lī el-nās ‘ala awṣāf gamālak”…


They both ascended to the jawāb of the fundamental position, i.e. to the fundamental position yet at the jawāb. Sulaymān Ḥasan and Sheikh Aḥmad Ṣābir both agree with ‘Abd al-Ḥayy Ḥilmī. On the other hand, we do not have a recording of any other performer ascending at the beginning of the dawr, i.e. the introduction to the tafrīd, besides Sheikh Sayyid Shaṭā and Sheikh Amīn Ḥasanayn.

Let us now end our episode with today’s surprise: let us hear how Sulaymān Ḥasan interprets it…


So Sulaymān Ḥasan led a mizmār band… thus demonstrating how literary/classical Arab music was predominant, widespread and well liked by all music professionals, including popular musicians, and amateurs of mundane music or folk music… it was very much appreciated.

As we heard, he performed tafrīd then concluded outside the dawr to the rāst, as if performing a salute, or salām, to the rāst.

We end today’s episode of “Sama‘ ” with this surprise.

We will meet again in a new episode to resume our discussion about dawr “Ahīn el-nafs”.

“Sama‘ ” was presented to you by AMAR.


  2015  /  Podcast  /  Last Updated June 25, 2015 by Amar  /  Tags:
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