Sufi music has emerged as a form of therapy for mental health patients in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, where nearly 1.8 million people were suffering from mental distress, according to a survey conducted by Doctors Without Borders a few years ago. The latest communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, which started on Aug. 5, 2019, after India stripped the region of its limited autonomy, has caused many more people to complain about psychological disorders.
When 55-year-old Fatima showed signs of depression after her only son disappeared while in the custody of security forces in India-administered Jammu and Kashmir, doctors at a psychiatric hospital told her to visit a shrine and listen to a Sufi musical composition inspired by the works of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi.
Doctors at the Kashmir Valley's only mental hospital in Srinagar have recommended that their patients listen to Sufi music to calm their nerves. "We have nothing to offer them, except anti-depressant drugs. They need peace of mind. So, we ask them to listen to Sufi music to calm their nerves," said a doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity due to security concerns. Although there is no documentation of the results, many patients have reported partial recovery, the doctor said.
For centuries, Kashmir's Sufi music maestros have regaled audiences in Kashmir with the poetry of 13th-century poet and Islamic scholar Rumi, who is buried in the Turkish city of Konya. Two other Persian poets, who have regaled people in Kashmir are Nuruddin Abdul Rahman Jami and Khawaja Shamsudin Hafez Shirazi.
Kashmiri culture over the centuries has taken inspiration from Rumi, who spoke of loving human beings and not just tolerating them. The mystic chain of Sufi poets in Kashmir started in the 14th century with the famous poetess Lal Ded (Lalleshwari), the grand mystic woman poet. Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani (Nund Reshi) is the next legendary Sufi poet.
Since Islam traveled to Kashmir in the 14th century from Central Asia, the Persian language automatically became a connecting link. The influence of Rumi runs so deep that it seems that Kashmiri Sufi poets have read and understood Rumi wholeheartedly. Many poets have used similar thoughts as Rumi did, and some poets have written the same poems but in the Kashmiri language.