The most distinctive and important genre of Muslim devotional music, Qawalli is closely identified with Sufism, the mystical form of Islam. At a Qawalli assembly, Sufi devotees gather under the guidance of a spiritual leader to experience states of mystical love and divine ecstasy through a ritual listening to music.
In this study, Qureshi creates a "context-sensitive musical grammar"—a way to study the setting, audience, and performance as elements of the music.
"Superbly documented. . . . Sufi Music is an engaging read for those interested in understanding not just qawwali, but also how music—perhaps all musics—is informed by, shaped by, and interacts with the ideological, socio-economic, and performance environment of its composers and performers."—Kenneth Chen, Canadian University Music Review
"A remarkably rigorous, creative, and insightful treatment of music as process, [this book] should serve as an exemplary approach to documenting performance in general. . . . A welcome addition to literature in ethnomusicology and Indian studies in general."—Peter Manuel, 1989 Yearbook for Traditional Music
"An accomplished musician as well as an anthropologist-ethnomusicologist, [Qureshi] has applied her formidable skills to analysis of the role of music in contemporary Sufi practice in India and Pakistan. . . . The whole is a most impressive work of scholarship."—F. and J. Lehmann, Pacific Studies