Sheikh Hamza Shakkûr

Shaykh Hamza Shakkūr Shaykh Hamza Shakkūr, born in Damascus in 1947, is a muqri (Koran reader) and a munshid (hymnodist). He is the disciple of Saļd Farhat and Tawfiq al-Munajjid; his task is to assure the continuity of the repertory proper to the Mawlawiya order. He is the choir master of the Munshiddin of the Great Mosque in Damascus and serves at official religious ceremonies in Syria, where he is immensely popular. Shaykh Hamza is an impressively large, charismatic figure. His bass voice with its richly rounded timbre has made him one of the foremost perfomers of Arab singing. His art is uncompromisingly sober and introverted, to the exclusion of all affectation. He develops his improvisations within the framework of a centuries- old modal art, where orison blends with dance, and prayer with art. The Islam he represents, far from being fundamentalist, is that of mysticism and happiness in the Faith.