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Kashf al-mahjub - al-Hujwiri - And the effects of the anghalyun



Type of Spiritual Experience


Amnon Shiloah – Jewish and Muslim Traditions of Music therapy [in Music as Medicine]

In his Kashf al-mahjub, [the Sufi] al-Hujwiri (d between 1072 and 1077) discusses the overwhelming influence of music on the neophyte, an influence which might cause him to lose his senses and even die. He mentions in this context that in the hospitals of Rum (Byzantium) they invented a wonderful instrument, the anghalyun, which resembled a stringed instrument.

It is noteworthy that variations of this same story are to be found in several Arabic sources, including two which are earlier than al-Hujwiri's time. In the framework of a discussion on concordant and discordant sounds and their various effects, the Brethren of Purity say

Deafening, terrifying and incoherent sounds .. . alter the humors, break the equilibrium and cause sudden death. There is an instrument which produces this kind of sound, called al-urghun [organ], which the Greeks employed in war to terrify the souls of their enemies.

A description of the experience

The sick are brought to it two days a week and are forced to listen, while it is being played on, for a length of time proportionate to the malady for which they suffer; then they are taken away. If it is desired to kill anyone, he is kept there for a longer period, until he dies ... Physicians and others may listen continually to the anghalyun without being affected in any way, because it is consistent with their temperament.

The source of the experience


Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps


Music therapy