What is the word you seek when you encounter a glimpse of divinity in the sea of human imperfection?

Haq or truth.

What do the desert sands reveal when they rise and move mountains? The wind blows bright, the sun humbles, thirst destroys and bares the core. And from that stripped down center arises the truth of Sufism.

Abida Parveen is one of the greatest exponents of this truth in our time. So, a review — this is not. It would be too presumptuous an attempt.

She sang for an hour and forty minutes on Friday evening to a crowd of enthusiasts, who drank in every word of her performance with the thirst of a drought-ridden earth.

The sound quality failed her but she performed with the transcendence of one whose calling is to spread the message of peace.

She opened with Man Kunto Maula Ali from Amir Khusro’s pen, 700 years on and the magic of one of India’s greatest poets still reigns. Yaar Ko Hamne Ja Baja Dekha, which essentially translates to wherever I look I see the work of God, followed this, and Sindh’s (Pakistan) legendary Sufi teacher Baba Bulleshah’s Mere Ishq Na Chahiya.

Originally from Sindh, Abida started training at the age of three. She performs in Urdu, Seraiki, Punjabi, Hindi and Sindhi.

The evening ended with Chaap Tilak, Amir Khusro’s praise to his guide Nizammuddin Auliya followed by Laal Shahbaz Qalander. The dervishes’ message of unity, equality and purity of path stays true in Abida.