Esplanade Presents


Qasidah: Praise and Remembrance

Al Khidmah Singapura (Singapore)

12 Apr 2024, Fri, 9.15pm & 10.15pm


(Intermission: None)

DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre at Esplanade

This event is over.


Join Al Khidmah Singapura for an evening of poetic expression aimed at evoking deep feelings of devotion through its rhapsodic nature and calming melodies. The songs feature a range of rhythms, from slow and contemplative to catchy and uplifting. 


Not much is known about the origin of qasidah, but it is believed to be one of the oldest, most formal and esteemed forms of poetry in the Islamic world. With roots in pre-Islamic tribal and court poetry, qasidah, derived from the verb qasada, means “to intend” or “aim at”. A poem can run up to more than 100 verses, and is arranged to a single rhythm metre and rhyme scheme. From Arabia, it spread through religion, trade and conquests to Persia, North and East Africa, Central and Southeast Asia.


Historically, qasidah was written to be delivered in song. The oldest examples contemplate the poets’ circumstances, praises their tribe or patron, and carries a moral message. Over the centuries, qasidah evolved to express social ideals, political commentary and sometimes satire. Poems of religious praise also took prominence, with the most well-known of them being Qasidah Al-Burdah (Qasidah of the Mantle), written in the 11th century by Egyptian poet Imam Al-Busri.  


The story of Imam Al-Busri

The story goes that Imam Al-Busri was stricken by semi-paralysis after a stroke. In his despair, he composed the Qasidah Al-Burdah in honour of the Prophet Muhammad. While reciting the poem in sincerity and concentration, sleep came over him, during which he dreamt of the Prophet, who covered the poet gently with his mantle. Imam Al-Busri woke up from the dream, completely cured of his affliction. Ever since, the poem has been venerated by many Sunni Muslims, and has been recited as well as used to decorate the walls of public buildings and mosques. Some believe that reciting the poem confers blessings in life—removing difficulties, curing illnesses and aiding success in different endeavours. 


From Arabia to Southeast Asia 

In 1200CE, Islam and qasidah poetry spread across Southeast Asia with the immigration of Arab traders. The poems were sung in Arabic, with more popular ones, such as the Qasidah Al-Burdah, translated into the Malay language as early as before the 1600s. Texts were sung in commemoration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, in rites of passage as well as weekly religious congregations. Shorter songs with verses taken from the original long-form qasidahs were also popularised in performance. The sung poetry is usually accompanied with frame drums such as the Malay rebana (equivalent of the Arabic daff) and the pear-shape lute, gambus.


Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Language: Arabic, English
Things to Note:
Accessibility Advisory: We provide a range of access services and relaxed performances for patrons with access needs. For wheelchair-accessible seats, please call Esplanade Customer Experience at 6828 8377 for assistance. Concessions for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) and up to one accompanying companion are available. | View our accessibility guide
Artist Information

Al Khidmah Singapura

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Al Khidmah Singapura consists of individuals from diverse backgrounds, not limited to Madrasah institutes, united by a shared enthusiasm for Islamic music. The ensemble was formed when these young enthusiasts, who gathered for weekly congregational dzikr sessions, recognised that their melodious recitations resonated with audiences beyond the faith. Inspired by music of the Hadhrami people of Yemen, their recitations incorporate melody and harmony, as well as Javanese and Banjari influences.

Date & Time

12 Apr 2024, Fri


DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre at Esplanade


DBS Foundation Outdoor Theatre at Esplanade

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