The term qawwali is derived from qul the imperative of the Arabic verb qaula to say or to speak in the holy quran suras 109, 113 and 114 with the world qul say and this is evidence of the sanctity with which it is regarded. Reading any one or all of these verses is also part of the fatiha therefore pronouncing the world qul is the equivalent of a blessing or the conclusion of prayer.
It is also true that in the popularization of the qawwali the ghazal played a central role. The Persian ghazal the dohas of Braj Bhasha along with the alluring beauty of the Urdu Ghazal little by little made the qawwali a part of the music of the subcontinent.
With the coming of the Muslims in India gradually a composite culture came into existence manifestations of which can be found in both the sufi and Bhakti movements. Along with this the fusion of the Muslim and Hindu concepts which could not be completely achieved at the religious level manifested itself fully in music and fine arts. We should always remember that the aesthetic compared to the religious consciousness is more liable to be influenced by time and space. Therefore a kind a harmony came about in Hindu and Muslim taste.
In the medieval period music played no less a role in the cultural and social life of the Muslims than it did in that of the Hindus. One effect that this sensitive and highly charged emotional aspect of the Indian temperament had on Sufism can be witnessed in the amazing popularity of sama (listening to ecstatic song designed to induce trance).
Khangahs of India were frequently populated by singers and musicians but he practice of singing Qawwalis had no place in the Arab world or in Iran. Its roots were firmly planted in the soil of medieval India.
In India the proof of the success of any artistic experience is that it should raise our emotions to their highest peak so that we become completely oblivious of ourselves. The self sufficient ego should escape from its prison and become so immersed in selflessness that a feeling of boundlessness is produced. This is the place where the distinction between multiplicity and oneness no lover exists in other words with the ocean and can proclaim I am the sea.
Habib Painter is widely considered as one of the most inspired artistes ever to have graced the qawwali platform. A purist of the form all his renditions and compositions centred around the core values and precepts of Sufi Ideology. A vintage classic of Habib painter is the qawwali Bhaut Kathin hai dagar Panghat ki. The qawwali is a thirteenth century milestone in the history of Sufi Literature written by Amir Khusro the leading disciple of sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin auliya dedicated to the saint it drives home the truth that the path to the panghat or well that quenches the spiritual thirst for communion with the supreme self is fraught with hurdles and distractions. Having placed his whole life at the feet of saint Nizamuddin Khusro implores the saint to protect his ghoonghat or veil that guards him from the prying delusions of the world.
Shankar and Shambhu
Shankar and Shambhu are one of the great duos of the world of Qawwalis gifted with voices embellished with a timbre tone and range ideal fro the form the duo took the musical form to new levels of expression. Their names are a symbol in themselves of the inter religious appeal of India’s Sufi tradition and how people of all faiths have always come together to pay their respects at celebrated Sufi shrines.
Peele Jo Sharab-e-nabi Martaa ho to Jeena aa jaaye is a famous Shankar Shambhu qawwali that celebrates the promise that even he who is one the verge of death can come alive on drinking the wine of the love of God.
One of the greatest names in the world of Qawwalis is that of Hani Ghulam Farid Sabri and Haji Maqbool Ahmad Sabri popularly known as the Sabri brothers. Famed across the world for their inimitable and impassioned rendition the duo brought a unique beauty of robustness and a remarkable power of expression to the art of qawwali singing. Featured here are two classic renditions of the Sabri brothers.
The first presentation is Man Kunto Maula fa Ali-un Maula a hadith or saying of Prophet Muhammad believed to have been composed by Amir Khusro. The use of syllables like Dara dil-e dara Hum tum tannan anan and Yalai yalali yala are said to mark the first expressions of the classical music from known as Tarana.
A veritable feast for all music lovers this CD contains some of the best Qawwalis sung in praise of the God.
It is part of Doordarshan’s special series commemorating 100 years of recorded music in India.
The series is a tribute to all the great artistes who have contributed to India’s rich music and dance heritage.
• Bahut Kathin Hai Dagar Panghar Ki
Singer: Habib Painter
Lyrics: Amir Khusro
• Peele Sharab-e-Ishq Nabi
Singers: Shankar Shambhu
• Kaul Tarana
Singers: Sabri Brothers
Lyrics: Amir Khusro
• Khwaja Ki Deewani
Singers: Sabri Brothers