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October 16, 2006

Vibrant chants of Qawwali


October 16, 2006

KARACHI: Nothing appropriate could have happened to match the mood during Ramzan than the mehfil-e-sama or the audition assembly held at the Arts Council in recognition of the lifelong achievements of award-winning Qawwali maestro Ustad Manzoor Ahmed Khan Niazi.

The qawwali concert titled Ahang-e-Khusrauvi was all a tribute to the only surviving cousins belonging to Amir Khusrau’s disciple families better known as qawwal bachche. The award-winning qawwals Ustad Munshi Raziuddin Khan and Ustad Bahauddin were the legendary cousins of Ustad Manzoor Niazi.

The 91-year-old Ustad Niazi sat quietly next to his son Abdullah Niazi on the stage in the wee hours of Sunday. Abdullah Niazi and his ensemble performed during the first session of the concert much to the delight of people interested in the Persian poetry of the master poet and musician Amir Khusrau, widely credited with inventing the genre of qaw’wali.

The mehfil-e-sama or the context where the devotional Sufi poetry is sung and heard has been a traditional practice in the subcontinent. And the tradition was kept alive by the next generation of qawwals singing lyrical as well musical compositions of Hazrat Amir Khusrau. Abdullah Niazi provided a sublime touch to the night by presenting different compositions of Amir Khusrau in Persian, Purbi and Urdu.

Qawwal Abdullah Niazi also presented Kamil Hyderabadi’s famous devotional poetry meray bannay ki baat na pucho while infusing the immortal touch of Khusrau’s poetry like chashme maste ajabe zulf daraze ajabe with the vibrant chants of qawwali. Though not in great numbers as expected, the audience nevertheless had a peaceful environment in which to hearken to the devotional music.

When Fariduddin Ayaz came on the stage in the second session of the night to lead the listeners into the pre-dawn of another day of fasting, the audience requested for the famous ‘qaul’ starting with ‘Mun kunto Maula fa Ali-un Maula’. He

performed in a call-and-response pattern with his brother Abu Mohammad. Incidentally this classical composition was sung on the martyrdom day of Hazrat Ali (RA).

Aizazuddin Shah, chief organizer of the programme, thanked Ustad Manzood Ahmed Niazi for gracing the occasion with his presence on the stage seeing his sons performing in his shadow. He also asked the audience to retrieve the forgotten qawwals of the country from their hideouts and live a life listening to their absorbing style of singing Sufi devotional poetry and music.

Amatullah Armstrong Chishti, the author of “The Sky is Not the Limit” and “The Lamp of Love” and Qaw’wal Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri were also present among the listeners at the lawns of Arts Council. The qaw’wali concert ended in the wee hours of Sunday. The Arts Council management had arranged sehri for the listeners.

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