At the age of three - that is, the age at which many of us were still learning how to spell our own names - Abida Parveen had already found her calling: music. She was intently listening to music when she was a child, performing by the time she was six, and subsequently rose to global fame. Now, nearly six decades into her career, she is not only a voice that every Pakistani is familiar with but also one of the most celebrated Sufi singers in the world.
“I could not even think of any other career apart from music,” she tells Us Magazine. “As Hazrat Ali (R.A) stated, ‘what’s meant for you will never miss you’. Music was meant for me right from day one; that’s why it struck such a powerful chord with me, for which I am extremely grateful to Almighty Allah.”
The legendary singer credits both divine guidance and familial predilection for inspiring her to delve into Sufi music. “It is God’s blessing and miracle. As I grew up, my attention and interest towards Buzurgaan-e-Deen grew more and more. My walid sahab was my inspiration. Auliya-e-Karaam (Sufi saints) were always a topic of discussion in our household,” she says. “Mein kaheen aur ja hi nahi sakti thi,” she reiterates.
Her first composition was a ghazal called ‘Aandhi Chali To Naqsh-e-Kaf-e-Pa Nahi Mila’ (written by Mustafa Zaidi) and she has, since then, composed hundreds of kalaams.
When she looks at today’s youngsters, she is impressed by their connection to God. “Every person has a spiritual connection with Allah. The new generation has a very strong ability to form a link with God. This connection develops itself, because of the power of Allah and the power of kalaam.”
In an exclusive interview with Us, Abida Parveen looks back at her own childhood and teenage years and reminisces about her youth.
Date of birth and star
20th February 1954. Aquarius.
The best thing about being a teenager was
The innocence in childhood was the best thing. Even now I am impressed and inspired by the innocence of children.
The worst thing about being a teenager was
Nobody used to play with me and I used to hate it when they would say we are going back home.
I was always listening to
Music! By the age of 3, I was deeply in love with music. This was the age for playing, but instead I always used to listen to my father singing.
I was glued to the T.V. for
Little House on the Prairie. I still remember it. I used to wait for it like anything. I still remember the characters and the village that was shown.
My favourite movie was
I was around 20 when my father told me to watch Dilip Kumar sahab’s film Aan. We got the VCR on rent and saw it. I was so fascinated by his acting and how deeply he had acted in that character.
My favourite actor was
Muhammad Ali sahab and Nadeem sahab.
My favourite book was
I have always loved reading Abyaat of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (R.A). My father, being a singer, always made me sit with him and listen to his conversations with learned people.
My room walls carried the posters of
I never had any posters in my room.
My closet was full of
Papers and my Eid clothes. I would always wait for Eid and would look at my Eid shopping a hundred times!
My friends were
Nobody. Yes, that’s a fact. The children never used to play with me at all and I would get so angry at them.
I started cutting papers in my room since nobody used to play with me. The only friend I had in school was Subhan. She used to be with me in class 5.
What hurt me the most was
When my parents used to go away, they would leave me behind with my phuppi amma. I used to miss them so dearly that I would go back to my place, sit on the doorstep, and cry for hours for my parents. That hurt me a lot.
My dream was to become
My dream was always to become an artist.
Relations with siblings were
I was the only child of my parents.
Relationship with parents was
Amazing! I used to have an amazing relationship with my parents. I was more attached to my father. I would sit with him for long hours so often that he used to scold me to go out and play with children outside.
My school was
Really good. There were all male teachers in the school. When my first programme came on air on the radio, all my teachers praised me with flowers at school. They were very proud of me. At the end of the school day, when school time was almost over and we had packed our bags, one of my teachers would tell me to stand up and sing; then I would sing in the class too.
Ragging at college/university was
There was this boy who was quite tall. When school time was over, everybody would run out of the class, and that tall boy would stand by the classroom door with one of his legs stretched outwards. As we would run out, all of us would stumble.
My favourite food/dish was
My mother used to make delicious food. Karailay gosht, beh qeema, bhindi - I loved to eat them. My mother would cook one dish daily. It was usually too hot in the kitchen. I would ask her to come out of the kitchen, but she would always say “nahi beta, khana nigah say banta hai”.
I learned that
I have learned that life goes on. My parents taught me humbleness and started the journey of music. We have come in this world to learn. One should be like a faqeer who would keep searching, searching for good things and Allah Himself helps His mankind to find the good.