The term ‘Qawwali’ is Arabic for ‘utterance’, and it refers to the devotional music of the Sufis. Through the times of Sufi saints, the tradition of qawwali can be traced to Amir Khusro’s era who initiated this form of music some seven centuries back. As a devotee of the great Chishti master Nizamuddin Auliya, his copious output is attributed to his intense spiritual love for his master.
Qawwali is performed in a simple verse-and-chorus format. It is intended to affect heightened spirituality through ritualised listening known as Sama. The transcendent nature of the poetic lyrics, in combination with a vivacious musical base and the participatory act of Sama, stirs ecstatic feelings of mystical adoration among both performers and audience members alike. The traditional music works its way to ecstatic peaks with strong voices and percussive handclaps, seeking to transport musicians and audience closer to the divine.
Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad Brothers, probably the most sought-after qawwals in Pakistan, belong to the ‘Qawwal Bachchon Ka Gharana of Dehli’. Their family’s lineage dates back more than 700 years. They have preserved the 13th century Khusrawi qawwali (formalised by Amir Khusro), which is retained in the qawwali practiced today.
The brothers started training in classical music at a tender age under the rigorous and critical tutelage of their late father Ustad Munshi Razi-ud-din, who himself was an outstanding classical musician. Both brothers are accomplished musicians in the genre of classical music and also in the traditional classical raags such as dhrupad, khayal, tarana, thumri and dadra which they blend beautifully into their qawwali performances.
Recently, Movenpick Hotel, Karachi, held Sufi Night at the Grand ballroom. The event featured soulful vocal performances by Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad Brothers. The ballroom was appropriately decorated with flowers, drapes and chandeliers and pleasant fragrances to set the mood for the night. As a devotional form, qawwali seeks to inspire and elevate listeners and performer alike, inducing a sense of inner peace and ecstatic spiritual rapture. In that context Farid Ayaz and his troupe caught the attention of audience from the very beginning - starting from ‘Chaap Tillak ‘ to ‘Mera Piya Ghar Aya’. His troupe also included young boys who were extremely good - heralding the fact that the art of qawwali is not going to diminish in future. Farid Ayaz managed to create a lively atmosphere by engaging the audience in conversation during his performance. Kudos to the organisers for arranging such an enjoyable evening.