LIVE IN MOSCOW
1. Khwaja ki Diwani 15.27
2. Ya Sahib ul Jamal 13.46
3. Mast Kalandar 8.09
4. Ali 11.18
5. Tajdar e Haram 21.11
Haji Maqbool Ahmed Sabri - leader of the group, vocals and harmonium
Haji Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri - second lead vocals and harmonium
Shimail Maqbool Sabri - chorus
Mohammad Anwar - tabla
Faizal Islam - chorus
Muhammad Akram Warsi - chorus
Zafar Islam Sabri - chorus
Abdul Ghani - dholak
Recorded by Tatiana DANILINA live in DOM at the ON THE CARPET Oriental Culture Festival on November 17th, 2001
Nick Dmitriev, Rustam Suleymanov
The Qawwali is a form of mystical incantation, which takes its roots in the tradition of Sufism. It made its initial appearance in the 13th century, when in India the "Chishti" Sufi order was founded. It is well known that
even prior to that, Turkish and Persian Sufis incorporated music into group meditations, which were known as "Sama", but it is particularly in India that the Qawwali art was born from the conjunction of Persian poetry and Indian music. Qawwal in its initial meaning signifies "irrefutability" and "proclamation", while an additional meaning of the term is "singer".
Traditionally, Qawwali music is performed at the tombs of Sufi saints in India and Pakistan. Among the most famous of these holy sites is Ajmer - the site where the tomb of Moin-ud-Din Chishti is located. In Delhi one
could find the tombs of Bakhtiyar Kaki, Nizam-ud-Din Aulia and the great Indian poet and musician Amir Khusrau Dehlevi. In these sites during festivities, groups of qawwali, one following the other, sing continuously
(without pause) for several days.
Qawwali is a form of art, the tradition of which has been passed on from father to son in a hereditary manner during the course of many generations; though not every member of the family could become a soloist in the group. A necessary requirement for a soloist would be to know (by heart) close to five hundred verses in Arabic, Urdu, Hindi and Persian languages and also to remember the melodies for these songs with all their nuances and turns. Only a few people are endowed with such talent. It is especially important that the singer's voice possesses certain 'magical' qualities so as to be able to immerse the listener in a state of inspired ecstacy called “Hal”.
In the genre of Qawwali it is possible to perform the ghazal or the ruba‘i.
Qawwali concerts are arranged according to the same principles by which a "Divan" (collection of poems) is compiled.
The concerts are usually opened with a song in the style of “Hamd”, a
laudation of Allah, after which comes the "Naat", a laudation of Muhammad, which is followed by a “Qasida” - a laudation of the masters and Sufi teachers.
The latter could be replaced with the "Munqibat", a hymn to any one of the Sufi masters or saints. If the concert does not begin with an eulogy to Allah, then it usually starts with a eulogy to the Messanger.
Qawwali, as a rule, are songs to the poetry of such poets as Maulana Jami,
Hafiz Shirazi, Maulana Rumi, Hazrat Junaid Bagdadi, Maulana Farid-ud-Din Attar, Maulana Shibli and Hazrat Shams Tabrizi. Qawwali produce a type of hypnotic effect on a spiritually inclined auditorium and produce a type of uncontrollable excitement called “Jazba”, i.e. "intensive emotional experience", which subsequently develops and changes into “Wajad” (ecstacy).
The Qawwali concerts are organized in such a way as not to hinder the religious conventions and practices of Islam. A properly qualified qawwal needs the "spiritual blessing" of a master. Sometimes this profession is quite profitable and brings in hundreds of rupees in the form of "Nazar". When a member of a "Qawwali" ritual is under the effect of a certain verse of couplet and enters the state of "Wajad", a sort of spiritual intoxication, the leading musician of the group, noticing that this had occured, repeats this line many times until the soul of the listener is saturated.
The famous Sufi master, one of the "Four Great ones", Bakhtiyar Kaki departed from this world in the state of "Wajad" at the time when the qawwal sang:
"Kushtagaan-e-khanjar-e-tasleem raa, har zaman az gheb jaan-e-deegar ast"
"For the sacrifice of the sword of Divine love, There exists a new life in the realm of the unseen each moment".
Qawwali music possesses several levels of perception; on the surface one could perceive the aesthetical level: the beauty of the poems, the tenderness of the voices. However in its profound nature Qawwali music is a form of a spiritual offering to Allah, the Prophet, Masters and Saints.
Western listeners do not usually understand the text, and often this produces a positive effect, inasmuch as an attentive listener is allowed to focus on the mystical rather than the verbal components
of the music.
Qawwali music was brought to the West for the first time by the Sabri
Brothers: Ghulam Farid Sabri and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. They were born in the Eastern Punjab in India, prior to its break-up and the creation of Pakistan.
The group was unique in that both brothers displayed the same degree of genius.
In the ensemble Ghulam presented the Jelal energy, (the active energy), whereas Maqbool's voice immersed the listeners into “Jemal”, (a state of tenderness and receptivity).
To the great regret of their admirers the elder brother, Hadji Ghulam Farid Sabri passed away in 1994. Traditionally all of the members of the group belong to the Sabiria Sufi order, hence their surname Sabri.
There is a belief that the Sabri family is descended from the singer and mystic Tansen, a court musician of the emperor Akbar. This family tradition has lasted for about 400 years. In keeping with the tradition of the family of qawwals one of the elder family members usually performs the role of the music tutor and the spiritual advisor.
The tutelage and performance begins from childhood. At first the children are allowed to clap their hands following the beat of the music, then they are taught to pick up the refrain and to the extent of their development they are sometimes trusted to perform the solo parts. This is how it was with the Sabri brothers. Their first album, which brought them success, came out in 1958. Even at that time they were already musicians of a high quality.
The 1980's saw their wider recognition in the West, first among specialists and then among fans of spiritual music around the world. They participated in numerous festivals and were recorded on many well-known labels, such as Real World and EMI, Piranha.
Despite the fact that the Sabri brothers have tours all over the world, they continue to adhere to traditional musical means of Qawwali performance, (which is currently very rare even in India and Pakistan), where many other musicians frequently try to render the music with a more contemporary sound. Listeners of this album have a rare opportunity to hear the Qawwali in its purest form.
Love and beauty are such rare commodities, and whenever the "Ishq-wala"
(Masters of Love) knock at the heart's door they will always be welcomed in.
Translated by Anton Rovner