Apr 19, 2013

Q is for Qawwali !

My initial impressions of a Qawwali was of gaudily dressed people sitting across each other, clapping their hands and singing love songs aka hindi movie style. 

Then I was introduced to Sufism and the actual concept of Qawwali as devotional music.

Qawwali especially in India and Pakistan is the most widely known type of Sufi Music. Amir Khusrow, an eminent scholar, musician and follower of Sufism  is regarded the father of Qawwali in the Indian Subcontinent.

My best experiences of Qawwali have been at the Nizammuddin Dargah and Ajmer Sharif. They are the final resting places of two of the greatest Sufi Saints India has ever seen; Hazarat Nizamuddin Auliya and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. 

Both these places have an extremely high spiritual aura and listening to a Qawwali in these ethereal surroundings is an experience one can not forget easily.

Qawwali at Nizammudin Dargah 
When you hear a Sufi Qawwali for the first time you will get an impression that they are all love songs. They are love songs but the love in not directed towards an earthly person but towards the divine !

Qawwalis are songs of devotion and love towards God and speak of a soul’s longing for a union with the divine. For a mystic soul, a good Qawwali will have the same influence as a Hymn or a bhajan. Then it becomes a form of prayer, a way to lose yourself in the divine.

Some of the most famous Qawwali singers of our time and my favorite are the Wadali Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abeeda Parveen.

I leave you with a few of my favorite Qawwalis.

Chaap Tilak sab cheeni By Abeeda Parveen:

Maula Mere Maula and khwaja mere Khwaja sung by A. R Rahman 


  1. thanks for writing this Ruchira. Brought back so many memories .
    My love with sufi and khawaalis increased after khwajaji. It almost gives me goosies and imbibes belief in good and who else can sing better than RAHMAN

    Nusrat fateh ali khan is my Favorite !! and Kun faya kun at nizamuddin another song which makes me KINDA happy !!! -- they r lines from a soora called yasin in khuran , felt so good to hear them with music.

    Before I get drowned in qawwalis let me tune to songs !
    thanks again for writing ........ and hope u came across Qawwalis in ajmer ?

  2. and hope u know harshdeep kaur. Not sure if there are many female sufi singers in India but she is SO GOOD ! love her
    Her ik onkar and heer are so pleasant

  3. I love sufi songs and gazals. Haven't had a chance to hear the qawwali live yet. Hope to visit Ajmer Sharif someday soon.

  4. It's a long time since I heard a qawwali. I've never heard one live. Thanks for sharing

  5. I love listening to Sufi Qawwalis. They have this ability to transport you into a different world and the way the singers sing... I believe, it comes from within. An informative and interesting subject for Q! Good one!

  6. I am a qawwali fan myself and the singers you have mentioned above are of course superb in their field. I had the good fortune of listening to Wadali brothers when I was in college and that's when it all started. My love for them continues today with Rahman creating a stand for them in the industry like it was never before.

  7. I've got acquainted with Qawwali's only through Rehman's music. And I love them, though I haven't been to any such concerts!

  8. I have never gone to a dargah or a concert to hear qawwali live but have really enjoyed A.R Rahman's renditions and Wadali brothers. Hoping to see it live and feel the energy.

  9. I once really want to go to this place in Harzrat nizammuddin I am counting on you to take me there someday :D

  10. In accord with Sufism, Kalb(heart) is that highest position of soulwhich is related with wisdom(बुद्धि) and breath(नफस). When every part of body is in that mood lead to the birth of the word Qaul(कौल*) and people singing Qaul known as qawwaal. 'Qaul' also refers to the Arabean style of singing. where 'Qaul' largely refers the statement, promise, voice of sufi the style of singing of Qawwali.

    Listening to Nusrat, feel sad that there are not much qawwaals out there, be it Rahat Fateh Ali Khan or Zila khan, willingly or unwillingly all have to concentrate on movie songs.

    would like to know ur comments on my post: http://www.anupamtimes.com/2011/10/comparative-study-of-qawwali-nazm-and.html

  11. So much of beauty and depth of faith in these qawwalis. Soulful....

  12. It's absolutely soulful form of music. I've heard few live and it's an amazing experience.

  13. I love Sufi songs and Sufism in general...so, that goes for Quawalli too.

  14. I have never seen a live performance but I completely enjoy them in movies. I remember being deeply moved by the ones in Rockstar, Jodha Akbar, Veer Zaara and Fiza.

  15. Hobbs and I have a collection of Sufi songs and Qawwalis in our office and all procedures have to be accompanied by this music playing softly in the background.

  16. Khwaja mere Khwaja is soulful and divine. Makes you instantly connect with Him.
    Lovely post Ruchira.

  17. Wow - I've never heard of this before. New follower here. I'm stopping by from the "A to Z" challenge and I look forward to visiting again.


  18. Oh my God! You won't believe it but as soon as I saw the title of your post, my mind immediately zoomed to the Dargah, which I had the good fortune to visit with some JNU friends! What a spiritual experience that was!! I hope to take The Husband there one day as he is fanatic (yes, the correct word) about quawaalis! Of course, we have heard all all the songs many, many times over!!

  19. Night + your post on Qawwali = Deadly Combination.

    Abb in aankhon mein aur neend kaha!


  20. These qawwalis are indeed soulful. I have always been entranced by maula mere maula. What deep devotion they must have to God to be able to sing like that!

  21. I tooo love SUFI music your post has made me want to go and listen to my favourite song right now



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