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Soundcheck: Reflections of devotion

May 12, 2013

Qawwali is a genre of devotional music that continues to be popular with young and old alike

Farid and Abu Muhammad Qawwal are sons of the late Munshi Raziuddin Qawwal, and are one of the leading qawwals of the subcontinent. They have been performing professionally for the last 30 years, not only in Pakistan but abroad as well and in regional and international languages, as well as Bengali. They have memorable Coke Studio recordings to their credit as well. The brothers are also accomplished musicians in the traditional classical raagas which they weave into their performances.

Seeing the large number of young people respond with gusto at a fundraiser evening where the duo performed recently, it appeared that qawwali is in no imminent danger of going out of fashion. The qawwals began with a dua by Farid Ayaz, which has become a hallmark for the group. He has the knack to slip into Arabic or Persian with just as much ease as Urdu, and after a stretched warm-up session began with Nabiyon Mein Rehmat Laqab Panay Wala, Jalwa-i-Mustafa Allah Allah and Munn Kunto Maula. Chaap Tilak Sab Cheen by Ameer Khusrau was delivered amid much fanfare. However, one feels that if Farid Ayaz lessens his dramatic gestures, his delivery will gain more effectiveness as this form of devotional music gradually attains height in sublimity, and if the style is dramatic then it tends to lose essence. There were a lot of classical raags in between which sounded rather pleasant.

A beautiful melodic verse by Niaz Mohammad — Ishq Mein Tere — a comparatively new qawwali by the Ayaz brothers was soft and soothing, followed by Tere Ishq Nachaya. Khawaja Qutubuddin’s kalam in Persian translated in Urdu by Farid Ayaz and which went something like “The door will open with crying and not by offering namaz and praying…” was seeped in emotions.

The mischevious nature of Farid Ayaz would surface every now and then as he joked in between performances, singing “Shave kyun nahin banaya; kyun kay pani nahin aaya.” He concluded the fundraiser arranged by the Welfare Society for Patient Care with Aaj Rung Hai, delivering another dua towards the very end.