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In the death of Jamal Faqir, Sindh’s music culture has lost a great exponent of the Soung school of music.

Among music lovers and mystics he was an exponent of peace, love and brotherhood as reflected in the Sufic poetry he sang for nearly five decades.

The contribution of Jamal Faqir will be long remembered, for, he was an eminent and popular group leader of the Soung school of music, which is considered an indigenous form of Sufic music in the Indus valley.

Historically, Soung style was established with the rise of Sufic music in Sindh, in which a group sings collectively like in a chorus. As in other parts of the world, Soung music is being practised for many hundreds of years. During all these years a number of Sufis have been associated with this phenomenon known for its piety that binds human being with his creator.

Sound and music are the two most effective modes of expression for the Sufis to get closer to God and seek his blessings. Music to Sufis is the medium that transcends the dedication the subject owes to the Lord. It has been the most popular medium for the Sufis as a mode of prayer to invoke the compassion of God, irrespective of the religion, caste and creed.

Since he was born in the vicinity of the shrine of Mahmood Faqir Khatyan he took to loving Faqir Khatyan’s poetry. The other mystic poets whose poetry is sung by Soung faqirs are; Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, Sachal Sarmast and Shah Inayat Shaheed.

Soung music, which literally means The Song of Togetherness, is the sense underlying the inspiration the singers gather for being attributed closely to the nature and from there they draw His energy and ecstasy.

Singing with the traditional musical instruments such as chappar (castanets), yaktaro (one-stringed lute) and dando (the stick bearing bells), it transcends a deep sense of togetherness induced by music and the yearning for love and dedication.

The singers essentially singing in unison generally choose waee (a poetical genre similar to kafi) for singing. In the contemporary singers, the kafis and waees of Shah Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Roohal Faqir and Mahmood Faqir Khatyan are the main attraction for the Soung singers.

Sometimes, out of exaltation, the singers who sing while standing, swirl around in a simple dance form. This action, it is said is a derivation of dedication to the love and affinity expressed in the poetry they sing.

The Soung school of singing generally involves a group of singers led by some eminent artists.

In the second half of the 20th century, Faqir Abdul Ghafoor, Dhol Faqir, Faqir Yar Ali, and Inayat Faqir had been very popular Soung faqirs. Suhrab Faqir (Khairpur, 1934-2009) had been a very popular figure and sung for almost four decades before he died.

Jamal Faqir also sung with Suhrab Faqir and travelled extensively as a member of the cultural troupes that performed in different parts of the world and won acclaim from the world connoisseurs.

Born in 1952 to a Manganhar family, a troubadour scion of Sindh involved in music and musical arts of Bobi, a small sleepy town of Sanghar district in southern Sindh.

His native area being adjacent to Rajasthan it has rich traditions of music, he grew up in rural culture and got early education. He developed a taste for Sufic music from the childhood.

Singing in various Soung groups, Jamal Faqir finally joined Suhrab Faqirs and sang at almost all shrines and earned laurels. He also became part of musical troupes which travelled various countries of the world and won praise.

After the death of Suhrab Faqir he continued singing till he was rendered indisposed by the disease that eventually led to his death on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2016