Delhi’s Qawwal Bachchon ka Gharana lights up Ramadan night at T2F
By Bobby Khan
KARACHI: Many of Karachi’s socialites were spotted at a local coffee house-cum-bookstore, T2F, in DHA late Thursday night for a performance by Ghulam Fariduddin Ayaz al-Hussaini Qawwal, also known as Farid Ayaz Qawwal, and party, that can only be described as superb.
Farid Ayaz is the son of legendary qawwal Munshi Raziuddin (1912-2003) and belongs to the famous “Qawwal Bachchon ka Gharana” of Delhi. This gharana, approximately 705 years old, was made to propagate Islam throughout the Subcontinent. The gharana was founded by Hazrat Amir Khusro (1253-1325 AD), who banded together 13 elite youngsters and personally imparted special instructions regarding Qawwali to them. The group was led by Mian Saamat bin lbrahim who was appointed by Hazrat Amir Khusro himself. This group came to be known as “Qawwal Bachche Gharana” of Delhi. Hazrat Amir Khusro is considered to be among the most prolific classical poets associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. He is now a household name in much of North India and Pakistan through hundreds of playful riddles, songs and legends attributed to him.
Farid Ayaz was joined on harmonium by his brother Abu Mohammad and the duo took the audience on a crash course in qawwali, Sufism and classical music and an opportunity for much needed spiritual revival in this age of individualistic materialism. And it only helped that the event was organized in the month of Ramazan when everyone’s spirituality seems to have soared!
Even though the audience was of all ages, most of those who attended were the young who really enjoyed being treated by the qawwal brothers to Kamil Hyderabadi’s famous naat “Merey banney ki baat”. This was followed by a kalam in Poorbi language.
Then the qawwal party moved to their spiritual mentor Hazrat Amir Khusro and rendered his classic “Guftam ke roshan az qamar” that had the crowd swaying to the beautiful lyrics and just as beautiful rendition. This was followed by Khusro’s “Sakhi kaisey kahoon mohey laj lagey”, the timeless Siraj Deccani ghazal “Khabar-e-thayyur-e-ishq sun” and Hazrat Zaheen Taji’s “Padharo maro des”.
The mehfil was brought to an end by Khusro’s “Rung” and as the audience exited, it seemed as if every single member of the 80-strong crowd had emerged spiritually charged.
The word Qawwali takes root from the Arabic word Qaul which means “saying” or “dictum”. As a musical tradition, Qawwali has a history of more than 700 years and some scholars even date it to eighth century Persia. Hazrat Amir Khusro is credited with fusing the Persian and South Asian musical traditions, to create Qawwali as we know it, as well as the Hindustani musical tradition.
Qawwali is inextricably linked to the Muslim Sufi tradition; Sufis adhere to the mystical school of Islamic thought that strives to attain truth and divine love by direct personal experience. The songs which constitute the qawwali repertoire are mostly in Urdu and Punjabi (almost equally divided between the two), though there are several songs in Persian, Brajbhasha and Siraiki. There is also qawwali in some regional languages (e.g., Chhote Babu Qawwal sings in Bengali), but the regional language tradition is relatively obscure. Also, the sound of the regional language qawwali can be totally different from that of mainstream qawwali. The poetry is implicitly understood to be spiritual in its meaning, even though the lyrics can sometimes sound wildly secular, or outright hedonistic. The central themes of qawwali are love, devotion and longing (of man for the Divine).