Mention the word Qawwali in any part of the world, and you will witness the audience lighting up with admiration and soulfulness towards this incredible musical art form. This music is interwoven into the culture and music history of Pakistan hailing from the legends like Sabri Brothers and Nusrat Fateh Ali khan. Lively percussion, strong voices, and explosive hand clapping with the lyrics inspired by Sufi poetry characterize this devotional music. We don’t even have to be music pundits to enjoy Qawwali as the rhythm and spirit of this art resonates with all. It would be absolutely justifiable to call Qawwali the heart of Pakistani music for it goes back to our Sufi and folk heritage. So let’s have a look at how Pakistanis are obsessed with Qawwali.
We have the best Qawwals in the world
No one ever performed Qawwali as incredibly as our legends! From Aziz Mian Qawwal to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pakistani has seen incredible Qawwali singers taking this music to the mainstream. Aziz Mian Qawwal and Sabri brothers set the mark of bringing spirituality and romanticism into this music form, whereas Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan invented fusion Qawwali that broke the records of popularity among the international audience. Such expressive music makes it more natural to fall in love with this Sufiayana Kalam which we already very much admire.
It’s the new age folk music!
If you follow coke studio, you must already know the beautiful renditions of Sufi and Qawwali music the team re-created! But why did they feel the need to infuse Qawwali with the new age music? Because this new folk Qawwali music connected to our roots. A number of other artists are bringing folk Qawwali to the forefront and such fusion of western and eastern melodies are taking the folk music industry by storm. The amazing fact is that such versions are making the new generation aware about our folk stories! Obsession here is definitely inevitable.
Qawwali resonates with our traditional Sufi order
Qawwali symbolizes mysticism and Zikr (taking the name of God). The Sufi order believes that rhythm and music is a way to feel God in everything that He created so it has the power to invoke a divine ecstasy in hearts. We see Qawwali performers working themselves into a trance-like state or frenzy which is the power of poetry and music infused together. Such an experience is a class apart for most of us to obsess with Qawwali music.
Qawwali is a rejuvenated form of entertainment for us
Whether as a consequence of coke studio’s endeavors or something else, we have seen a discernible change in how people view Qawwali now more as a means of entertainment than a devotional music. We still see numerous Qawwali events hosted each year enjoyed by all and sundry. Although conventionally Qawwali was meant for a selective audience and the Qawwal would follow a format where eye contact with the audience, explanations and anecdotes were essential; this interactivity is lost at this age when Qawwali is recorded as a ten minutes musical performance. Such rejuvenation is not really appalling as it is making Qawwali an essential part of entertainment and social events making this music more adaptable and flexible.
Contemporary Qawwali is here to stay
Despite the fusions and innovations in this music, the contemporary Qawwali is not dismal. It may have seen the highs and lows in the past, but to consider this genre as on its way out is simply unyielding to the reality. Time and again, we hear a new Qawwali which enthralls us to the core. Like the renewed “bher do jholi” by Atif Aslam and later by Adnan Sami turned out quite popular among the audience.
Qawwali has flourished in recent times and we are obsessed with it now than we were ever before. At a time of uncertain security situation, fewer concerts are being held in Pakistan, but in relative terms, Qawwali seems to be booming (thanks to the minimum technical or financial requirements required for arranging a poignant Qawwali night)!
Do you think our obsession with Qawwali is for good? Leave your comments below!