RIP Amjad Sabri, a Legend from Sufi Qawwali

 

Amjad+Farid+Sabri+amjad+sabri_0

(1970-2016)

Pakistan’s leading qawwali singer Amjad Sabri (member of the famed Sabri Brothers group) was assassinated in Karachi today by extremists who have long criticized the passionate and liberal practice of Sufi traditions. It’s heart-breaking for all the followers of Sabri brothers’ music who have grown up listening to him and his group render one beautiful qawwali after the other in concerts, albums and films. Much like his father Ghulam Farid Sabri, a qawwali maestro, Amjad Sabri gained worldwide fame by dedicating his music, his voice and now his life, to show love to Almighty through his songs. Sabri Brothers performed many memorable songs for Bollywood films, including  Nai Hona Tha, Deewani Deewani, Kisi Ko Apna Bana Le etc. Recent hit Bajrangi Bhaijan (2015) featured Bhar do Jholi by Adnan Sami, which was inspired by the original sung by Sabri Brothers. The song that I immediately recalled as soon as I heard this unfortunate news was ‘rooth kar hum unhe’ from 2002 film Gunaah (Offense) an underrated film made by Amol Shetge. It’s a beautiful song sung by the Sabri Brothers and Roop Kumar Rathod speaking of the memories that chase you after you choose to walk away from somebody who betrayed you. So, I translate it here and offer it as a tribute to the Amjad Sabri, the qawwal extraordinaire who left us today to meet his beloved Almighty.

I would love to write a whole lot about the qawwali form but for now I would put down a few words about this Sufi singing tradition. The word qawwali comes from the Arabic word Qaul that means ‘an utterance (of Prophet)’. This style of singing involves repeating the name and message of God over and over again in chorus with passionate clapping. The performances are generally put up by groups of qawwals (who repeat the Qual/word of God) in the shrines of Sufi saints, called dargahs. The development of this form of singing is attributed to Amīr Khusraw, a poet, musician and a mystic who followed the order of Chistis under Delhi’s famous saint, Nizamuddin Auliya. Just like his spiritual teacher, Khusraw insisted that love is all one needs to realize God and, loving humanity is the foremost step in that quest. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Faiz Ali Faiz, Warsi Brothers, Sabri Brothers, Chisti Brothers and Fareed Ayaz are some of the prominent practitioners of qawaali from the Subcontinent.

P S: The song is actually gender neutral, but I choose to express it through a male voice due to limitations of language. In the film, it seems like the song is the expression of the female protagonist.

Song Credits
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi
Singers:
Sabri Brothers, Roop Kumar Rathod
Music: Sajid-Wajid

Movie Credits
Directed by: Amol Shetge
Starring: Bipasha Basu, Dino Morea, Irrfan Khan
Produced by: Mukesh Bhatt
Release: 20 September 2002

Original Lyrics

rooth kar ham unhe bhool jane lage
rooth kar ham unhe bhool jane lage
vo hame, vo hame, vo hame aur bhi yaad aane lage
vo hame aur bhi yaad aane lage
bhool jane vale yaad aane vale
bhool jane vale yaad aane vale

hamane dil se kahi apani majburiya
dil ko lekin ye sare bahane lage

unke kadmo me gir jaaye mar jaaye ham
is tarah apni mitti thikane lage

unse ik pal me kaise bichhad jaaye ham
jinse milane me shayad jamane lage

rooth kar ham unhe bhool jaane lage
vo hame. vo hame vo hame aur bhi yaad aane lage
vo hame aur bhi yaad aane lage

bhool jaane vaale yaad aane vaale
bhool jaane vaale yaad aane vaale

jo soch rahe hai kabhi dekha hi nahi tha
jo dekh rahe hai kabhi socha nahi tha nahi tha
yaad aane vaale yaad aane vaale yaad aane vaale

Translation by bollywoodtarjuma

As I walked away sulking,
her memory came back as pining.

One who remembers and the one who forsakes,
suffer the same, exactly the same heartache

I drag myself with the chains of constraints,
but my heart accuses me of whining and complaints

To fall at her feet and perish,
that’s my ash’s, my being’s last wish.

I found her after waiting an entire existence,
Now how can I walk away in just an instant?

As I walked away sulking,
her memory came back as pining.

One who remembers and the one who forsakes,
suffer the same, exactly the same heartache

Never saw the reality I am realizing now,
Something I never saw coming,
is manifesting, and how…

 

 

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