Stories about Amjad Sabri

Remembering Amjad Sabri: You can’t dim the light of a star

His recitation was eerily reminiscent of how his father, Ghulam Farid Sabri performed his signature qawwali tracks. It was the exact same way his uncle, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri also performed. This style of qawwali can probably be traced to how his ancestors had performed, right back to the time of Mian Tansen, a favourite musician of the Mughal court. Perhaps because theirs was a proverbial  ‘qawwal gharana’ (a family of qawwals), was why in my mind,  Sabri’s Karachi household eternally vibrated to the combined music from harmoniums, tablas, dholaks and sarangis used to produce a qawwali. All of us know that qawwali is no ...

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Ali Raza Abidi – Another sane voice silenced in a city marred with blood

Ali Raza Abidi’s cold blooded murder has left a huge void that will probably take ages to fill. His untimely death has not only taken away a young enterprising politician from us, but has also saddened the culinary world, the blogosphere and the Boston University alumni. Abidi was the father of three beautiful daughters and a handsome young son; he was also a loving husband, an obedient son and a thorough gentleman. His friends and colleagues loved him dearly for his gentle and cultured demeanour. I was also fortunate enough to meet him a couple of times and found ...

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Remembering Ahmad Faraz: Do not murder the voices

The 87th birthday of one of Pakistan’s most beloved poet – who was also a resistance poet par excellence – the legendary Ahmad Faraz, was celebrated on January 12th. The honour of both the Pakhtuns and Urdu-speaking community, I was lucky to hear him recite his famous poem ‘Muhaasra’ (siege) in one of his last public appearances in Karachi back in 2008. He joined the immortals soon afterwards on August 25, 2008. To pay tribute to his memory, here I am sharing my translation of one of my favourite Faraz poems, “Mat Qatl Karo Aavaazon Ko” (do not murder the voices), which it seems ...

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Remembering the king of qawwali: This world is a hollow and soulless place without you, Amjad Sabri

This Ramazan, we witnessed emptiness on our TV screens. You could just tell something was missing, and that hollowness is because of Amjad Sabri’s untimely and heartbreaking death last year. His regular appearances on TV helped him popularise his Sufi renditions. Sabri changed the face of qawwali, devotional music, and other Sufi renditions permanently. He spent his life singing praises of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), continuing a centuries-long tradition of musical veneration up until his assassination. He was a sincere performer and perfected the art of holding his audiences’ attention, a skill that is rare in today’s world. He had an unmatched ability to establish and maintain a genuine connection with ...

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In Pakistan, tolerant Islamic voices are being silenced

Last week, only three days after a suicide bomb went off in Lahore, an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) supporter struck a crowd of Sufi dancers celebrating in the great Pakistani shrine of Sehwan Sharif. The attack, which killed almost 90, showed the ability of radical Islamists to silence moderate and tolerant voices in the Islamic world. The attack also alarmingly demonstrated the ever-wider reach of the ISIS and the ease with which it can now strike within Pakistan. ISIS now appears to equal the Taliban as a serious threat to this nuclear-armed country. The suicide bombing of the ...

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Farewell, Mr Om Puri, you were our voice of peace and harmony

Our generation is in a strange place today.  While we are reminded every day that we must “adult”, grow up and face whatever is thrown at us, we are losing certain things that link us to our childhoods. In the form of raising our eyebrows incredulously as we watch people change, losing our loved ones, and listening to news of eminent figures leaving this world, figures we grow up listening to and watching on the television and behind the veils of cinemas. The year 2016 took away too much. Some passed on naturally, some were snatched away from us in ...

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Remembering the ones we lost too soon

It seems like the year 2016 just started a while back, but here we are, just a few days shy from welcoming 2017. A lot happened last year which took us by surprise and shocked us. But even amidst such unpredictability, we were not prepared to see some of the deaths that came our way. Some were lost to old age, some to disease and some to murder. But regardless, they were all taken too soon. Here are some of those names, in no particular order. Peter Vaughan Photo: IMDb Even though he had a career spanning 75 years, ...

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Five songs that stole the show in Coke Studio season 9

It’s safe to say that Coke Studio season nine ended with a lot of hype, grandeur, and lavishness. Similar to its previous seasons, this season was a bag of mixed flavours. Some episodes were brilliant; some were ordinary, while others were below average. Therefore, with a total of seven episodes and 30 songs, here is my pick of the five best creations of the season. 5. Tu Kuja Man Kuja Finale Artist: Shiraz Uppal and Rafaqat Ali Khan Music Director: Shiraz Uppal Shiraz Uppal and Rafaqat Ali created a soulful kalam with a mesmerising chorus – that managed to win my heart. Usually a male duet with similar ...

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A tribute to remember

She was sitting outside when the sound first reached her ears. Her gnarly hands gripped the chair firmly. Staggering, she got up and walked towards the sound. The melody grew louder, different voices rising and falling. Melancholy gripped her. As a few minutes passed, the song reached its peak moments. And then the sound died abruptly. Puzzled, she hurried into the room. Her husband stood in the middle of the room, gripping the remote firmly. He glared at the television set with contempt. But Naghmana Bibi was not discouraged by his anger. She saw what others could not see. They saw his proud head, ...

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Karachi, you used to be home

I walk out of the plane and I’m hit with humidity, heat, and a smell that I can’t even describe with words. This is home. The airport is packed as I trudge my way to get my overweight, large suitcases. My eyes are watering, my hair is in a state, and my clothes that seemed so loose back in Rome are suddenly sticking to me as the gaze of almost every male present follows me in a carnal manner.  This is home. I try and relax as I look at the out-dated conveyor belt slowly moving bag after bag until I finally see my own. I push ...

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