World Cup 2007 December 22, 2006

Qawali: the spirit of '92

A confession: thanks to my iPod I have recently rediscovered qawali
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A confession: thanks to my iPod I have recently rediscovered qawali. Some years ago I became obsessed with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the greatest qawal of all, and I was in delighted disbelief when Jeff Buckley, another of my favourite singers, declared an admiration for Nusrat and then collaborated with him. The bond between cricket and qawali was forged when I discovered that a strong cup of tea, a fried egg, and a rousing rendition of Haq Ali Ali were ideal preparation for a big innings (yes--even I've had a few). But the clincher came when it emerged that Nusrat's qawalis were an integral part of Pakistan's 1992 World Cup victory. So, in this season of goodwill whatever race, religion, or nationality you may be, I commend to you qawali, an art form that transcends all these boundaries. Some of my favourite qawalis are in Farsi, a language I barely understand. I commend it too to Team Pakistan, who require inner peace and outward fearlessness to win next year's event. Nusrat might be dead but his voice can rekindle the magic and the spirit of '92.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ali on May 9, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    I really don't know why we are disputing the real cause of the 1992 World Cup Victory. I don't know if Qawwali can help Pakistan win the World Cup Series or not, but I do know this that it certainly was one of the main factors/causes of the 1992 Win. When Imran Khan himself as well as his teammates have declared that Qawwali was what helped them succeed, then who are we to dispute that?I think he knows better than us fans what helped him win and what didn't. So stop making these crude assumptions.

  • The seeker on January 16, 2007, 21:38 GMT

    Khan saab transcended all boundaries. He was a guest at the WOMAD (World music festival in Adelaide) back in the early 90s and he had an audience of people who had previously never heard his music sobbing in ecstasy! Better than nothing, I saw this performace on TV and it was just as evocative. He was also one of the pillars of the rapprochement between India and Pakistan in the early 90s when he bridged the divide with his divine music. I also remember his touching humility. When asked about the absolutely ethereal quality of his music, he said he was but a mere instrument of God and all credit was to be laid at His feet.

    While there are some who say he prostituted his art by featuring it in Hollywood movies, he openly declared that it did not sit well with him, especially when a devotional track was used during a graphic scene of violence in either 'Natural born killers' or 'Dead man walking', forget which.

    he was indeed 'Allah ditta', 'Bhagwaan ki daen', 'God's gift and any other superlative you may choose!

  • Tahir on January 16, 2007, 11:03 GMT

    our team is a bunch of tableegis . so expect no mermerizing qawallis this world cup

  • Faisal on January 11, 2007, 8:23 GMT

    Nusrat was Nusrat and no one can claim his place. He was not only a Qawal, but master of all other forms of music which others lacked. He had all the 7 vocals in his voice, which is unreal. Once Ustad Fateh Ali Khan met him in UK and said to him that "Nusrat, your tounge is too fast and no one can catch it when it comes to singing", I once went to a music programme and the singer was a student of Hans Raj Hans, and when asked how he would rate Nusrat in Music World, he said "what can I say, I think only two or three people like him might have come in last 7 to 8 centuries". SO please stop comparing him to Aziz Mian, who had only one style, Nusrat could adapt to all kind of styles in singing. Listen to his Raag in the movie, "Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" and then no one has to say anything else and you would agree with me. Pay attention to his voice, when he takes the high pitch route. Peter Gabriel, Micheal Brook and others knew his worth, but not our own country men. He was a legend and we should respect that. He was God-gifted, in a family which had this tradition for last 600 years. I would stop it here that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was second to None!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Syed Shaukat Ali Hamdani on January 9, 2007, 17:31 GMT

    yes qwalis can really bring motivation before a game, and also calm the any nerves that our young team might have. and yes for all those who are interested in the real traditional qwalis rather then the contemporary pop remixes, you have to check out Aziz Mian peace

  • Aftab Qureshi on January 5, 2007, 17:37 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi has made an interesting statement but he has not explained in what way qawwali helped team Pakistan to win the 1992 World Cup. The nearest connection that I am able to make is that Imran Khan, it is understood, used to love Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwalis.

  • saqib abbasi on January 4, 2007, 19:09 GMT

    kamran sahab i wish you could have made a more sensible comment considering you no longer have players with the playboy image(imran khan+ wasim+ others)of 92 world cup side. what you have now is people like mohammad yusuf, inzi and the rest on the religious path. with Allah's help and his help ALONE can they win not qawalis and when has music/qawalis of any sort given inner peace!!!

  • Shehzad Ghani on December 30, 2006, 6:14 GMT

    Akram Khan sahab, I am with you. And anyway, I think this team would rather listen to Quran verses than some qawalis, which sometimes even go to the brink of shirk.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 28, 2006, 21:20 GMT

    If anyone can do a GHAZAL BLASPHEMY there is no better person than Ghulam Ali.

    Among the serious ghazal lovers, Ghulam Ali is a laughing stock. Not only he has this alien Urdu accent which is so "Un-Urdu" but, also the way he presents a Ghazal to his audience is really "disgustipatingly" pathetic.

    Once in Dubai at a NRI function, he literally tore apart the spirit of Ghazal in to bits and pieces by explaining not only the Urdu meanings in English, but also after every single verse he emphasized the need on how to pronounce the syllables and consonants to soften the harshness of a word, especially in poetry and how it should be recited in a "Gajal" in his "Un-Urdu" accent was in fact very hilarious and sad at the same time.

    No wonder why Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood calls him as His Master's Voice "Gajal" Champion, whose record was once made only once, to break all time records, i.e., in repeating the same Ghazal again and again.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on December 26, 2006, 13:45 GMT

    I too, am a great fan of the great qawaal/musician, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, as I also am of the ghazals rendered by Ghulam Ali.

  • Ali on May 9, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    I really don't know why we are disputing the real cause of the 1992 World Cup Victory. I don't know if Qawwali can help Pakistan win the World Cup Series or not, but I do know this that it certainly was one of the main factors/causes of the 1992 Win. When Imran Khan himself as well as his teammates have declared that Qawwali was what helped them succeed, then who are we to dispute that?I think he knows better than us fans what helped him win and what didn't. So stop making these crude assumptions.

  • The seeker on January 16, 2007, 21:38 GMT

    Khan saab transcended all boundaries. He was a guest at the WOMAD (World music festival in Adelaide) back in the early 90s and he had an audience of people who had previously never heard his music sobbing in ecstasy! Better than nothing, I saw this performace on TV and it was just as evocative. He was also one of the pillars of the rapprochement between India and Pakistan in the early 90s when he bridged the divide with his divine music. I also remember his touching humility. When asked about the absolutely ethereal quality of his music, he said he was but a mere instrument of God and all credit was to be laid at His feet.

    While there are some who say he prostituted his art by featuring it in Hollywood movies, he openly declared that it did not sit well with him, especially when a devotional track was used during a graphic scene of violence in either 'Natural born killers' or 'Dead man walking', forget which.

    he was indeed 'Allah ditta', 'Bhagwaan ki daen', 'God's gift and any other superlative you may choose!

  • Tahir on January 16, 2007, 11:03 GMT

    our team is a bunch of tableegis . so expect no mermerizing qawallis this world cup

  • Faisal on January 11, 2007, 8:23 GMT

    Nusrat was Nusrat and no one can claim his place. He was not only a Qawal, but master of all other forms of music which others lacked. He had all the 7 vocals in his voice, which is unreal. Once Ustad Fateh Ali Khan met him in UK and said to him that "Nusrat, your tounge is too fast and no one can catch it when it comes to singing", I once went to a music programme and the singer was a student of Hans Raj Hans, and when asked how he would rate Nusrat in Music World, he said "what can I say, I think only two or three people like him might have come in last 7 to 8 centuries". SO please stop comparing him to Aziz Mian, who had only one style, Nusrat could adapt to all kind of styles in singing. Listen to his Raag in the movie, "Last Temptation of Jesus Christ" and then no one has to say anything else and you would agree with me. Pay attention to his voice, when he takes the high pitch route. Peter Gabriel, Micheal Brook and others knew his worth, but not our own country men. He was a legend and we should respect that. He was God-gifted, in a family which had this tradition for last 600 years. I would stop it here that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was second to None!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Syed Shaukat Ali Hamdani on January 9, 2007, 17:31 GMT

    yes qwalis can really bring motivation before a game, and also calm the any nerves that our young team might have. and yes for all those who are interested in the real traditional qwalis rather then the contemporary pop remixes, you have to check out Aziz Mian peace

  • Aftab Qureshi on January 5, 2007, 17:37 GMT

    Mr. Abbasi has made an interesting statement but he has not explained in what way qawwali helped team Pakistan to win the 1992 World Cup. The nearest connection that I am able to make is that Imran Khan, it is understood, used to love Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwalis.

  • saqib abbasi on January 4, 2007, 19:09 GMT

    kamran sahab i wish you could have made a more sensible comment considering you no longer have players with the playboy image(imran khan+ wasim+ others)of 92 world cup side. what you have now is people like mohammad yusuf, inzi and the rest on the religious path. with Allah's help and his help ALONE can they win not qawalis and when has music/qawalis of any sort given inner peace!!!

  • Shehzad Ghani on December 30, 2006, 6:14 GMT

    Akram Khan sahab, I am with you. And anyway, I think this team would rather listen to Quran verses than some qawalis, which sometimes even go to the brink of shirk.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 28, 2006, 21:20 GMT

    If anyone can do a GHAZAL BLASPHEMY there is no better person than Ghulam Ali.

    Among the serious ghazal lovers, Ghulam Ali is a laughing stock. Not only he has this alien Urdu accent which is so "Un-Urdu" but, also the way he presents a Ghazal to his audience is really "disgustipatingly" pathetic.

    Once in Dubai at a NRI function, he literally tore apart the spirit of Ghazal in to bits and pieces by explaining not only the Urdu meanings in English, but also after every single verse he emphasized the need on how to pronounce the syllables and consonants to soften the harshness of a word, especially in poetry and how it should be recited in a "Gajal" in his "Un-Urdu" accent was in fact very hilarious and sad at the same time.

    No wonder why Moin Akhtar and Anwar Maqsood calls him as His Master's Voice "Gajal" Champion, whose record was once made only once, to break all time records, i.e., in repeating the same Ghazal again and again.

  • Aditya Mookerjee on December 26, 2006, 13:45 GMT

    I too, am a great fan of the great qawaal/musician, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, as I also am of the ghazals rendered by Ghulam Ali.

  • JAVED A. KHAN, MONTREAL, CANADA on December 24, 2006, 23:04 GMT

    Imran Khan's team won the 1992 World Cup. BUT, they were definitely not blessed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Qawali spirit or simply because of the honest and sincere prayers and good wishes of millions of Pakistani supporters. They won the cup due to three reasons.

    Apart from being called as "The Injured Tigers", who fought bravely in the end when they were cornered, this was the first reason. The second was, the captain did not loose hope in the players he trusted them and had complete faith in them. Imran believed in Inzamam's ability and despite his scoring low scores, he did not drop him in the crucial match against New Zealand. That match was Inzi's turning point in his career. (Inzamam should not forget this and keep the real Tiger Shahid Afridi in his team. The man who can turn the tables anytime in favour of Pakistan) Thirdly, they were blessed by the lady luck. So, one may say that the Prayers part worked here, as the Rain Gods came to rescue Pakistan against England.

    A low scoring round match against England was called off due to rain and they got one point. Pakistan at one time appeared that they will beat world cup's all time low record of 45 by Canada's but, managed to score 74 and finally the match was called off due to heavy rain. They were playing that match without Imran Khan, and Inzamam scored a duck in that match.

    But, if you look at Pakistan's performance, they lost against, India, South Africa and West Indies. They won against Australia, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka and also the crucial last round match against New Zealand. Even that win did not guarantee their place in the semi-final and they had to wait for the West Indies - Australia match as a decider. It was due to that one point they scored against England they edged past West Indies. Australia won that match and Pakistan got in to the semis.

    Some people are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them. And we call Imran Khan as the all time greatest allrounder in cricket. I do rate him as number ONE allrounder, i.e., not only because of his great bowling and batting prowess, but also because of his captaincy. He was a shrewed captain, a tactician and a strategist who always altered his strategies and plans according to the situation. And that was the reason of his success. There are allrounders in the past and in the present, but they are not the same as Imran Khan.

    Now, talking about all time greats in music like, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Bob Marley or Peter Gabriel etc. Peter Gabriel once mentioned that 'Nusrat as one of the world's most inspired and inspiring singers'. And it was Imran Khan who admired Nusrat so much that he always used to invite him at his house. He also introduced Nusrat to Peter Gabriel and others. He did mention that he gets some sort of spiritual comfort when he listens to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, but he did not say that his cricket improved because of listening to his Qawali, never!

    There is no substitute to hard work and there is no short cut to success. The difference between Imran Khan and Inzamam as Captains is: Imran believed in achieving the unachievable. Whereas, Inzamam believes that, what cannot be cured must be endured. But, when Inzamam is batting, he fights a lone battle and he has won many matches single handedly. So, he has the ability and the will power. But most important for him is to motivate his team.

    To say that the spirit of Qawali in cricket can rekindle the team spirit and raise the morale of the current Pakistani team is again a joke. At present, the tigers are not really tigers but, sheep, lambs and goats and that too very complacent and well fed, there is no hunger, no appetite to win. So, its asking too much from them to fight a fierce battle on the ground. The captain is so well fed and finds it hard to move and yet he was adjudged as the best fielder and bags an award.....may be because they saw that after injuring his little finger he was showing signs of turning into an injured tiger? :-) If that is the case then all the players must get their little finger injured and get a couple of stitches when they land in the Caribbean and start believing in them as injured tigers! Bhai logs, please don't take this comment seriously, I was only saying it in light humour.

    On a more serious note, with WADA's appeal hanging over Shoaib and Asif's head like a sword and it is not sure whether the duo would go to SA and then to the Caribbean, is yet to be seen. Hopefully the dust will settle soon and Pakistan will have to adapt themselves to make a new plan, a new strategy and make New Year's resolutions with the given resources and how best they can utilize their limited resources in Caribbean, and whether they will really play like a wounded tiger? This needs to be seen and it will be the biggest challenge for the Captain to instill the positive energy and the motivation among his mates. If he can do that, they can do that too. Then, there is some hope.

    And Euceph Ahmad, you also please don't forget that NO HOST TEAM has ever won the world cup before. Lara & Co. may play Bob Marley's tunes on their guitar and perform Reggae, but only on the sidelines. They are not the team that can challenge Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, NZ, Australia and South Africa. I don't think they can reach anywhere near the semis. You are free to join the West Indies Reggae team and play the band master's role.

  • Raheel Hashmi, Riyadh on December 24, 2006, 12:04 GMT

    Yes Kamran you are right. In many of the post 1992 world cup interviews, many of the Pakistan team members including Imran Khan confessed that Ustad’s qawwalis inspired the whole team. Aqib Javed and Mushy would sing Allah hoo Allah hoo and run through the opposition.

    We need some sort of inspiration this time as well.

  • Salman Haider on December 24, 2006, 11:12 GMT

    Kamran, for once I strongly agree with you! :) Well said!

    Akram Khan sahab; do not dismiss this greatest of art in a one dimensional phrase which may evidence of a very closed mindset; not too disimilar to our current tableeghi team...and, if I can speak for Frank too, listening to praise of Allah, our Holy Prophet and his progeny can always be a religious experience too...open your mind...

  • zulfiqar ali on December 24, 2006, 6:54 GMT

    A very intersting idea. there got to be someting to motivate the team a wee bit extra and for that nothing is batter than "sofiana qalam". who knows this may do the wonders like 1992.

  • shashank on December 23, 2006, 7:36 GMT

    nusrat fateh ali khan was sheer genius.his voice was so enchantingly different.i cried the day i heard of his death.

  • Ashaq on December 23, 2006, 4:20 GMT

    AS some one who grew up in the United Kingdom. I was first Introduced too the voice off Ustad Nusrat as a teenager in the early Nineties.Although I didnt have a clue what he was saying I became totally obsessed. That is until I discovered the late Grand master Aziz Mian. Then I became Convinced that Aziz Mian was the greatest.

    A bit like the discussion concerning who is better Inzi or Imran.I suppose it is better to just appreciate that Nusrat and Aziz where unique legends in there own way and leave it that. Off those not familiar with the beauty off qawwali you can watch the videos on youtube.Along with great clips off Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq.

  • Avais Khalid on December 23, 2006, 3:12 GMT

    Kamran - I must say I was a bit surprised to come across this one - but I know for a fact from personal experience that you may have something there. This goes back to 1998/1999 when I was preparing for a professional exam with a group of friends. We had confined ourselves to a small room and spent our days and nights on beds and carpets of study material. When the exams finally arrived one of the guys in the group suggested that we listen to "Ho LAL MERI PAT" before we head out each day - and so we did. Every Morning whilst having breakfast and going through our study material for the final time we used to turn it on and listen to it. Whatever else it did or didnot do to or for us, it certainly did put us in the right frame of mind. I personally felt fearless and went into each exam with a positive and attacking mood. Alhumdulillah all group members made it through. Success depends on many factors and every little helps....

  • Mawali on December 23, 2006, 0:59 GMT

    Abbasi Sahib, a subject dear to my heart. Suffism and qawalli. Qawalli in fact has its roots in suffism. Hazrat Amir Khusro a sufi saint well versed in Arabic and persian is said to have introduced qawalli to the sub continent.Qawalli when done properly is a soul stirring experience that reaches the inner sanctums of human emotions. It is and can be an experience that can invoke either the feeling of jubliance or deep meloncholy. I would strongly recommend staying away from qawalli before the game. Now after the game it may help players to meditate and reconcile with the days proceedings.

  • sameer on December 22, 2006, 17:28 GMT

    i have actually never heard of qawalli, so it will be interesting to listen to it. Howver, we need as much help as possible for Pakistan to win the world cup.

  • nasir on December 22, 2006, 16:10 GMT

    If the Qawwali can make our openers bat sensibly, improve our ground fielding and catching, and make our bowlers cut doen on the extras, I am all for it.

  • Euceph Ahmed on December 22, 2006, 15:58 GMT

    Kamran,

    Don't forget that this is the first time in the history of the game that the tournament is being held in the land of Reggae - this is Bob Marley territory. And, chances are that Marley's groovey rhythms just might prevail over Nusrat Fateh Ali's abstract alaaps this time. I feel that Brian Lara has a bigger point to prove than Inzamam. Lara seems more hungry than Inzamam too. And, boy that ganja bong... it's bigger than anything Shoaib Akhtar has ever dreamed of!!! I wouldn't go any further with that for fear of being censured.

    One last thing before you accuse me of dissenting with you again. In 1992, the qawwali went well with Imran and his comrades. Does it sit well with the tableeghis that seem to have surrounded the team? Say what you...

  • Khan Akram on December 22, 2006, 14:36 GMT

    Frankly speaking, Qawali is a misguided soul's source of 'I am doing something religious'.

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  • Khan Akram on December 22, 2006, 14:36 GMT

    Frankly speaking, Qawali is a misguided soul's source of 'I am doing something religious'.

  • Euceph Ahmed on December 22, 2006, 15:58 GMT

    Kamran,

    Don't forget that this is the first time in the history of the game that the tournament is being held in the land of Reggae - this is Bob Marley territory. And, chances are that Marley's groovey rhythms just might prevail over Nusrat Fateh Ali's abstract alaaps this time. I feel that Brian Lara has a bigger point to prove than Inzamam. Lara seems more hungry than Inzamam too. And, boy that ganja bong... it's bigger than anything Shoaib Akhtar has ever dreamed of!!! I wouldn't go any further with that for fear of being censured.

    One last thing before you accuse me of dissenting with you again. In 1992, the qawwali went well with Imran and his comrades. Does it sit well with the tableeghis that seem to have surrounded the team? Say what you...

  • nasir on December 22, 2006, 16:10 GMT

    If the Qawwali can make our openers bat sensibly, improve our ground fielding and catching, and make our bowlers cut doen on the extras, I am all for it.

  • sameer on December 22, 2006, 17:28 GMT

    i have actually never heard of qawalli, so it will be interesting to listen to it. Howver, we need as much help as possible for Pakistan to win the world cup.

  • Mawali on December 23, 2006, 0:59 GMT

    Abbasi Sahib, a subject dear to my heart. Suffism and qawalli. Qawalli in fact has its roots in suffism. Hazrat Amir Khusro a sufi saint well versed in Arabic and persian is said to have introduced qawalli to the sub continent.Qawalli when done properly is a soul stirring experience that reaches the inner sanctums of human emotions. It is and can be an experience that can invoke either the feeling of jubliance or deep meloncholy. I would strongly recommend staying away from qawalli before the game. Now after the game it may help players to meditate and reconcile with the days proceedings.

  • Avais Khalid on December 23, 2006, 3:12 GMT

    Kamran - I must say I was a bit surprised to come across this one - but I know for a fact from personal experience that you may have something there. This goes back to 1998/1999 when I was preparing for a professional exam with a group of friends. We had confined ourselves to a small room and spent our days and nights on beds and carpets of study material. When the exams finally arrived one of the guys in the group suggested that we listen to "Ho LAL MERI PAT" before we head out each day - and so we did. Every Morning whilst having breakfast and going through our study material for the final time we used to turn it on and listen to it. Whatever else it did or didnot do to or for us, it certainly did put us in the right frame of mind. I personally felt fearless and went into each exam with a positive and attacking mood. Alhumdulillah all group members made it through. Success depends on many factors and every little helps....

  • Ashaq on December 23, 2006, 4:20 GMT

    AS some one who grew up in the United Kingdom. I was first Introduced too the voice off Ustad Nusrat as a teenager in the early Nineties.Although I didnt have a clue what he was saying I became totally obsessed. That is until I discovered the late Grand master Aziz Mian. Then I became Convinced that Aziz Mian was the greatest.

    A bit like the discussion concerning who is better Inzi or Imran.I suppose it is better to just appreciate that Nusrat and Aziz where unique legends in there own way and leave it that. Off those not familiar with the beauty off qawwali you can watch the videos on youtube.Along with great clips off Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq.

  • shashank on December 23, 2006, 7:36 GMT

    nusrat fateh ali khan was sheer genius.his voice was so enchantingly different.i cried the day i heard of his death.

  • zulfiqar ali on December 24, 2006, 6:54 GMT

    A very intersting idea. there got to be someting to motivate the team a wee bit extra and for that nothing is batter than "sofiana qalam". who knows this may do the wonders like 1992.

  • Salman Haider on December 24, 2006, 11:12 GMT

    Kamran, for once I strongly agree with you! :) Well said!

    Akram Khan sahab; do not dismiss this greatest of art in a one dimensional phrase which may evidence of a very closed mindset; not too disimilar to our current tableeghi team...and, if I can speak for Frank too, listening to praise of Allah, our Holy Prophet and his progeny can always be a religious experience too...open your mind...