World Cup 2007 December 22, 2006

Qawali: the spirit of '92

A confession: thanks to my iPod I have recently rediscovered qawali

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

  • testli5504537 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.

  • testli5504537 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!

  • testli5504537 on January 16, 2007, 11:03 GMT

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

  • testli5504537 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!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • testli5504537 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

  • testli5504537 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.

  • testli5504537 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!!!

  • testli5504537 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.

  • testli5504537 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.

  • testli5504537 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.

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