Amjad Sabri Laid To Rest

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KARACHI:  A sea of mourners bid a tearful adieu Thursday to Amjad Sabri, one of Pakistan’s finest Sufi Qawwals best known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry. Sabri was killed on Thursday by Taliban militants in Karachi.

The sudden death of Sabri has left the entire Urdu world in shock.

The qawwali maestro was buried next to his legendary father at Nazimabad graveyard in this port city.

The funeral prayers for Sabri, which were held on the city’s major Ibn-e-Sina thoroughfare, brought together large numbers of both Sunni and Shia Muslims, men and women, with many praising his devotional music, humble lifestyle and charitable work.

Dozens of police and paramilitary Rangers on Thursday guarded the funeral procession winding its way down the road, as a sea of mourners, some wearing black armbands, others in coloured turbans that signified their sects, surrounded the ambulance carrying Sabri’s body.

Many crowded to touch the ambulance, a gesture of reverence for the deceased.

Shops and businesses in the Liaquatabad and Nazimbad areas shut down for the day.

Mohammad Farooq Khan, a 36-year-old who contracted polio as a child, said he had walked 12 kilometres from the city’s north on his crutches to attend the singer’s last rites.

“Allah has brought me here to participate in the funeral of that great man,” he said.

Saddened by the untimely demise of Amjad Sabri, queen of sufi music Abida Parveen said, “Amjad Sabri was a living legend and there cannot ever be another Amjad.”

“I was on very good terms with his late father Ghulam Farid Sabri and  his uncle, in fact when there was a rift between the two, I was there to resolve it. The brothers put and end to the misunderstanding with the most beautiful qawwali, ‘Mann Kunto Maula’, which invoked spirituality within the people,” Parveen told Express News.

“His voice was like his father’s- it had the power to move people. It was God gifted.”

Upon being asked who would carry on the Sabri legacy, Parveen reiterated that there cannot be another Sabri, however prayed to God that he produces another Amjad Sabri in one of his sons so that the message of God is not lost.

“Amjad used to pour his heart out into the sufi kalaam, and when people like him are taken away, a communication gap rises between God and the people as they become deprived of His message.”

How can someone kill him

Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam expressed condolence to Pakistan over the loss of Amjad Sabri.

“First of all I want to offer condolences to the Pakistani nation and the music fraternity over the loss of Amjad Sabri,” the singing icon said.

Recalling his performance with Sabri in Karachi, Nigam said, “How can one justify the killing of a person as innocent as Amjad Sabri in the name of religion?”

Sabri was shot dead by motorcycle-borne gunmen in a central Karachi neighbourhood on Wednesday, triggering an outpouring of grief nationwide.

Amjad Sabri, aged around 45, was travelling from his home to a television studio to attend an iftar transmission, when a motorcycle pulled up alongside his white coloured Honda Civic and the two riders opened fire, according to police.

Sabri’s killing was met with shock and condemnation. Friends, artistes, singers and fans congregated outside his home to offer condolences to his family, while TV channels broadcast recordings of his music in tribute.

The tragic killing left the family devastated. “My brother never wronged anyone. Why he was killed?” Sabri’s younger brother Talha Sabri said choking on his tears. 

Some observers have said that Sabri may have been assassinated because he was a high-profile Sufi, a mystic Islamic order that believes in living saints, plays classic music, and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups including the Taliban.

The Sabri legacy

Amjad Sabri was the nephew of qawwali icon Maqbool Sabri who passed away in 2011.

Maqbool Sabri along with his brother, the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, formed a formidable qawwali group in the mid-50s and became known for their soul-stirring renditions of arifana kalam (mystic poetry).

Maqbool’s nephew Amjad Sabri — who was tragically shot dead today in Karachi — was keeping the family tradition alive and was one of the most sought-after qawwals of the country.

Almost whatever the Sabri brothers sang became an instant hit. But some of their most memorable and famous qawwalis were Bhar Do Jholi Meri, Tajdar-i-Haram and Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa.

They were equally well-versed in compositions made in the Persian language and sang Nami Danam Che Manzil Bood with equal ease and facility. The brothers’ rendition of Hazrat Amir Khusrau’s kalam was one of their marked areas of excellence.

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