The Sabri Brothers

Pakistan's foremost and best-loved Qawwali ensemble, the Sabri Brothers, thrilled audiences all over the world for over 30 years.

With stunning virtuosity, brilliant exposition and tremendous power, they convey a subtlety and sensitive beauty in their singing, led by the soaring voices of Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri, whose periodic refrain of ‘Allah’ between songs was to become a Sabri signature, and his younger brother Haji Maqbool Sabri.

Both were internationally respected for their raw, energetic, highly original style in delivering popular numbers from the traditional Qawwali repertoire, and a distinctive percussion style. This, in combination with a direct and magnetic live presence, made for a wholly unique musical experience – to which thousands of aficionados will testify.

Many consider the Sabri’s instrumentally more adventurous, rougher and more soulful than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Party. Whichever, the stature of both in Pakistan is colossal.

The Sabri Brothers made music as a conduit for divine expression, summed up in the vision of the Beloved evoked when singing ‘Kali Kamaliya Wale’:

 

"The wish that keeps me alive is you/ The world that we live in is you/ O the beloved one of Allah, you have come to show us the way/ The right way/ The way of peace, of love, of humanity/ The way to God."

Ghulam Farid Sabri died on 5 April 1994 in Karachi following a heart attack.

Maqbool Ahmed Sabri died on 21 September 2011 in South Africa, also from a heart attack.

 

Further reading

Live: Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali UK Tour

The Pakistan-based Qawwali group returned to the UK for their first tour since 2017.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan at WOMAD 1985: Were you there?

Nusrat's concert at the festival in 1985 was the first in front of a primarily non-Asian audience

All In The Family

Music journalist Campbell Stevenson takes a look at the relationship between musicians and family.

What Heat: Track by Track

Delving deeper into Bokanté's What Heat with Michael League & Malika Tirolien.