Devotional Songs

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Released 09 November 1992

  1. Allah Hoo Allah Hoo
  2. Yaad-E-Nabi Gulshan Mehka
  3. Haq Ali Ali Haq
  4. Ali Maula Ali Maula Ali Dam Dam
  5. Mast Nazroon Se Allah Bachhae
  6. Ni Main Jogi De Naal

Liner notes

At the 1985 WOMAD Festival, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his Party gave one of their finest ever performances outside Pakistan. As a result Nusrat decided to record his favourite songs with new arrangements specially for WOMAD. Now re-released on Real World Records, these beautiful songs with accompanying mandolin and guitar capture the lighter folk elements of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s music.

 

Qawwali

Qawwali music is the devotional music of the Sufis, usually sung in Urdu, Punjabi or Persian. The lyrics are in praise of God (Allah), his Prophet (Mohammed), his friend (Ali) and other Muslim Saints.

It is inspirational and mystical music intended to elevate the spirit, bringing both listener and singer closer to God. For the Sufis there are two kinds of grace, both equally important: “Those with melodious voices, and those endowed with the power to appreciate them.”

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on stage at WOMAD Yokohama 1992.

Devotional Songs

The music on this album concentrates mainly on traditional religious songs. Sufi belief is the mystical branch of Islam and advocates the use of many paths to attain a state of grace or enlightenment —a “stateless state.” Sufism is, fundamentally, a devotional form based upon the love of Allah, Mohammed and Ali. The heart of it is the heart itself.

In the lyric of one of the Qawwali songs we are warned: “Do not accept the heart that is the slave to reason” which points towards the embrace of ecstasy and uninhibited release of energy which is advocated by some Sufi sects, although shunned by Orthodox Islam.

Qawwali means literally “utterance” and, like the Christian Logos or Word of God, the Qawwali is a mouthpiece of Divine Power “We do not sing —we are made to sing.”

 

1. Allah Hoo Allah Hoo

Contemporary song in the Hamad style —in Praise of God. A religious chant designed to elevate the spirit.

 

2. Yaad-E-Nabi Gulshan Mehka

“The Garden of the Prophet Mohammed is fragrant with all sorts of scents.” A song in the style of Naat (in praise of Mohammed) and describing the first Kalmah: “God is everything, he is even in your eyes, your soul, your body, your heart … everything will perish but he will remain.”

 

3. Haq Ali Ali Haq

“Truth is Ali” —referring to Hazrat Ali, the fourth Caliph. In the style of Manqbat (in praise of saints). “Listen to me carefully; one who does not obtain Ali’s favour cannot obtain the favour of God.”

 

4. Ali Maula Ali Maula Ali Dam Dam

Another Manqbat in praise of Hazrat Ali, sung in Punjabi: “The name Ali should be in my soul and in my every breath…”

 

5. Mast Nazroon Se Allah Bachhae

A Ghazal or love song with contemporary lyrics … “Beware of these killing beauties, for they will take your heart away.”

 

6. Ni Main Jogi De Naal

Lyrics by 17th century saint and Sufi poet in traditional Punjabi. Sung in praise of the jogi, or devotee, it also tells the story of the legendary lovers Heer and Ranjah. Their tragic affair ended with Ranjah giving up the world to become a jogi.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

The Khan family have been developing the art of Qawwali for over six centuries. Nusrat himself, however, had no intention of becoming a Qawwal. He only decided to sing after a recurring dream convinced him this was the path to follow.

He dreamt he was singing at the famous shrine of Hazrat Khawaja Moin-ud-Din Chishtie at Ajmer in India. At first he believed it to be absurd —no Qawwal had ever been allowed to sing inside this most famous of Muslim shrines. He was sufficiently persuaded, however, that he should follow in his father’s footsteps —and he became leader of the Qawwali Party in 1971. Astonishingly enough, Nusrat’s dream proved to be true. In 1979 when the singer and his Party visited the famous shrine as pilgrims, Nusrat was invited to sing —the very first Qawwal to have received this honour.

 

The Party

The sophistication and complexity of Qawwali music requires years of dedicated training and absolute co-ordination within the Party as a whole. The melodies and verses, however, are so immediately appealing that they are greatly loved by everyone – including children. They are the result of improvisation between Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and other performers and the scales depend upon the time of day and the quality of the lyric.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s rise to fame has been phenomenal. Touring worldwide and receiving prizes and recognition as the world’s greatest exponent of Qawwali in its purest classical form, he is known as Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali: ‘The King of Qawwali’.

Listen

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