Published On: Mon, Jul 18th, 2016

Amjad Sabri: the Man with the majestic voice

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By Faizah Gilani: The horrific murder of the much loved Qawwal Amjad Sabri shook the entire nation. Sabri was gunned down in Karachi by masked men on a motorbike as he was driving to a Ramzaan transmission. Amjad Sabri’s murder has left the nation in complete and utter shock, not being able to comprehend this senseless act. Not only was Amjad Sabri a gifted singer, he was also a very humble and down to earth man. He was jovial, always had a smile on his face and a mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

sabriSabri was loved by so many, which is why no one had anything but kind words for the gifted Qawwal, after the news of his killing broke out. Celebrities paid tribute to his kindness and humbleness, and the common man from his neighbourhood spoke of his friendliness and genuine nature. Amjad Sabri was such a warm character. He was a big man in stature but was a soft and gentle soul. For so many it is extremely hard to understand why anyone would want to take the life of such a likeable man.

This tragedy has shaken people on so many levels. The fact that Amjad Sabri was murdered during the holy month of Ramzaan simply exposes the brutality that has seeped into society. We are clearly beginning to lose our conscience, and we are becoming a dark and twisted society. No reason, nothing can possibly justify murder, and Sabri’s murder is a heinous crime. It is also deeply disturbing to see this happen to a man who did nothing but praise the Almighty and his messenger all his life. Sabri devoted his life to praising and celebrating the power of the Almighty. To understand the reason behind why he was targeted is incomprehensible.

But this was not just an attack on Amjad Sabri; this was also an attack on Pakistan’s art and culture. There are individuals out there that want to destroy Pakistan’s music and art, there are those that want to see Pakistan isolated and fall back into the dark ages. They want to rob people of the happiness and pleasure that art brings into their lives. And this is very frightening. Those belonging to any form of art are soft targets for vile people such as those that murdered Amjad Sabri. Pakistani soil was robbed of cricket when terrorists attacked the bus of the touring team Sri Lanka. Clearly terrorists want the exact thing to happen with art and culture within the country.

Amjad Sabri’s murder has prompted other performing artists and celebrities to demand for security, who are beginning to feel vulnerable, which is natural and understandable. Sadly their voices have fallen on deaf ears, which was expected. But these are worrying times for celebrities, singers in particular. Their contribution to society is by spreading love and harmony through their music, and in return they are rewarded by death threats and like the late Amjad Sabri, with bullets through their body. It is a sad reflection of society today, where intolerance and hatred are spreading like poison.

But let us spare a thought for the young children that Amjad Sabri has left behind. The world has been robbed of an immensely gifted talent, but four young children have been robbed of their father’s love and affection. What they must be going through is simply unimaginable. But they must have taken a little bit of comfort from the fact that the funeral of their father was attended by people in thousands. Ordinary people have felt pain and mourned for Amjad Sabri. Even the common man, who did not know him on a personal level, but established a bond with him through his music. The number of those that attended the funeral was a testament to the love people had for Amjad Sabri.

Whether it was a Morning show or a Ramzaan transmission, people had become well accustomed to seeing Amjad Sabri on their television sets. And whether it was Karam Maangta hoon or Bhar De Jholi, Amjad Sabri’s powerful and majestic voice made a home in the hearts of many people. He reintroduced Qawwali to listeners, especially the youth, with his ability to fuse Eastern and Western style together. And this is why he was known as the Rockstar of Qawwali. Singers such as Atif Aslam and Adnan Sami Khan are singing the works of Amjad Sabri and his father Ghulam Farid Sabri, but Amjad Sabri deserves all the credit, for he was the one who ensured that Qawwali maintained a place among music lovers.

Amjad Sabri’s murder has left a void in the world of Qawwali, one that perhaps cannot be filled. He was a unique performer blessed with a voice that would give goose bumps to listeners. When he would sing praises for the Almighty, you could feel the spirituality in his voice. He did not just sing from the mouth, it was from the soul.

Amjad Sabri should have been with us, among us and still praising the Almighty. But today he is under the ground and it is hard to understand why. Why is the only question and sadly there is no answer.  But for now, a few words from Tajdaar-e- Haram comes to mind: “Aao Medine chale.” I do not know about others, but I feel that yes, the Almighty has taken Amjad Sabri to the holy land and granted his wish. Farewell to Amjad Sabri: the man with the majestic voice. May his soul rest in peace (Ameen)

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