Festival Accès Asie, in collaboration with Kabir Centre for Arts & Culture, presents an evening of Sufi Music in the form of Qawwali performed by the Abdullah Niazi Qawwals ensemble from Pakistan.
Qawwali is a form of devotional singing, originating from the Indian subcontinent. A group of Qawwals is made up of a lead singer, one or two secondary singers, musicians, and wildly clapping junior members. By repeatedly and hypnotically chanting salient phrases, they transport audiences to a spiritual nirvana, a trance-like state that some describe as akin to flying. Qawwali evokes the name of Allah in many languages, from its original Persian to Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, and other languages of India and Pakistan. The medium’s passion and intensity has the ability to move even Western ears. Traditional Qawwali performances, or mahfils, are intimate gatherings in which listeners sit on the ground rather than on seats. This setting, traditionalists believe, would bring them closer to God.
Abdullah Muhammad Manzoor Niazi, also referred to as Abdullah Niazi Qawwal, (born 1960) is a Pakistani Qawwal. He belongs to the Qawwal Bachchon Ka Gharana of Delhi. He is the eldest son of Manzoor Niazi Qawwal. Abdullah Niazi was one of the principal Qawwals in Manzoor Niazi Qawwal’s group. After the death of Manzoor Niazi Qawwal, he led a Qawwali Group he had formed with his brothers. In 2015, he branched out with his sons supporting him.
His performance style is steeped in Amir Khusro’s Kalaam (verses) and is based on Indian classical music. Abdullah Niazi carries the Qawwali performance with a command and virtuosity rarely found in contemporary Qawwals capturing Amir Khusrow’s poetry and its musical emotionality in all its subtlety and intensity. Abdullah Niazi Qawwal performs various genres of Qawwali music such as Thumri, Khayal, Tarana, Sufism, and Classical. All of these genres were evident in their concert performance at the National Academy of Performing Arts arranged by the All Pakistan Music Conference. Abdullah Niazi Qawwal’s grandfather was Mir Qutub Bukhsh who was awarded the title of Tanras Khan by the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Tanras Khan was also the music tutor and court musician of this emperor.
Abdullah Niazi Qawwal learned Qawwali from his late father Manzoor Niazi Qawwal and his late uncle Bahauddin Qawwal. Abdullah Niazi, with his three sons Waqas Ahmed, Saad Ahmed, and Fahad Ahmed, are now promoting their family’s traditional music. They have performed in South Africa, the United States, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat, India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and many other countries.
Abdullah Manzoor Niazi – Qawwal Musician and Singer