Qawwali: The Art of Devotional Singing & Famous Qawwali Songs


Qawwali is a type of devotional music that originated in the Indian subcontinent and is primarily associated with Sufism, a mystical dimension of Islam. Over the centuries, Qawwali has evolved into a rich musical tradition that is both spiritual and entertaining. It is characterized by its intense and passionate vocals, rhythmically complex tabla beats, and intricate harmonies created by the interplay of instruments like the harmonium and the sarangi.

The word "Qawwali" comes from the Arabic word "qaul" which means "utterance" or "speech." Qawwali songs are usually devotional in nature, and they are meant to be a medium for expressing love, devotion, and spirituality towards God. The lyrics of Qawwali songs are typically written in Urdu, Hindi, or Punjabi and they often depict stories from the lives of Sufi saints, poems of Sufi mystics, and expressions of love for the divine.

The central aspect of Qawwali is its performance. Qawwali performances are typically held in Sufi shrines, religious festivals, and concerts, and they can last for hours. The music is characterized by its frenzied energy and its ability to inspire spiritual ecstasy in listeners. The lead singer, known as the "Qawwal," sings the main melody while the chorus of musicians, known as the "qawwals," sing in harmony and provide background vocals. The rhythm section, consisting of the tabla and the dholak, provides the backbone of the music and keeps the audience engaged.

Qawwali has a rich and fascinating history that spans over several centuries. It originated in the courts of the Mughal emperors in the Indian subcontinent and was later popularized by Sufi saints who used it as a medium for spreading their message of love and devotion to God. Over the centuries, Qawwali has been influenced by various musical traditions, including Indian classical music, Persian music, and Turkish music, and it has evolved into a unique and rich musical form that reflects the diverse cultural influences of the Indian subcontinent.

In recent years, Qawwali has gained worldwide recognition and has become increasingly popular outside of its traditional audience. Artists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, and Sabri Brothers have played a major role in popularizing Qawwali music and bringing it to a global audience.

In conclusion, Qawwali is a powerful and moving form of devotional music that has its roots in the rich cultural heritage of the Indian subcontinent. It is a musical tradition that transcends religious and cultural boundaries and has the ability to inspire and uplift the human spirit. Whether you are a fan of classical music, world music, or devotional music, Qawwali is definitely worth exploring.


Some of the most famous Qawwali songs are:

  1. "Aj Rukh Tere Bazu Se" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  2. "Tum Ek Gorakh Dhanda Ho" by Abida Parveen
  3. "Man Kunto Maula" by Ali Azmat
  4. "Haq Ali Ali" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  5. "Dam Mast Qalandar" by Abida Parveen
  6. "Tere Bin Nahin Lagda" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  7. "Ali Da Malang" by Sabri Brothers
  8. "Chhap Tilak" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  9. "Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar" by Sabri Brothers
  10. "Mainu Ishq Da Lagya Rog" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
  11. "Tere Ishq Nachaya" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  12. "Tere Bin Nahi Lagda Dil Mera Dholna" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  13. "Tum Se Hi" by Sabri Brothers
  14. "Tum Ko Dekha To" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  15. "Jhoolay Laal" by Abida Parveen
  16. "Sakiyaan" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  17. "Main Jahaan Rahoon" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  18. "Sanu Ik Pal Chain" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  19. "Ab Ke Sawan Mein Jee Dare" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
  20. "Yeh Jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai" by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
  21. Noor E Ilahi   
  22. Ali Maula 
  23. Piya Haji Ali