Amjad Sabri, one of the finest singers of qawwali (Sufi songs) in the sub-continent and member of the legendary Sabri family of qawwals, was shot dead in Karachi on Wednesday.
A Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the murder hours after a top police officer called it “an act of terrorism“.Sabri’s family said the 45-yearold singer was facing threats ever since one of his qawwalis naming members of Prophet Muhammad’s family was aired during a mock wedding on a private TV channel. In 2014, Islamabad HC had issued a notice to two private TV chan nels in the blasphemy case.
In 2015, Sabri had alleged that the qawwali, Bhar do jholi, in Salman-starrer, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, violated the copyright act as it was first sung by his father, Ghulam Sabri. Taliban have targeted Sufi shrines along with other civilian targets since the 2007 military operation on Lal Masjid in Islamabad. The worst of all the incidents was a 2010 attack on the famous Data Darbar shrine in Lahore that left over 40 dead.
Police said two gunmen on a motorcycle shot Sabri in Karachi’s Liaquatabad area while he was going in a car to a private TV station for Iftar transmission. “The two riders used 30-bore pistols to shoot Sabri five times. The bullet to the head took the qawwal’s life,“ inspector general Mushtaq Mehar told Dawn newspaper. A relative travelling with him was also injured. Both were shifted to a nearby hospital where Sabri was pronounced dead.
Hailing from a lineage of qawwals, Amjad Fareed Sabri, was the son of Ghulam Farid Sabri and nephew of Maqbool Ahmed Sabri, the qawwali duo extraordinaire who rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s and redefined the old style of qawwali singing. The two were also credited with bringing the genre to the West.
The Sabri family’s musical lineage stretches back to the 16th century. The family claims to be the direct descendants of Tansen, the legendary musician at the court of Akbar.The family , which follows the Sabiriyah branch of Sufi Islam, migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and has been based since in Karachi.
Despite a crackdown against general Mushtaq Mehar told Dawn newspaper. A relative travelling with him was also injured. Both were shifted to a nearby hospital where Sabri was pronounced dead.
Hailing from a lineage of qaw wals, Amjad Fareed Sabri, was the son of Ghulam Farid Sabri and nephew of Maqbool Ahmed Sabri.
`Bid to muzzle voice of Sufis who preach peace’
Idris Nizami, Mumbai-based qawwal:
Amjad Sabri’s murder has pained me deeply and it is a loss for the world of art and music. He was undoubtedly a big name in the world of Sufi singing. It seems there is an attempt to muzzle the voice of Sufis who preach peace, inclusivity and harmony. His death has created a void but the perpetrators of this heinous crime will ultimately get defeated as voice of sanity, peace and justice will win.
Aslam Sabri, Mumbai-based qawwal:
Those who killed Amjad Sabri will regret it as he belonged to a tribe which spreads peace. Pakistan is a failed state. No one is safe there. But I didn’t expect that someone would kill a qawwal who doesn’t have much money but only an art to share with the world. A qawwal provides solace to the troubled souls and Amjad was doing exactly that.
Javed Ali, Bollywood singer: It’s very upsetting as an artiste since musicians
Javed Ali, Bollywood singer:
It’s very upsetting as an artiste since musicians usually stay away from politics and fights. We strive to give happiness to people with our singing.
(By Mohammed Wajihuddin and Mohua Das in Mumbai)