August 2016 - Sonia Shah Organization

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Paying tribute to prominent qawwali singer killed in Karachi

By Karin Ronnow

Pakistani cyclists ride past a wall image of late Sufi musician Amjad Sabri in Karachi. | Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistani cyclists ride past a wall image of late Sufi musician Amjad Sabri in Karachi. | Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Amjad Sabri, beloved Pakistani Sufi qawwali singer, was killed by extremists in Karachi in late June. His death was mourned around the world and raised “new outcry over sectarian and extremist violence in Pakistan,” the New York Times reported June 22.

Sabri, 45, was driving to a TV studio to record a Ramadan show when two gunmen on motorcycles fired into his vehicle and then escaped, according to the Times report.

Qawwali is the “devotional music linked with Sufism, a mystical variant of Islam deeply entwined with the traditions of South Asia,” according to NPR.   

 “Amjad Sabri was one of the country’s finest qawwals, known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry,” Dawn (Pakistan) reported. “He enthralled music aficionados with his brand of spirituality, mysticism and ecstasy for years. He was not only well versed with the structure and aesthetics of qawwali, but also knew how to make it adaptive to the contemporary music, keeping its essence alive.”

The beloved and prominent qawwali singer Amjad Sabri (1976-2016) was killed by extremists in Pakistan in June. | Open source

The beloved and prominent qawwali singer Amjad Sabri (1976-2016) was killed by extremists in Pakistan in June. | Open source

Following Sabri’s death, Tahir Qawwal, leader of the American qawwali ensemble Fanna-Fi-Allah, created this tribute video and shared it with Sonia Shah Organization (SSO).

Fanna-Fi-Allah group will perform this song and many others at SSO’s benefit event on the evening of Sept. 17 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Chicago. For tickets, visit www.soniashahorganization.com.  

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