A Categorization of Popular Qawwali Songs of the Legendary Nusrat Saheb
It would be difficult to create a comprehensive list of qawwali songs by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Khan saheb recorded so much. He composed a lot, but he also inherited the repertoire of a famous family of qawwals. His father and Uncle, Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan, were significant qawwali artists of their time. Many of these family compositions were heard the world around because of Nusrat! We have put together the below list of best and famous Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Qawwaliyan.
Religious: Allah Hoo, Haq Ali Ali, Mast Mast
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a master at all songs. Just about anything he worked on turned to gold. It could be a Pakistani producer, someone in the world music scene, or even Hollywood. The song would be a hit. However, being a religious man himself, Nusrat Fateh just had a way with traditional qawwali songs.
We can’t talk about Nusrat’s musical legacy without a nod to Allah Hoo. It was the song that Nusrat started many of his concerts with. Allah Hoo song is my personal favorite. And each recording of the song has a different arrangement.
Tum ik Gorakh Dhandha ho
A favorite of Cricketer, and now Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, this song is very philosophical. It highlights (in a positive manner) the dualities, contradictions, and confusion of the Divine. Because of its complicated Urdu poetry, it has not attained mass popularity.
Ali da Malang
Released in 1991, Ali da Malang was part of the Magic Touch album. The Punjabi manqabat is a rare one of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s songs about Hazrat Ali that didn’t become an instant hit. Though, I really love it.
Dum Mast Qalandar Mast Mast
This was a song that was a hit when it came out. A collaboration with Bally Sagoo, this song took over the Desi music scene in South Asia as well as in UK.
Sanson Ki Mala
A wonderful song loved by many, was Sanson ki mala pe, simru main pi ka naam. This Bhajan / Sufi Song is a favorite amongst Hindu crowds. It was released in 1992, on the album Love Songs.
Kaafi: Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, Ghoongat Chuk
Nusrat’s Punjabi qawwalis were the best. That may be a personal bias, but it also may have been because Nusrat himself was Punjabi. This song’s lyrics were modified even to fit into a Bollywood movie, starring Madhuri Dixit. However, the original poet of this kalaam is Bulleh Shah.
Another famous kaafi of Nusrat’s is Ghuungat Chak o Sajana. Most qawwals have not attempted this song, but again Nusrat’s version is phenomenal.
While Bulleh Shah’s pieces caught on with the public, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan also sang songs by Ghulam Farid like “Ishq anokhiri PeeD.” However, these never got the same level of attention.
Love Songs: Afreen Afreen, Sanu ik pal chain na
Some of the greatest hits by Nusrat were these romantic qawwalis or sufi songs. His artistry was in that he could sing in a Sufi dargah, record a Bollywood song, and then perform a concert in front of thousands, all in one day! These were songs, some were ghazals. They veered towards Ishq-e-mijazi. Many of these songs are the ones finding a resurgance in Bollywood, in Coke Studio Pakistan and with musicians around the world.
The lyrics were penned by India’s Javed Akhtar. Afreen was remade by Coke Studio Pakistan, in which Rahat Fateh Ali Khan sang. The original was sung by his uncle Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (who also composed it) on the album Sangam.
Mere Rashke Qamar
Almost 20 years after his passing, this song moves crowds. The tune is set in Raag Bhairavi, written by Fana Buland Shehri. Khan saheb first composed this in the late 1980s, and performed it for the first time in 1988.
Since then, it was remixed in 2013 and again released in 2017. Each time, the artists were still using Khan’s original composition. Today, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan gets the biggest applause at his live concerts as he goes starts into Mere Rashke Qamar.
Authored by Purnam Allahabadi (also the author of the famous Bhar do jholi), wrote the famous Tumhein dillagi bhool jaani padegi. It was likley released in the 1990s.
Intoxication: Ye jo Halka Halka Suroor Hai
Two decades after Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s death, Ye jo halka remains a popular song. Of course, it’s loved because it talks about being intoxicated (by the beloved). The concept of being drunk, as sung in this song by Nusrat, or qawwalis by Sabri Brothers, Aziz Mian, Wadali Brothers, are not about the actual drinking. Rather the intoxication is a state of realization and awareness brought on by the ultimate truth. Yeh jo halka was also remade in the last few years in Bollywood, and it’s a disappointment compared to the original.
This is not the only song that plays on this theme. Others by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan are the following:
Fasl-e-gul hai Sharaab pili jiye
One of the last albums by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Party was a 2 CD masterpiece titled “Greatest Hits.” This piece was penned by Zafar Gorkhpuri.
Piyala (Hun Pyala Rakh De Ik Paase)
Keep the glass to one side, now make me drink with your eyes. There are only 1-2 recordings of this song online. But his artistry as a musician and a spiritual man shines in these songs.