Rizwan Muazzam – Qawwali Songs, Their Life and Journey

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Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's cousins

Nephews of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and cousins of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, the duo Rizwan Muazzam Qavvali ensemble is led by vocalists Rizwan Ali Khan and Muazzam Ali Khan.

Their career and songs authentically capture the sound that Nusrat was known for, perhaps more than any qawwali artist other. Today, one could claim that the true torchbearers of authentic qawwali from the Nusrat Gharana in Pakistan are these brothers. But, the journey to this level had its challenges.

Training for Rizwan and Muazzam

Their grandfather Mubarak Ali and Fateh Ali were popular qawwals. Their father was in music. Music was in their blood. In 1992, at the ages of 11 and 9, Rizwan and Muazzam began to learn music from their father Mujahid Khan. Their training was cut short, unfortunately. Only 3 years into their talim, their father passed.

Album recording of Rizwan Muazzam

After Mujahid died, the singers were taken under the care of their late uncle, which was instrumental to their development. They began learning from the Sufi legend, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. As stated by Muazzam in a Pakistan TV interview, “their Gharana is known for not accepting the direct descendants of the Ustad as students.” So, it was extraordinary that they were able to get instruction from their father and uncle. Almost instantaneously, they became close with Nusrat. As fate would have it, they were only able to spend ~1 year with their uncle before his untimely death.

Muazzam and Rizwan Performing Qawwali in mehfil

Brotherly Rivaraly in Rizwan-Muazzam on stage

After their uncle’s death, Rizwan Muazzam played a major concert in 1999 at Womad. This was the same festival where Nusrat had mesmerized audiences in 1985. Their performance got their music on to a world stage, especially when the world was looking to replace the voice that Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan had left. Today, they have performed the world around. With all that experience, the brothers Rizwan-Muazzam feel that the qawwali is most intently listened to in UK and France.

In an interview in India, Rizwan jokingly said that the brothers compete on stage. Neither wants the other to get more praise than what he is getting from an audience.

Muazzam Mujahid Ali Khan Perform Rizwan Mujahid Ali Khan

Top Rizwan Muazzam Qawwali Songs

Their collaboration in the album People’s Cology #1 with Count Dubulah (known as Temple of Sound) and Neil Sparkes took inspiration from their Uncle. Nusrat did a fantastic collaboration with Michael Brooks, which seamlessly merged the sounds of the modern world with qawwali music and instruments (predominantly harmonium and tabla). Similarly for the nephews, this collaboration for Rizwan Muazzam got them into the eyes and ears of many important people outside of Pakistan.

Rizwan Khan Qawwal

Other top songs of theirs include Tu Kuja Man Kuja (origically composed by Nusrat/Farrukh), a different version of Allah Hoo, and Jogi (Coke Studio Pakistan).

Riyaaz Qawwali