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February, 2016

  1. May God Save Us From Their Intoxicating Glances ! Part 2

    February 21, 2016 by hjz5060

    O God save us from the intoxicated glances! O God save us from the moon-faced ones!
    Let any affliction come upon us [but] God save us from the pretty ones.

    Above mentioned is the chorus of the Qawwali. The poet is implying here that he has had enough of these glances from his lover and is praying  not to have more of these because they have the power to make anyone go crazy. It is a situation of better safe than sorry. He is  on the verge of accepting any affliction but the affliction directed by these lovable creatures.

    Don’t let their innocence fool you; don’t let them make you a fool
    they rob with just a smile, O God save us from their spells!

    This verse does not need much explaining. It is signifying the deadly covert attacks by the people you love. They take advantage of you just by giving a smile in return, they are not trustworthy at all.


    Innocent appearance and innocuous talk, but there is a difference between what they say and what they mean
    Though their face is like that of moon, O God save us from the schemes of their hearts!

    The profoundness in these two lines almost makes them ineffable to express here. I have to make one thing clear, whenever I make these statements, they are not about the contemporary lovers but are about conventional lovers. These people used to give everything they had for the sake of love. They had to experience a lot of heart ache when their love was one sided, and in many cases they even used to give their lives away in the search of a two sided affair. The poet is saying now that these people talk so sweetly that they cast spells using their lips, of which they themselves are aware. These sweet words are very deceptive which are meant to fool the lover yet again into thinking that this type of love is a two sided affair. When they utter these words, one knows that they are committing artifice but since they are so beautiful, one stops and believes every word they say. Their hearts maneuver such schemes by the use of their innocent faces and sweet words that one is bound to go astray. God please save me from such experiences.

    In the hearts there is a desire for beautiful companions in heaven, but they show their love of prayers [to the world].
    Now, from the likes of the abstinent, O God save us from these Godly ones!

    Moving to a religious perspective now. The poet now says that some people spend so much time praying and being steadfast just to fulfill their lust of having beautiful companions in heaven. These type of people are in a sort of delusion because their ultimate target is not to glorify God, because He is supreme but is to glorify God, because He will award them generously with beautiful companions in heaven. These delusional people try to convince others to do also what they are doing for the greed of these companions. The poet says I don’t want to be a part of their evil scheme and hence God please save me from these “Godly” creatures.


    Full Qawwali at:



  2. May God Save Us From Their Intoxicating Glances ! Part 1

    February 17, 2016 by hjz5060

    Another marvel produced by the legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was the Qawwali ” God please save me from their intoxicating glances”. In this song he is referring to the person he loves, how her glances cast a magic spell and dazzle every person who looks at them.

    This Qawwali just like the others start with a myriad amount of profound verses in which the lead singer is specifying the issue by the use of poetry.

    When ye lift your gaze, it symbolizes prayer
    When ye lower your gaze, it symbolizes your modesty
    When ye narrow your gaze, it symbolizes your charm
    When ye turn your gaze away, it symbolizes my death

    The poet is using word play to his benefit here in which he describes how much can a mere gaze change the meaning of what you are intending to do. When you look up to the sky it symbolizes that you are in need of something and you are turning to God for that, thus epitomizing prayer. When you lower them in front of someone, it symbolizes humility. The next 2 lines are about the person you love. How if she narrows her eyes, she is showing off her charm, her grace, her elegance. And if she turns away from you, it symbolizes nothing but death for the lover.

    Entire life spent in splendor, it need not be
    Every night of sorrow has a dawn, it need not be
    Slumber can arise in a bed of pain, in  the arms of my love, it need not be
    Fire is considered by the moths as child’s play, every moth is afraid of its fate, it need not be
    A pious man who bows down to god, his prostration is effective, It need not be

    Now the poet is delving deep inside the meaning of life. He first says that it is not necessary that your entire life is going to be sunshine and rainbows. It is going to be a cruel world out there so be ready. Continuing the cruelty of life, he further adds that not every every night of darkness has a dawn. Not every problem has a solution, so you should keep that in mind and continue your life without waiting for the solution. Furthermore, he adds that when you are aware of this cruelty, you should be content with what you have, whether the arms of your lover or a bed of pain. The next verse might take you off track if you let it. It is analogizing the moth to a person. How a moth dances around fire without the fear of death. Same can be the situation with a person. He can be aware that a situation might cause him to lose but he is still doing it. When a lover knows that his journey is going to be difficult and might lead to his death, he still wont stop his journey because in his perspective love has significant importance over life.

    In the end the poet is saying that when you see a man bowing down to god, it seems apparently that he is the best of believers but that might not be true. He may be bowing down just to get his need fulfilled or just remembering god when he is in trouble. The poet says that it need not be that the man’s prostration has effect because god knows the intentions of a person.

  3. Forget Infatuation, Follow the path of Love !

    February 9, 2016 by hjz5060

    You will have to forget all about infatuation
    Try embarking upon on the journey of love!

    This is the title of one of the most renowned Sufi poetry ever, which was presented as a Qawwali by the legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Since Urdu is one of the most poetic languages of the world, the deep lyrics of this Qawwali amaze audiences all around the world. The Qawwali begins with a few Raags. A Raag is a type of vocal exercise the performers do usually at the beginning and in the middle of the Qawwali. They have no meaning if you listen to them at a glance , but if you delve deep in its core, you will be amazed by the might of profoundness the meaning possesses.


    After the melodious Raags, Nusrat starts by saying the first verse. The first verse as well as the entire Qawwali is actually differentiating between real love and infatuation. How difficult real love is and how easy infatuation is.

    You will not mock my suffering then…
    When you have tried giving your heart to someone

    The next verse is basically a reply to the people who scoff at a lover’s pain. Only a true lover understands the pain of another true lover, hence to understand my pain, you have to experience it yourself as well.

    Wound upon wound… inflicted
    Sip after sip… of your own blood
    Let out not a sigh, seal you lips
    This is love, not infatuation!

    This is an extension of the last verse and thus epitomizes the pain of the lover. The poet is implying that you have been wounded by your lover but still your suffering is not over until you sip the blood that is drawing out of these wounds and consequently let not a sigh out, this is love not mere lust.

    Love is no child’s play
    Think of it not as water, this is fire!

    The poet now uses a metaphor ( which he has used multiple times during the poem ). He describes the difficulty of fulfilling a relationship like fire, not water.

    This love is not easy
    Think of it this way…
    It is a river of fire…
    And you must drown to cross!

    This is my favorite verse out of all. This doesn’t make much sense when translated into English but in Urdu, this verse is a marvel. Another metaphor used by the poet to exemplify the difficulty of true love. Love is like fire, as he exclaimed in the previous verse, but this time it is like a river of fire. Just imagine a river of fire, and now think of going into its depth, so as if you are drowning. Did you imagine the pain? The anguish of the excruciating heat amalgamated with zero breath. Accompanying that pain, you have to get to the other side. The difficulty of this task is the same as the difficulty of fulfilling a relationship. Yes now you have understood love. Now you have forgotten infatuation.

    Translation from:

    Tumhein dillagi bhool jani pare gi (English Translation)

    Enjoy the Qawwali in good sound quality (English subtitles available)



  4. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

    February 3, 2016 by hjz5060

    After all the basics of the origin of Qawwali, today i will progress, and introduce you to the godfather of this genre of music. Nusrat Fateh Ali khan, born October 1948, is known to posses one of the best voices ever recorded.

    He possessed extravagant vocal abilities which allowed him to perform for several hours in front of an audience. Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Khan is widely credited with introducing Qawwali music to international audiences. After mesmerizing the Pakistani nation with his music in the 70’s, he was signed by Oriental Stars Agencies of England. Khan went on to release movie scores and albums in Europe, India, Japan, Pakistan, and the US. He engaged in collaborations and experiments with Western artists, becoming a well-known world music artist. He toured extensively, performing in over 40 countries.

    Khan had these unique vocal abilities that made him unique from others. His  tongue used to move so rapidly that even a contemporary rap artist could not match his speed. It so happened that when Khan toured Japan, they took him to a voice recording agency which possessed a device that measured vocal speed. Khan started his routine performance in front of that device as it was operating. The speed of his tongue’s motion, therefore, could not be measured. The machine gave up and showed an error because it could not decipher the speed at which he was singing.

    Khan is widely considered to be the most important Qawwal in history. In 1987, he received the President of Pakistan’s Award for Pride of Performance for his contribution to Pakistani music. In 1995, he received the UNESCO Music Prize. In 1996 he was awarded Grand Prix des Amériques at Montreal World Film Festival for exceptional contribution to the art of cinema. In the same year, Khan received the Arts and Culture Prize of the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes. In 2005, Khan received the “Legends” award at the UK Asian Music Awards. Time magazine’s issue of 6 November 2006, “60 Years of Asian Heroes”, lists him as one of the top 12 artists and thinkers in the last 60 years. He also appeared on NPR’s 50 great voices list in 2010. In August 2010 he was included in CNN’s list of the twenty most iconic musicians from the past fifty years. In 2008, Khan was listed in 14th position in UGO’s list of the best singers of all time.


    After living such a prestigious career which included all these awards and the honor of composing music with the greats in the field, Khan fell ill with kidney and liver problems. On 16 August 1997, the world was left in shock when the sudden news of the musicians death , aged only 49, circled the realm of social interaction. He was on his way to Los Angeles for a kidney transplant when a sudden cardiac arrest took his life.

    In my perspective, call it biased or not, Khan is the best musician to ever live. He used to explain stories and events only in a matter of seconds and believe it or not, he did not even use words that belonged to any language. The progenitor of Qawwali, Ustad ( teacher) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan will always be remembered by the world as a saint of music.


    Here is a glimpse of his magic. His performance in University of Washington, please enjoy.

    ( I apologize for the video quality)





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