Islamabad - National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) Thursday organized ‘Mehfil-e-Samaa’ an evening of traditional ‘Qawwali’ here at its Media Centre. Famous Qawwal Akhtar Sharif and Sabir Hussain enthralled the audience with their performance at ‘Mehfil-e-Samaa’.  The event was attended by a large number of people from different walks of life.

They highly appreciated Lok Virsa for arranging the special Qawwali evening to entertain the residents of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.          Earlier, senior officials of Lok Virsa welcomed the audience and said that Qawwali, one of the most ancient and sacred forms of music, was being promoted through young artists. They said that Qawwali evening was organized to entertain people of the twin cities.  The officials said that Qawwali is a musical form closely linked to Sufi traditions of Islam and the mystic practices developed by Sufi scholars to achieve closeness to God.

Today, Qawwali is a group song performed by professional musicians in South Asia. Amir Khusru (1253-1325), a famous Sufi saint, poet and scholar, introduced, among others, two musical forms, the tarana and the qual, which are said to be the origin of Qawwali. One of the objectives of Qawwali is to induce trance among the listeners, usually at the shrine of a Sufi saint. Qawwali is free in expression, but there are certain rules which may or may not be followed by performers.

A Qawwali starts with a short Alap (comparative utterances without words or rhythmic accompaniment), followed by Naghma, the dominant tune of the Qawwali performed on a harmonium with handclapping and drumbeats.


This is followed by a ruba’l (quartrain) which is usually sung without rhythm. The main Qawwali is then launched, slowly gathering momentum and tempo while the performers carefully watch the audience. The dialogue between the audience and the musicians is central to the performance of a Qawwali, the performers often repeating and dwelling on portions which strike a resonant chord with the listeners.