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In Memoriam: Marking five years since Amjad Sabri’s untimely death

Today, 16 Ramazan, marks five years since revered qawwal Amjad Sabri, 45, was gunned down in Karachi in 2016.

Amjad Sabri, aged 45, was traveling by car from his home in the Liaquatabad area to a television studio when a motorcycle pulled up alongside the vehicle and the attackers opened fire on June 22, 2016, a day that marked 16th Ramazan according to the Islamic calendar.

The killing of one of Pakistan’s most loved qawwals and naat khawan saw the nation descending into shared sorrow, with an outpouring of grief the likes of which weren’t seen before on Pakistani social media.

Hoorain Amjad Sabri, Amjad’s daughter, took to her personal Instagram today to mark five years since her father’s tragic death, writing, “Or aj phir wo din agaya (Once again, that day is here). It’s been 5 years now and I still can’t believe this.” 

 

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A post shared by Hoorain Amjad Sabri (@hoorainn._)

It is a sentiment shared across the country, thanks to Amjad’s priceless contributions to the performing arts and his efforts to keep his family legacy alive and thriving.

Son of one of the Sabri Brothers (Ghulam Farid Sabri), Amjad became the face of the Sabri family name who put qawwali music on the world map. Referred to as the ‘Roving Ambassadors’ for Pakistan, the Sabri Brothers introduced qawwali in the West when they performed at the Carnegie Hall in New York in 1975.

The maestro followed in the footsteps of his father and uncle to enthrall audiences with the melodious voice and mysticism enshrined in qawwali. He was initiated into classical music by his father at a young age.

Amjad Sabri

“The hardest part was being awakened at 4:00 AM. Most riyaz is done in Raag Bhairon and this is an early morning raag. My mother would urge our father to let us sleep but he would still wake us up,” he once recalled.

“Even if we had slept after midnight, he would get us out of bed, instruct us to make wuzu, perform tahajjud prayers, and then take out the baja. And he was correct in doing so because if a raag is rendered at the correct time, the performer himself enjoys it to the fullest.”

From Bhar Do Jholi Meri and Tajdar-e-Haram to Khawaja ki Dewani and Chaap Tilak, Amjad popularized qawwali music with the younger crowd who remember him with revered fondness and love.

He may have left the world but the memories and legacy left behind will be cherished for years to come.

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