Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers

Category Vocal | Tags Qawwal



Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers are among the world’s very finest exponents of Qawwali - a hypontic, vocal-driven form of Sufi devotional music rich in poetic and mystical symbolism. Their group, in the typical style of their genre, is led by powerful vocalists, who loop through multiple verse-chorus sequences backed by other singers as well as harmonium, tabla, dholak, and hand-claps.

Fareed Ayaz (or, to give him his full name, Ustad Ghulam Fariduddin Ayaz Al-Hussaini Qawwal) leads the group, along with his younger brother Abu Muhammad, while other brothers and family members form the rest of the musical core. Fareed and Abu first learned from their father, the esteemed Ustad Munshi Raziuddin, who hails from the Qawwal Bachchon Ka gharana, a tradition stretching back to Amir Khusrow’s disciples in 14th-century Delhi.

They also perform semi-classical forms from outside the Qawwali repertoire, including tarana, thumri, and khayal. Several decades of touring has seen the brothers sing to vast crowds all around the world, as well as making over a dozen crossover excursions into film music and Coke Studio. Their music was featured in the 2012 film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and in 2017 they were the focus of a special BBC Proms concert. In Fareed’s words, “Qawwali is not showbusiness. It is not even singing, really - it is praying, an exercise to improve your soul”.


—Listen to their Qawwal in London, at Guru Nanak’s Message of Peace Through Music (Sun 24th May 2020). Leading Sikh, Hindu and Muslim artists unite to perform sacred music at the Southbank - proceeds to deprivation charity NishkamSWAT and Zero Hunger with Langar, providing meals in Malawi. Tickets here!


This music is a sort of ‘spiritual entertainment’...if people come to hear Qawwali then they must take away peace, and love for all humans" (Ustad Abu Muhammad)


—Also see Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music, our new series exploring how music with ancient roots continues to innovate in a fast-paced, interconnected modern world. Expand your appreciation!


Darbar Arts & Heritage believes in the power of Indian classical music to stir, thrill, and inspire. To find out more, get the Darbar newsletter, explore our YouTube channel, or sign up to the Darbar Player to watch extended festival performances in pristine HD quality.


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Founded in 2006, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust (Darbar) believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through digital connectivity, shared experiences and enrichment we ensure that one of the finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience.

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