A Friend from India Remembers Maqbool Sabri

Article from Lokmat Samachar (Hindi Newspaper) dated 30 September, 2011

Image Credit: Muslim Saleem    (Click on image to see it bigger)

English Transliteration of the article:

Shahenshah E Qawwali Sabri Brothers Ka Bhopal Se Jazbaati Rishta

Qawwali ke fann ko urooj bakshne waale Haji Ghulam Farid aur unke chote bhai Haji Maqbool Ahmed Sabri ne Sabri Brothers ke naam se dunia mein aisi shohrat haasil ki jo isse pehle kisi ko haasil nahi hui. 1994 mein bade bhai Ghulam Farid ke inteqal ke baad poori party sambhalne ki zimmedari Maqbool Sabri par aa gayi aur unhone bhi bahut khoosurti se yeh zimmedari nibhaayi. 21 September 2011 ko dil ka daura padhne se Maqbool Sabri bhi South Africa mein inteqal kar gaye.

Pehle Haji Ghulam Farid aur phir Haji Maqbool Sabri ke is faani duniya ko alvida kehne ke saath hi Sabri Brothers ki qawwali ke daur ka pehla safa band ho gaya. Qawwali ko khaas maqaam tak le jaane waale Sabri Brothers ka adabi shahar Bhopal se jazbaati rishta raha hai. Yahan kayi logon se unke taallukhaat rahe hain aur jinse rishte the, unhone aakhri waqt tak nibhaaya. Khaton- Qitabat hoti rahi. Aise hi unke mureedon mein se ek hain Dr. Qamar Ali Shah. Yahan pesh hai Dr. Qamar Ali Shah ki zubaani Sabri Brothers ke saath bitaaye who anmol pal jo ab sirf taswwur mein hain.

Maqbool Sabri 12 October 1941 mein Punjab ke jila Rohtak ke ek gaanv Kalyana mein paida hue aur bahut kam umr se hi unhone apne waalid Ustad Inayat Sabri se mousiqi ki taaleem li. Sabri Brothers sabhi qawwaliyon ki composing Maqbool Sabri ne ki. Unki pehli qawwali 1958 mein ‘Mera Koyi Nahin Hai Tere Siva’ manzare aam hui. Uske baad ‘Tajdar E Haram Ho Nigaah E Karam’, ‘Bhar Do Jholi Meri Ya Mohammad’, ‘Naazan Hai Jis Par Husn Woh Husn E Rasool Hai’ jaise aala kalaam awaam tak pahunche. Iske baad unki shohrat goonjne lagi thi.

Shakila Bano Ki Saalgirah Par Qawwali Ka Tohfa

Sabri Brothers ne 1977 mein Hindustan ka ek daura kiya yeh waqt unki zabardast shohrat ka tha. Mumbai mein qayaam ke dauraan poori film industry unki qawwaliyon mein is darja kho gayi thi ki unka wahan ka kaam kuch din ke liye band ho chuka tha. Raat-raat Sabri Brothers ki mehfilen aarasta hotin. Isi dauran unhone Bhopal ka bhi rukh kiya. Yahan unhone Shakila Bano Bhopali ki saalgirah par Ramsons Hotel mein Qawwali ka tohfa pesh kiya. Isi mouke par Sabri Bradraan se meri pehli mulaqaat hui aur dosti ka yeh silsila musalsal kaayam raha. Is dauran teen din unka Bhopal mein qayaam raha, teesre din Baab e Ali ground par Bhopal ki awaam ke liye unhone ek mehfil sajayi aur apni awaaz ka jaadu bikhera. Maqbool Sabri jitney azeez fankar the, utne hi khushmizaaj insaan bhi. Unse milkar yah andaz nahi hua ki meri yeh unse pehli mulaqat thi. Ek din maine unse farmaish kee ki aapki qawwaliyon ke cassette aur record toh poori duniya mein hai, lekin main aapki awaaz mein ek aisi nayab cheez chahta hun jo sirf mere paas rahe, unse apni awaaz mein ek ghazal record karne ki ilteja ki. Woh raazi ho gaye aur unhone tape recorder par masaehri par lete lete Ahmed Faraz ki ek ghazal mujhe kara di, jiska maqta hai-

Tum takalluf ko bhi ikhlaas samajhte ho ‘Faraz’,
Dost hota nahi har haath milane waala..

Scooter Par Bhopal Ki Sair

Woh ek din bole, chalo Bhopal ki sair karao, maine kaha aapko air conditioned caron ki aadat hai, mere paas car nahi hai, agar scooter par baithne mein koyi dikkat na ho toh chalo. Woh bole ek muddat se scooter par nahi baitha hoon – chalo maza aayega. Hotel ke baahar unki jhalak paane ke liye bheed jama thi, logon ke beech se guzarte hue unke isteqbal ka jawab apni muskaan se dene mere scooter tak aaye, peeche mud kar awaam ko khuda hafiz kaha aur scooter par baith gaye – log badi hairat se ye manzar dekh rahe the. Sabse pehle hum Tajul Masjid pahunche uske baad Badi Jheel ki sair karate hue hotel Imperial Savre ki lawn mein jaa baithe. Bhopal ke kudrati manazir ki khoobsurati se Maqbool bhai bahut mutaassir hue.

Iqbal Maidan Mein Goonji Awaaz

Doosri baar Maqbool bhai SAARC deshon ke ek program ke tahat Bhopal aaye. October 1992 mein Tagore Hall ke khule manch par unhone qawwaliyon ka jaadu jagaya. Is baar unka qayaam Ashoka Lake View mein tha, jahan ki balcony se woh Badi Jheel ke khoobsurat manazir ka nazara karke bahut khush hue. Meri thodi si koshish se Urdu academy ke liye Iqbal Maidan mein Bhopal ek program dene par woh raazi ho gaye aur doosre din Iqbal Maidan ke khule manch par hazaaron shaikeen jhoom uthe. Is baar main Sabri Brothers ko Bhopal ke Van Vihar ki sair ke liye le gaya, jahan unhone safed sher se bhi ankhen milayi.

Is Baar Nahin Aaye Ghulam Farid

Teesri baar Sabri Brothers 2005 mein Bhopal aaye lekin is baar party mein ek badi kami thi, woh yeh ki Maqbool Sabri ke bhai Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri dunia se rukhsat ho chuke the aur Maqbool Sabri bhi kaafi beemar the. Ek sadak haadse ki wajah se unke ek pair mein rod dali hui thi, dil aur sugar ke mareez the, kaafi kamzor nazar aaye. Main subah jab unse hotel mein jaakar mila, toh dil hi dil mein raat ko hone waale program ki kaamyabi ke liye kuch mashkook tha. Raat hui Motilal Stadium ka manch jagmaga raha tha, Maqbool Sabri aur unke humnawa apne purviqar andaz mein dais par awaam ko apni awaaz aur kalaam se mahzooz karne ke liye rounak afroz hue. Jab program shuru hua toh Maqbool Sabri ki awaaz ne usi ghan garaz sur aur taal se kalaam pesh kiye jo maine 1977 mein sune the. Is fankaar ki awaaz aur fan mein koyi kami nahi paayi. Is daure mein Maqbool bhai ki bimaari ki wajah se is baar unke saath unki begum, teen betiyan aur ek beta bhi aaye.

Rahi Khat – O – Kitaabat

Sabri Brothers aksar mujhe khat likhte the aur telephone par bhi baatein hoti thi. 28 February 1979 ki likhe ek khat mein unhone apne walid ke inteqal ki khabar di. Yahan se jaane ke baad unke programon ki cutting aur photo main unhe bhej diya karta tha. 28 December 1992 ko likhe ek khat mein unhone likha tha ki “Van Vihar mein safed sher ke saath jo photo aapne bheja hai who bahut pasand aaya”. Ab duniya mein woh sirf apni khoobsurat awaaz aur yaadon ka silsila chhod gaye hain.

Warq tamaam hua mudda baaqi hai,
Safina chahiye is behre beqaraan ke liye

English Translation

Emotional Bond of the Kings of Qawwali, Sabri Brothers with the city of Bhopal

Ghulam Farid Sabri and his younger brother Maqbool Ahmed Sabri who took the art of qawwali to greatest heights, achieved such fame in the name of Sabri Brothers that no one else could achieve earlier. After the death of elder brother Ghulam Farid in 1994, the whole responsibility of their group fell on Maqbool Sabri who too fulfilled it admirably. Maqbool Sabri also passed away in South Africa following a heart attack on 21 September, 2011.

With the passing away of Ghulam Farid Sabri and then Maqbool Ahmed Sabri, the top line of the Sabri Brothers’ qawwali era came to an end. The Sabri Brothers who brought a special recognition to qawwali, had an emotional bond with the city of Bhopal. They had contacts with many people here and with whom they had relations, maintained them till the end. They always kept up correspondence with them. One such admirer of Sabri Brothers who had been in close association with them is Dr. Qamar Ali Shah. Here is an account by Dr. Qamar Ali Shah of the valuable times he spent with the Sabri Brothers, which are now remaining only as memories:

Sabri Brothers with fans in Bhopal

Maqbool Sabri was born on 12 October 1941 in a village called Kalyana in Rohtak district of Punjab. From a very young age he took training in music from his father Inayat Sabri. Maqbool Sabri was the one who composed all the qawwalies of Sabri Brothers. Their first qawwali “Mera Koyi Nahin Hai Tere Siva” brought them high recognition. Later, their other great works like “Tajdar E Haram Ho Nigaah E Karam”, “Bhar Do Jholi Meri Ya Mohammad”, “Naazan Hai Jis Par Husn Woh Husn E Rasool Hai” created a rage with the public and brought a soaring fame to them.

A Birthday Gift for Shakila Bano

The Sabri Brothers made a tour of India in 1977, when they were at the peak of their fame. During their stay in Mumbai, the whole film industry was immersed in their qawwalis so much that the shootings were halted for a few days.The whole nights were dedicated to the concerts of Sabri Brothers. During this tour, the Sabri Brothers also visited Bhopal. They sang qawwalis at Ramsons Hotel as a birthday gift to Shakila Bano Bhopali(famous female qawwali singer of Bhopal). It was at that time that I had the first chance to meet Sabri Brothers and the friendship thus started continued even later. Their stay during this visit was for three days and on the third day they performed for the public at Baab E Ali ground and spread the magic of their singing. Maqbool Sabri was as much of a jovial person as his expertise in music. It did not appear to me as a first meeting when I first met him. One day I told him that their qawwalis are available everywhere as cassettes and records, but I wanted something special in his voice which should be only with me. I requested him to sing a ghazal for me which I can record on tape recorder. He agreed and reclining on the bedstead sang a ghazal of Ahmed Faraz whose signature lines were:
“Tum Takalluf Ko Bhi Ikhlaas Samajhte Ho Faraz, (You mistake even formal manners for true feelings)
Dost hota nahi har haath milaane waala.” (Everyone who shakes your hand is not a friend)

Bhopal’s tour on Scooter

One day Maqbool Sabri said, “Come on, take me on a tour of this city”. I told him that he was used to air-conditioned cars and I didn’t have a car. If he didnt have any problem travelling on my scooter, then he could come. To that he said “It’s been a long time that I rode on a scooter. Come on, that will be great fun”. Outside the hotel there was a big crowd waiting to have a glimpse of him. Coming out from among them, he just kept smiling in return to their greetings. After reaching the scooter he turned back to say good-bye to them and then sat on my scooter. The crowd was watching this whole scene with great amazement.

First of all we went to Tajul Masjid and then making a tour of Badi Jheel (name of a lake) we went and sat in the lawn of Hotel Imperial Savre. Maqbool Sabri was very much pleased with the scenic beauty of Bhopal.

Sabri Brothers at Iqbal Maidan

Ghulam Farid Sabri (Left) and Haji Maqbool Sabri (Center) during their program at Tagore Hall (October 1992)

Next time Maqbool bhai visited Bhopal as part of a program of SAARC countries. In October 1992, the Sabri Brothers showed the magic of their qawwalis at the open auditorium of Tagore Hall. This time their stay was at Ashoka Lake View from where Maqbool Sabri had the beautiful view of Badi Jheel from the balcony and felt very happy. With a little effort from my side Maqbool Sabri agreed to perform at Iqbal Maidan for the Urdu Academy and the next day at open platform of Iqbal Maidan, thousands of admirers relished the music of Sabri Brothers. This time I took around Sabri Brothers to Van Vihar (famous national park in Bhopal), where they even saw the white tiger.

Absence of Ghulam Farid

Third time when the Sabri Brothers visited Bhopal in 2005, there was a great void. Maqbool Sabri’s elder brother Ghulam Farid Sabri had passed away and Maqbool Sabri himself was very sick. Because of a road accident, rods were fitted in his leg. He was also not well with his ailing heart and diabetes and appeared very weak. When I went to meet him in the morning, I was apprehensive of the success of the program in the evening. In the evening, the stage at Motilal Stadium was shining brightly in the lights. Maqbool Sabri with his companions set on to entertain the audience with the beauty of his voice and poems in his full graceful style. When the program started, Maqbool Sabri’s voice echoed with its old thunderous magnificence and presented the poems with the same perfection and melody which I heard far back in 1977. There was no change in this artist’s voice and musical perfection. During this tour, Maqbool Sabri was accompanied by his wife, three daughters and son because of his health condition.

Continuation of Correspondence

Sabri Brothers used to write to me frequently and we also used to have conversations on telephone. In a letter written on 28 February 1979, they informed me of the death of their father. When they went back after peforming here, I used to send them paper cuttings of their programs and photographs. When Maqbool Sabri wrote to me on 28 December 1992, he mentioned “I very much liked the photograph of VanVihar with the white tiger which you sent to me”. Now he has only left his beautiful voice and memories to this world.

“Warq tamaam hua muddaa baaqi hai (Page is complete but the matter is still remaining)
Safina chahiye is behre beqaraan ke liye (It requires a ship for this endless sea)

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