Tag Archives: Qawwali

Rizwan-Muazzam with Cerys Matthews

High profile national press coverage for Rizwan-Muazzam tour

Our mission is to extend the boundaries of South Asian music and introduce artists to a wider audience.

On our latest tour with Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwals, we were delighted to secure high profile media coverage for the Sufi maestros. Read on to find out more and to listen again!

BBC RADIO 4 – Loose Ends

The Qawwals began the tour with a visit to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London. They performed a live performance on BBC Radio 4’s flagship arts and culture programme Loose Ends, hosted by Clive Anderson.

They performed the poignant Qawwali, Biba Sada Dil Mor De. Listen here.

Watch a snippet of the performance:



Following their live performance on Loose Ends, Rizwan-Muazzam did an interview for Waqas Saeed’s BBC Asian Network show, chatting about Qawwali music and the upcoming tour.

Rizwan-Muazzam at Loose Ends

BBC RADIO 6 Music – Cerys Matthews

Rizwan, Muazzam and our Director Jaswinder Singh joined Cerys in the BBC 6 Music studio on 17th March to pre-record an extensive interview about Sufi music, Rizwan-Muazzam and the tour. Cerys’ then discussed the tour on her 24th March show, with the full interview due to be broadcast on Sunday 7th April – you can listen again here.

Cerys’ show is hugely popular with music lovers throughout the UK and it was a wonderful opportunity to introduce Sufi music and Rizwan-Muazzam to a wider audience.

Rizwan and Muazzam with Radio 6’s Cerys Matthews:

RMQ at Radio 6 with Cerys Matthews


Our Director and tour producer, Jaswinder Singh, had a great chat on air with BBC Radio Leeds’ Rav Basra. Listen to Jaswinder describing Qawwali music and introducing Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwals here.

iWeekend – five best this weekend

We were delighted to see the iWeekend national paper pick Rizwan-Muazzam in their ‘five best this weekend’ culture feature.

Eastern Eye – double page feature

Ahead of the UK tour, Eastern Eye entertainment editor Asjad Nazir interviewed Rizwan and Muazzam for a double page spread feature, and included the tour in his ‘top picks’ throughout the tour. It was great to receive  support from Britain’s number 1 Asian weekly newspaper.

Songlines Magazine

Songlines featured the tour in its April 2019 edition, saying “rare tour from Pakistani legends”.

This is a just a selection of the media coverage received for this tour. Rizwan and Muazzam also did interviews with many local and specialist asian press before and throughout the tour.

Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwals toured the UK from 16 -31 March 2019, produced and managed by Asian Arts Agency.

Find out more here

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Rizwan-Muazzam Tour - March 2017

Beautiful Qawwalis – 5 you may not have heard!

The ancient art of Qawwali is centuries old. Although Qawwali is becoming an increasingly popular genre in World Music, there are some beautiful Qawwalis which are not as exposed. Songs of love, both requited and unrequited, Qawwali has been a special form of music for expressing a mystical emotion. We searched out 5 not so well known Qawwalis for you to get to know.

Kanhaiya Yaad Hai

This Qawwali sings of the intense separation from the Beloved, Krishna.  The lover asks, “Tell me Krishna, do you remember me at all?” The mood of intense love and separation is an important part of the Bhakti (devotional) tradition. This devotional song was written by Nawab Sadiq Jang Hilm of Hyderabad.

Kaisa Naach Nachaaya Dhola

Sung by acclaimed Qawwals Fariduddin Ayaz & Abu Mohammed, this Qawwali describes the marvels of God walking on Earth in human form. The theme of the individual being dependent on God’s will and the exploration of leela, or divine play, are the theme of this Qawwali.

Ae Ri Sakhiri Morey Khwaja Ghar Aaye

Fariduddin Ayaz, Abu Mohammed and party perform “Ae Ri Sakhiri Morey”. This Qawwali is a composition by Amir Khusro, the founder of Qawwali. Khusro sings in praise of his beloved master in the mood of devotion and longing.

Teri Soorat Nigahon Mein


Aziz Mian is a Qawwali icon. He was the only prominent Qawal to write his own lyrics. His raspy voice made him a distinctive Qawal. In this qawwali, “Teri Soorat Nigahon Mein”, the lover expresses utmost loyalty to the Beloved: I died, but my eyes refused to close.
That was the height of waiting.

Sohne Mukhre Da Lain De Nazara

The fifth Qawwali chosen is by the iconic and arguably most well known Qawwal, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  In the Qawwali, Sohne Mukhre De Lain De Nazara, the lover asks the Beloved, what will it cost to catch a glance of your beautiful face?

Experience the magic of Qawwali

We are looking forward to presenting the torchbearers of the Qawwali tradition, Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwals in concert this March. The nephews of the great Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan will be performing in 8 different cities across the UK.

We hope you can join us and experience the magic of Qawwali, live in the UK!


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Rizwan Muazzam performing on stage

Love Opera? Why not try Qawwali

Opera lover? Fan of Pavarotti’s high notes? Or perhaps Maria Callas’ high notes and dramatic interpretation? Then Qawwali is the art form to explore in 2019.

Origins & Similarity

With roots deep in 13th century India, breathtaking vocal versatility and emotive tone, Qawwali carries centuries deep tradition. Traditionally performed in Sufi shrines, the lyrics of Qawwali carry strong tones of love and devotion. Often, there is ambiguity on whether the Beloved is of human or divine origins.

Opera holds its origins in 17th century Italy and interestingly, the themes were based on mythological stories. The first opera to be performed was Orfeo by Monteverdi in Italy 1607.  Three hundred years later, the opera was performed in London at Scala Theatre.

Act 1 of Orfeo, above.

Often parallels were drawn in opera between the mythical heroes and present day rulers – similar to the ambiguous divine tone of Qawwali lyrics.

Phenomenal Vocal Versatility

A versatile vocal range is key in opera and Qawwali. Pavarotti is certainly one of the most important figures in classical music. His vocal range is dizzying!

A key figure putting Qawwali on the world music map is Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.  Possessing a 6 octave range, he could perform at high levels of intensity for several hours.

Watch Nusrat performing Qawwali classic, Akhiyan Udeek Diya (My eyes eagerly wait for you).

Classical Singing

Alike to western classical music, a Qawwali singer learns how to use their voice from an early age and the musical training takes years of dedicated hard work. Trained from a young age, Nusrat was born into a family of singers and musicians, hailing from Afghanistan and migrating to India in the 11th century.

Some in the west may feel that the classical element in music is becoming lost and ignored by contemporary generations. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan certainly felt concern. He remarked to the Herald: “To my understanding, people run away from the name of classical songs.”  Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a strong advocate  and believed in “the revival of pure classical singing”  (Herald).

He received training in classical singing himself and his belief in classical music has ensured that Qawwali, an ancient art form, will not be lost in time.

Watch Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan perform a dramatic and melancholic ode to love

Dramatic Performances

Dramatic performances are an important part of opera. Maria Callas is a name in the opera world which epitomises dramatic interpretation and many critics praised her for dramatic performances. The name La Divina  was hailed upon her partly due to her gift for dramatic interpretation.

Watch Maria Callas perform Bizet’s Carmen Habanera, Hamberg 1962

And dramatic performances are present in Qawwali too. With lyrics in poetic Urdu, Farsi or Punjabi, one need not understand linguistically as it’s the heart strings they tug at.

Qawwali performances are hypnotic and moving. The rhythmic clapping and pulsing music builds to a mesmerising crescendo, with vocal repetition and vocal intensity often inducing a state of ecstasy amongst performers and audiences alike.

Torchbearers of an ancient tradition

Brothers Rizwan and Muazzam are nephews of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and were tutored by him before his passing in 1997. Having been trained up in the tradition, Rizwan and Muazzam are torchbearers of this ancient classical art form, and have dedicated their lives to studying, performing and sharing Qawwali music with the world. Lead singer Muazzam Ali Khan’s vocal range and dexterity is also astounding – and he has certainly inherited the family’s incredible vocal talent.

Watch Rizwan Muazzam perform Qawwali, Halka Suroor

Don’t miss the chance to hear Qawwali performed by Rizwan-Muazzam.

We hope to see you at one of their concerts in March!


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Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - the King of Qawwali performing live.

Qawwali Classics | Top 5 Selection

We have now announced full tour dates for Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali’s UK tour. Looking forward to Summer 2022, in the second of our blogs about Qawwali, we bring you our Qawwali classics top 5 by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Nephews of legendary Qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rizwan-Muazzam are carrying the bright family legacy of Qawwali and alongside other Qawwali songs, will likely perform some of these Qawwali classics top 5 in March.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, also known as the King of Qawwali, is considered to be the most important Qawwal in history. He is an icon who put Qawwali on the World Music map and many consider to be one of the greatest singers of all time.

Qawwali, a sacred art form, takes the listener on a journey through its profound lyrics and hypnotic rhythm. Some Qawwalis become classics that are impossible to listen to just once.

This selection is an example of such.

Check out our Top 5 Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Qawwali Classics
Yaadan Vichre Sajan Diyan Aayan

This performance of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was recorded in 1985, Harrow, UK. The breathtaking vocals clearly move the audience, who are first generation Indians in the UK. Valuable video, as clearly reflected is the close bond music provides to “home”.

PS. The child on stage is the now superstar Rahat Fateh Ali Khan!

“I Pine For My Beloved

My Eyes Are Pouring Rain.

People Remember God

I Can Only Remember You.

I Pine For You, I Pine For You.”


Akhiyan Udeek Dian

This performance was recorded at Birmingham Town Hall, UK, 1993. The lyrics to the popular qawwali were written by Khawaja Pervez, prominent Pakistani film composer-lyricist. NFAK composed the music himself for this Qawwali.

“Come Back O Lover

My Eyes Long For You.

My Heart Calls Out To You.

Since You Have Become Upset With Me

Even The Crows Have Forgotten How To Caw.”


Chap Tilak | A 14th century poem composed by Sufi Mystic, Amir Khusro

Sufi mystic Amir khusro composed Chap Tilak in the 14th century in honour of his Spiritual mentor, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. The poem emphasises love as beyond religion and cultural identity. Also expressed in the poem is the complete surrender in devotional love.

“My Belonging And Religion

Have Been Taken Away –

By Just One Glance Of Yours.

My fair and delicate wrists

With Green Bangles,

Are Held By Your Glance.”


Jay Tu Akhiyan 

A passionate Qawwali, the lyrics reflect heartbreak. The musical composition makes the intensity peak. Definitely a sad love song.


“If you aren’t to stay 

Then give me my heart back.

I trusted your love Completely

And gave you all my heart.”



This Qawaali has recently been revived in both the Qawwali and Bollywood world. However, watching the King of Qawwali perform this gem is something truly special. What a surprise that this Qawwali did not become as well known as it is now.

“O envy of the moon,

When our eyes first met – I was overjoyed.

The lightning struck and destroyed me.

The fire you ignited left me ecstatic”


This post would be incomplete if we did not include Mast Qalandar. Watch Rizwan-Muazzam perform the evergreen classic at our previous UK Tour. Just a small taster of what to experience live!

RIZWAN-MUAZZAM perform Mast Qalandar

“The darkness inside me  may it disappear, O Teacher

I have pinned my hopes on you, O Teacher

Listen to my plea today, O Teacher!”
Tickets for Rizwan Muazzam UK Tour 2019

Experience Qawwali in the UK with the torchbearers of the tradition, Rizwan-Muazzam.


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Rizwan-Muazzam performing Qawwali in March 2017

A Short Introduction to Qawwali

They say music has no language. And such is the magic of Qawwali. The unique essence of Qawwali can be felt by listeners both familiar and new.
A short introduction to Qawwali

Ahead of our upcoming UK Tour with the torchbearers of Qawwali,Pakistan’s RIZWAN-MUAZZAM, we explore the fascinating roots of the sacred tradition.

The beginnings of Qawwali

Qawwali began to emerge in 8th century Persia. However, Qawwali as we know today began to take shape in 13th century India. Credit is attributed to Sufi mystic saint, Amir Khusro, who is known as the “Father of Qawwali”.

Above: Amir Khusro. Image Credit: FamousPeople

What is Qawwali?

A fountain of inspiration for generations, Qawwali is more than music. It explores themes of love, devotion and feelings of separation from the beloved. Sometimes there is ambivalence towards whether the beloved is of human or divine nature.

Where is Qawwali sung?

Traditionally, Qawwali is sung within a Sufi shrine. Listen to a BBC Recording of Qawwali being sung at the Nizammudin Shrine in Delhi.   

The centuries old tradition of Qawwali is now shared beyond. Qawwali has in recent years been performed on prominent festival stages like WOMAD. RIZWAN-MUAZZAM performed Qawwali at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The intensity and poetic nature of the art form makes Qawwali a favourite choice in the Bollywood industry, the world’s largest film industry.

Famous Qawwals

A Qawwali singer is known as a Qawwal.

Famous Qawwals include Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sabri Brothers and Aziz Mian Qawwal.

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is highly revered as the King of Qawwali. He is widely considered to be the most important Qawwal in history. A key person who put Qawwali on the World Music map, Nusrat fateh Ali Khan had many honorary titles bestowed upon him and is an important icon worldwide.

RIZWAN-MUAZZAM, being the nephews of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, are carrying forward the ancestral legacy of Qawwali.

An Evolving Tradition

Qawwali was sung ordinarily only by men. However, women now sing Qawwali too and are recognised. Women Qawwals include Abida Parveen, Nooran Sisters and Sanam Marvi.

Abida Parveen is dubbed as the Queen of Sufi. The many accolades to her name include a life time achievement award presented by BBC Asian Network in 2016.

Above: Abida Parveen performing on Coke Studio

Live Qawwali

It is said that Qawwali has to be experienced to be believed. Expect to be taken on a musical journey through the hypnotic rhythm and entrancing vocals.

Above: Rizwan-Muazzam perform “Halka Suroor” at St George’s Bristol from our 2017 Tour

Tickets for Rizwan Muazzam UK Tour 2019

Experience Qawwali in the UK with the torchbearers of the tradition, Rizwan-Muazzam.


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