KARACHI: Renowned Qawwal Amjad Sabri was shot dead in Karachi Wednesday afternoon, after unknown gunmen fired at his vehicle in the city's Liaquatabad area.
Sabri, 45, and an associate were travelling in a car in Liquatabad 10 area, when unidentified gunmen fired at their vehicle, critically injuring him. The two were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed hospital immediately, where Sabri succumbed to his injuries.
Ghulam Ahmed, an eye witness told SAMAA TV he saw two motorcycle riding men fire shots at one side of the car. “Then they turned and fired four shots on the other side of the car.”
Additional police surgeon Dr Rohina Hasan confirmed Sabri's demise. He was shot thrice – twice in the head and once on the ear – police sources said.
Amjad Sabri was one of the country’s finest qawwals, known for his soul-stirring renditions of mystic poetry. He enthralled music aficionados with his brand of spirituality, mysticism and ecstasy for years. He was not only well-versed with the structure and aesthetics of qawwali but also knew how to make it adaptive to the contemporary music keeping its essence alive.
Amjad Sabri and blasphemy
As reported in 2014 by Dawn, the Islamabad Hight Court (IHC) issued a notice in a blasphemy case to Geo News and ARY for the playing of a qawwali during a morning show.
The show had mixed a mock wedding with a traditional qawwali sung by Amjad Sabri related to religious figures, that was considered offensive.
After a blasphemy case registered on Geo News, advocate Tariq Asad had put the onus on Qawwal Amjad Sabri and poet Aqeel Mohsin Naqvi for the blasphemy row while seeking to ban the Qawwali that caused the issue.
The Sabri legacy
Amjad Sabri was the nephew of qawwali icon Maqbool Sabri who passed away in 2011.
Maqbool Sabri along with his brother, the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, formed a formidable qawwali group in the mid-50s and became known for their soul-stirring renditions of arifana kalam (mystic poetry).
Maqbool’s nephew Amjad Sabri — who was tragically shot dead today in Karachi — was keeping the family tradition alive and was one of the most sought-after qawwals of the country.
Almost whatever the Sabri brothers sang became an instant hit. But some of their most memorable and famous qawwalis were Bhar Do Jholi Meri, Tajdar-i-Haram and Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa.
They were equally well-versed in compositions made in the Persian language and sang Nami Danam Che Manzil Bood with equal ease and facility. The brothers’ rendition of Hazrat Amir Khusrau’s kalam was one of their marked areas of excellence.