After months of soul-searching, Shiraz Uppal is back to music

Published: January 3, 2013

The musician says performing at the World Peace Concert convinced him to return. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

LAHORE: 

Musician Shiraz Uppal has made waves with his melodious voice; his songs such as Tera Te Mera, Mann Ja Ve and Roya Re were frequently played on music and radio channels and earned him quite a fan following. So last year in March, when Uppal quit the music scene to embark on a spiritual journey in the name of religion, his admirers and music lovers were stunned that after the exit of stars like Junaid Jamshed, Najam Sheraz and Ali Haider from the music scene, another talented artist would no longer be making music. Now here’s the good news: Uppal has returned to the music scene and will be delivering soul-searching music once again.

When announcing his exit, Uppal had said that the industry seemed “stale” to him, and that he kept falling ill in a “strange” manner because of late night rehearsals. But in a recent interview with The Express Tribune, Uppal explained that he started studying the religious implications of music in Islam. “There were varied views on the applicability of music in Islam; some Islamic scholars argue that music is strictly prohibited,” he said. He continued, saying that music is his life and passion and that giving it up was a radical change for him. “I had forced myself to give up something that I had done for 22 years.”

Musician Shiraz Uppal

Justifying his return to music, Uppal said: “My point is, look at Pakistan or Saudi Arabia — they are Islamic countries; they have anthems that incorporate music or tunes. Even our army marches to the beat of a drum!”

Uppal, who is usually a subdued and quiet person, spoke fervently about his decision to come back. He explained that his wife was also being treated for cancer while he spent his time away from music. It was during this period that he left everything and moved to America, where he stayed for several months. His famed SU studios, where leading artists such as Atif Aslam, Noori and Fariha Parvez recorded their music, was liquidated and sold in a short period of time.

“I sold everything for the price of peanuts,” says Uppal, who has upgraded and breathed new life into his studio. “While in America, I saw the way music was being used; it was seen as a cure for illnesses, so I started to question myself: how could music be bad?”

While he was in America in, he received a call from AR Rahman, who asked him to participate in the One World Peace concert in October 2012. He told Uppal that they would sing two qawwalis, Kun Faya Kun and Khwaja Meray Paas in a 10 minute set. It was at this concert that Uppal realised the power music has in promoting humanity, he said.

“I realised that God has gifted me with music to communicate with people. As a Pakistani, how many people have had the opportunity to perform in a World Peace Concert? ” he asks.

“There was nothing wrong with my songs; they were just romantic songs that were delivering a message of peace and love. I write the romantic songs for my wife,” he said with a smile.

“Regardless of wealth and worldly possessions, I still felt that I lacked inner peace,” says Uppal. “I related [this feeling] to music; I thought I was doing something wrong.”

Following the World Peace Concert, Uppal returned from the US. Having set up his studio again, Uppal says that he has several projects in the pipeline; foremost is his personal album. “I have to come up with my new album because it’s been a while and there is a lot of music left inside,” says Uppal. While he did not specify when the release is scheduled, he does give glad tidings by saying that his doors are now open and that he will be producing music as well.

“I learnt one thing while I was away, which is never disclose your projects until they are done, when they finish the world will know about them,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2013.                

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Reader Comments (28)

  • Ahmed
    Jan 3, 2013 - 9:20PM

    This justification of his seems very feeble, just because saudi government has music in their anthem, doesn’t mean their Ulema agrees that music is halal, for anything there seems a disagreement on this issue between ulemas of Hijaz and government itself.

    My point being: don’t change religion to befit your needs.

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  • Sameer
    Jan 3, 2013 - 9:53PM

    We love you man, welcome back and hope to hear you soon.

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  • Jan 3, 2013 - 10:09PM

    i agree with Ahmed

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  • Khurram Malik
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:27PM

    The issue of music and Singing is debatable. According to Ghamdi and many Islamic Scholars in Pakistan and in Arab World music is absolutely allowed but within the limits as you should not disturb your neighborhood with loud noise and also Music should only be done for good causes and then there is nothing wrong in good music.

    @Ahmed: According to many School of thoughts in Islam music is absolutely allowed given its use is for good purposes. Only in Wahabi or Deobandi Islam it is totally forbidden while in Brelvi Islam which Most of the Pakistanis follow Music is not forbidden at all and there has been instances in Hazrat Muhammad’s ( PBUH) time when music was played and no one was forbidden.
    KIndly do study the detailed reasoning that why Music is allowed by *Javed Ghamdi* if you dont follow Wahabism and Deobandism and then everything will be clearer to you.Recommend

  • Yasiry2j
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:33PM

    What if Saudi’s king dosen’t offer Salah? so will you stop praying too ? lame excuse…. Music is clearly mentioned in Hadith as not for Muslims. If your excuse is that you only follow Quran and not Hadith, guess what the way you offer Salah is never mentioned in Quran and its taken from Hadith.

    I am not Judging any one’s belief here, May ALLAH give us all Hidaya

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  • Ahsan Shamim
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:38PM

    While you are free to do what you want Shiraz, please don’t confuse others on Islam.Using religion for personal benefit is something our politicians already master in and we dont need further examples. Good luck with soul searching and may Allah guide all of us.

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  • Bablu
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:59PM

    Well I was studying Islam and there is clearly mentioned about one Messenger Known as David in Quran and he was given Book of Psalms ( Zabur ) and people used to sing and David used to play music Instruments and if somebody have a problem then they can refer to Quran and Hadees. So if David ( Hazrat Daud ) can sing and he was the Messengar of Allah then how come it is totally Haram in Islam. In Sahih Bukhari it is clearly mentioned that two Ansar girls were singing in front of Our Nabi pbih and one Sahabi tried to stop them and our Nabi did not allowed that Sahabi to stop singing.
    Many People now a days have complicated Islam.
    People like Mr Ahmed who think that any Interpretation their Scholars will give is right and we are all wrong and they forgot to study Islamic history when Muslim warriors used to play Duff with Poetry before the fight and they used to celebrate with Musical Instrument of Arab known as Daff that is still played by Arabs and in Saudia Arabia on almost all Ocassions.

    Also if Music is Haraam then Why Sufis of India spreaded Islam by Music and in Sindh and Punjab Sufis used to attract people by Singing about Allah with Musical Instruments and I am afraid Fundamentalist followers will soon give a Fatwa that all Sufis of the Sub Continents were doing Haraam things and all people who became Muslims by them are actually Non Muslims.Recommend

  • Bablu
    Jan 3, 2013 - 10:59PM

    Well I was studying Islam and there is clearly mentioned about one Messenger Known as David in Quran and he was given Book of Psalms ( Zabur ) and people used to sing and David used to play music Instruments and if somebody have a problem then they can refer to Quran and Hadees. So if David ( Hazrat Daud ) can sing and he was the Messengar of Allah then how come it is totally Haram in Islam. In Sahih Bukhari it is clearly mentioned that two Ansar girls were singing in front of Our Nabi pbih and one Sahabi tried to stop them and our Nabi did not allowed that Sahabi to stop singing.
    Many People now a days have complicated Islam.
    People like Mr Ahmed who think that any Interpretation their Scholars will give is right and we are all wrong and they forgot to study Islamic history when Muslim warriors used to play Duff with Poetry before the fight and they used to celebrate with Musical Instrument of Arab known as Daff that is still played by Arabs and in Saudia Arabia on almost all Ocassions.

    Also if Music is Haraam then Why Sufis of India spreaded Islam by Music and in Sindh and Punjab Sufis used to attract people by Singing about Allah with Musical Instruments and I am afraid Fundamentalist followers will soon give a Fatwa that all Sufis of the Sub Continents were doing Haraam things and all people who became Muslims by them are actually Non Muslims.Recommend

  • Rahim
    Jan 3, 2013 - 11:20PM

    @Ahmed So jow can you define that only you know Islam and all others are wrong. The fundamentals of Islam in Punjab and Sindh came from Sufis and you know how Sufis actually spreaded the message and we know it was music that was their tool to tell their message and yes music was the cause of Islam here and now it is Hraam? Also i would request you to study someday who was David in Quran and what wa Book of Psalms. Also kindly study that Daff was played during Nabis time and no one said to stop it.

    Kindly allow Sufi and Brelvis to live in Pakistan that is now the soul property of Wahabis only and also dont consider Islam as your soul property.

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  • Moosa Khan
    Jan 3, 2013 - 11:56PM

    I am delighted to see one of my best and favorite singers back after losing Cat Stevens and Junaid. You made my day with this wonderful gift of the year.
    Despite of all religious comments of do and don’ts, a good talent is given for a reason. Alas, all such get lost due to orthodoxy of ill-minded people around.

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  • Whatif
    Jan 4, 2013 - 12:00AM

    @Ahsan Shamim Oh i dont know that Islam is a patent of some people and any different interpretation is not allowed at all and now you think Islam is like one and only one at all. My dear friend Islam have various interpretations and you cannot claim that you are the only truthful. Even in Some Sects you can marry a 9 year old Girl and You are strictly forbidden not to eat with a Non Muslim as they are dirty so tell me will you follow those points or tell us Brelvis that we are wrong if we say otherwise.??? Thanks God that you people were not there when Sufis were Preaching with Tabla, Tumbi and with Qawalli in the Sub Continent as I am sure all Sufis would be considered Apostates by You and would be bound to death if they even claim to be related to Islam when they were preaching with Music!!!!!
    Even Baba Bullay Shah once said that for him Humanity is above everything and he wants to demolish Every Church, Mundar, Mosque as God dont need these structures to be remembered and live in this world and i am sure Baba Bullay Shah is the biggest blasphemer of all time according to new Fundamentalism wave and surely for you followers of Sufi Islam are the biggest deviants on the planet.Recommend

  • salmanzq
    Jan 4, 2013 - 12:10AM

    Thank God you returned to sanity

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  • Pakistani in US
    Jan 4, 2013 - 12:35AM

    Shiraz, It’s your life to live, so there is no no need to explain to people how you want to live it. I have no problem with people leaving music but the example JJ set and few others (including you) followed to bring religion into public discourse falls into exploitation (consciously or unconsciously). Religion is supposed to be a private matter and should be between you and your God. The gimmickry of divine enlightenment and then raiwind style preaching is the most shallow form of submission that I can think of.

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  • Adnan Khan
    Jan 4, 2013 - 12:43AM

    Welcome back Shiraz.. look forward to hear your music soon.. not to forget you ever classic Levis collection in videos I always get inspired ;))

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  • Danish
    Jan 4, 2013 - 1:24AM

    You made absolutely right decision Sheraz!

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  • FJ
    Jan 4, 2013 - 1:44AM

    Your life, your choice!

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  • Muhammad Ehsan Elahi
    Jan 4, 2013 - 3:51AM

    What I can say other than that you were on the right path, I heard your 45 minutes interview at that time but again you are away. You must not give yourself lame excuses for singing. If you want to do it, do but dont be confused again this time as you were before Sheraz.

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  • Rana
    Jan 4, 2013 - 9:57AM

    Choosing the righteous path is quite simple but it’s rather difficult to stay committed!!

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  • Rooheena
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:02AM

    hypocrite

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  • Infinity
    Jan 4, 2013 - 10:03AM

    Great! No matter what the justification for his coming back I am glad he got rid of religious delusion and came back to reality! Religion has been against art and science in general. Anything that liberates the human soul is branded as sinful by religions.

    But only those who have an eye for truth and a heart that can guide them can realize this. Welcome back to life Uppal! Keep the music flowing

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  • Zulfiqar Ali
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:23AM

    Well tbh .. When he came to the United States .. He wanted to stay .. Forever.. So his lawyers suggested that he could start a business .. & through that business, he could get citizenship.. So he starting looking for a Business to buy ( stores ) .. After much disappointment .. Mainly Because of the price issue ( nuttin ix cheap here ) .. He went back ..
    True Story .. I know more .. Dont want to embarrass him ..

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  • omair shahid
    Jan 4, 2013 - 2:37PM

    @Muhammad Ehsan Elahi:
    i agree with Muhammad Ehsan it’s your life & your decision if you want to do it do it but dont give lame excuses for singing. be straight forward

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  • Ibrahim Bilal
    Jan 4, 2013 - 3:38PM

    Good God, Thankyou for coming back. The allowance of music is still debated in the cirlces of muslim scholars. I personally dont understand why music is forbidden. Music if used with clean lyrics can touch souls and gives a peace of mind. Welcome back Shiraz

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  • a.m.
    Jan 4, 2013 - 11:12PM

    a.o.a.
    This is your life .and only u answerable to allha.i
    pray allha safe u and your family.

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  • Ali S
    Jan 5, 2013 - 8:29PM

    More like after months of wallet-searching..

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  • Good Friend
    Jan 7, 2013 - 3:12AM

    test

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  • Tongue
    Jan 8, 2013 - 11:57AM

    @omair shahid:
    Agreed

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  • Faizan Shaikh
    Mar 2, 2013 - 9:16PM

    Like many people said, your life your choice. So do what you want but don’t mix things up by justifying it with whatever you think right……Also, many people here are somewhat expressing their own believes of Islam is this and Islam is that. That is the main problem in our country unfortunately. No matter what we do or what we don’t, we always have an explanation / justification for it…………….. May Allah guide us to the right path…Ameen

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