KARACHI: Thousands of mourners gathered in Karachi's Liaquatabad for the funeral of acclaimed Sufi singer and qawwali maestro Amjad Sabri whose death left the entire nation in mourning.
The famed qawwal has been buried next to his father at Paposhnagar graveyard, Nazimabad.
The funeral prayers for Sabri, which were held on the city's major Ibn-e-Sina thoroughfare, brought together large numbers of both Sunni and Shia Muslims, men and women, with many praising his devotional music, humble lifestyle and charitable work.
They killed him
Dozens of police and paramilitary Rangers on Thursday guarded the funeral procession winding its way down the road, as a sea of mourners, some wearing black armbands, others in coloured turbans that signified their sects, surrounded the ambulance carrying Sabri's body.
Many crowded to touch the ambulance, a gesture of reverence for the deceased.
Shops and businesses in the Liaquatabad and Nazimbad areas shut down for the day.
Mohammad Farooq Khan, a 36-year-old who contracted polio as a child, said he had walked 12 kilometres from the city's north on his crutches to attend the singer's last rites.
"Allah has brought to here to participate in the funeral of that great man," he said.
Another mourner Shaheen Iqbal said she had asked Sabri for help just days earlier. "He gave me rations for Ramazan and some money. He also promised to help me get a small apartment," she said, tearfully.
Amjad Sabri shot dead in Karachi
There is a communication gap between God and the people when legends like Amjad Sabri are taken away: Abida Parveen
Saddened by the untimely demise of Amjad Sabri, queen of sufi music Abida Parveen said, "Amjad Sabri was a living legend and there cannot ever be another Amjad."
"I was on very good terms with his late father Ghulam Farid Sabri and his uncle, in fact when there was a rift between the two, I was there to resolve it. The brothers put and end to the misunderstanding with the most beautiful qawwali, 'Mann Kunto Maula', which invoked spirituality within the people," Parveen told Express News.
"His voice was like his father's- it had the power to move people. It was God gifted."
Upon being asked who would carry on the Sabri legacy, Parveen reiterated that there cannot be another Sabri, however prayed to God that he produces another Amjad Sabri in one of his sons so that the message of God is not lost.
Amjad Sabri's final prayer
"Amjad used to pour his heart out into the sufi kalaam, and when people like him are taken away, a communication gap rises between God and the people as they become deprived of His message."
How can someone kill a person as innocent as Amjad Sabri, asks Sonu Nigam
Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam expressed condolence to Pakistan over the loss of Amjad Sabri.
"First of all I want to offer condolences to the Pakistani nation and the music fraternity over the loss of Amjad Sabri," the singing icon said.
Recalling his performance with Sabri in Karachi, Nigam said, "How can one justify the killing of a person as innocent as Amjad Sabri in the name of religion?"
Sabri was shot dead by motorcycle-borne gunmen in a central Karachi neighbourhood on Wednesday, triggering an outpouring of grief nationwide.
8 performances by Amjad Sabri that will leave you spellbound
The targeted killing came two days after masked men kidnapped the son of Sindh’s top judge from outside a supermarket in broad daylight in an upscale locality of the city.
Amjad Sabri, aged around 45, was travelling from his home to a television studio to attend an iftar transmission, when a motorcycle pulled up alongside his white coloured Honda Civic and the two riders opened fire, according to police.
Sabri’s killing was met with shock and condemnation. Friends, artistes, singers and fans congregated outside his home to offer condolences to his family, while TV channels broadcast recordings of his music in tribute.
The tragic killing left the family devastated. “My brother never wronged anyone. Why he was killed?” Sabri’s younger brother Talha Sabri said choking on his tears. “The Rangers and police have failed [to maintain peace] in Karachi,” he added. “If a person like my brother can be killed like this, what worst we can expect in this city.”
Some observers have said that Sabri may have been assassinated because he was a high-profile Sufi, a mystic Islamic order that believes in living saints, worships through music, and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups including the Taliban.
PM announces Rs10m for Sabri's family
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced Rs10 million in financial support to the family of late qawwal.
In a statement, he said the federal government will also bear the educational expenses of Sabri's children.