Maqbool Ahmed Sabri: Saying goodbye

With the demise of renowned qawwal Maqbool Ahmed Sabri, all eyes are on his nephew Amjad Sabri.

Rafay Mahmood September 22, 2011


Renowned qawwal Maqbool Ahmed Sabri — popular for the masterpieces “Tajdar-e-Haram”, “Bhar Do Jholi Meri”, “Aye hain Tere Dar Par” — passed away in South Africa on Wednesday due to cardiac arrest. The legendary singer, who was being treated in a hospital in South Africa for two months, had been suffering from heart problems and diabetes.

Although Maqbool’s qawwal party included many members of the Sabri family, the group was mainly led by Maqbool and his brother Ghulam Farid Sabri. The versatile singer not only sang qawwalis but also earned a niche for himself as a ghazal and geet singer.

Born in a low-income family in the city of Kalyana, India, in 1941, Maqbool received his early education from his father Ustad Inayat Sen Sabri, who trained his sons in qawwali and North Indian classical music. He then formed his own qawwali group at the young age of 11 and later in 1958, Maqbool, along with his late brother Ghulam Farid Sabri, released their first recording of Urdu qawwali “Mera Koi Nahin Hai” under the EMI Pakistan label. This marked the beginning of the Sabri Brothers’ road to fame.

The brothers had an international appeal and were one of the first ones to introduce qawwalis to the West when they performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1975.

The loss of Maqbool is felt by the entire nation and especially by his followers and juniors in the music industry.

“I was in the seventh grade when I had just learnt to play the keyboard and one day a family member introduced me to Maqbool Sabri. Despite my nervousness and hesitation, the legendary singer said to me, ‘Please get your baja (keyboard) and start playing with me’. To date, that moment gives me inspiration to work harder,” says Ahsan Bari, upcoming music producer and a faculty member at Neem Tree School of Music. “Even if you couldn’t understand the language, his style of singing was good enough to bring you the message clearly; only legends can do that.”

Meanwhile, Khalid Khan, renowned bass player and also a member of former band Aaroh, now looks to Maqbool’s nephew, Amjad Sabri, to fill the void. “I have grown up listening to Sabri Sahab and his demise is a loss to world music more than Pakistani music. All eyes are on Amjad Sabri to carry the true form of qawwali music to the next generation.”

Pop singer Abbas Ali Khan says, “Qawwali, in its true form, will be lost, as modern day artists have commercialised Sufi music so much that it fails to exist in its true form. It was only people like Maqbool Sahab who had the ability to give a new life to Sufi poetry.”

Meanwhile, singer Mohsin Raza Khan, popularly known as Bunny, compares the late qawwal to another legend; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. “The Sabri brothers were the trendsetters of qawwali in the world; even Nustrat Fateh Ali Khan came very late. One thing that everyone can learn from Maqbool Sahab’s life is that sheer hard work can take you places. Maqbool Sabri was a mascot of Pakistani culture in the global community and with his departure we have lost a representative,” laments Bunny, who also looks to Amjad to carry this legacy forward.

Feeling the pressure and burden that has fallen on him, Amjad is seeking support and prayers from his fans so he can live up to the high expectations which have been set. “I know the burden is very heavy; both in terms of his demise and the job he has left for me. I request fans all over the world to pray for Maqbool Sahab’s peaceful journey and also that God gives me the strength to carry on from where he left.”
(With additional information from Daily Express)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2011.


Maqbool Ahmed Sabri's big fan | 9 years ago | Reply

@Asif Haye Lahoree: You are very fortunate MashAllah, Sabri sahaab had great loved ones all over the world.. he was a man who truly treasured relations.. we all will feel is loss in our lifetimes. May Allah give all his loved ones Sabr inshAllah.

Asif Haye Lahoree | 10 years ago | Reply

Haji Maqbool Ahmed Shah Sabri has been acquanted with the Lahoree family since 1977.After his 1991 tour of South Africa our relationship was further strengthened.In 1996 Maqbool Saab settled in Cape Town,South Africa.He held many programmes at our fam,ily residences.In 2002 he returned to Pakistan.In 2007 he graced the wedding of my daughter and stayed with our family till August 2007 when he returned to Pakistan.In April 2011 he again graced the marriage of my son.He spent 5 weeks together with his younger brother Mehmood and it was the most memorable 5 weeks when basically every night Maqbool Saab would sit with us and be part of the singing.His FINAL show was on 30 April where he dressed in his usual Sherwani and lent his melodious voice,even with all the pains he had,to the mehfil.Our family members graced the wedding of his daughter Kinza in Cape Town on 3 July 2011.At my last greeting of the legendary Maqbool Saab on 4 July will be treasured for the rest of my life.His last words when he left on 1 May from our residence was"mujhe yaa se mat jaana" When he was admitted hospital on 20Sept I was informed immediately.On tuesday night I enquired about his condition and was told that he is not well.I planned to fly on Thursday 22 but on Wednesday the sad news was conveyed to me at 3.00pm.My wife and I left immediately flew to Cape Town to console the family & assisted in getting the family together with the body of Maqbool Saab to fly to Pakistan.I pray that Allah showers the grave and soul of the great Maqbool Saab with Noor and grant him a great status in Jannah.

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ


Most Read