Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation of “Bhar Do Jholi”

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Sabri Brothers

Sufi music, that of the spiritual side of Islam, has long and rich history in South Asia. One of its major forms is qawwali (Urdu: قوالی), which originated at the shrines of Sufi saints centuries ago. The content of qawwalis is either religious or romantic poetry (or both, as per the Sufi influence). Those who sing qawwali are known as qawwals. A party of qawwals includes a lead singer (or two), accompanied by side singers, clappers, a harmonium or two, and tabla and dholak drums. Qawwali songs are traditionally very long, as they involve a lot of repetition of lyrics. They often begin slowly and increase in energy gradually. The singing of notes instead of words, sargam (Urdu: سرگم), is usually intertwined with the lyrics of the composition. Overall, qawwali is a mystical and hypnotic kind of music that can be spiritually awakening. It appeals to many people, and one need not be religious to appreciate it.

“Bhar Do Jholi” is a popular qawwali most famously performed by the late Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930-1994) and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945-2011), from Pakistan. It was written by Purnam Allahabadi and is mainly a praise of the Prophet Muhammad, though also of his companion Bilal and his grandson Hussein. Purnam Allahabadi (-2009) was the pen name of Mohammed Musa, a prolific Urdu poet, although the performers of his work have gained more fame than he has for it.

The poet/singer of this qawwali takes on the role of a beggar, coming to ask the Prophet Muhammad for food and/or money. Yet, this is only the surface meaning; he is not only begging for physical sustenance but for spiritual sustenance and redemption as well. I have translated the title phrase “bhar do jholi” as “fill my bag”, but that does not convey the meaning totally accurately. Here, “bag” refers to the lower portion of one’s upper garment that beggars fold upward from the bottom corners and hold to fill it with change. So, the narrator of the song is extending his garment out in front of Muhammad to metaphorically have it filled. He also sings in praise of the grandson of Muhammad, Hussein, who was martyred by the tyrant Yazid at the Battle of Karbala. Near the end, he praises Bilal, an Ethiopian slave who was freed by Muhammad’s friend, Abu Bakr, and was chosen by Muhammad to recite the adhan, which is the Islamic call to prayer.

شہِ مدینہ سنو اِلتجا خدا کے لئے
Shah-e-Madeena suno iltija Khuda ke liye
O King of Madinah, hear my plea, for God’s sake
کرم ہو مجھ پہ حبیبِ خدا، خدا کے لئے
karam ho mujh pe Habeeb-e-Khuda Khuda ke liye
Bestow your favor upon me, O Beloved of God, for God’s sake
حضور غنچۂ اُمّید اَب تو کھِل جائے
Huzoor ghuncha-e-ummeed ab to khil jaye
O Prophet, let the bud of my hopes blossom now
تمہارے در کا گدا ہوں تو بھیک مِل جائے
tumhaare dar ka gada hoon to bheek mil jaye
I am a pauper at your door, here to seek alms
بھر دو جھولی میری یا محمد
bhar do jholi meri ya Muhammad
Fill my bag, O Muhammad
لوٹ کر میں نہ جاؤں گا خالی
laut kar main na jaaoon ga khaali
I will not go back empty-handed

تمہارے آستانے سے زمانہ کیا نہیں پاتا
tumhaare aastane se zamaana kya naheen paata
What does the world not receive at your doorstep?
کوئی بھی در سے خالی مانگنے والا نہیں جاتا
koi bhi dar se khaali maangne waala naheen jaata
No one who comes asking at your door leaves empty-handed
بھر دو جھولی میری سرکارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Sarkaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Lord of Madinah
بھر دو جھولی میری تاجدارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Taajdaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Sovereign of Madinah
تم زمانے کے مختار ہو یا نبی
tum zamaane ke mukhtaar ho ya Nabi
You are the chosen one of the age, O Prophet
بیکسوں کے مددگار ہو یا نبی
bekason ke madadgaar ho ya Nabi
And the helper of the friendless, O Prophet
سب کی سنتے ہو اَپنے ہوں یا غیر ہوں
sab ki sunte ho apne hon ya ghair hon
You listen to everyone, whether they are your own or strangers
تم غریبوں کے غمخوار ہو یا نبی
tum ghareebon ke ghamkhwaar ho ya Nabi
You are the comforter of the poor, O Prophet
بھر دو جھولی میری سرکارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Sarkaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Lord of Madinah
بھر دو جھولی میری تاجدارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Taajdaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Sovereign of Madinah
ہم ہیں رنج و مصیبت کے مارے ہوئے
ham hain ranj o museebat ke maare huey
I am struck with grief and hardship
سخت مشکل میں ہیں غم سے ہارے ہوئے
sakht muskhil mein hain gham se haare huey
I am in great difficulty, defeated by sorrow
یا نبی کچھ خدا را ہمیں بھیک دو
ya Nabi kuchh Khuda-ra hamein bheek do
O Prophet, give me some alms for the sake of God
در پہ آئے ہیں جھولی پسارے ہوئے
dar pe aaey hain jholi pasaare huey
I have come to your door with my bag stretched open
بھر دو جھولی میری سرکارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Sarkaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Lord of Madinah
بھر دو جھولی میری تاجدارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Taajdaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Sovereign of Madinah
ہے مخالف زمانہ کدھر جائیں ہم
hai mukhaalif zamaana kidhar jaaein ham
The times are against me, where should I go?
حالتِ بیکسی کس کو دکھلائیں ہم
haalat-e-bekasi kis ko dikhlaaein ham
To whom should I show my state of helplessness?
ہم تمہارے بھکاری ہیں یا مصطفیٰ
ham tumhaare bhikaari hain ya Mustafa
I am your beggar, O Mustafa
کس کے آگے بھلا ہاتھ پھیلائیں ہم
kis ke aage bhala haath phailaaein ham
In front of whom else shall I spread my hands?
بھر دو جھولی میری سرکارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Sarkaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Lord of Madinah
بھر دو جھولی میری تاجدارِ مدینہ
bhar do jholi meri Taajdaar-e-Madeena
Fill my bag, Sovereign of Madinah

بھر دو جھولی میری یا محمد
bhar do jholi meri ya Muhammad
Fill my bag, O Muhammad
لوٹ کر میں نہ جاؤں گا خالی
laut kar main na jaaoon ga khaali
I will not go back empty-handed
کچھ نواسوں کا صدقہ عطا ہو
kuchh nawaason ka sadqa ata ho
Let me gain some of your grandsons’ charity
در پہ آیا ہوں بن کر سوالی
dar pe aaya hoon ban kar sawaali
I have come to your door to ask from you
حق سے پائی وہ شانِ کریمی
haq se paai woh shaan-e-kareemi
Rightfully you have attained your beneficent glory
مرحبا دونو عالم کے والی
marhaba Dono Aalam Ke Waali
Welcome, O Master of Both Worlds
اُس کی قسمت کا چمکا ستارہ
us ki qismat ka chamka sitaara
The star of fate shines upon
جس پہ نظرِ کرم تم نے ڈالی
jis pe nazar-e-karam tum ne daali
Whomever you look at with kindness and favor

زندگی بخش دی بندگی کو
zindagi bakhsh di bandagi ko
He sacrificed his life to worship God
آبرو دینِ حق کی بچا لی
aabroo deen-e-haq ki bacha li
And saved the honor of the religion of truth
وہ محمد کا پیارا نواسہ
woh Muhammad ka pyaara nawaasa
That beloved grandson of Muhammad,
جس نے سجدے میں گردن کٹا لی
jis ne sajde mein gardan kata li
Whose neck was cut in prostration
جو اِبنِ مرتضیٰ نے کیا کام خوب ہے
jo Ibn-e-Murtaza ne kiya kaam khoob hai
The deed done by the son of Murtaza is excellent
قربانی ءِ حسین کا انجام خوب ہے
qurbaani-e-Husain ka anjaam khoob hai
The consequence of the sacrifice of Hussein is virtuous
قربان ہو کے فاطمہ زہرا کے چین نے
qurbaan ho ke Faatima Zehra ke chain ne
By sacrificing himself, Fatima Zahra’s source of comfort,
دینِ خدا کی شان بڑھائی حسین نے
deen-e-Khuda ki shaan barhaai Husain ne
Hussein, increased the glory of the religion of God
بخشی ہے جس نے مذہبِ اِسلام کو حیات
bakhshi hai jis ne mazhab-e-Islam ko hayaat
He is the one who gave life to the religion of Islam
کتنی عظیم حضرتِ شبیر کی ہے ذات
kitni azeem Hazrat-e-Shabbeer ki hai zaat
How great is the rank of Hazrat Shabbir!
میدانِ کربلا میں شہِ خوش خصال نے
maidaan-e-Karbala mein Shah-e-Khush Khisaal ne
In the field of Karbala, the King of Good Character,
سجدے میں سر کٹا کے محمد کے لال نے
sajde mein sar kata ke Muhammad ke laal ne
That beloved of Muhammad, was decapitated in prostration
زندگی بخش دی بندگی کو
zindagi bakhsh di bandagi ko
He sacrificed his life to worship God
آبرو دینِ حق کی بچا لی
aabroo deen-e-haq ki bacha li
And saved the honor of the religion of truth
وہ محمد کا پیارا نواسہ
woh Muhammad ka pyaara nawaasa
That beloved grandson of Muhammad,
جس نے سجدے میں گردن کٹا لی
jis ne sajde mein gardan kata li
Whose neck was cut in prostration

حشر میں اُن کو دیکھیں گے جس دم
hashar mein un ko dekhein ge jis dam
The moment they see him (Muhammad) on Armageddon,
اُمتی یہ کہیں گے خوشی سے
ummati yeh kahein ge khushi se
His followers will say with happiness,
آ رہے ہیں وہ دیکھو محمد
aa rahe hain woh dekho Muhammad
“Look, Muhammad is coming,
جن کے کاندھے پہ کملی ہے کالی
jin ke kaandhe pe kamli hai kaali
on whose shoulders is a black shawl.”
محشر کے روز پیشِ خدا ہوں گے جس گھڑی
mehshar ke roz pesh-e-Khuda hon ge jis ghari
On the Day of Judgment when they will be before God
ہو گی گناہگاروں میں کس درجہ بیکلی
ho gi gunaahgaaron mein kis darja bekali
In such a degree of uneasiness sinners will be
آتے ہوئے نبی کو جو دیکھیں کے اُمتی
aate huey Nabi ko jo dekhein ge ummati
When his followers will see the Prophet approaching,
ایک دوسرے سے سب یہ کہیں گے خوشی خوشی
ek dusre se sab yeh kahein ge khushi khushi
They will all say to each other happily,
آ رہے ہیں وہ دیکھو محمد
aa rahe hain woh dekho Muhammad
“Look, Muhammad is coming,
جن کے کاندھے پہ کملی ہے کالی
jin ke kaandhe pe kamli hai kaali
on whose shoulders is a black shawl.”
سرِ محشر گناہگاروں سے پرسش جس گھڑی ہو گی
sar-e-mehshar gunaahgaaaron se pursish jis ghari ho gi
On the Day of Judgment, when sinners will be questioned,
یقیناً ہر بشر کو اَپنی بخشش کی پڑی ہو گی
yaqeenan har bashar ko apni bakhshish ki pari ho gi
Truly, each person will be preoccupied with his own pardon
سبھی کو آس اُس دن کملی والے سے لگی ہو گی
sabhi ko aas us din kamli waale se lagi ho gi
That day everyone will be placing their hope in the one with the shawl
کہ ایسے میں محمد کی سواری آ رہی ہو گی
ke aise mein Muhammad ki sawaari aa rahi ho gi
And in this situation, Muhammad’s procession will be coming
پکارے گا زمانہ اُس گھڑی دکھ درد کے ماروں
pukaare ga zamaana us ghari dukh dard ke maaron
At that hour, the age will call out, “O you who are afflicted and suffering!
نہ گھبراؤ گناہگاروں نہ گھبراؤ گناہگاروں
na ghabraao gunaahgaaron na ghabraao gunaahgaaron
Fear not, sinners! Fear not, sinners!
آ رہے ہیں وہ دیکھو محمد
aa rahe hain woh dekho Muhammad
Look, Muhammad is coming,
جن کے کاندھے پہ کملی ہے کالی
jin ke kaandhe pe kamli hai kaali
on whose shoulders is a black shawl.”

عاشقِ مصطفیٰ کی اَذان میں اللہ اللہ کتنا اَثر تھا
aashiq-e-Mustafa ki azaan mein Allah Allah kitna asar tha
By God, such influential power was in the adhan of Mustafa’s adorer
سچا یہ واقعہ ہے اَذانِ بلال کا
sacha yeh waaqia hai azaan-e-Bilaal ka
This incident about Bilal’s adhan is true
ایک دن رسولِ پاک سے لوگوں نے یوں کہا
ek din Rasool-e-Paak se logon ne yoon kaha
One day people said to the Holy Prophet,
یا مصطفیٰ اَذان غلط دیتے ہیں بلال
ya Mustafa azaan ghalat dete hain Bilaal
“O Mustafa, Bilal recites the adhan incorrectly.
کہیے حضور آپ کا اِس میں ہے کیا خیال
kahiye Huzoor aap ka is mein hai kya khayaal
Tell us, Prophet, what is your thought on this matter?”
فرمایا مصطفیٰ نے یہ سچ ہے تو دیکھیے
farmaaya Mustafa ne yeh sach hai to dekhiye
Mustafa declared, “Let us see if this is true.
وقتِ سحر کی آج اَذان اور کوئی دے
waqt-e-seher ki aaj azaan aur koi de
Let someone else give the adhan at dawn today.”
حضرت بلال نے جو اَذانِ سحر نہ دی
Hazrat Bilaal ne jo azaan-e-seher na di
Since Hazrat Bilal did not give the dawn adhan
قدرت خدا کی دیکھو نہ مطلق سحر ہوئی
qudrat Khuda ki dekho na mutlaq seher hui
Behold God’s power: dawn did not break at all
آئے نبی کے پاس کچھ اصحابِ با صفا
aaye Nabi ke paas kuchh ashaab-e-ba-safa
Some companions came to the Prophet with purity
کی عرض مصطفیٰ سے کہ یا شاہِ اَنبیا
ki arz Mustafa se ke ya Shaah-e-Ambiya
And asked Mustafa, “O King of the Prophets!
ہے کیا سبب سحر نہ ہوئی آج مصطفیٰ
hai kya sabab seher na hui aaj Mustafa
What is the reason for the sun not rising today, O Mustafa?”
جبریل لائے اَیسے میں پیغامِ کبریا
Jibreel laaey aise mein paighaam-e-Kibriya
In this situation Gabriel brought the message of the Magnificent Lord
پہلے تو مصطفیٰ کو اَدب سے کیا سلام
pehle to Mustafa ko adab se kiya salaam
First he greeted Mustafa cordially
بعد اَز سلام اُن کو خدا کا دیا پیام
baad az salaam un ko Khuda ka diya payaam
After the greeting he gave him God’s message
یوں جبرائیل نے کہا خیر الاَنام سے
yoon Jibraaeel ne kaha khair-ul-anaam se
And so Gabriel said to the best of creations,
اللہ کو ہے پیار تمہارے غلام سے
Allah ko hai pyaar tumhaare ghulaam se
“God loves your slave!
فرما رہا ہے آپ سے یہ ربِ ذو الجلال
farma raha hai aap se yeh Rabb-e-Zul-Jalaal
The Majestic Lord is declaring to you:
ہو گی نہ صبح دیں گے نہ جب تک اَذان بلال
ho gi na subah dein ge na jab tak azaan Bilaal
It shall not be morning until Bilal gives the adhan!”
آشقِ مصطفیٰ کی اَذان میں اللہ اللہ کتنا اَثر تھا
Aashiq-e-Mustafa ki azaan mein Allah Allah kitna asar tha
By God, such influential power was in the adhan of Mustafa’s adorer
عرش والے بھی سنتے تھے جس کو
arsh waale bhi sun te the jis ko
Even that which God and the angels listened to,
کیا اَذان تھی اَذانِ بلالی
kya azaan thi azaan-e-Bilaali
Which adhan was it but the adhan of Bilal?

کاش پرنمؔ دیارِ نبی میں
kaash Purnam dayaar-e-Nabi mein
If only, Purnam, to the land of the Prophet
جیتے جی ہو بلاوہ کسی دن
jeete ji ho bulaawa kisi din
I may be summoned someday in my life
حالِ غم مصطفیٰ کو سناؤں
haal-e-gham Mustafa ko sunaaoon
I will recount my sadness to Mustafa
تھام کر اُن کے رَوضے کی جالی
thaam kar un ke rauze ji jaali
While clutching the screen around his tomb
بھر دو جھولی میری یا محمد
bhar do jholi meri ya Muhammad
Fill my bag, O Muhammad
لوٹ کر میں نہ جاؤں گا خالی
laut kar main na jaaoon ga khaali
I will not go back empty-handed

 

* Note on names: Mustafa is another name for Muhammad, and Murtaza is another name for Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law. The son of Murtaza mentioned, also Muhammad’s grandson, is Hussein. Shabbir is another name for Hussein. Hazrat is an Islamic honorific title used for prophets, saints, and other important religious figures.

* Note on the takhallus: The takhallus (Urdu: تخلص) is the pen name adopted by a poet in Urdu, and is usually incorporated into his/her poems near the end. It often has a double meaning as both a name and as a word. Purnam Allahabadi included his takhallus in this qawwali when he says, “kaash Purnam dayaar-e-nabi mein jeete ji ho bulaawa kisi din”. Purnam is the author’s name, but it also means “tearfully” or “weeping”. This adds another meaning to that line: “If only I may be summoned to the land of the Prophet someday in my life, weeping [from being overwhelmed]”.

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62 Comments

  1. This is good. That is all.

  2. Just want to thank you for providing such an excellent translation! I am unable to understand the language because I never did learn it properly, so having such an excellent source is amazing.

    Please keep up the great work!

  3. God Bless you ! This is by far the best translation … Thank you and hope there will be more such translation in future …

  4. Thank you very much for the translation and full text of this qawwali. It is very mesmerizing and solaces the helpless souls in this heat and dust of life.
    Sufisim and Urdu are sub-continental legacy picking the best from both cultures of Islam and Hinduism.

  5. Thank you for this translation and the commentary. I’ve been looking for it for a long time to understand this magnificent qawwali.

    • Thanks a lot! Feel free to share with your friends and family. I’m also open to requests if there are any other qawwalis you’re interested in understanding better.

  6. Omprakash Tiwari

    Simply best translation available on internet with full text. At least someone with good command over Urdu and English with very informative footnote has done a tremendous job. God bless you.

  7. Thank you for this beautiful translation! I’ve shared it already with 3 people 🙂
    Very impressive work.

  8. Thank you Hamza for the amazing translation. You should do one for Tajdar e Haram.

  9. Thank you so much for posting this! Fully understanding this makes it even more touching. Jazkhallah.

  10. Please do one of Tajdar-e-Haram by Sabri Brothers if possible 🙂

  11. Great explanation and translation. Can you please come up with the same for “Teri Surat” by Azia Mian Qawall.

    It is one of my favorite but many parts of it are very confusing and has rich using of Farsi

  12. Alhumdulillah … May Allah(swt) grant U my brother lots of barakah …

    Truly blessed …

  13. Anower Ali Mondal

    Excellent translation with footnotes in English. It helps better understanding of the situation.

    Expect to get more translation (with Urdu/English transliteration)of other beautiful Qawwalis as well from you which spreads the inherent tranquillity of Sufi Music dedicated to one’s Spiritual Master, Nabi & Almighty.

    May Allah bless you.

  14. Cheeta Kam Karnay Wala

    Top notch, first time I actually read its translation, so powerful. Im humbled

  15. Abdul Moktader Mamoon

    Assalamu Alaikum Bhai Hamza Shad,

    Ham jab yeh Qawalli pehla suna tha, tab mera umr bahut kam tha. Mujhey thodi hi yaad ata hai iss Qawali ko, lakin yeh bhul na paye ke yeh dhun hum pehla suna tha Sabri Brothers hoton se. (Please note that Sabri Brothers had a Stage Performance in Bangladesh in 1985 when first SAARC Summit was there in Dhaka). Bajrangi Bhaijan dekhney ki baad hum straight internet me search kia iss Qawalli ko owr mujhey feer mil gaya Sabri Brothers ki original version jo 1978 me Michigan USA me record hua tha. Aaj 12 October 2015 mujhey mila aap ko yeh background or tarzama jo aapne post kia that BHAR DO JHOLI ki aahiqon ko lei. Bahut bahut shukria Hamza Bhai.

    Abdul Moktader Mamoon, Bangladesh.

    • Walaikum Assalam Mamoon Sahib,
      Aap ke comment ke liye bahut shukriya! Mujhe khushi hui ke aap ko ye tarjuma pasand aaya. Thanks for sharing your story – there is no doubt that this is an unforgettable qawwali!

  16. This is an awesome qawalli!! Had not heard it before Adnan Sami’s rendition in Bajrangi Bhaijaan. But the original by Sabri brothers is really awesome and soulful. Your translation and explanation are commendable.

  17. a very great translation. I have seen The Sabri Brothers perform this number in South Africa. Greatly enjoyed it, its even better with with your translation. May the ALMIGHTY reward you for your magnificent work. AMEEN.

  18. MashaAllaah!! beautiful
    Can u please translate “Tajdare Haram ho nigahe karam” like this
    it would be Amazing

  19. Kudos !!
    and please translate Tajdar-e-Haram by sabri brothers and khwaja ki deewani too….

  20. Salaam Alaikum,
    Thank you very much. Exteremely well translated as you seem to have mastery over Urdu, Farsi, English, Bhojpuri and Arabic.

    Some of us are not fortunate to know some of these fantastic poetic languages.

    Please do consider translating these:
    Allahhu allahu http://song.mp3hunger.in/?song=ALLAH%20HO%20ALLAH%20HO%20SABRI%20BROTHERSflv&vurl=vn2WuaDPJpE

    Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWahjPdjop4

    Ya Sahib-Al-Jamal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Ix92XDkoI

  21. What is the authenticity of the claim that God said “God loves your slave! (Bilal), and the sun shall not rise until Bilal, deliver’s the Adhan”

  22. Beautifully done

  23. Hamza Bhai Subhanallah. May Allah bless you to do more such work for us. Hasib from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  24. Thank you for the detailed yet concise explanation of this qawwali. Bookmarked!

    Good luck with all your endeavors.

  25. Excellent work …. May you be rewarded Immensely ….

    Jazakallahu Khaira FID Dunya Wal Aakhira.

  26. Can I use your translation for my posting on his page at wikipedia? I will change no word but apply some
    coloring and font styles

  27. let me know the raag the qWWALI IS BASED ON

  28. Loved qawal tried some years past to learn urdu ,like a bad talib managed just a tiny bit,which did not throw open the door of total understanding but
    Kept me walking on the qawal trail, the sabri brothers of old were always the ones I had a special love for,got their first l.p. in late sixties ( Sab ko sab l.p….. still the inexact words comes back to haunt to come back to YOU,your rendering of this famous qawal add light on this diwali day!! Diwali diwani raja Diwali
    Your truely with gratitude and admiration

  29. hamza shad arey! yar after the last viisit to your blog,and long search waho! I found this fantastic qawali which brings me back to early 70 and my first love for this qawal ” shab ko jab ghor” of course who could render it so well,be kind and try if your time permit to translate it into english shukriya meherbani

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