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

Sufi devotional music 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 (naat), 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. “Bhar Do Jholi” was published in his book Phool Dekhe Na Gaye (I Could Not Look at Flowers), which you can read online here on Rekhta (it starts on page 21).

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 aazaan 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 sunte 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]”.

Bookmark the permalink.

4 Comments

  1. Whoever owns this website is doing a great job. posting lyrics of famous classical qawwalis that a person should be aware of. And also, it helped me a lot to learn about the qawwali Tajdar e Haram. It was my favr8 one but I did not know the meaning of the Arabic and Persian words. So, thanks a lot it really helped.

  2. Assalaam Mu Alaykum WRB Hamza
    A beautiful translation, indeed. Thank you for posting it. Hundreds will benefit from the translation. May you be well blessed. Other translations of popular qawali renditions will be appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *