Top 5 Versions of “Tajdar-e-Haram”

In no particular order, here is my list of the top five versions of the qawwali “Tajdar-e-Haram”. You can find my full translation of the poetry here. The original by the Sabri Brothers is obviously very hard to match, but I think others have also done justice to it. Post any more versions of “Tajdar-e-Haram” that you enjoy in the comments!

1. The Timeless Original by the Sabri Brothers

Highlights: The original is always the original, and here the Sabri Brothers are at their best. The two brothers’ voices are very distinct and complementary. They show their musical mastery in this qawwali by repeatedly varying the pace and volume, taking listeners on a journey.

2. The Second Generation by Amjad Sabri & Shahi Hasan

Highlights: Amjad Sabri ventures out of traditional qawwali in this soulful collaboration with Shahi Hasan. It’s an amazing composition in its own right, with lots of overlapping vocal tracks, and the female background vocals at the beginning are really mesmerizing.

3. The Coke Studio Rendition by Atif Aslam (2015)

Highlights: Atif’s Coke Studio version is also not traditional qawwali, but it includes a wider array of instruments that enhance the song. At times, the emotion in his unique voice really comes through.

4. The Indian Masters’ Version by Sonu Nigam & Sukhwinder Singh (1992)

Highlights: This is a really cool (and rare) rendition by two of Bollywood’s most famous singers, Sonu Nigam and Sukhwinder Singh. Unlike the raw and spontaneous nature of traditional qawwali, what comes through more here is their amazing, highly-trained voices.

5. The Thunderous Tribute by Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad (2016)

Highlights: Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad paid tribute to the Sabri Brothers and Amjad Sabri through a more traditional performance. This version is loud and powerful, with excellent percussion (check out the vocals at 0:49 and the change in beat at 17:58).

Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation of “Balaghal-Ula Bi-Kamalihi”

“Balaghal-Ula Bi-Kamalihi” 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 is a multilingual naat (praise of the prophet Muhammad) that centers around a famous Arabic quatrain (rubai) by the Persian poet Saadi Shirazi (1210-1292). The four-line poem is dispersed between several verses of Urdu and Persian poetry from sources that I have been unable to identify. If anyone recognizes any of the poets whose verses show up in this qawwali, your contribution would be appreciated. Any corrections or improvements would also be appreciated.

The main poem is: “Balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi / Kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi / Hasunat jameeu khisaalihi / Sallu alaihi wa aalihi”. (This is in Arabic, but in the translation I do not repeatedly identify it as such because of how spread out it is.) Much of the rest of the qawwali focuses on the story of the “miraj” (“ascension”), an event in Muhammad’s lifetime during which he is said to have ascended to heaven and beyond (to the Placeless Origin to visit the throne of God) on a winged creature named Buraq. The entire trip is said to have occurred in one night. According to some scholars of literature, this story partially inspired the Italian poet Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

In the Urdu verses of this qawwali, we see how the monumental meeting between God and Muhammad is metaphorically framed as a meeting between lovers. For example, God summons Muhammad because “He longed to see him”. This metaphor is used to elucidate the common Sufi themes of separation and union, in which the separation of every being from God is a burden, whereas the ultimate goal is union and becoming one with God.

Farsi
اے ختمِ رسل کعبۂ مقصود تویی
ae khatm-e-rusul kaaba-e-maqsood tuyi
O Last of the Prophets, you are the Kaaba [we] seek
در صورتِ ہر چہ ہست موجود تویی
dar soorat-e-har che hast maujood tuyi
Within the form of everything that exists, you are present
آیاتِ کمالِ حق عیان است بتو
aayaat-e-kamaal-e-haq ayaan ast ba-to
The signs of the perfection of the Truth [God] are made clear in you
آن ذات کہ در پردہ نہان بود تویی
aan zaat ke dar parda nihaan bood tuyi
That essence which was hidden behind the veil was you

Urdu
سہانی رات تھی اور پر سکون زمانہ تھا
suhaani raat thi aur pur-sukoon zamaana tha
It was a beautiful night and the age was full of tranquility
اثر میں ڈوبا ہوا جذبِ عاشقانہ تھا
asar mein dooba hua jazb-e-aashiqana tha
The loving attraction was fully engulfed in effect
اُنہیں تو عرش پہ محبوب کو بلانا تھا
unhein to arsh pe mehboob ko bulaana tha
He [God] had to call His beloved to the heavenly throne
ہوس تھی دید کی معراج کا بہانہ تھا
hawas thi deed ki meraaj ka bahaana tha
He longed to see him – the ‘ascension’ was just an excuse!

سرِ لا مکان سے طلب ہوئی
sar-e-la-makaan se talab hui
A command came from the Placeless Origin
سوئے منتہا وہ چلے نبی
soo-e-muntaha wo chale nabi
Towards the final boundary [of the universe], the prophet went

یہ کمالِ حسن کا معجزہ
ye kamaal-e-husn ka moajza
This is the miracle of the perfection of beauty
کہ فراق حق بھی نہ سہ سکا
ke firaaq haq bhi na seh saka
That even the Truth [God] could not bear separation
شبِ معراج لیا عرشِ بریں پر بلوائے
shab-e-meraaj liya arsh-e-bareen par bulvaaye
On the night of ascension, He called Muhammad to the Sublime Throne
صدمۂ حجر خدا سے بھی گوارہ نہ ہوا
sadma-e-hijr Khuda se bhi gavaara na hua
The pain of separation was intolerable even for God

سرِ لا مکان سے طلب ہوئی
sar-e-la-makaan se talab hui
A command came from the Placeless Origin
سوئے منتہا وہ چلے نبی
soo-e-muntaha wo chale nabi
Towards the final boundary [of the universe], the prophet went
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection

Arabic
خیر الوریٰ صدر الدقة نجم الهدیٰ نور العلا
khair-ul-wara sadr-ud-duqa najm-ul-huda noor-ul-ula
“Best of creations, epitome of subtlety, star of guidance, light of the highest place
شمس الضحىٰ بدر الدجیٰ یعني محمد مصطفیٰ
shams-ud-duha badr-ud-duja yaani Muhammad Mustafa
Sun of morning, moon of night” – as in, Muhammad Mustafa

Urdu
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
آقا روا سالارِ دین
aaqa rawa saalaar-e-deen
O lord and lawful chief of the religion
یَا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِین
ya rehmatal-lil-aalameen
O mercy for the worlds
آ مقتدیٰ ئے مرسلین
aa muqtada-e-mursaleen
O prevailing leader of the messengers
آ پیشوا ئے انبیا
aa peshwa-e-ambiya
O premier of the prophets

Farsi
جنت نشانِ کوے تو
jannat nishaan-e-koo-e-to
Heaven is a sign of your street
والشمسِ ایمان روے تو
wash-shams-e-eemaan roo-e-to
And the sun of faith is your face
واللیل وصفِ روے تو
wal-lail wasf-e-roo-e-to
And the night praises your face
خوبی ئے رویت والضحىٰ
khoobi ye rooyat wad-duha
The morning is the goodness of your face
اسمِ تو اسمِ اعظمی
ism-e-to ism-e-aazami
Your name is the greatest name
جسمِ تو جانِ عالمی
jism-e-to jaan-e-aalami
Your body is the life of the world
ذاتِ تو فخرِ آدمی
zaat-e-to fakhr-e-aadmi
Your rank is the pride of mankind
شانِ تو شانِ کبریا
shaan-e-to shaan-e-kibriya
Your glory is the glory of the Almighty

Urdu
کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?

جو گیا ہے فرش سے عرش تک
jo gaya hai farsh se arsh tak
He who went from the ground to God’s Throne
وہ براق لے گیا بےدھڑک
wo Buraaq le gaya be-dharak
He took up Buraq fearlessly [beyond the]
طبقِ زمین ورقِ فلک
tabaq-e-zameen waraq-e-falak
Surface of the earth and page of the heavens
گئے نیچے پاؤں سے پل سڑک
gaye neeche paaun se pul sarak
Streets and bridges went out from under his feet
لٹیں زلف کی جو گئیں لٹک
laten zulf ki jo gaeen latak
As the locks of [his] hair dangled
تو جہان سارا گیا مہک
to jahaan saara gaya mehek
The entire world became fragrant
ہوئیں مست بلبلیں اس قدر
hueen mast bulbulen is qadar
The nightingales were intoxicated to such an extent
تو یہ غنچے بولے چٹک ِچٹک
to ye ghunche bole chatak chatak
That the rosebuds broke open and bloomed

کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?

گئے گھر سے چڑھ کے براق پر
gaye ghar se char ke Buraaq par
He left home having mounted Buraq
شبِ وصل رخ سے ہوئی سحر
shab-e-vasl rukh se hui seher
On the night of union, his face brought about dawn
یہ سفر تھا خوب کا خوبتر
ye safar tha khoob ka khoobtar
This journey was better than the best
یہی تھا ہر ایک کی زبان پر
yahi tha har ek ki zubaan par
This is what was on everyone’s tongues

کوئی حد ہے اُن کے عروج کی
koi had hai un ke urooj ki
Is there any limit to his ascent?
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection

یہی ابتدا یہی انتہا
yahi ibtida yahi intiha
This is the beginning, and this is the end
یہ فروغ جلوۂ حق نما
ye farogh jalwa-e-haq-numa
This brightness is the manifestation of the truth-revealer
کہ جہان سارا چمک اٹھا
ke jahaan saara chamak utha
Such that the entire world rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

رخِ مصطفیٰ کی یہ روشنی
rukh-e-Mustafa ki ye raushni
This is the illumination of Mustafa’s face
یہ تجلیوں کی ہماہمی
ye tajalliyon ki hamaahami
This is the boastfulness of splendors
کہ ہر ایک چیز چمک اٹھی
ke har ek cheez chamak uthi
Such that every single thing rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

نہ فلک نہ چاند تارے نہ سحر نہ رات ہوتی
na falak na chaand taare na seher na raat hoti
Neither sky nor moon, nor stars, nor daybreak would have existed
نہ تیرا جمال ہوتا نہ یہ کائنات ہوتی
na tera jamaal hota na ye kaainaat hoti
If not for your beauty, this universe would not have existed
کہ ہر ایک چیز چمک اٹھی
ke har ek cheez chamak uthi
Such that every single thing rose shining
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty

وہ سراپا رحمتِ کبریا
wo saraapa rehmat-e-kibriya
That incarnation of the Almighty’s mercy
کہ ہر ایک پہ جس کا کرم ہوا
ke har ek pe jis ka karam hua
He whose generosity reached everyone
یہ قرآنِ پاک ہے برملا
ye Quraan-e-Paak hai barmaala
He [Muhammad] is the open Qur’an in front of all
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics

یہ کمالِ حقِ محمدی
ye kamaal-e-haq-e-Muhammadi
This is the wonder of Muhammad’s dominion
کہ ہر ایک پہ چشمِ کرم رہی
ke har ek pe chashm-e-karam rahi
That the eye of mercy remains on everyone
سرِ حشر نعرۂ امتی
sar-e-hashar naara-e-ummati
On Armageddon, the chant of his followers [will be]
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics

وہی حق نگر وہی حق نما
wohi haq-nigar wohi haq-numa
It alone is the truth-guarder and truth-revealer;
رخِ مصطفیٰ ہے وہ آئینہ
rukh-e-Mustafa hai woh aaeena
The face of Mustafa is that mirror
کہ خدا ئے پاک نے خود کہا
ke Khuda-e-Paak ne khud kaha
Such that Holy God said Himself,
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
“Send blessings upon him and his family”

میرا دین عنبرِ وارثی
mera deen ambar-e-warsi
My faith is an inherited fragrance
بخدا ہے عشقِ محمدی
ba-Khuda hai ishq-e-Muhammadi
By God, it is the love of Muhammad
میرا ذکر و فکر ہے بس یہی
mera zikr-o-fikr hai bas yahi
My only utterance and thought is,
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
“Send blessings upon him and his family”

Farsi and Arabic (alternating)
چہ کنم بیانِ کمالِ او
che kunam bayaan-e-kamaal-e-oo
What can I say about his perfection!
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection
چہ فروغ کردہ جمالِ او
che farogh karda jamaal-e-oo
What brightness his beauty has created!
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty
من حیرتم زخصالِ او
man hairatam za-khisaal-e-oo
I am amazed by his characteristics!
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics
دل و جانِ ما باخیالِ او
dil-o-jaan-e-ma baa-khayaal-e-oo
Our hearts and lives are occupied by thoughts of him!
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
Send blessings upon him and his family

اے مظہرِ نورِ خدا
ae mazhar-e-noor-e-Khuda
O manifestation of the divine light of God
بَلَغَ الْعُلا بِكَمالِهِ
balaghal-ula bi-kamaalihi
He reached the highest place through his perfection
مولا علی مشکل کشا
maula Ali muskhil-kusha
Master Ali, resolver of troubles
كَشَفَ الْدُّجىٰ بِجَمالِهِ
kashafad-duja bi-jamaalihi
He drove out the darkness through his beauty
حسنین جانِ فاطمہ
Hasnain jaan-e-Faatima
Hassan and Hussein, the two dearest of Fatima
حَسُنَتْ جَميعُ خِصالِهِ
hasunat jameeu khisaalihi
Beautified were all his characteristics
یعنی محمد مصطفیٰ
yaani Muhammad Mustafa
Meaning, Muhammad Mustafa
صَلّوا عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ
sallu alaihi wa aalihi
Send blessings upon him and his family

A Refreshing Ghazal: “Dil Mein Ik Leher”

One example of an excellent contemporary Urdu ghazal is “Dil Mein Ik Leher Si Uthi Hai Abhi” by Nasir Kazmi, a Pakistani poet. Kazmi (1925-72) was born in Ambala in East Punjab during the British Raj, and moved to Lahore during the partition of India. His ghazals are often written in short meter (چھوٹی بحر / chhoti beher) and primarily deal with themes of hope, love, and melancholy. Written in simple language, this ghazal inspires hope and calls upon the reader to be proactive through its uplifting imagery. It’s great to listen to when you are searching for some positivity: a wave is rising, a fresh breeze is blowing, and a wall is being torn down…

Scholars have sometimes criticized the Urdu ghazal for being atomistic, i.e. being composed of several unrelated couplets. I think “Dil Mein Ik Leher” is a strong example to the contrary. The first two verses indicate that some kind of positive change is taking place, although we are not sure what. The third couplet hints that something has been missing (or someone, as we find out). In the next two couplets, it appears that the fresh change is that memories of the poet’s beloved are coming back to him – or perhaps she herself is on her way. In the next three couplets, the poet has sprung to take action himself, searching through the city, looking for open opportunities, and calling his friends to rise up as well. Finally, the last verse leaves us with optimism for what the future holds. Metaphorically, the central message of the poem could be seen as to stay optimistic and take action to pursue your goals, even though they may seem distant.

This ghazal has famously been sung by two Pakistan artists, Ghulam Ali (1940-present) and Tassawar Khanum (1950-present). Pay close attention to the many different ways in which Ghulam Ali sings the word “leher”. By fluctuating the tone, pitch, and length of the word, he evokes the image of different kinds of waves in the ocean.

دل میں اک لہر سی اٹھی ہے ابھی
dil mein ik leher si uthi hai abhi
A kind of wave has risen in my heart right now
کوئی تازہ ہوا چلی ہے ابھی
koi taaza hava chali hai abhi
Some fresh breeze has blown by right now

شور برپا ہے خانۂ دل میں
shor barpa hai khaana-e-dil mein
An uproar is rising in the cockles of my heart;
کوئی دیوار سی گری ہے ابھی
koi deevaar si giri hai abhi
Some kind of wall has fallen right now

بھری دنیا میں جی نہیں لگتا
bhari dunya mein ji naheen lagta
My heart is not satisfied in this crowded world;
جانے کس چیز کی کمی ہے ابھی
jaane kis cheez ki kami hai abhi
I wonder what is lacking right now

و شریکِ سخن نہیں ہے تو کیا
tu shareek-e-sukhan naheen hai to kya
So what if you are not joining me in conversation?
ہم سخن تیری خامشی ہے ابھی
ham-sukhan teri khaamushi hai abhi
Your silence is conversing with me right now

یاد کہ بے نشاں جزیروں سے
yaad ke be-nishaan jazeeron se
Is it my memory, or is it from traceless islands that
تیری آواز آ راہی ہے ابھی
teri aavaaz aa rahi hai abhi
Your voice is reaching me right now?

شہر کی بے چراغ گلیوں میں
sheher ki be-charaagh galiyon mein
Through the unlit streets of the city,
زندگی تجھ کو ڈھونڈتی ہے ابھی
zindagi tujh ko dhoondti hai abhi
Life is searching for you right now

سو گئے لوگ اُس حویلی کے
so gaye log us haveli ke
The people of that house have fallen asleep,
ایک کھڑکی مگر کھلی ہے ابھی
ek khirki magar khuli hai abhi
But one window remains open right now

تم تو یارو ابھی سے اٹھ بیٹھے
tum to yaaro abhi se uth baithe
Friends, you have already risen and sat down,
شہر میں رات جاگتی ہے ابھی
sheher mein raat jaagti hai abhi
But in the city, the night remains awake right now

وقت اچھا بھی آئے گا ناصرؔ
waqt achcha bhi aaye ga Naasir
Good times, too, will come O Nasir!
غم نہ کر زندگی پڑی ہے ابھی
gham na kar zindagi pari hai abhi
Don’t grieve, your whole life is ahead of you right now!


The following line does not appear in Kazmi’s original ghazal, but has been added in the musical renditions:

کچھ تو نازک مزاج ہیں ہم بھی
kuchh to naazuk mizaaj hain ham bhi
Part of the issue is that I’m of sensitive temperament,
اور یہ چوٹ بھی نئی ہے ابھی
aur yeh chot bhi naii hai abhi
But it’s also partly that this wound is fresh right now!

A Comprehensive Keyboard Layout for Urdu

Many Urdu speakers first learn how to type in English, and therefore have trouble adjusting to the standard Urdu keyboard layout. The same applies to many of the speakers of languages that use variations of the Arabic script. Some people adjust to the standard layout of the language, but others may prefer an alternative that is more convenient and easier to learn based on their experience using a QWERTY keyboard. As one of those people, I downloaded the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator (MSKLC), a really useful tool that allows users to design custom keyboard layouts by assigning different Unicode characters to each key. I used it to create an optimized and comprehensive layout for Urdu, which also has the full capacity to type in Persian, Punjabi (Shahmukhi), Arabic, and other languages.

The main idea behind my keyboard design is to make it easy for someone who already knows how to type in English. Therefore, “p” corresponds to “پ” (“pe”), “k” corresponds to “ک” (“kaaf”), “l” corresponds to “ل” (“laam”), etc. Of course, there cannot be a perfect correspondence between Urdu and English because some letters exist in both languages that don’t have an equivalent in the other. Being able to assign more letters to the “shift” state helps with this because we don’t have to worry about upper and lower cases for languages that use the Arabic script. Thus, “t” corresponds to “ت” but “shift”+“t” corresponds to the less common retroflex “ٹ”. I followed an analogous pattern for retroflex “d” and “r”. For a few letters, I simply had to pick whichever keys were still left, but the majority of keys are intuitively placed. Although there is an accessible keyboard layout for Urdu that follows this phonetic approach (“CRULP Urdu Phonetic Keyboard Layout”), mine has a few advantages. It includes characters specific to Arabic, making this keyboard easily usable for typing in both Urdu and Arabic. Plus, it makes use of every key, allowing for more special characters and punctuation marks.

As I mentioned, this keyboard is also compatible with Arabic, which requires different variations of certain letters. I assigned “ك”, the Arabic version of “kaaf”, to “alt+ctrl”+“k”.This is convenient because it is the same key as the Urdu/Persian version of “kaaf”, in a different state. Similarly, the Arabic “ya” is “alt+ctrl”+“i”, whereas Urdu/Persian “ya” is just “i”. Another feature of this keyboard layout is the extended assortment of special characters, diacritical marks, and punctuation marks that I included. Most of these are in the “shift” or “alt+ctrl” states because they are used less often. The bottom row of keys in those states, for example, includes all the short vowels used in Urdu, Persian, and Arabic. Here are some highlights of the special characters and punctuation marks:

  • The takhallus sign used to indicate the name of a poet is “alt+ctrl”+“z”.
  • The sign used to indicate a line of poetry is “alt+ctrl”+“e”.
  • The sanah sign used to indicate a year is “shift”+“7”.
  • The Bismillah ligature is “alt+ctrl”+“o”.
  • The reverse question mark is “shift”+“/”, replacing the regular version.

The images below show how characters are assigned to each key in the three states. For some computers, you only have to press “alt” for the “alt+ctrl” state instead of both keys. You can download and install this layout on your own Windows computer to use it and even to edit it yourself if you have MSKLC. Click here to download the folder with the necessary files. Installing it just requires running the file called “setup” after you have downloaded and unzipped the folder. Once the keyboard is installed, you can switch between it and the regular QWERTY keyboard by pressing “alt”+“shift”. I hope this Urdu keyboard layout is helpful, and comments and suggestions for improving it are appreciated.

Lyrics, Translation, and Explanation of “Tajdar-e-Haram”

“Tajdar-e-Haram” 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. The titular Urdu poem was written by Purnam Allahabadi (-2009), a prolific Urdu poet, who moved to Pakistan from Allahabad, India after the 1947 partition. It is important to note, however, that the long version by the Sabri Brothers that is translated here includes many interesting elements, in multiple languages, from several authors.

This qawwali would fall under the category of naat (praise of the prophet Muhammad), since it serves as a plea to Muhammad to bestow his mercy on the needy. Excerpts from quiet a few naats are recited by the Sabri Brothers. The primary one that they repeatedly return to, of course, is “Tajdar-e-Haram” by Purnam Allahabadi. Another Urdu naat is by the famous Pakistani poet, Muzaffar Warsi (1933-2011), who also wrote the hamd (praise of God) titled “Wohi Khuda Hai”.  Plus, a Persian line from the poem “Marhaba Sayyidi Makki Madani” by Muhammad Jaan Qudsi Mashhadi (-1646), the poet laureate of the Mughal Empire under Shah Jahan, is also recited.

Continuing with naats, the opening and another section are by Maulana Jami (1414-1492), a Sufi theologian and poet from modern-day Afghanistan. There are also a few lines in Arabic from a poem written by Zain al-Abideen (659-713), a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad and the fourth Shia imam.  Like Purnam’s poem, these two excerpts involve a hapless person asking the morning breeze (“Saba”) to carry his message seeking forgiveness to Muhammad’s tomb in Madinah.

The Sabri Brothers also recite a few excerpts from “Zihaal-e-Miskeen”, a celebrated poem by Ameer Khusro (1253-1325), who was a Sufi disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya and the father of qawwali. Interestingly, “Zihaal-e-Miskeen” alternates languages, with one line in Persian followed by one line in Braj Bhasha (a dialect of Hindi-Urdu). Furthermore, another part of this qawwali is possibly from a Purbi poem by Bhai Mardana (1459–1534), a companion of Guru Nanak. Both of these excerpts follow the Sufi theme of a person lamenting their separation from their beloved, who in the context of this qawwali is Muhammad.

Since this qawwali is so complex, I have done my best to indicate the language and author of each section wherever I could. I’d like to thank Ammar Kalimullah for helping with some of the more difficult parts of the translation. Any corrections or improvements would be appreciated.


A few notes that might help in understanding this qawwali:

* Taajdaar-e-Haram, Mustafa, Mujtaba, Sayyid, Tayyib, Saaqi-e-Kausar, Aaqa, and Arab ke Kunwar are all different names and titles used to address Muhammad.

* In Sufi poetry, concepts related to wine are often used metaphorically. In “Tajdar-e-Haram”, the wine drinkers being called to Madinah are those who are intoxicated by a divine love for the prophet Muhammad and for God. The prophet acts as a wine-pourer, i.e. as the guide facilitating a close relationship with the divine. Specifically, he is mentioned as the wine-pourer of Kausar (or Kawthar). Kausar is a body of water (sometimes called a “lake-fount”) in heaven that was promised to Muhammad in a Qur’anic revelation. In this poem, when he fills the cups of his followers with drink, he is replenishing their spirituality.

* The daaman that is filled refers to a concept similar to that of the jholi in “Bhar Do Jholi”. Literally, a daaman would be the hem of a long South Asian garment. Folding up and holding one’s daaman to form a sort of pouch is a way of begging for money. Since Muhammad is believed to have been generous to the poor, this qawwali mentions how he fills up the daaman of all those who come to his door. At the same time, the other meaning is that everyone is metaphorically a beggar asking for and receiving the prophet’s alms, i.e. his forgiveness.

Persian (Jami)
صبا تحیتِ شوقم بہ آن جناب رسان
saba tahiyat-e-shauqam ba aan janaab rasaan
O morning breeze! Carry my passionate greetings to His Holiness [Muhammad]!
حدیثِ ذرۂ مسکین بہ آفتاب
hadees-e-zarra-e-miskeen ba aaftaab rasaan
Carry the word of a wretched atom to the glorious sun!
ترا مقام کہ آرام گاہِ اقدسِ اوست
tura maqaam ke aaraam-gaah-e-aqdas-e-oost
Since your destination is his holiest of all resting places,
زمین ببوس و سلامِ منِ خراب رسان
zameen bi-bos o salaam-e-man-e-kharaab rasaan
Kiss the ground and convey the greetings of this sinner there!

Urdu (Purnam)
قسمت میں مری چین سے جینا لکھ دے
qismat mein meri chain se jeena likh de
Ordain for me a fate of living in peace!
ڈوبے نہ کبھی میرا سفینہ لکھ دے
ḍoobe na kabhi mera safeena likh de
May my ship never sink – write it!
جنت بھی گوارہ ہے مگر میرے لیے
jannat bhi gawaara hai magar mere liye
Paradise, too, is desirable, but for me,
اے کاتبِ تقدیر مدینہ لکھ دے
ae kaatib-e-taqdeer madeena likh de
O Writer of Destiny [God], inscribe Madinah!

تاجدارِ حرم ہو نگاہِ کرم
taajdaar-e-haram ho nigaah-e-karam
O King of the Holy Sanctuary [Muhammad], spare a glance of mercy!
ہم غریبوں کے دن بھی سنور جائیں گے
ham ghareebon ke din bhi sanwar jaaen ge
Even we, the downtrodden, will see our days turn for the better!

Persian (Qudsi Mashhadi)
چشمِ رحمت بکشا سوئے من انداز نظر
chashm-e-rehmat bi-kusha soo-e-man andaaz nazar
Open the eye of mercy, and cast a glance towards me,
اے قریشی لقبی ہاشمی و مطلبی
ae Qureshi Laqabi Hashimi o Muttalibi
O Qurayshi, you who are titled Hashemite and Muttalibite!

Urdu (Purnam)
تاجدارِ حرم ہو نگاہِ کرم
taajdaar-e-haram ho nigaah-e-karam
O King of the Holy Sanctuary, spare a glance of mercy!

Persian
یا رسول اللہ به احوالِ خرابِ ما ببین
ya Rasoolullah ba-ahwaal-e-kharaab-e-maa bi-been
O Prophet of God, look at our devastated conditions!
رو بہ خاک افتاده ام از شرمِ عصیان بر زمین
roo ba-khaak uftaada-am az sharm-e-isiyan bar zameen
I have fallen, with my face in the ground, from the shame of sin.
مذنبِ چون من نباشد در تمامِ امتت
muznib-e-choon man nabaashad dar tamaam-e-ummatat
There is no sinner like me in your entire community –
رحم کن بر حالِ ما یَا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِین
reham kun bar haal-e-ma ya rehmatal-lil-aalameen
Bestow mercy on my condition, O mercy for the worlds!

Urdu (Purnam)
تاجدارِ حرم ہو نگاہِ کرم
taajdaar-e-haram ho nigaah-e-karam
O King of the Holy Sanctuary, spare a glance of mercy!

Purbi (Mardana)
توری پریت میں سدھ بدھ سب بسری
tori preet mein sudh budh sab bisri
In your love, I have lost all sense of consciousness;
کب تک یہ رہے گی بےخبری
kab tak ye rahe gi be-khabri
How long will state of unknowing last?

Persian & Braj Bhasha (Khusro)
ز حالِ مسکین مکن تغافل
zihaal-e-miskeen makun taghaaful
Do not neglect the condition of this wretched one,
دورائے نیناں بنائے بتیاں
doraaye nainaan banaaye batiyaan
By averting your eyes and making up stories!
کہ تا بِ ہجران ندارم اے جان
ke taab-e-hijraan nadaaram ae jaan
For I cannot tolerate separation, my dear.
نہ لیہو کاہے لگائے چھتیاں
na leho kaahe lagaaye chhatiyaan
Why do you not embrace me?
چون شمعِ سوزان چون ذره حيران
choon sham-e-sozaan choon zarra hairaan
Like a burning candle, like a bewildered atom,
ہميشہ گريان با عشقِ آن مہ
hamesha giryaan ba ishq-e-aan meh
I always weep out of love for that moon [i.e. the beloved].
نہ نیند نیناں نہ انگ چیناں
na neend nainaan na ang chainaan
Neither sleep for my eyes nor rest for my body,
نہ آپ آویں نہ بھیجیں پتیاں
na aap aaven na bhejen patiyaan
And you neither come to me nor send letters!

Purbi (Mardana)
توری پریت میں سدھ بدھ سب بسری
tori preet mein sudh budh sab bisri
In your love, I have lost all sense of consciousness;
کب تک یہ رہے گی بےخبری
kab tak ye rahe gi be-khabri
How long will state of unknowing last?

Urdu
جو جانے والے مدینے کے ہیں سنیں وہ ذرا
jo jaane waale madeene ke hain sunein woh zara
Listen, all those who are on their way to Madinah!
شہِ مدینہ سے اتنا ضرور کہہ دینا
shah-e-madeena se itna zaroor keh dena
Make sure to tell the King of Madinah
کہ ایک زخمی ءِ تیرِ نگاہ نظر جو پڑا
ke ek zakhmi-e-teer-e-nigeh nazar jo para
That when one wounded by the arrow of your glance saw you,
تڑپ تڑپ کے وہ کہتا تھا یا رسول اللہ
tarap tarap ke woh kehta tha ya rasool Allah
He would restlessly would call out, “O Messenger of God!”

Purbi (Mardana)
توری پریت میں سدھ بدھ سب بسری
tori preet mein sudh budh sab bisri
In your love, I have lost all sense of consciousness;
کب تک یہ رہے گی بےخبری
kab tak ye rahe gi be-khabri
How long will state of unknowing last?
گاہے بفگن دزدیدہ نظر
gaahe bifigan duzdeeda nazar
Cast a stolen glance towards me sometime!
کبھی سن بھی تو لو ہمری بتیاں
kabhi sun bhi to lo hamri batiyaan
Listen to what I too have to say sometime!

Urdu (Purnam)
تاجدارِ حرم ہو نگاہِ کرم
taajdaar-e-haram ho nigaah-e-karam
O King of the Holy Sanctuary, spare a glance of mercy!

Urdu
کہنا صبا حضور سے کہتا ہے ایک غلام
kehna saba huzoor se kehta hai ek ghulaam
O morning breeze, tell the Prophet that a servant of his pleads,
بس ایک نظر ہو ایک نطر کا سوال ہے
bas ek nazar ho ek nazar ka sawaal hai
“Spare a glance, tis a matter of just one glance!”

Arabic
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ یَا مُجْتَبیٰ إِرْحَمْ لَنَا إِرْحَمْ لَنَا
ya Mustafa ya Mujtaba irham lana irham lana
O Mustafa, O Mujtaba, have mercy on us, have mercy on us!
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ یَا سَیِّد
ya Mustafa ya sayyid
O Mustafa, O master,
مُطَهَّر مُنَوَّر في الْبَیْتِ وَالْحَرَم
mutahhar munawwar fil baiti wal haram
Purified and enlightened in the House and Sanctuary [of God, i.e. the Kaaba]!
یَا طَیِّب، اللہ
ya tayyib – Allah
O pure one – Allah!
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ یَا سَیِّد
ya Mustafa ya sayyid
O Mustafa, O master,
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ، صَلِّ عَلٰی
ya Mustafa – salli ala
O Mustafa – upon [him] be blessings!
یَا رَسُولُ اللہ یَا حَبِیبُ اللہ
ya Rasoolullah ya Habibullah
O Prophet of God, O Beloved of God!

Urdu (Warsi)
پھر گدڑیوں کو لال دے، جان پتھرون میں ڈال دے
phir gudriyon ko laal de, jaan patharon mein daal de
Give rubies to the rags once again, and give life to stones.
حاوی ہو مستقبل پہ ہم، ماضی سا ہم کو حال دے
haavi ho mustaqbil pe ham, maazi sa ham ko haal de
You comprehend our future, give us a condition like the past!
دعوٰی ہے تیری چاہ کا
daava hai teri chaah ka
This is a call for your favor!
اِس اُمتِ گمراہ کا تیرے سوا کوئی نہیں
is ummat-e-gumraah ka tere siwa koi naheen
For your this astray community of yours, there is no one but you,
یَا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِین
ya rehmatal-lil-aalameen
O mercy for the worlds!

Arabic
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ، صَلِّ عَلٰی
ya Mustafa – salli ala
O Mustafa – upon [him] be blessings!

Arabic & Persian (Jami)
یَا مُصْطَفیٰ یَا مُجْتَبیٰ إِرْحَمْ لَنَا إِرْحَمْ لَنَا
ya Mustafa ya Mujtaba irham lana irham lana
O Mustafa, O Mujtaba, have mercy on us, have mercy on us!
دستِ ہمہ بیچارہ را دامان توئی دامان توئی
dast-e-hama bechaara raa daamaan tu-yii daamaan tu-yii
For the hands of all helpless ones, you are the hem [to grasp]!
من عاصیم من عاجزم من بےکسم
man aasiyam man aajizam man be-kasam
I am a sinner, feeble and alone.
حالِ مرا یا شافعِ روزِ جزا پرسان توئی پرسان توئی
haal-e-maraa ya shaafi-e-rooz-e-jaza pursaan tu-yii pursaan tu-yii
O intercessor on the Last Day, only you ask about my condition!

Persian
اے مشک بید عنبر فشان
ae mushk-bed ambar fishaan
O musk-willow, spraying fragrance!
پیکِ نسیمِ صبحدم
paik-e-naseem-e-subahdam
O courier of the sweet morning breeze!
اے چارہ گر عیسٰی نفس
ae chaara-gar Eesaa nafas
O healer with the breath of Jesus!
اے مونسِ بیمارِ غم
ae moonis-e-beemaar-e-gham
O consoler of the grief-stricken!
اے قاسدِ فرخندہ پا
ae qaasid-e-farkhunda pa
O messenger with auspicious feet!

Urdu
تجھ کو اُسی گل کی قسم
tujh ko usi gul ki qasam
I swear to you by that same fragrance!

Arabic (Zain al-Abideen)
إنْ نَلٗتِ يَا رِيح الٗصَّبَا
in nalti ya reeh as-saba
O morning breeze, if you go
يَوْمًا إِلٰى أَرْضِ الْحَرَم
yauman ila ard il-haram
To the sacred land someday,
بَلِّغْ سَلَامِي رَوْضَةً
balligh salaami rauzatan
Carry my greetings to the grave
فِيهَا الْنَّبِيُّ الْمُحْتَرَم
feehan-nabiy-yul-muhtaram
In which rests the revered Prophet.

Urdu (Purnam)
تاجدارِ حرم ہو نگاہِ کرم
taajdaar-e-haram ho nigaah-e-karam
O King of the Holy Sanctuary, spare a glance of mercy!
ہم غریبوں کے دن بھی سنور جائیں گے
ham ghareebon ke din bhi sanwar jaaen ge
Even we, the downtrodden, will see our days turn for the better!
حامیِ بےکساں کیا کہے گا جہاں
haami-e-be-kasaan kya kahe ga jahaan
O Protector of the Helpless, what will the world say
آپ کے در سے خالی اگر جائیں گے
aap ke dar se khaali agar jaaen ge
If we leave empty-handed from your door?

کوئی اپنا نہیں غم کے مارے ہیں ہم
koi apna naheen gham ke maare hain ham
We have nobody to call our own and are afflicted with grief –
آپ کے در پہ فریاد لائے ہیں ہم
aap ke dar pe fariyaad laaye hain ham
To your door we have come with our plea!
ہو نگاہِ کرم ورنہ چوکھٹ پہ ہم
ho nigaah-e-karam warna chaukhat pe ham
Spare us a merciful glance, else at your doorstop,
آپ کا نام لے لے کے مر جائیں گے
aap ka naam le le ke mar jaaen ge
We will perish crying your name!

Urdu
مے کشوں آؤ آؤ مدینے چلیں
mai-kashon aao aao madeene chalen
Come, wine drinkers, let’s go to Madinah!
آؤ مدینے چلیں
aao madeene chalen
Come, let’s go to Madinah!
اِسی مہینے چلیں
isi maheene chalen
Let’s go this very month!
آؤ مدینے چلیں
aao madeene chalen
Come, let’s go to Madinah!

جب سال کے قریب مہینے پہنچ گئے
jab saal ke qareeb maheene pahunch gaye
When the number of months spent [in travel] reached nearly a year,
جدے میں عاشقوں کے سفینے پہنچ گئے
jadde mein aashiqon ke safeene pahunch gaye
In Jeddah the ships of those lovers [of Muhammad] arrived.
جن کو طلب کیا ہے
jin ko talab kiya hai
Those whom he summons…
جسے چاہا در پہ بلا لیا
jise chaaha dar pe bula liya
Whomever he wills he calls to his door.
جسے چاہا اپنا بنا لیا
jise chaaha apna bana liya
Whomever he wills he makes his own.
یہ بڑے کرم کے ہیں فیصلے
ye bare karam ke hain faisle
These are decisions of great mercy,
یہ بڑے نصیب کی بات ہے
ye bare naseeb ki baat hai
And this is a matter of great fortune!
جن کو طلب کیا ہے مدینے پہنچ گئے
jin ko talab kiya hai Madeene pahunch gaye
Those whom he summoned reached Madinah.
پیاسے تھے سال کے پینے پہنچ گئے
pyaase the saal ke peene pahunch gaye
Thirsty for a year, they arrived to take a drink!
پڑھتے ہوئے درود مدینے پہنچ گئے
parhte hue durood Madeene pahunch gaye
Whilst reciting prayers for the Prophet, they reached Madinah!

تجلیوں کی عجب ہے فضا مدینے میں
tajalliyon ki ajab hai fiza madeene mein
The wonder of divine manifestations is in the air of Madinah!
نگاہِ شوق کی ہے انتہا مدینے میں
nigaah-e-shauq ki hai intiha madeene mein
The zealous and ever-seeking gaze finds fulfilment in Madinah!
غمِ حیات نہ خوفِ قضا مدینے میں
gham-e-hayaat na khauf-e-qaza madeene mein
Neither sorrows of life nor fear of death exist in Madinah!
نمازِ عشق کریں گے ادا مدینے میں
namaaz-e-ishq karen ge ada madeene men
We will offer our prayer of love in Madinah!

اِدھر اُدھر نہ بھٹکتے پھرو خدا کے لیے
idhar udhar na bhatakte phiro Khuda ke liye
Don’t wander to and fro, for God’s sake,
براہِ راست ہے راہِ خدا مدینے میں
ba-raah-e-raast hai raah-e-Khuda madeene mein
As the path to God is clear and direct in Madinah!

مے کشوں آؤ آؤ مدینے چلیں
mai-kashon aao aao madeene chalen
Come, wine drinkers, let’s go to Madinah!
دستِ ساقی ءِ کوثر سے پینے چلیں
dast-e-saaqi-e-Kausar se peene chalen
Let’s go drink from the hand of the Wine-Pourer of Kausar!

Urdu (Purnam)
یاد رکھو اگر اُٹھ گئی ایک نظر
yaad rakho agar uth gayi ek nazar
Keep in mind that if he looks up just once
جتنے خالی ہیں سب جام بھر جائیں گے
jitne khaali hain sab jaam bhar jaaen ge
All the empty wine cups will suddenly be filled!

خوفِ طوفان ہے بجلیوں کا ہے ڈر
khauf-e-toofaan hai bijliyon ka hai dar
We have a storm to fear and lightning to dread
سخت مشکل ہے آقا کدھر جائیں ہم
sakht mushkil hai aaqa kidhar jaaen ham
Our misery is severe, Master, where should we turn?
آپ ہی گر نہ لیں گے ہماری خبر
aap hi gar na lein ge hamaari khabar
If even you will not take notice of our condition,
ہم مصیبت کے مارے کدھر جائیں گے
ham museebat ke maare kidhar jaaen ge
Where will we, suffering from calamities, go?

آپ کے در سے کوئی نہ خالی گیا
aap ke dar se koi na khaali gaya
No one has ever left your door empty-handed;
اپنے دامن کو بھر کے سوالی گیا
apne daaman ko bhar ke sawaali gaya
Each seeker returned with his daaman filled.
ہو حبیبِ حزین پر بھی آقا نظر
ho habeeb-e-hazeen par bhi aaqa nazar
Also look upon this sorrowful lover, master,
ورنہ اوراقِ ہستی بکھر جائیں گے
warna auraaq-e-hasti bikhar jaaen ge
Else the pages of my existence will scatter away!

Urdu
بندہ پرور نگاہِ کرم کیجیے
banda-parwar nigaah-e-karam kijiye
O sustainer of mankind, look upon me mercifully!
اب نہ کچھ امتحانِ وفا لیجیے
ab na kuch imtihaan-e-wafa lijiye
Do not take any more tests of my loyalty!
مجھ کو اقرار ہے میں گناہگار ہوں
mujh ko iqraar hai main gunaahgaar hoon
I have given my confession that I am a sinner.
مجھ کو کملی میں اپنی چھپا لیجیے
mujh ko kamli mein apni chhupa lijiye
Hide me within your cloak!

Urdu (Purnam)
آپ کے در سے کوئی نہ خالی گیا
aap ke dar se koi na khaali gaya
No one has ever left your door empty-handed;
اپنے دامن کو بھر کے سوالی گیا
apne daaman ko bhar ke sawaali gaya
Each seeker returned with his daaman filled.
ہو حبیبِ حزین پر بھی آقا نظر
ho habeeb-e-hazeen par bhi aaqa nazar
Also look upon this sorrowful lover, master,
ورنہ اوراقِ ہستی بکھر جائیں گے
warna auraaq-e-hasti bikhar jaaen ge
Or else the pages of my existence will scatter away!

تاجدارِ حرم
taajdaar-e-haram
O King of the Holy Sanctuary!


While not in this version, I have heard the following lines in other performances of this qawwali, so I have translated them as well:

Purbi (Mardana)
کا تم سے کہوں اے عرب کے کنور
ka tum se kahoon ae arab ke kunwar
What is there to tell you, O Prince of Arabia,
تم جانت ہو من کی بتیاں
tum jaanat ho man ki batiyaan
You know what is in my heart!
دارِ فرقتِ تو اے اُمی لقب
daar-e-furqat-e-tu ae ummi-laqab
O you known as the Unlettered One, while in separation from you,
کاٹے نہ کٹت ہیں اب رتیاں
kaaṭe na katat hain ab ratiyaan
My nights do not pass now!

Urdu
دکھ رنج و الم سب چھٹتے ہیں
dukh ranj o alam sab chhat’te hain
Sadness, agony, and suffering are all escaped
حسنین کے سدقے بٹتے ہیں
Hasnain ke sadqe bat’te hain
As the charity of Hassan and Hussein is distributed!

Lyrics & Translation of “Mere Rashk-e-Qamar”

This Urdu ghazal was penned by the Pakistani poet Fana Buland Shehri and performed as a qawwali by the great Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997). I could not find much online about the poet’s life, but quite a few famous qawwalis are attributed to him. Although “Mere Rashk-e-Qamar” is not as famous as other qawwalis performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in my opinion it is one of the most poetic and powerful ones.

میرے رشکِ قمر تو نے پہلی نظر، جب نظر سے ملائی مزہ آ گیا
mere rashk-e-qamar tu ne pehli nazar, jab nazar se milaaii maza aa gaya
O my envy of the moon, when your eyes first met mine, I was overjoyed

برق سی گر گئی، کام ہی کر گئی، آگ ایسی لگائی مزہ آ گیا
barq si gir gaii kaam hi kar gaii, aag aisi lagaaii maza aa gaya
Lightning struck and destroyed me; you ignited such a fire that it made me ecstatic

جام میں گھول کر حسن کی مستیاں، چاندنی مسکرائی مزہ آ گیا
jaam mein ghol kar husn ki mastiyaan, chaandni muskuraaii maza aa gaya
Mixing beauty’s mischief into my drink, the moonlight smiled – how enjoyable!

چاند کے سائے میں اے میرے ساقیا، تو نے ایسی پلائی مزہ آ گیا
chaand ke saaey mein ae mere saaqiya, tu ne aisi pilaaii maza aa gaya
In the moon’s shadow, O my cup-bearer, you made me drink such a wine that I was ecstatic

نشہ شیشے میں انگڑائی لینے لگا، بزمِ رنداں میں ساغر کھنکنے لگے
nasha sheeshe mein angraaii lene laga, bazm-e-rindaan mein saaghar khanakne lage
Intoxication spread through the bottle, and goblets clinked in the party of debauchees

میکدے پہ برسنے لگیں مستیاں، جب گھٹا گھر کے چھائی مزہ آ گیا
maikade pe barasne lagiin mastiyaan, jab ghata ghir ke chaaii maza aa gaya
Mischief descended upon the tavern, and when storm clouds poured down, I was overjoyed

بےحجبانہ وہ سامنے آ گئے، اور جوانی جوانی سے ٹکرا گئی
behijaabana woh saamne aa gae, aur jawaani jawaani se takra gaii
Unveiled, she came before me, and her youthful splendor collided with mine

آنکھ اُن کی لڑی یوں میری آنکھ سے، دیکھ کر یہ لڑائی مزہ آ گیا
aankh un ki lari yuun meri aankh se, dekh kar yeh laraaii maza aa gaya
Her eyes clashed with mine in such a way that seeing this fight made me joyful

آنکھ میں تھی حیاہ ہر ملاقات پر، سرخ عارض ہوئے وصل کی بات پر
aankh mein thi hayaa har mulaaqaat par, surkh aariz hue wasl ki baat par
Modesty was in her eyes every time we met; her cheeks blushed red when I spoke of our union

اُس نے شرما کے میرے سوالات پہ، ایسے گردن جھکائی مزہ آ گیا
us ne sharma ke mere sawaalaat pe, aise gardan jhukaaii maza aa gaya
Embarrassed by my questions, she lowered her head in such  a way that I was delighted

شیخ صاحب کا ایمان مٹ ہی گیا، دیکھ کر حسنِ ساقی پگھل ہی گیا
shaikh saahib ka eemaan mit hi gaya, dekh kar husn-e-saaqi pighal hi gaya
The shaikh’s faith was obliterated; upon seeing the cup-bearer’s beauty, it melted away

آج سے پہلے یہ کتنے مغرور تھے، لٹ گئی پارسائی مزہ آ گیا
aaj se pehle ye kitne maghroor the, lut gaii paarsaaii maza aa gaya
Before today, how proud he was; now his piety has been lost – how enjoyable!

اے فناؔ شکر ہے آج بعدِ فنا، اُس نے رکھلی میرے پیار کی آبرو
ae Fana shukar hai aaj baad-e-fana, us ne rakhli mere pyaar ki aabroo
O Fana, today I am grateful that after my demise, she has maintained the honor of my love

اپنے ہاتھوں سے اُس نے میری قبر پر، چادرِ گل چڑھائی مزہ آ گیا
apne haathon se us ne meri qabar par, chaadar-e-gul charhaaii maza aa gaya
With her own hands, she spread a sheet of flowers on my grave – how delightful!

* 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. Fana Buland Shehri included his takhallus in this qawwali when he says, “ae Fana shukar hai aaj baad-e-fana, us ne rakhli mere pyaar ki aabroo”. Fana is the author’s name, but it also means “annihilation”. This adds another meaning to that line: “O annihilation (death), today I am grateful that after my demise, she has maintained the honor of my love”.

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]”.