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).