Habib Wali Mohammad

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Habib Wali Mohammad
Native name حبیب ولی محمد
Born 1924
Rangoon, Burma
Died 4 September 2014(2014-09-04) (aged 93)
Los Angeles, California USA
Genres Ghazal
Occupation(s) Singer, businessman
Instruments Harmonium

Habib Wali Mohammad (Urdu: حبیب ولی محمد‎) (January 16th 1924 – 3rd September 2014) was a Pakistani ghazal singer.[1]

Early life[edit]

Habib Wali Mohammad was born in 1924 Rangoon to a conservative Memon family, which later moved to Mumbai. His family, Tabani, an industrial house has large business holdings in Pakistan.[2]

During his childhood Habib Wali Mohammad often listened to Qawwali music. But due to economic reasons, he gave priority to academics.

He received his MBA from Syracuse University, New York in 1947, and then lived in Mumbai for about 10 years before moving to Pakistan. His brother Ashraf W. Tabani was governor of the province of Sindh around 1988. He died on 3 September 2014 in Los Angeles US.


As a youth, Habib Wali received classical music lessons from Ustad Latafath Husain, nephew of Ustad Fayyaz Khan. In college, he became active in the musical functions of Ismail Yusuf College, gaining the nickname 'Taan sain'. He completed a bachelor's degree in Bombay.[2]

In 1941, Habib Wali was awarded first prize in a Bombay music competition with 1200 contestants, including the singer Mukesh Chand Mathur. His winning performance was singing the ghazal of the last Moghul Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, Lagta Nahin Hai Jee Mera Ujray Diyar Mein.[2]

Encouraged by this honour, at a young age, he took more interest in ghazal singing. During his stay in America, he had been out of touch with music. Hence, he felt lonely and missed his earlier college functions in Bombay. In his own words: He was not happy in ‘Ujray dayar mein’ the same ghazal which had won him an award of a lifetime. He put a lot of effort and came out with a gramophone record of ghazals in his voice. On one side of the record, he dubbed Bahadur Shah Zafar’s ghazals and on the other side, Ghalib's's ghazals.

Unfortunately, the Indian public was reluctant to buy them.

From these ghazals, actress Meena Kumari became a fan of his, and since she was at the time affiliated with Radio Ceylon, she had his recordings broadcast often. This boosted Habib Wali's sales and caused him to become a celebrity.[2]

After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, his family migrated to Pakistan and established an industrial group which includes the Shalimar silk mills. He gave most of his time to the family business, recording ghazals and geets for films in his spare time, however music was not pursued as a profession.[2]

However he still sang ghazals for the music companies.(including a geet written by Perveen Shakir: ‘Gori karath singhar’) In the eighties, he recorded ghazals on audio cassettes which were composed by the renowned music director Nisar Bazmi and Niaz Ahmed. In addition, he received offers to record play-back songs for the Pakistan film industry.


Habib Wali Mohammad is from an early group of singers ever to record the art form and is still at his peak today. But probably because of his background and as a member of a well-established family, Habib Wali has never pursued an aggressive and mainstream career as a singer, though he is still highly regarded.

He has been awarded the Nigar award. His famous ghazals include Bahadur Shah Zafar's 'Na kisi ki Aankh ka noor hoon' and Qamar Jalalavi's 'Kab mera nasheman ahelay chaman'. All of his performances of the ghazals of Bahadur Shah Zafar have been very popular.

His other well known ghazals, include Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo. He also sang the famous national song, "Roshan-o-Rakhshan, Nayyar-o-Tabaan, Pakistan rahay".

Personal life[edit]

Habib Wali Mohammad lived in Los Angeles California, United States with his wife, Rehana and his family, including his sons, Rizwan Wali Mohammad Tabani and Nadeem Wali Mohammad Tabani. Both are ghazal and geet performers in their own right. Anwar Wali Mhuammad Tabani lives in New Jersey and the daughter Ruxana Bengali lives in Karachi-Pakistan.


Some of the ghazals, recorded in the voice of Habib Wali Mohammad are listed here below:

‘Ye na thi hamari Qismath’: poet: Mirza Ghalib

‘Ja kahio unsay naseem-e-sahar’: poet: Bahadur Shah Zafar.

‘Gajra bana kay lay Aa malaniya’: poet: Afshan Rana.

Following are the ghazals, which are considered as a treasure for the Pakistani films:

‘Aaj janay ki zid na karo’: poet: Fayyaz Hashmi, picturised on Nadeem

‘Aashiyan jal gaya' :poet: Raaz Illahabadi, film: ‘Baazi’

'Raatain theen chandni':Film: ‘Baazi’

'Marnen ki Duawain Kyun Mangon-Jeene ki Tamana kon Kare' :Flim 'Chand Sooraj'

National songs like: ‘Roshan-o- rakhshan, nayyar-o-taban’, Aye nigar re watan tu salamat rahay, Sphni dharti Allah rakhay, Lahoo jo sarhad pe beh chuka hay, La fata illah ali la saif-o – illah zulfakar.

Recent concerts[edit]

Habib Wali Mohammad had a ghazal concert on 27 February 2010 in Edison, New Jersey, and on 28 February 2010 in West Virginia, performing with his son Nadeem Wali Mohammad, and former singer Bela Modi.

Habib Wali Mohammad recently performed in April 2012 in San Jose California for the Human Development Foundation, a fund raising event.


  1. ^ "Habib Wali Muhammad passes away at 93". The Express Tribine. 4 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Shakur, Anis. "Habib Wali Mohammad". Chowk: India Pakistan Ideas Identities. Chowk. Retrieved 26 January 2011. 

3. http://www.urdubandhan.com/bazm/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=7993