Mohammad Hussain Sarahang

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Mohammad Hussain Sarāhang
استاد محمد حسین سرآهنگ
Birth name Mohammad Hussain
Born 1924
Origin Kharabat, Kabul, Afghanistan
Died 1983
Genres Khayal, Thumri, Tarana and Ghazal
Occupation(s) Hindustani Classical Vocalist

Ustād Mohammad Hussain Sarāhang (Pashto/Persian: استاد محمد حسین سرآهنگ‎ - Sarahang; 1924–1983) was an Afghan musician and best known exponent of hindustani classical music from Kabul Afghanistan. He was the second oldest son of the musician Ustad Ghulam Hussain. Mohammad Hussain was born and raised in Kharabat (Kabul), a city famous for its musicians.

Career and education[edit]

He was born in Kharabat, an area in the old city of Kabul as Mohammad Hussain, the second son of the Peshawar musician, Ustad Ghulam Hussain, from whom he learned the basics of music. Hussain then studied Indian Classical Music in the Patiala School of Music in India. After 16 years of learning from Ustad Ashiq Ali Khan, he returned to Kabul at the age of 25. Soon afterward he was awarded the title of Sarāhang by the government of Afghanistan.

Ustad Sarahang performed various genres of classical and semi-classical music, including khayal, thumri, tarana, and ghazal. He earned the following titles and degrees from various music schools of India:

  • Degrees of Master, Doctor and Professor of Music from Kalakendra School of Music, Calcutta
  • Title of “Koh-e Beland” (High Mountain of Music) from Chandigarh School of Music, Chandigarh
  • Title of “Sar Taj-e Musiqee” (Top Crown of Music) from Central School of Music, Allahabad
  • Title of “Baba-e Musiqee” (The Father of Music) in his final concert in New Delhi, 1979
  • Title of “Sher-e Musiqee” (Lion of Music) in his last performance in Allahabad, 1982

Sarahang recorded roughly 500 raga performances and ghazals in India and at Radio Kabul. He has sung mostly the Ghazals of Amir Khusraw and Abul Ma'āni Bedil, the famous poets of Indian School of Poetry in Persian, as he was a famous Bedil Shenās (Bedil Expert).

He wrote two books about classical music, Qānūn-e Tarab (The Law of Music)[1] and Mūssīqī-e Rāg-hā (Music of Ragas).[2] He has also created or composed several ragas including Hazra and Minamalee.

Festival of Music in Kabul[edit]

At the age of 25, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang participated in a festival of music held at Kabuls famed Pamir Cinema. Amongst the participants were Ustad Qasim and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

At this festival, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang amazed the crowd with his talent and passion and was awarded the Gold Medal over the more famous Masters of music. His performance at this festival earned him the title of Ustad and a few years later, the government of Afghanistan awarded him the title of In Afghanistan.


Qanon e Tarab : Explaining the rules of eastern music

Ustad Sarahang also wrote many articles in Pashtun Ghag newspaper.

Fame in India[edit]

In India, Ustad Sarahang was an idol to be worshipped. During his last trip to Allahabad School of Music, in order to show respect for the great Ustad Sarahang, Indian female ‘Ustads’ and students of the school lined up and bowed their heads furnishing the path to the stage with their hair so that Ustad Sarahang could walk over them.[3] Ustad Sarahang once said that if he were to die in India, he was to be buried next to the tomb of Baydel Abdul-Qādir Bēdil. Upon his last trip to India in 1982, Ustad Sarahang fell gravely ill and was hospitalized and ordered not to sing and to keep his talking to a minimum. But Ustad Sarahang disregarded the orders of his doctors and continued his performance which earned him yet another medal and with it the pride to the people of Afghanistan.


  1. ^ Mohammad Hussain Sarahang was the lead author of Qānūn-e Tarab OCLC 48368272, along with Shahrānī, ʻInāyat Allāh and Rahīn, ʻAbd al-Rasūl. It covered not only music theory, but also a history of Afghan music with selected biographies.
  2. ^ WorldCat does not list Mūssīqī-e Rāg-hā.
  3. ^

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