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 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).

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 poets of Indian School of Poetry in Persian, as he was a 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 Kabul's Pamir Cinema. Amongst the participants were Ustad Qasim and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

At this festival, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang was awarded the Gold Medal over the Masters of music. He was awarded the title of Ustad for his performance at this festival and a few years later, the government of Afghanistan awarded him the title of Sarāhang.


Qanon e Tarab : Explaining the rules of eastern music

Ustad Sarahang also wrote articles in Pashtun Ghag newspaper.

Fame in India[edit]

During his last trip to Allahabad School of Music, in order to show respect, 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 1983, Ustad Sarahang fell ill and was hospitalized and ordered not to sing and to keep his talking to a minimum. Ustad Sarahang told his doctors he was feeling homesick and he would get better if he went back to Afghanistan. Ustad Sarahang went back to Afghanistan but he disregarded the orders of his doctors and continued his performance. As a result, he was given another medal. He became ill again and was hospitalized in Afghanistan where he died from a heart attack.


  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 a history of Afghan music with selected biographies as well as music theory.
  2. ^ WorldCat does not list Mūssīqī-e Rāg-hā.
  3. ^

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