Sabri Brothers

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The Sabri Brothers
Origin Kalyana, East Punjab
Genres Sufi qawwali
Years active 1956–2016
Members Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri
(1975 – present)
Past members

Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930–94)
Kamal Sabri (died 2001)
Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945–2011)
Amjad Fareed Sabri (1970


The Sabri Brothers (Punjabi, Urdu: صابری برادران‎) is a music band from Pakistan performing Sufi qawwali music, closely connected to the Chishti Order. The band was initially founded and led by the late Ghulam Farid Sabri, whose periodic repeat use of "Allah" during songs has become a Sabri signature, and his younger brother late Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. After the brothers' death,[when?] the band was led by Ghulam Farid's son Amjad Fareed Sabri who continued the qawwali tradition.

The Sabri Brothers are considered the first exponents of qawwali music to the West, when they performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1975.[1] Many people consider the Sabris instrumentally more adventurous, rougher and more soulful than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Sabri Brothers have given a number of soulful qawwali performances globally, and their stature in the Sub-continent is colossal.

On 22 June 2016, Amjad Fareed Sabri was killed in a targeted killing in Karachi.

Original members[edit]

The Sabri Brothers originally consisted of

  • Ghulam Farid Sabri (b. 1930 in Kalyana, East Punjab – d. 5 April 1994 in Karachi; lead vocals, harmonium),
  • Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (b. 12 October 1945 in Kalyana – d. 21 September 2011 in South Africa;[2] (lead vocals, harmonium),
  • Kamal Sabri (died 2001; vocals, swarmandal)
  • Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri (b. 1949 in Karachi; vocals, bongo drums, tambourine),
  • Fazal Islam (chorus),
  • Azmat Farid Sabri (chorus),
  • Sarwat Farid Sabri (chorus),
  • Javed Kamal Sabri (chorus),
  • Umer Daraz (chorus),
  • Abdul Aziz (chorus),
  • Masihuddin (chorus, tanpura),
  • Abdul Karim (dholak),
  • Mohammed Anwar (nal, tabla).

Early life[edit]

The Sabri brothers learned music from their father, Inayat Hussain Sabri. He trained his sons in qawwali and Indian classical music. Their first public performance was at the annual Urs festival of Mubarak Shah in Kalyana in 1946. The family moved from Kalyana to Karachi, Pakistan following the Partition of India in 1947. Maqbool furthered his knowledge of music under Ustad Fatehdin Khan, Ustad Ramzan Khan, and Ustad Latafat Hussein Khan Bareilly Sharif. With the help of his father, Maqbool formed a qawwali group at the age of eleven. Soon afterwards, Ghulam Farid, who was then performing with Ustad Kallan Khan's qawwali party, joined him and became the leader of the party, which soon came to be known as Sabri Brothers.


Their first recording, released in 1958 under the EMI Pakistan label, was the Urdu qawwali titled Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa. Their later hits included Tajdaar-E-Haram (King of the Kaaba, 1975), O Sharabi Chorr De Peena (Hey, Alcoholic, Stop Drinking, 1976) and [3] Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi (Reaching the Highest Heights Through Perfection, 1977). They were the first exponents of Qawwali to the West, when they performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1975. They again perormed in Carneige Hall in 1978.[4] They played the Womad festival in the UK in 1989 – one of a series of appearances there – and released the album Ya Habib (O Beloved) on Peter Gabriel's Real World Records label the following year.[1] The Sabri Brothers is the only qawwali troupe which has a "first class" status on the Pakistan Television Corporation. Popular film and recording artists in Pakistan, the Sabri Brothers troupe has toured Europe, Asia and the Middle East. In 1970 the Government of Pakistan sent them to Nepal as representatives for a royal wedding. In 1975 they performed in the United States and Canada under the auspices of The Performing Arts Program of The Asia Society. In June 1981, they performed at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.[5] The group is now led by Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri.

In April 1978, the album Qawwali was recorded in the United States, while the Sabri Brothers were on tour. The New York Times review described the album as, "The Aural Equivalent of Dancing Dervishes" and the, "Music of Feeling."[6] In 1983 they recorded the album Nazre Shah Karim to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan,sponsored by Tajico Group. The income of this album was donated to Aga Khan Hospital, Karachi.[7] To devote an album entirely to the Persian poetry of Jami, a luminary of the Sufi Tradition, was an ambition they had always cherished. Ghulam Farid Sabri did the recordings of Kalam By Maulana Abdul Rehman Jami in July 1991 at the SFB studios in Berlin, but the CD was not released until 1995 whereas Ghulam Farid Sabri had died in 1994. Thus, ''Jami'' becomes a memorial not only to the Persian poet, but also to the Pakistani "Qawwal."[8] In 1996, they performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music- Next Wave Festival, as part of a double-bill with alternate-rockers Corner Shop.[9] On 17 November 2001 they performed in DOM at 'ON THE CARPET Oriental Culture Festival'.

Qawwalis featured in Pakistani & Indian films[edit]

Several of their qawwalis have featured in films. Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa appeared in the 1965 Pakistani film Ishq-e-Habib, Mohabbat Karne Walo Hum Mohabbat Iss Ko Kehtain Hain in the 1970 film Chand Suraj, Aaye Hain Tere Dar Pe Tau Kucch Lay Ke Jaen Gay in the 1972 film Ilzam, Bhar Do Johli Meri Ya Muhammad in the 1975 film Bin Badal Barsaat, Teri Nazr-e-Karam Ka Sahara Milay in the 1976 film Sachaii, Tajdar-e-Haram in the 1982 film Sahaaray, and Aftab-e-Risalat in the 1977 Indian film Sultan-e-Hind. Bhar do Jholi meri ya Muhammad was featured in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Indian movie) sung by Adnan Sami Khan with little changes.


The Sabri brothers were quite revolutionary as they performed at a diverse array of venues and extensively used mass media to get their music across to thousands of people. This was highly unorthodox as Qawwali music is historically performed only at divine occasions.[10]

They were well versed in singing in Persian language and had a great affinity to the musical rendition of Hazrat Amir Khusrow’s kalaam (poetry).[11]

In March 2008 an underpass near Liaquatabad was named after Ghulam Farid Sabri.[12] Coke Studio Season 8 paid a special tribute to the Sabri Brothers by Atif Aslam performing the all-time hit Tajdar-e-Haram.[13]


Concert films[edit]

  • Live in England - Vol 1
  • Live in England - Vol 2
  • Live in England - Vol 3
  • Live in England - Vol 4
  • Live at Allah Ditta Hall Birmingham Vol 1
  • Live at Allah Ditta Hall Birmingham Vol 2
  • Qawali – The Sabri Brothers (Live At Shrine Of Abdullah Shah Ghazi) [14]


  • 1976 Deewani Kawaja Ki Deewani / O Sharabi Chod De Peena (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1978 Kawwali Musicians from Pakistan (Arion)
  • 1979 Music of Pakistan – Qawwali – Live in Concert (Vinyl LP Record, 1979)
  • 1979 Sabri Brothers Qawwal (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1979 Shikwa Jawab Shikwa (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Greatest Qawwali's of Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Sabri Brothers in Concert – Vol.1–3 (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Sabri Brothers Live Concert Vol −16 (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Sabri Brothers – Mehfil-E-Programme Vol −17 (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1982 Jhoot Ke Paon Nahin Hain (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1982 Sabri Brothers - Ghulam Farid & Maqbool Sabri(EMI Pakistan)
  • 1982 Maqbool Ahmed Sabri – Urdu Ghazal (His Master's Voice)
  • 1983 New Qawwali's By Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1983 Nazr-e-Shah Karim (Qawwali for the Silver Jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan,
  • 1984 Jogan Daata Di (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1985 Hits of Sabri Brothets (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1985 Maqbool Ahmed Sabri – Awargi (CBS)
  • 1986 Ya Muhammad Nigahe Karam (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1987 Sur Bahar " Amir Khusro " (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1988 Shan-E-Aulia (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1988 Live at Allah Ditta Hall (UK Tour)
  • 1990 Sabri Brothers New Qawwali's 1990 (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1990 The Music of the Qawwali (Auvidis, UNESCO)
  • 1990 Ya Habib (Real World)
  • 1993 Qawwali Masterworks (Piranha)
  • 1993 Pyar Ke Morr, Vol. 1(Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1994 Shehanshah-e-Qawwali Ki Yaad Mein – Vol.1–2 (EMI Pakistan)
  • Yaron Kisi Katil Se Kabhi (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1994 Savere Savere (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1994 La Elah Ki Boli Bol (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1994–97 Greatest Hits of Sabri Brothers, Vol.1–3 (Sirocco)
  • 1994 Milta Hai Kya Namaz Mein – Live in UK (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Jami (Piranha)
  • 1996 Ya Mustapha (Xenophile)
  • 1996 Ae Mere Hamnasheen (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Khawaja Ki Diwani – Live in Europe 1981 (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Tajdare Haram (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Nazan Hai Jis Pai Husn (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Maikadah – Live in Concert (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Balaghul Ula Bekamalehi (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1998 Hazir Hain (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1998 Qawwali (Nonesuch)
  • 2001 Ya Raematal Lilalmin (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2003 Bindia Lagaon Kabhi (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2003 Jhoole Jhoole Ji Mohammad (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2003 Live In Moscow Diwani (Long Arms Record)
  • 2003 Tasleem 1981 Tour Of America (Royal Tropical Institute)
  • 2005 Jitna Diya Sarkar Ne Mujhko (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2005 Mangte Hai Karam Unka (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Ajmer Ko Jana Hai (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Ya Raematal Lilalmin (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Posheeda Posheeda - Live in Concert UK (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Piya Ghar Aya (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2009 Shikva Javab-e-Shikvah (Oriental Star Agencies)
Contributing artist

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chris Menist (12 October 2011). "Maqbool Sabri obituary | Music". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  2. ^ The Nation – Obituary
  3. ^ "Crazy diamonds – V - Blogs". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2016-06-23. 
  4. ^!search=Sabri%20Brothers
  5. ^ "KIT Publication: Tasleem". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Qawwali: Sufi Music of Pakistan | Nonesuch Records". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  8. ^ piranha. "Piranha MusicScout". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  9. ^ JON PARELESPublished: 5 November 1996 (5 November 1996). "Scaling Mystic Heights on a Driving Sufi Beat – New York Times". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  10. ^ Radia, Adi (November 13, 2014). "Why Sufi Is The Best Genre Of Music". USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  11. ^ Amjad Sabri laid to rest in Karachi
  12. ^ "New names for three underpasses". Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. March 31, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  13. ^ Fatima, Sana (September 14, 2015). "Coke Studio has hit home in the first four episodes". NawaiWaqt Group. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Qawali-The-Sabri-Brothers - Cast, Crew, Director and Awards -". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  15. ^ Obituary and Pride of Performance Award info for Maqbool Ahmed Sabri on The Express Tribune newspaper, Published 24 Sep 2011, Retrieved 11 April 2016
  16. ^ "Who's Who: Music in Pakistan - Sheikh, M. A. - Google Books". 2012-04-26. Retrieved 2016-06-23.