Unforgettable Aziz Mian Qawwal

ByManaksha Memon

A social worker devoted to social causes

Dated

December 17, 2022

Unforgettable Aziz Mian Qawwal

Manaksha Memon recollects a remarkable legacy 

Unforgettable Aziz Mian Qawwal was one of Pakistan’s leading traditional qawwals and was also famous for singing ghazals in a unique style of qawwali. Aziz Mian is rated to be one of the most popular qawwals of the subcontinent more than two decades after his death. Many of his numbers are considered legendary in the annals of the qawwali genre and are greatly adored by people. He holds the record for singing the longest commercially released qawwali, Hashr Ke Roz Yeh Poochhunga, which runs slightly over 115 minutes.
Aziz Mian was born as Abdul Aziz in Delhi and began to introduce himself as Aziz Mian Meeruthi and he migrated to Pakistan in 1947. At the age of ten, he began learning the art of Qawwali under the tutelage of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan of Lahore. He received sixteen years of training at the Data Ganj Baksh School of Lahore and earned degrees in Urdu literature, Arabic and Persian from the University of Punjab, Lahore. He developed a high degree of literary taste and was widely known to be an extremely cultured individual well respected for his polished manners and chaste language.

Aziz Mian was one of the non-traditional Pakistani Qawwals. His voice was raspy and powerful. Aziz Mian was the only prominent qawwal to write his own lyrics. Aziz Mian was a contemporary and often a competitor, of the Sabri Brothers, the legendary Pakistani qawwals who are rated very highly in this particular field of performance and virtually created a distinct style that is still emulated widely. Aziz Mian’s big break came when in 1966 when he performed before the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and was awarded a gold medal by the Shah of Iran.

In the early days of his career, he mostly performed in military surroundings for the army personnel as his aggressive style was greatly admired in such circles. He was known for a more recitative, more dramatic diction and was inclined toward qawwali’s religious rather than entertainment qualities, though he also enjoyed success in more romantic qawwalis. His style displayed a profound devotion to his recital and he often was seen getting completely absorbed in his performances.

Aziz Mian was fond of discussing religious and Sufi paradoxes in his qawwalis. He directly addressed Allah and complained about the misery of man. In addition to his own poetry, Aziz Mian performed poetry by Allama Iqbal and a number of contemporary Urdu poets, including S M Sadiq, Saifuddin Saif and Qateel Shifai. His qawwalis also were peppered with popular couplets that added flavour to his performances. His highly emotional delivery created tremendous impact on his audiences and they were duly impressed by his rendition.

Aziz Mian did not live long and passed away at the age of 58 in Tehran from complications of hepatitis. He was visiting Iran at the invitation of the government of Iran to perform on the occasion of Hazrat Ali’s death anniversary. His dead body was brought back to Pakistan and he was buried in Multan on the banks of Nau Bahar Nehar. His Urs is celebrated every year on the first Thursday of May, the Urs celebrations commence with the ‘Ghusal’ ceremony conducted by Mian Saheb’s son Shibli Aziz and Rasm e Sandal of Baba Nadir Hussain famously known as ‘Tootan Wali Sarkar’ who is a disciple and devotee of Aziz Mian. The Urs celebrations continue for three days and in the Mehfil e Samaa seven to eight qawwal groups perform.

Aziz Mian had seven sons and many have followed in the footsteps of their father and they emulate the style of Aziz Mian. His son Tabrz is considered closest in looks and performance style to his father and is a quite well-known performer. TW

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