When I was in my teens, my connection to Allah was minimal. I was too occupied with the usual teenage shenanigans. In college, I was too engrossed with studies and work, but still managed to learn a thing or two about Islam. But my exposure to Islam at the time was through these middle-eastern dudes, who had a slightly ‘fundamentalist’ (for lack of a better word currently in my lexicon) bent. So, I started following some of the ritualistic gestures I observed them practicing. One of those concepts was the check on listening to devotional songs (of faith). So, for a long time after that, up until my early forties, I never felt any attraction towards spiritual hymns. Since I have a Pakistani background, my exposure was to some Sufi stuff, Qawwalis, Hamds and Naats, etc., usually in Urdu language. In my youth, Qawwalis have been huge in South Asia, then a period came when Sufi music took prominence, then more and more people started listening to English Hamds and Naats. Sami Yusuf and Maher Zain are examples of those.
15 years ago, I would flinch at the thought of qawwalis and anything that mixed music with Islam. Then came Coke Studio in Pakistan, and the rehashed devotional songs and hamds of yesteryears, coming to the fore of spiritual music. 3-4 years ago, during my spiritual “transition”, I got exposure to these re-done devotional songs. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.
I clearly remember this one Hamd that started it all for me. It was Najam Sheraz’s “Yeh Muamla Koi Aur Hai”. I was just floored by this. I remember having tears in my eyes, every time I would hear it. Since then, I have been impressed by so many works, but YMKAH is what started it all for me. I’d also like to mention the one person who started it all (IMHO) in Pakistan, Qari Waheed Zafar Qasmi. He is undoubtedly the pioneer who stands head and shoulders above all.
I have found that one’s connection to the Divine is innate to the human spirit. It is never broken, but sometimes moves to the background. Life experiences have a tendency to trigger this connection at times. I believe this devotional music played some part in triggering mine.
Here is a list (to start off) presented with humility;
1) Yeh Muamla Koi Aur Hai (Hamd) – Najam Sheraz
2) Allah U Akbar (Hamd) – Ahmed Jehanzeb & Shafqat Amanat
3) Mera Dil Badal De (Hamd) – Junaid Jamshed
4) Allahu Allahu (Naat) – Qari Waheed Zafar Qasmi
5) Madad (Hamd) – Junaid Jamshed
6) Aaqa (Hamd) – Abida Parveen & Ali Sethi
Lyrics to AAqa
Go make your connection with God.
To be continued…