Sabri Brothers

Sabri Brothers

Sabri Brothers

The Sabri Brothers (Punjabi, Urdu: صابری برادران‎) are a Sufi Qawwali party from Pakistan. Sometimes, referred to as Roving Ambassadors for Pakistan.1

Original members

The Sabri Brothers originally consisted of Ghulam Farid Sabri (b. 1930 in Kalyana, East Punjab – d. April 5, 1994 in Karachi; lead vocals, harmonium), Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (b. October 12, 1945 in Kalyana – d. September 21, 2011 in South Africa;2 lead vocals, harmonium), Kamal Sabri (d. 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), and Mohammed Anwar (nal, tabla).

Early life

The Sabri brothers learnt music from their father, Ustad Inayat Sen Sabri. He trained his sons in Qawwali and North Indian classical music. Their first public performance was at the annual Urs festival of Hazrat Peer Mubarak Shah in Kalyana in 1946. The family moved from Kalyana India 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, Mera Koi Nahin Hai. Their later hits included Tajdaar-E-Haram (King of the Kaaba, 1975) and 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 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. The Sabri Brothers is the only qawwali troupe which has a “first class” status in 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 the 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. 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.” To devote an album entirely to the Persian poetry of Jami, a luminary of the Sufi Tradition, was an ambition he 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 sadly was not released while he was still alive until in 1995. Thus, ”Jami” becomes a memorial not only to the Persian poet, but also to the Pakistani “Qawwal.” In 1996, they performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Next Wave Festival, as part of a double-bill with alt-rockers Corner shop. On November 17, 2001 they performed in DOM at ON THE CARPET Oriental Culture Festival.

Several of their qawwalis have featured in films. Mera Koi Nahin Hai appeared in the 1965 film Ishq-e-Habib, Mohabbat Karne Walo in the 1970 film Chand Suraj, Aaye Hain Tere Dar Pe in the 1972 film Ilzam, Bhar Do Johli Meri Ya Muhammad in the 1975 film Bin Badal Barsaat, Teri Nazr-e-Karam 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.


  • Albums

  • Nazr-e-Shah Karim (Qawwali for the Silver Jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan, 1983)
  • Live At Allah Ditta Hall (UK Tour 1988)
  • Qawali – The Sabri Brothers (1986)
  • Ae Mere Hamnasheen (Oriental Star Agencies, 1996)
  • Ajmer Ko Jana Hai (Oriental Star Agencies, 2007)
  • Balaghul Ula Bekamalehi (Oriental Star Agencies, 1997)
  • Bindia Lagaon Kabhi (Oriental Star Agencies, 2003)
  • Deewani Kawaja Ki Deewani / O Sharabi Chod De Peena (EMI Pakistan, 1976)3
  • Greatest Hits of Sabri Brothers, Vol.1–3 (Sirocco, 1994–97)
  • Greatest Qawwali’s Of Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan 1980)
  • Hazir Hain (Oriental Star Agencies, 1998)
  • Hits Of Sabri Brothets (EMI Pakistan 1985)
  • Jami (Piranha, 1996)
  • Jhoot Ke Paon Nahin Hain (EMI Pakistan 1982)
  • Jhoole Jhoole Ji Mohammad (Oriental Star Agencies, 2003)
  • Jitna Diya Sarkar Ne Mujhko (Oriental Star Agencies, 2005)
  • Jogan Daata Di (EMI Pakistan 1984)
  • Maqbool Ahmed Sabri – Urdu Ghazal (His Master’s Voice, 1982)
  • Maqbool Ahmed Sabri – Awargi (CBS, 1985)
  • Music Of Pakistan – Qawwali – Live In Concert (Vinyl Lp Record, 1979)4
  • Kawwali Musicians from Pakistan (Arion, 1978)
  • Khawaja Ki Diwani – Live in Europe 1981 (Oriental Star Agencies, 1996)
  • La Elah Ki Boli Bol (Oriental Star Agencies, 1994)
  • Maikadah – Live in Concert (Oriental Star Agencies, 1997)
  • Mangte Hai Karam Unka (Oriental Star Agencies, 2005)
  • Milta Hai Kya Namaz Mein – Live in UK (Oriental Star Agencies, 1994)
  • Nazan Hai Jis Pai Husn (1997)
  • New Qawwali’s By Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan 1985)
  • Pyar Ke Morr, Vol. 1(Oriental Star Agencies, 1993)
  • Qawwali (Nonesuch, 1998)
  • Qawwali Masterworks (Piranha, 1993)
  • Sabri Brothers Qawwal (EMI Pakistan, 1979)5
  • Sabri Brothers New Qawwali’s 1990 (EMI Pakistan 1990)
  • 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 1980)
  • Shan-E-Aulia (EMI Pakistan, 1988)6
  • Savere Savere (Oriental Star Agencies, 1994)
  • Tajdare Haram (Oriental Star Agencies, 1996)
  • The Music of the Qawwali (Auvidis, UNESCO, 1990)
  • Ya Habib (Real World, 1990)
  • Ya Mustapha (Xenophile, 1996)
  • Ya Raematal Lilalmin (Oriental Star Agencies, 2001)
  • Ya Muhammad Nigahe Karam (EMI Pakistan)
  • Shan-E-Aulia (EMI Pakistan, 1988)
  • Live In Moscow Diwani (Long Arms Reocrd, 2003)
  • Tasleem (Royal Tropical Institute, 2003)

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