Purnam Allahabadi (1948-1997), a notable Pakistani poet, penned a salaam in honor of the sacrifice of Husayn that opens with the line “Salaami Karbala Men Kya”. This poem was sung beautifully by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997) as a qawwali titled “Ya Husain”.
“Ashkon Ke Le Ke Dhaare” is an Urdu nazm written by the Pakistani poet Ishrat Godharvi and sung by the folk singer Shahid Ali Khan. Although he is not a household name, Godharvi is a prolific contemporary poet.
“Taajdaar-e Haram” is a devotional qawwali famously performed by the late Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930-1994) and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945-2011), from Pakistan. Their live rendition of this hymn is rich and complex, containing excerpts from poems written by diverse authors in different languages and time periods.
“Kisi Din” is an Urdu ghazal penned by the Pakistani poet Amjad Islam Amjad (1944-2023). It was set to music and reimagined as more of a pop song by the Indian singer and musician Adnan Sami (1971-present). Sami featured it as the title track of his album Kisi Din, released in 2007.
“Bhar Do Jholi” is a popular qawwali most famously performed by the late Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930-1994) and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945-2011), from Pakistan. It was written by Purnam Allahabadi (1940-2009), a prolific Urdu poet whose real name was Mohammed Musa. “Bhar Do Jholi” appears in his book Phool Dekhe Na Gaye (I Could Not Look at Flowers), which was published in the 1960s or 1970s.
“Safar Men Dhoop To Ho Gi” is a powerful Urdu ghazal by Indian poet Nida Fazli (1938-2016). It was popularized by Chitra Singh and her late husband Jagjit Singh, who often sang it at their concerts. “Safar Men Dhoop” was published in Fazli’s 1986 book Aankh Aur Khwab Ke Darmiyan, though it appeared earlier as part of the soundtrack of the obscure 1984 Bollywood movie Kunwari Bahu.
“Balagh-al-’Ula Bi-Kamaalihi” is a popular qawwali most famously performed by the late Sabri Brothers, Ghulam Farid Sabri (1930-1994) and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1945-2011), from Pakistan. It is a multilingual na’at (a praise of the prophet Muhammad) that amalgamates poetry from across time periods and geographies, with at least four authors.
One example of an excellent contemporary Urdu ghazal is “Dil Men Ik Leher Si Uthi Hai Abhi” by Nasir Kazmi, a Pakistani poet. Kazmi (1925-1972) was born in Ambala in East Punjab during the British Raj, and moved to Lahore during the partition of India. His poems are often written in short meter (چھوٹی بحر / chHoTi beher) and have a relatable and modern quality to them.
“Mere Rashk-e Qamar” is an Urdu ghazal that was penned by the Pakistani poet Fana Buland Shehri (?-1986) and performed as a qawwali in the 1980s by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997).
Attributed to the legendary Ameer Khusrau, “Zi-haal-e Miskeen” is a romantic ghazal that alternates between Farsi (Persian) and Braj Bhasha, a dialect of Hindi. Although its true authorship is unclear due to a lack of historical records, it is one of Khusrau’s most well-known poems, particularly because of its unique bilingual structure.