A soulful reminder of human mortality, “Mitti” is an amazing, underrated song by the Pakistani band Junoon. Founded in 1990 and comprising Salman Ahmad, Ali Azmat, and Brian O’Connell, Junoon introduced the genre of “Sufi rock” to the world.
Safar Men Dhoop To Ho Gi: A Ghazal for Inspiration
“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.
Balaghal ‘Ula Bikamaalihi: In Praise of the Prophet
“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.
Dil Men Ik Leher: A Refreshing Ghazal
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: O My Envy of the Moon
“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).
Zihaal-e Miskeen: A Bilingual Masterpiece
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.