By Sonya Rehman
Album: Apna muqam paida kar
Presented by: NCPS
The ‘National Council for the Promotion of Sufism’ (NCPS) in Pakistan was established to support and promote the works of some of the greatest Sufi poets/mystics – in the aim to give the country a ‘softer’ image in terms of Sufism, art and local cultural heritage.
The council consists of Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain (as its Chairman) and Yousaf Salahuddin (as its Vice Chairman) among other, recognized members.
‘Apna muqam paidar kar’ (which translates into ‘rise and be recognized’) is an album that was released by the council, which consists of the works (qalaams) of one of the greatest poets/philosophers of the country – Sir Muhammad Iqbal (more commonly known as, Allama Iqbal).
The album, ‘Apna muqam paida kar’, comprises of eight songs by artistes; Humaira Arshad, Ali Raza, Shabnam Majeed, Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Pervez, Abrar-ul-Haq, Masuma Anwar and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Released towards the end of 2006 after the album’s launch ceremony at Hazoori Bagh in Lahore, the album has been produced by Iqbal’s grandson, Yousaf Salahuddin (who has also composed a majority of the album’s songs), Mekaal Hasan (the Sound Engineer) and Farhan Albert (for the album’s arrangement).
‘Lawh bhi tu’ (the album’s first track), sung by Humaira Arshad, comes as a bit of a surprise. Reason being, Humaira manages to sound vocally steady and powerful without overbearing the song.
In ‘Digargun’ Ali Raza’s classical vocal deliverance comes without hardly any effort, as his alaaps quiver, flow and soar quite naturally. The song is a wonderful one as its overall sound manages to sound almost nostalgic and pained somehow.
The album is one fitted for ears which tilt in appreciation of authentic, classical music, and eyes that smile upon reading pure, Sufiana poetry on love and spiritual journeys. ‘Apna muqam paida kar’ will not ‘grow onto’ the listener after a casual listening or two…it must be felt – and the listener must be familiar with Iqbal’s history, works and Sufism. This is not to imply that the listener should have a PhD in the subject, still, a little awareness of the subject and theme wouldn’t hurt.
Shabnam Majeed’s delivery of ‘La phir ik baar’ is a treat. What a golden, canary voice the girl has. In fact once you hear her sing the first few verses, you are reminded of Lata Mangeshkar. Sings Shabnam: “My flask of poetry held the last few drops/Unlawful, says our crabb’d divine, oh Saki/Who has borne off Love’s valiant sword?” And: “Verse lights up life, while heart burns bright, but fades/For ever when those rays decline, oh Saki/Bereave not of its moon my night, I see/A full moon in your goblet shine, oh Saki!”
The tracks that follow by Jawad Ahmad, Fareeha Pervez (her song’s composition by Farida Khanum and Yousaf Salahuddin) and Abrar-ul-Haq, are also beautifully sung but it is Masuma Anwar who truly outshines in ‘Tujhe yaad kya’.
Masuma’s voice is captivating and words would hardly do her any justice if at all – but the throaty timber of her voice is in a league of its own, just as the way Abida Parveen enthralls her audience, so does Masuma. She sings; “Have you forgotten then my heart of old/That college of Love, that whip that bright eyes hold?/This is a strange world, neither cage nor nest/ With no calm nook in all its spacious fold”.
‘Diyar-i-ishq mein’ by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is a classic qawaali number which strikes a powerful and inspiring equilibrium. Singing with the josh required for passionate qawaali songs, Rahat belts out: “My songs are the grapes on the spray of my vine/Distil from their clusters the poppy-red wine/The way of the hermit, not fortune, is mine/Sell not your soul! In a beggar’s rags shine!”
With guitars by Salman Albert and Sajjad Hussain, the satrangi by Khawar, flute by Muhammad Ahsan Puppoo and tablas by Baloo Khan and Babar Khanna – ‘Apna muqam paida kar’ is truly, a collector’s item.
Pakistan’s ‘softer image’ (so to speak), has been aided by classical music maestro’s Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen and others (who have sung, and continue to sing traditional Sufiana verses of poetry). Their songs not only promote the arts and poetry, but also a particular ideology – a way of life, a way of the ‘dervaish’…that is a simple, yet spiritually rich one.
The NCPS’s album, ‘Apna muqam paida kar’ is an acknowledgement and tribute in honour of not only Allama Iqbal, but also in reverence to the Sufi way of life.
Instep, The News