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The Sabri Brothers (Punjabi, Urdu: صابری برادران‎) is a music band from Pakistan who are performers of Sufi qawwali and are closely connected to the Chishti Order, They are referred to as Roving ambassadors of Pakistan. The band was initially founded and led by Ghulam Farid Sabri and his brother Maqbool Ahmed Sabri.


The Sabri Brothers

The Original Sabri Brothers.jpg
Background information
OriginKalyana, East Punjab
Years active1956–1994
MembersMehmood Ghaznavi Sabri
(1975 – present)
Past membersGhulam Farid Sabri (1956–94)
Kamal Sabri (1972-2001)
Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (1956–2011)
Amjad Fareed Sabri (1980-1996)

They were the first exponents of qawwali to the West, when they performed at New York's Carnegie Hall in 1975.[1] Sabri Brothers have given a number of soulful qawwali performances globally, and their stature in the Sub-continent is colossal.


Original membersEdit

  • Ghulam Farid Sabri (b. 1930 in Kalyana, East Punjab – d. 5 April 1994 in Karachi; (lead vocals, harmonium)
  • Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (b. 12 October 1945 in Kalyana – d. 21 September 2011 in South Africa;[2] (lead vocals,[3] harmonium)
  • Kamal Sabri (b. 1935 - d. 2001; vocals, swarmandal) (Secretary Of The Group)
  • Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri (b. 1949 in Karachi; vocals, bongo drums, tambourine), (2nd lead singer after Ghulam Farid Sabri's death),
  • Umer Daraz (clapping / chorus),
  • Abdul Aziz (clapping / chorus),
  • Masihuddin (chorus, tanpura),
  • Abdul Karim (dholak),
  • Mohammed Anwar (nal, tabla).
  • Amjad Fareed Sabri (clapping / chorus, until his father's death), supporting vocalist until 1996, lead vocals, harmonium in his own separate band, (assassinated on June 22, 2016)
  • Fazal Islam Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Azmat Farid Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Sarwat Farid Sabri (clapping / chorus, Manager Of The Group In Europe)
  • Zubair Kamaal Ahmed Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Shumail Maqbool Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Javed Kamal Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Ghulam Jalani (clapping / chorus),
  • Abdul Ghani (dholak),
  • Zafar Islam Sabri (clapping / chorus),
  • Muhammad Akram Warsi (clapping / chorus),

Early lifeEdit

The Sabri brothers learned music from their father, Inayat Hussain Sabri. He trained his sons in qawwali and Indian classical music. Ghulam Farid's public performance was at the annual Urs festival of Mubarak Shah in Kalyana in 1946. The family moved from Kalyana 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 and named it Bacha Qawwal Party. 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 Ghulam Farid Sabri & Maqbool Ahmed Sabri Qawwal Party. During their 1975 American tour, their promoter Beate Gordon suggested the band name was too long, so they changed it to "The Sabri Brothers and ensemble from Pakistan".


Early careerEdit

Their first recording, released in 1958 under the EMI Pakistan label, was the Urdu qawwali titled Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa (There Is No One But You), which was later appeared in the 1965 Pakistani film Ishq-e-Habib.


1970s witnessed the rise of the Sabri Brothers. They are the only qawwali troupe which has a "first class" status on the Pakistan Television Corporation.

In 1970 the Government of Pakistan sent them to Nepal as representatives for a royal wedding. They released their later hits included Tajdaar-E-Haram (King of the Kaaba, 1975), O Sharabi Chorr De Peena (Hey, Alcoholic, Stop Drinking, 1976), Khwaja Ki Deewani (Lover of Khawaja, 1976) and Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi (Reaching the Highest Heights Through Perfection, 1977).[4] Popular film and recording artists in Pakistan, their several qawwalis featured in films.Mohabbat Karne Walo Hum Mohabbat Iss Ko Kehtain Hain in the 1970 film Chand Suraj, Aaye Hain Tere Dar Pe Tau Kucch Lay Ke Jaen Gay in the 1972 film Ilzam, Bhar Do Johli Meri Ya Muhammad in the 1975 film Bin Badal Barsaat, Bawa Farid Sarkar in the 1974 film Sasta Khoon Mehnga Pani,[5] Teri Nazr-e-Karam Ka Sahara Milay in the 1976 film Sachaii, Mamoor horha hai in the 1977 film Dayar-e-Paighambran and Aftab-e-Risalat in the 1977 Indian film Sultan-e-Hind.

The Sabri Brothers troupe has toured Europe, Asia and the Middle East. They were the first exponents of qawwali to the West, when they performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1975 promote and sponsored by Beate Gordon. They performed in the United States and Canada under the auspices of The Performing Arts Program of The Asia Society and recorded a program at Brooklyn College Television Center.

Sabri Brothers In South Africa 1978

In 1972, they performed charity concert for the construction of Pakistani Children School in Abu Dhabi. In the same year, with the co-operation of Star Agencies they performed in various cities of England such as London, Bradford, Birmingham and Manchester which become very popular. The amount of these programs donated to Earthquake relief fund Pakistan.

In 1975, Ahmed Suleiman co-operated to arrange concert in Durban, South Africa. Inspired with these program Chevrolet Company gifted an automatic car to Brothers, which they give to leader of south Africa for poor children. In 1977, they recorded the album ‘Pakistan: The Music of the Qawal’ for the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music which was later released in CD form by Auvidis in 1990.

They performed at Royal Albert Hall on 20 June 1976 in World of Islam Festival.[6] 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."[7]

In 1979, they performed charity concert for the construction of Karachi School of Art which was later released in album Sabri Brothers Live In Concert At Ali Bhai Auditorium.


In June 1981, they performed at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam which was released in album Tasleem.[8]

In 1982, they appeared in film Sahaaray with their famous qawwali Tajdar-e-Haram. The same year they performed in Midway Hotel for the construction of Al Shifa Hosiptal near Karachi Airport.

In 1983, they recorded the album Nazre Shah Karim to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of His Highness Prince Aga Khan, sponsored by Tajico Group. The income of this album was donated to Aga Khan Hospital, Karachi.[9] On August 3, 1985, a stupendous program was held at Sheraton Hotel, Karachi and collect Rs. 141,500/- for Bangladesh Flood Fund. In 1985, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri recorded in front of live audience in Karachi his solo album for Ghazals Awargi. The album was a collection of light playful compositions by poet Farhat Shahzad.[10] In 1988 EMI Pakistan released another ghazal album Tere Ghungroo Toot Gaye to Kiya which was a hit. In the same year he recorded qawwali for music director Anu Malik in the Indian movie Gangaa Jamunaa Saraswati which was picturesque on Mithun Chakraborty.[11]

In 1989, The Sabri Brothers performed at WOMAD festival held in UK and France. They recorded an album in UK which was released as the album Ya Habib in 1990. Ya Habib consists of four long songs, each combining powerful, sensitive, often improvised vocals with rhythmic percussion, thudding tabla and mesmeric harmonium drones.

In 1989 and 1992, they performed at various South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation festivals.[12]


In 1992, they performed at The Hope Theater in Melbourne, Australia. Their tour of Australia was sponsored by Friends of the University of Wollongong.[13] In the same year they performed at fundraiser in Dubai to benefit Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital. In 1992 they also performed in various countries for SAARC festival. To devote an album entirely to the Persian poetry of Jami, a luminary of the Sufi Tradition, was an ambition of Ghulam Farid Sabri which he had always cherished. He did the recordings in July 1991 at the SFB studios in Berlin, but the CD was not released while he was still alive. Thus, it becomes a memorial not only to the Persian poet, but also to Ghulam Farid Sabri.

During April 1994, Sabri brothers were set to begin on a tour across Europe. They were to perform at around 30-35 shows, covering almost the entire continent. On 5 April, Ghulam Farid complained of chest pain. He suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. En route to the hospital, he passed away in the arms of his brother Maqbool Ahmed Sabri. After the passing away of Ghulam Farid Sabri, the group was led by Maqbool Ahmed Sabri and Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri completed the tour with his name.[14]

The same year Maqbool Ahmed Sabri & Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri Led The Sabri Brothers and performed at New Jazz Festival Moers, Germany.[15]

In 1995, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri was about to perform in Meltdown Festival Event held in the UK, A week before the event, he suffered a very major accident in Lahore. Maqbool Ahmed Sabri was in a very serious and critical condition during that time, dua's were made on radio For Maqbool Sabri's health. He recovered, though he had a damaged leg after the accident and had to undergo multiple knee surgeries.

In 1996, they performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music- Next Wave Festival, as part of a double-bill with alternate-rockers Corner Shop, and released a live album Ya Mustapha of his performance.[16]

In 1997, they played at Royal Albert Hall in front of HRH the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles for the Celebration of 50 Years of Independence of India and Pakistan together with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.[17]

In 1998, the group toured Australia and also performed at Sydney Opera House. Shortly after the program in Opera House, Kamal Sabri (Second Eldest Of The Brothers) the supporting vocalist and instrumentalist of the group suffered a heart attack, though he survived he could not take part in qawwali due to bad health conditions.

In 1999, they participated in the ‘Voices of God’ festival in Marrakesh, Morocco in May. The group also performed in various qawwali concerts held in Morocco in 1999.

2000 onwardsEdit

Sabri Brothers performed at Musica Sacra International Mktoberdorf Event in the year 2000 at Germany.[18]

In 2001, Kamal Sabri second eldest of the Sabri brothers, died. After the death of Kamal Sabri, instruments such as Swarmandal and Flexatone came to end in the ensemble. Later, The group performed and recorded live in DOM at On The Carpet Oriental Culture Festival on November 17, 2001 in Moscow which was later released in 2003 As Live In Moscow - Diwani

Maqbool Ahmed Sabri toured India in 2004 and recorded an album titled Rabb E Akbar. which was his last official release. In 2006, he re created and re released his old hits like Khwaja Ki Deewani, Mera Koi Nahi Hai Tere Siwa and Hum Panjatani Hai, which proved to be a big hit. He again toured India in 2006 and performed in Ajmer Sharif and in Pune Maharashtra. The group continued to tour and performed in Russia 2007, and performed in Hyderabad, India in 2008.

Maqbool Sabri's last concert was organized by Hilton Hotel in South Africa which was during 2010. On 21 September 2011, Maqbool Ahmed Sabri died in South Africa due to a cardiac arrest after being treated for two months for health problems. He was buried near his elder brother Ghulam Farid Sabri.

The group is now led by the youngest brother Mehmood Ghaznavi Sabri. While other family members and disciples perform in their own separate groups to carry on the legacy of Ghulam Farid Sabri and Maqbool Ahmed Sabri.

Brawling giantsEdit

Many consider the Sabri Brothers instrumentally more adventurous, than Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan [19]. Aziz Mian mastered in presenting intoxication as closeness to God, and said more than 3,000 couplets in that metaphor, and even Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a perfectionist in discussing the beauty of the Creator of feminine attractiveness. Ghulam Farid and Maqbool Sabri kept their distance from a similar, amorphous description of God. Instead, the brothers-duo produced structured and definitive masterpieces such as Hazir Hai Hazir, Bhar do Jholi, Tajdaar-e-Haram, and Ya Muhammed Nur-e-Mujassam, which addressed God and Muhammad unswervingly.[20]

During 1970's a squabble started between the two giants when in 1975 Sabri Brothers released one of their biggest hits Bhar do Jholi Meri, while Aziz Mian released his biggest hit Main Sharaabi. The rivalry became more aggressive when The Sabri Brothers released a thinly veiled taunt at Aziz Mian in shape of a Qawwali O sharabi, chord de peena (O drunkard, stop drinking) in 1976. This qawwali became an immediate hit, sung in the typically steady, controlled and hypnotic style. Aziz Mian was quick to strike back. He composed and recorded Haaye kambakht, tu ne pi hi nahi (Unfortunate soul, you never drank!) in 1977.

In his reply he disparaged the Brothers. Aziz Mian lamented that the Brothers were too conventional and that their spiritual connection with the Almighty was not as stark as his.

When Aziz Mian criticized the Sabri Brothers regarding their knowledge of sufism and love of god, they retaliated and replied with their super hit Saqia Aur Pila which was directly focused on their intoxicated love for God. Fans of both the camps would often throw words and verses from the two qawaalis at each other. According to EMI-Pakistan, which released both the records, together Aziz Mian and Sabri Brothers, sold over two million LPs and cassettes in 1977 alone. [21]


  • A life-size painting of Ghulam Farid Sabri that dominates the meeting room of his home was created by painters from Naz cinema for the 1st death anniversary .
  • In March 2008 an underpass near Liaquatabad was named after Ghulam Farid Sabri.[23]
  • Bhar do Jholi Meri Ya Muhammad was featured in Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Indian movie) sung by Adnan Sami Khan with little changes.

Awards and recognitionEdit

Qawwalis featured in filmsEdit

Several of their qawwalis were featured in the films.

  • Mera Koi Nahin Hai Teray Siwa appeared in the 1965 Pakistani film Ishq-e-Habib,
  • Mohabbat Karne Walo Hum Mohabbat Iss Ko Kehtain Hain in the 1970 Pakistani film Chand Suraj,
  • Aaye Hain Tere Dar Pe Tau Kucch Le Kay Jaaen Gay in the 1972 Pakistani film Ilzam,
  • Baba Farid Sarkar in 1974 Pakistani punjabi film Sasta Khoon Mehenga Paani,
  • Bhar Do Jholi Meri Ya Muhammad in the 1975 Pakistani film Bin Badal Barsaat,
  • Teri Nazr-e-Karam in the 1976 Pakistani film Sachaii,
  • Aftab-e-Risalat in the 1977 Indian Hindi film Sultan-e-Hind Khwaja Garib Nawaz (RA),
  • Mamoor Horha Hai in the 1977 Pakistani film Dayar-e-Paighambran.
  • Tajdar-e-Haram in the 1982 Pakistani film Sahaaray.


Concert filmsEdit

  • 1975 Qawwali, Music from Pakistan - Live in America [31]
  • 1981 Live in England – Vol 1
  • 1988 Live in England – Vol 2
  • 1988 Live in England – Vol 3
  • 1988 Live in England – Vol 4
  • 1986 Qawali – The Sabri Brothers (Live At Shrine Of Abdullah Shah Ghazi)[32]
  • 1992 Sabri Brothers Live in India (SAARC) [33]


  • 1970 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – O' Laaj Mori Rakh (Columbia) [34]
  • 1970 Devotional Songs (EMI Pakistan)[35]
  • 1970 Qawwali - Ya Mohammad Nigah-e-Karam (EMI Pakistan) [36]
  • 1970 Qawwali - Mere Khoon e Arzoo Ko (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1971 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Balaghal Ula Be Kamalehi (EMI Pakistan) [37]
  • 1972 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Aaye Ri More Angna Moinud Din (Angel Records) [38]
  • 1972 Qawwali - Karam Asiyo Par Ho (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1975 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Sab Se Bara Darbar-E-Madina (EMI Pakistan) [39]
  • 1975 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Teri Surat Nigahon Men (His Master's Voice) [40]
  • 1975 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Mohammad Ki Chatai Ne Bhi (Odeon) [41]
  • 1975 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party – Na Samjho Khak Ka Putla (Odeon) [42]
  • 1975 Sabri Brothers - More Ghar Aj Mohammed Aaye (Odeon) [43]
  • 1975 Sabri Brothers - Ya Mohammad Noor-e-Mujasim (Angel Records)[44]
  • 1974 Nazrana E Aqidat (Angel Records)
  • 1976 Deewani Kawaja Ki Deewani / O Sharabi Chod De Peena (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1977 Sabri Brothers – Aaye Hain Woh (Shalimar Recording Company Limited) [45]
  • 1977 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party - Ya Sahebal Jamal (Odeon)[46]
  • 1977 Pakistan : The Music Of Qawwal (UNESCO)
  • 1977 Ghulam Farid Maqbool Sabri Qawal And Party - Bhar Do Jholi Meri Ya Mohammed (Angel Records)[47]
  • 1978 Qaw Allis Vol. 6 – Gulam Shabri Live Recording In S. Africa (Ashirwad)[48]
  • 1978 Kawwali Musicians from Pakistan (Arion)
  • 1978 Qawwali - Sufi Music From Pakistan (Nonesuch)
  • 1979 Music of Pakistan – Qawwali – Live in Concert (Vinyl LP Record, 1979)
  • 1979 Sabri Brothers Qawwal (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1979 Shikwa Jawab Shikwa (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Greatest Qawwali's of Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1980 Latest Qawwalis from Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)[49]
  • 1980 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)
  • 1982 Jhoot Ke Paon Nahin Hain (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1982 Sabri Brothers – Ghulam Farid & Maqbool Sabri (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1982 Maqbool Ahmed Sabri – Urdu Ghazal (His Master's Voice)
  • 1983 New Qawwali's By Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1983 Nazr-e-Shah Karim (AEA)
  • 1984 Jogan Daata Di (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1985 Hits of Sabri Brothets (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1985 Awargi (CBS)
  • 1986 Ya Muhammad Nigahe Karam (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1987 Sur Bahar " Amir Khusro " (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1988 Shan-E-Aulia (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1988 Maqbool Ahmed Sabri - Tere Ghungroo Toot Gaye Toh Kya - Ghazals (EMI Pakistan
  • 1988 Live at Allah Ditta Hall (UK Tour)
  • 1990 Sabri Brothers New Qawwali's 1990 (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1990 The Music of the Qawwali (Auvidis, UNESCO)
  • 1990 Ya Habib (Real World)
  • 1993 Qawwali Masterworks (Piranha)
  • 1993 Doolha Heryale [Doolha Hariyaale], (Shalimar Recording Company)[50]
  • 1993 Bangai Baat Unka Karam Ho Gaya Vol 2 - (Oriental Strar Agencies)
  • 1993 Pyar Ke Morr Live In Concert(Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1993 La Ilah Ki Boli Bol (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1994 Shehanshah-e-Qawwali Ki Yaad Mein – Vol.1–2, (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1994 Savere Savere (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1994 La Elah Ki Boli Bol (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1994–97 Greatest Hits of Sabri Brothers, Vol.1–3 (Sirocco)
  • 1994 Milta Hai Kya Namaz Mein – Live in UK (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1995 Maqbool Ahmed Sabri - Aawargi Vol 3 (Eastern Music Productions)
  • 1996 Jami (Piranha)
  • 1996 Ya Mustapha [Ya Mustafa], (Xenophile)
  • 1996 Allah Baqi (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Ae Mere Hamnasheen (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Khawaja Ki Diwani – Live in Europe 1981 (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1996 Tajdare Haram (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Nazan Hai Jis Pai Husn (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Maikadah – Live in Concert (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1997 Balaghul Ula Bekamalehi (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1998 Hazir Hain (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 1999 Madeena Na Dekha (Sonic Enterprises)
  • 2000 Madina Mujhe De De (Tips Music Company)
  • 2001 Ya Raematal Lilalmin (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2002 Dar Pe Deewane Aaye Hai (Tips Music Company)
  • 2003 Bindia Lagaon Kabhi (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2003 Jhoole Jhoole Ji Mohammad (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2003 Live In Moscow Diwani , (Long Arms Record)
  • 2003 Tasleem Live At Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, 1981 (PAN Records)
  • 2004 Aaj Rang Hai Ri (Tips Music Company)
  • 2004 Rabb E Akbar (Tips Music Company)
  • 2005 Jitna Diya Sarkar Ne Mujhko (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2005 Mangte Hai Karam Unka (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2006 Mera Koi Nahi Hai Tere Siwa - Recreated Versions By Maqbool Ahmed Sabri (SB Enterprises)
  • 2007 Ajmer Ko Jana Hai (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Posheeda Posheeda – Live in Concert UK (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2007 Piya Ghar Aya (Oriental Star Agencies)
  • 2016 Showcase Southasia, Vol.18 - Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
Contributing artist
  • 1965 Ishq E Habib & Eid Mubarak - Movie Tracks (Columbia & EMI Pakistan)
  • 1975 Devotional Qawwalis From Films (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1987 Sher E Yazdaan Ali Ali (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1987 Maikhana - Aziz Miyan & Sabri Brothers (EMI Pakistan)
  • 1991 Music In Asian Islam (Recordings And Liner Notes, MCM)[51]
  • 1996 The Rough Guide to the Music of India and Pakistan (World Music Network)
  • 2006 The Best Of Sabri Brothers & Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (EMI Pakistan)
  • 2014 Essential Sufi Meditations - Famous Songs of Pakistan with the Masters Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Sabri Brothers, And Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (Celebration Sounds)


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