Abida Parveen shares her spiritual search for the Absolute

KARACHI: The latest speaker of the Aga Khan University’s (AKU) special lecture series was Abida Parveen, who enthralled Karachi’s audience who had thronged the AKU auditorium Wednesday to listen to the legendary voice speak on “Spiritualism in poetry”.

In her typical Ajrak ensemble, Abida spoke on the topic that she has sung about in over 100 albums and performed on at the best concert halls of the world. The singer, who came to be known as the “uncrowned Sufi Queen”, started her journey in 1973 from Radio Pakistan, Hyderabad, and is the recipient of two of the highest awards in Pakistan, the President’s Award for Pride of Performance (1982) and the even more prestigious Sitara-e-Imtiaz (2005). Most of her lyrics come from old Sufi texts of great such as Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and Maulana Roomi, and she has sung in a number of languages including Urdu, Siraiki, Persian, Arabic, Punjabi and Sindhi, as according to her, “the Sufi tradition is dependant on no language for communication.”

Abida began her lecture by stating that spiritualism had no theory, it was a direct connection that Man (and woman) shared with his (or her) Creator. “It’s a direct dialling relationship. Spiritualism is a light that Allah put in man’s heart at the time of his creation,” she explained, saying that the warmth of that flame was inexplicable except for the person who felt it in his heart or that force which had put it there in the first place.

According to Abida, the spirit was eternally in search of uniting with the Absolute, the only experience that could complete it and help it ascend to the spiritual level that every man yearned for. “To allow one’s spirit to soar that high, one should practice humility and submission so steadfastly that all that remains of this is those very traits,” she said with much force. She repeatedly referred to the concept in Sufi tradition that the human soul was created from divine light, therefore man strived to seek reunification with that very basis of his existence.

She said that humility was the weapon with which one could defeat the ego. “When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ascended to the point of Meraj, Allah gifted him with this supplication, which has been transmitted to us through the processes of nubuyat and then wilayat.” Quoting Hazrat Ali (RA), she said that any practice of worship that made one proud of oneself was not worth it. “Pride and spiritualism cannot go together, what does go hand in hand though is spiritualism and supplication because surrender is the core of it all.” She focussed on the all-encompassing nature of Sufism and asserted that worship and love for Allah were to bring the humanity together. “The words of the Sufis are so strong and so absolutely descriptive of Allah’s majesty that they bring Allah right into one’s heart. The one who recites and the one who listens, both become the light.”

Answering a question about what led her so deep into the Sufi tradition and music, she said that she had been attracted to the kalam since the age of three and every word that she sang existed in the core of her being. “It is all God-sent, He makes you into a person who is willing to renounce much for the peace of the spirit. You cannot artificially cultivate an interest into these things and then hope to rise up to the supreme level.”

In her reply to another query from the audience, she likened herself to a candle that was burning to allow others to feel the flame and catch the fire. Discussing the role of the medium in spiritual tradition, she said that the connection between Allah and His creation was forged by the dargah – the shrine.

Abida was clearly more at ease doing what she does best: singing the Sufi tradition. The possessor of one of the most powerful voices in the sub-continent, she rendered a few verses of her internationally acclaimed qafi “kithe Mehr Ali” in response to a forceful request of the audience. What made her talk so engaging was how she gave herself entirely to her topic and to the audience, as if she was sharing some information with them that they all must know. She was the same Abida that many of us have witnessed on stage, amid the tabla and harmonium the usual companions to her beautiful voice. For that one-hour duration, every one among the audience felt the connection that Abida very obviously shared with the Omnipotent, an assertion she very modestly put aside by saying, “who is the better supplicant, us humans are unfit to judge”.

Daily Times

Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, inter and intra faith endeavors, achievements and humanitarian works.

2 thoughts

  1. The voice of Bibi Abida Parveen is truly like that of a divine nighttingale as she sings beautifully the Sufiana Kalam and hamds to Allahu Taala. This album is indeed a distillation of Bibi Abida Parveen’s melodious voice as she glorifies our Creator and seeks Union (Visaal) with Him. Everytime I listen to her lilting, sonorous, and haunting Sufi melodies, I can feel the beat of her heart as she longs for nearness and oneness with Allah Azwajal. My heart also melts with longing to meet (wasl) my Beloved Allah everytime I listen to her rendition of Sufi kalams. She indeed did justice to the Sufi saints who composed these visaals by her authentic and sincere singing of their songs with a heart full of tenderness, love, and affection to Allahu Taala. I pray to Allah Subhaanahu wa Taalah and ask the shafaat of Prophet Muhammad, and the imdad of Hazrat Abubakr Siddiq, and the Awliya Kiram Naqshbandiyah to bless Bibi Abida Parveen with good health and preserve her wonderful voice so that she can continually praise and hymn the glories Of Allahu Taala and His prophets and saints. Ya Allah,Ya Rabbil Alamin, bless your singing creature and slave, Bibi Abida Parveen with longevity and health so that she may continue for a long time to impart the fragrant words of your beloved prophets, caliphs, and saints to this hopeless and benighted world. May her voice be a soothing balm, a healing oil and a pleasing musk so that we your lovers may be encouraged to draw near to Thee and to be lost ourselves under the magnificence of Thy Holy Throne. May the music of the Sufi saints be our constant inspiration and may the pure angelic voice of Bibi Abida Parveen summon us to Thy Heavenly Court and cause our souls to fly from this mundane realm to the blessed domain of your very own Everlasting Presence. Thank you, Yaa Allah Azwajal for the gift of music and thank you for Bibi Abida Parveen. Amin Ya Rabbil Alamin! Salam wa Shukr ala Rasul Mustafa. Ya Hazrat Abubakr Siddiq, shay-an lillah al Madad! Amin, thumma Amin!


  2. Abida parveen is one of the pakistani lady that she singing in sufi poetry.. she has unbeliveabl voice an action,,,,,,,,, i pray for her good health, hapiness, and long life,,”Ameen”


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