The Qawwals wore white shalwar kameez and green caps, while Karan himself wore a traditional black Pukhtun dress, as they performed the famous poem of Rahman, ‘Ka me sok pa amerai shmeri ameer yam, ka me sok pa gharibai shmeri gharib yam’.
“Qawwali is a form of devotional music which expresses mystical Sufi practices,” Karan Khan tells The Express Tribune after a session of Qawwali in Pashto at the shrine on Thursday.
Although, the trend of Qawwali is relatively new for Pashto musicians, Karan has emerged as one of the leading singers in the genre and performed his own composition for the first time at Rahman Baba’s shrine.
“Several famous Pashto singers like Rafique Shinwari, Gulzar Alam, Bakhtiar Khattak, Anwar Khayal, Wisal Khayal and others have performed Qawwali,” says Karan.
While Shinwari was the pioneering Qawwal, Karan is the first to give the genre a proper form in Pashto by hiring professional musicians and recording his sessions.
Qawwali used to be sung at Rahman’s shrine, especially on Thursday nights. However, due to rising extremism in the region, and especially after militants destroyed the mausoleum in a 2009 bomb blast, the tradition dwindled.
“This will not only promote Qawwali in our culture, but will also encourage a softer image of Pukhtuns,” says the musician about his endeavour. “Qawwali draws together and reflects the life of Sufism; there will always be Qawaals and Qawwali wherever there are Sufis and Sufism.”
The Qawwals wore white shalwar kameez and green caps, while Karan himself wore a traditional black Pukhtun dress, as they performed the famous poem of Rahman, Ka me sok pa amerai shmeri ameer yam, ka me sok pa gharibai shmeri gharib yam within the leafy sanctuary of his shrine.
“Qawwali can be sung anywhere, but this is spiritual music, I would rather perform here to pay my respects to the great poet,” says Karan.
“Qawwali is performed and appreciated around the world, even in the West. Now we want to develop it in our part of the world,” added Asif Khan, a Qawwal who sings alongside Karan, “I think it is the best way to spread the spiritual messages of Rahman Baba.”