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RIP Iqbal Bahu

qabar jinhan dee jeevay hoo

LUBP offers condolences to the family of noted Sufi singer Iqbal Bahu and millions of his fans in South Asia and other parts of the world. In the current era of state sponsored violence against Sufi (Barelvi) and other non-Salafi, non-Deobandi Muslims and systematic propaganda against internal heterogeneity of Muslims by Salafi-Deobandi preachers such as Zakir Naik, Israr Ahmed and Farhat Hashmi, people such as Iqbal Bahu represented the pluralistic and inclusive approach to Islam and humanity. In the words of Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Iqbal Bahu will continue to rule from his grave (qabar jinhan di jeevay) through his voice and Sufiana kalaam. May Allah bless his soul.

Bahu died of a cardiac arrest in Lahore on Saturday, 24 March 2012. He was 68.

Bahu mastered the Sufi tradition of well-known saint Sultan Bahu. He sang many Sufiana songs for the Radio Pakistan and the Pakistan Television and was awarded Tamgha-i-Imtiaz in 2008.

The kalam of Sufi poet Baba Bulley Shah was his claim to fame and his name was changed from Muhammad Iqbal to Iqbal Bahu. His most popular kalams are ‘Alaf Allah Chumby Dee Booti’ and ‘Maain Ne Main Kino Aakhan’. To perfect his singing of the Sufi kalam, he is believed to have sought the help of language experts in order to pronounce the words accurately.

Born as Muhammad Iqbal, Bahu was born in Gurdaspur, India in I944. His family migrated to Pakistan after partition. He joined the National Bank of Pakistan in 1971 and worked there until 1997.

He started his singing career in 1964 from Radio Pakistan, Lahore. He was introduced to Radio by Muhammad Azam Khan, former chief controller Radio Pakistan, Lahore. Azam Khan told Dawn, “I took the first audition of Bahu in 1964 and he sang a ghazal by Nasir Kazmi.” Later, he appeared in PTV programmes, acting and singing in drama serial ‘Waris’.

He developed taste for Sufiana kalaam and won plaudits the world over for lending voice to the kalaam of Hazrat Sultan Bahu. He also won admirers by singing Heer (Waris Shah).

TV actor Shujaat Hashmi, who played Mauladad in Waris, said that playwright Amjad Islam Amjad created a small role for Bahu. He said Bahu was an accomplished singer and was a humane and gentle person.

Faizan Peerzada of the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop recalled “Bahu had a peculiar style of singing and he was matchless in this skill. Bahu participated in almost all Sufi Music and World Performing Arts festivals.”

Bahu came from India just three days ago after performing in Lucknow. His last programme in Pakistan was at the Punjab Institute of Language, Art and Culture in January last.

He is survived by a widow, two sons and three daughters.

A large number of people attended his funeral at Iqbal Town’s Dubai Chowk mosque. He was laid to rest at Miani Sahib graveyard.

Sources: 1, 2

Video: Alif Allah Chambe Di Butee [Kalaam-e-Bahoo]

Heer Waris Shah By Iqbal Bahoo (with Imran Mir, PTV)

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Abdul Nishapuri


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