The Spirit of
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
By Andy Carvin
In 1993, a winter performance at the Gateway Theater in Chicago displayed all the ingredients of a typical rock concert: an endless, almost hypnotizing beat; hundreds of mesmerized individuals slavishly clap to the beat while dozens more dance in the aisles. But unlike a U2 or Pearl Jam show, this was a concert with a higher purpose — rejoicing in the grace of Allah.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, a name which is neither well-known or well-pronounced by most Americans, is a pinnacle of success in southern Asia and many other parts of the world. Hailed by many as the Pavarotti of Pakistan, Khan is the world’s most celebrated qawwal. A qawwal is a specially-trained male vocalist who performs qawwali, a musical expression of devotional poetry practiced by the Sufis. The Sufis, an ancient mystical sect of Islam, achieve spiritual enlightenment through music, much like a Whirling Dervish achieves a higher state of consciousness through dancing.Details