Qaul of the Soul: Gurmej Raja and Shaukat Ali

Allah Hoo


Qaul is an Arabic word used to describe ‘an utterance’ and most often refers to the utterance of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

The term ‘qawwali‘ is derived from the word ‘qual’ and refers to the genre of Sufi devotional music.

Though qaul and qawwali are often used in conjunction with each other there is a difference between the two. Today, when referring to spiritual music, qual refers to the singing of the utterances of The Prophet (PBUH), while qawwali has developed to refer to a style of music in the Sufi tradition.  Here the lyrics may or may not have spiritual tones, and may even be secular in nature, but the music on the whole is understood to be spiritual in its expression.

Qawwali has evolved through the fusion of the Persian musical tradition, called sama, and the Indian musical tradition sometime around the 13th century. Today, it is popular all over South Asia, particularly in areas where a strong Islamic population. Punjab and most of northwest India have a strong qawwali tradition. Qawwalis are generally sung in Punjabi and Urdu, though some may be performed in Persian or local languages.

Shaukat Ali

Shaukat Ali

Qawwalis can range in length from a few minutes to even as long as half an hour or more. They usually begin with an instrumental introduction that gently opens the piece and creates an ambience.  It is followed by the lead singer performing a few alaps (improvised, unmetered melodies) that conform to the raga of the song.  After the alaps the lead singer performs a few verses which generally do not form part of the main song. He is mirrored by the accompanying singers who may add their own improvisations to the verses as they go along.  Lastly begins the main verses. These are usually sung in a traditional style and no improvisation is made on either the tempo or the lyrics. Throughout the process, there is a gradual increase  in energy from the gentle beginnings of the piece to a powerful, up-tempo, energetic end. This facilitates a creation of a hypnotic state within the performers and audience alike and is believed to aid in connecting with the Almighty.

Gurmej Raja

Gurmej Raja

This record presents qawwali and sufi performances of Punjab by Gurmej Raja and Shaukat Ali. (Liner notes)


A fantastic recording of two local artists from around the Amritsar area of Indian Punjab by the groovy De Kulture Record Label.  Booklet is included.

Allah hoo!




Track Listing:

01. Amir Khusrao (Gurmej Raja)

02. Ki Punchdiyo Ki Aankhan Mein (Shaukat Ali)

03. Tere Bin Na Jiva Maharaj (Shaukat Ali)

here  booklet

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