Our Beloved Khwaja: Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris Nizami




I have only visited Ajmer, India’s, and arguably the sub-continent’s most revered Sufi pilgrimage site, once. It was a quick ‘look see’ en route from Pushkar to Jaipur and a visit that frustrated more than satisfied me.   For so long I’d heard fable stories of Ajmer. The city is as central to the spiritual universe of northern India’s Muslims as Jerusalem or Rome is to Christians and Jews.   And to have but an hour to rush around was criminal.

In terms of items on bucket lists, “spending more time in Ajmer” is right near the top. [As is spending about 6 months in Karachi, but that is another tale with nothing –at this stage—at all to do with music.]

One thing I did manage to do during the abbreviated visit was scoop up a number of mp3 collections of qawwali and naat from a couple of the souvenir shops that line the main street leading to the dargah. As you can imagine the streets around the tomb are bursting with activity and rush. Qawwali is played at volumes usually reserved for rock concerts or college parties. And like those occasions, the atmosphere and music does nothing to elevate the spirit or guide the Mind to contemplate the Divine. It is crass commercialism at its most base.

But get the music out of the bazaar and on to your iPod and it’s a different story. The music is heartfelt, entirely joyous and intensely spiritual.

Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris Nizami, two brothers who represent the Sikandrabad gharana of qawwali, are among the most popular singers of Ajmeri pilgrims. There is a short history of the gharana here.

In every selection on this disc the brothers sing with a passion and enthusiasm that is infectious. Their’s is a singing style for the average pilgrim, someone who has a basic understanding and familiarity with the history and vocabulary of the legends that surround Ajmer and its famous, revered Khwaja. Most of the qawwalis are panegyrical and extol the worshipper to follow the great Sufi saint’s example in all aspects of his or her life.

There is LOTS of music here. Go slow and enjoy it over time because you will be rewarded.

Allah Hoo!

Ye Karam Khwaja ka Hai

Track Listing (Part 1)

  1. Ajmeri Sarkar Se Mango
  2. Bahaki Shahe Jilani
  3. Ham Deewane Hai Waris Piya
  4. Ho Karam Ham Pe Shahe Madi
  5. Jannat Ka Dar Khula Hai Khwaja
  6. Jhume Khawaja Ke Kalandar
  7. Main Kya Batau
  8. Main Mohammed Ke Kurban
  9. Main Zuba Se Kaise
  10. Mera Peer Badshah Hai




Track Listing (Pt. 2)

  1. Mera Peer Tajuddin
  2. Mere Peer Tera Karam Hua
  3. Meri Duniya Tum Ho
  4. Nigaho Se Kah Do Parde Uth
  5. Rahmat Ka Samandar Hai
  6. Sabri Dar Mila Har Khushi
  7. Shahnshah Baba Tajuddin
  8. Tumhi Ho Ya Rasul Allah
  9. Wah Kya Judo Karam
  10. Waliyo Ke Shahnshah Mere
  11. Ye Karam Khawaja Ka Hai


4 thoughts on “Our Beloved Khwaja: Ghulam Sabir and Ghulam Waris Nizami

  1. One of the rare times I truly merged with the spiritual music at a holy site was when I was sitting on the ghat in Banaras and listening to Hari Om Sharan rendering bhajans. The volume was muted and the singing was mellifluous. The next experience was listening to a sufi chant in the main mosque of Herat which seemed to make one’s spirirts.soar.

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