The Song of the Sufi

Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar (1177 – 1274) was a Sufi saint, philosopher and poet. Hazrat means His Holiness and Lal was for the red robes he wore. Shahbaz – King of Falcons, Qalandar – a sufi saint, poet, mystic, noble man. He preached peace and religious tolerance among Muslims and Hindus. His mysticism attracted people from all religions. A very famous Qawali has been written in his honor and is called Dama Dam Mast Qalandar.

I have heard several versions of this beautiful qawali, and yesterday came across a unique one. I especially adore how these talented artists (from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) have blended into a perfect almost magical synchronisation as this song progresses.

Lyrics, translation and write-up credited to Technology of the Heart

The reason I have deviated from the normal posting of my own poetry was because immediately after listening to this qawali, I came across a heartbreaking story, which I felt was important to share. I remember listening to Dama Dam Mast Qalandar since I was very young, although I had no idea what it was about till pretty recently. And it was only yesterday when I found out that this melody was composed for Pakistan cinema by “Master” Ashiq Hussain and since then (1956) till today, it has taken the music industry by storm. I was disturbed to read that..

after five decades of composing unforgettable melodies,… Master Hussain now lives in a slum … in old Lahore. Electricity is too much of a luxury to demand, while food is a godsend at the ‘Master’s’ home. This dire financial situation forced Hussain’s son Asif Ali, a talented keyboard player, to start selling pakoras at the roadside to feed the family. Ali, a heart patient, passed away a few days subsequent to this interview, after a hard life of toil….True to his self, Hussain, now in his 90s, has never sought help from people “who do not care about artists.”

Even on a sunny day, his room has a very gloomy feel to it. Countless moments are spent staring at the walls; an ordinary quiet shrouds the space, as if words too, have lost all motivation here.

Artists of all streams keep the beauty alive in this world which has become very ugly for the most part. Artists give us hope, motivation and help us escape. All over the world, there are many artists who struggle and it shouldn’t be this way. God is an artist, God is a poet, a sculptor, a story-teller, a composer. Master Ashiq Hussain should spend this part of his life in ease. His son Asif Ali needn’t have given up his talent to toil, he needn’t have passed away so soon.

O the red robed, may I always have your benign protection…

14 thoughts on “The Song of the Sufi

  1. Pingback: Follow Your Shadow
  2. Heartbreaking… I, too, grew up listening to this Dhammal and I still do… What an unimaginable fate to befall its composer… But I do know that He does not keep a debt and that a just reward awaits… That is my fervent hope, belief and trust…

    Thank you so much for enlightening me about this issue…


  3. Greetings,
    What a very nice, and poignant, post! Thank you for it.
    I like a lot Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar, as he preaches such a peaceful message of love and caring, and religious tolerance. My daughter, who is quite the artist, is now painting for me on a large canvas an abstract of a red falcon.
    The performance you share is very nice. I like Abida Parveen.
    It is sad, but true, about artists often not receiving credit for their created works, and thus not being appropriately compensated for them. The situation of this man is sad. Sometimes, it appears to be the case that affliction comes to those who reside closely with God.
    I see the credit given to the blog, Technology of the Heart. Sadiq’s blog is, indeed, one of the very finest on the web. I have been a long-time traveler on/through his blog.
    Thank you again for this very nice post.
    All good wishes,


    1. Hello Robert,
      Your daughter must be so talented, what made her paint a red falcon?
      I was sure you would like the performance.
      Thanks for your enlightening feedback as always.
      I was happy to come across Technology of the Heart blog.
      Best wishes to you too.


      1. Hi,

        She has always had a particular fondness for hawks, falcons, and particularly owls. She read something about Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar, and then wished to paint a falcon.

        All good wishes,



        1. Well then my post on Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar is very timely with her painting…as was the timing of your post on Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti just after I had heard a story about him :-)

          She has very interesting taste indeed….all the best to her.


          1. Hi,
            Thank you for your well-wishes for my daughter. I’ll share them with her.
            Your post is indeed timely. As you may know, the urs of Khwaja Mo’inuddin Chishti began (approximately) yesterday.
            All good wishes,


  4. His story is happy, sad, and though he lived without much at the end, he live with more treasure than most…his gift is still with us all. He is, and will always be a wonderful talent, and I know that he is lighting up the heavens each day, not like he looked near the end but as a very young handsome spirit! I am blessed this night to hear the music and his story tonight. All that we create within is also a part of all who came before us, who are here now, and who are to come, for the rhapsodies which we created will have always eternal blessings for creativity is a part of Gods breath. Thank you for the blessing tonight Sonya my sister…hugs and blessings always!


  5. Thank you Sonya this is a very sad story,I heard the song mast qalander many times but never knew the story.One of our Bengali singer sang it she has a beautiful voice.


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