Origin And Conception
The root of the word Qawwali is Qa’ol which is an Arabic word meaning an axiom or dictum based upon the religious subjects which help purification of thoughts. From the word Qawwali we also get another word Qawwali which means a musician or singer who sings the hymns or praises of God and dictums of the prophets, saints and other holy personages in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and even Hindustani composed by reputed Sufi saints and poets. These Qawwali concerts are magnetic in nature and touch the delicate cord of human heart which, being ethereal, is the main centre of spiritual awakening in man. The Khawaja Sahib not only introduced but also patronised these concerts to capture and mould the hearts of his audience for accepting the Divine Message gracefully.
Music has always played a prominent part in the religious and social life of India from time immemorial and therefore singing or recital of the devotional songs called bhajans etc. has been one of the important ceremonials at Hindu temples and religious congregations. The Khawaja Sahib was the inventor of the fascinating blending of sweet songs in Sufistic style preaching the gospel of Truth. This medium suited Indian culture, temperament, customs and traditions most admirably with the result that his Sama or Qawwali mahfils (congregations) became very popular with good results and they continue to be so even to this day.
Language Of Qawwali
While the devotional songs offered at Hindu shrine are composed in Sanskrit, Hindi or other regional languages of India, the compositions sung at the Qawwali mahfils are generally a choice selection of inspiring religious poetry in Persian by various reputed Sufi poets and dervishes. To soften and capture a human heart, possessing even the slightest spark of piety and devotion, the appeal of such Qawwali concerts has been amazingly irresistible. They have sort of hypnotic influence upon spiritual-minded audience inspiring a kind of uncontrollable jazba (intense feeling) culminating in wajd or ecstasy.
Qualification of a Qawwal
A perfect Qawwal is one who is the master of classical Indian music gifted with a sweet and fascinating voice on the one hand, and is thoroughly conversant with the variety of selective poetical compositions on Sufism by distinguished Persian, Urdu and Hindi poets on the other. In addition to many years’ hard practice consistent with the varied knowledge of the said poetry, a really good Qawwal still needs the “spiritual blessings” of any great Sufi saint for his ultimate perfection and general recognition. There are many instances of excellent Qawwals who have risen to frame and fortune under the blessings of one or the other Sufi saint in India