Leading qawwali singer Amjad Sabri was shot in his car by two armed motorcyclists in Karachi on June 22. He was 45 and one of the leading performers of qawwali music in Pakistan today. It’s a religious, devotional tradition with deep roots in Pakistan and India, but has become popular all over the world. The Pakistani Taliban, who consider Sufism to be idolatrous and even devotional music to be forbidden, have claimed responsibility.
Amjad Sabri was leader of the Sabri Brothers, founded by his father Ghulam Farid, although they claim a lineage going back 400 years to the time of Tansen. From the 70s, the Sabri Brothers started touring internationally and made many recordings. Amjad started touring with his father and uncles Maqbool, Kamal and Mehmood Sabri from the age of five.
Amjad Sabri had taken over at the helm of Sabris with two of his brothers. He gave some spectacular performances in Europe in recent years. His most recent recording was Ecstasy of the Soul (Transetnika, 2012).
In 2010, there were bombs in the shrines of Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi and Daata Ganj Bakhsh in Lahore. But this is the first targeted killing of a high-profile Sufi musician and raises serious questions about such musicians’ safety in Pakistan.