Aziz Mian Qawwal (Urdu: عزیز میاں قوال) (17 April 1942 – 6 December 2000) was one of Pakistan's leading traditional qawwals and also famous for singing ghazals in a unique style of qawwali. Aziz is still one of the most popular qawwals of South Asia. He holds the record for singing the longest commercially released qawwali, Hashr Ke Roz Yeh Poochhunga, which runs slightly over 115 minutes.Manuel, Peter Lamarche (1993). Cassette culture: popular music and technology in north India. U of Chicago P. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-226-50401-8. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
Early life and background
Aziz Mian was born as Abdul Aziz (Urdu: عبد العزیز) in Delhi, British India. The exclamation Mian, which he often used in his qawwalis, became part of his stage name. He began to introduce himself as Aziz Mian Mairthi. The word Mairthi refers to Meerut, a city in northern India, from which he migrated to Pakistan in 1947.
At the age of ten, he began learning the art of Qawwali under the tutelage of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. He received sixteen years of training at the Data Ganj Baksh School of Lahore, and earned degrees in Urdu literature, Arabic and Persian from the University of Punjab, Lahore.
Aziz Mian was one of the more traditional Pakistani Qawwals. His voice was raspy and powerful. Aziz Mian was the only prominent qawwal to write his own lyrics (though, like others, he also performed songs written by other poets). Aziz Mian was a contemporary, and often a competitor, of The Sabri Brothers.
His break-out performance was in 1966, when he performed before the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He won first prize and a gold medal from the Shah of Iran. In the early days of his career, he was nicknamed Fauji Qawwal (Urdu: فوجی قوال) (meaning "Military Qawwal") because most of his early stage-performances were in military barracks for army personnel. He was known for a "more recitative, more dramatic diction" and inclined toward qawwali's religious rather than entertainment qualities, though he also enjoyed success in more romantic qawwals.
He was fond of discussing religious and Sufi paradoxes in his qawwalis. He directly addressed Allah and complained about the misery of man (the greatest creation of the Almighty). In addition to his own poetry, Aziz Mian performed poetry by Allama Iqbal, and a number of contemporary Urdu poets, including Sadiq and Qateel Shifai.
For his service in philosophy and music, the Government of Pakistan awarded him the Pride of Performance medal in 1989.Nidel, Richard (2005). World music: the basics. Routledge. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-415-96800-3. Retrieved 1 April 2010.
These excerpts are intended to give a flavour of Aziz Mian's poetry. Note the irreverent tone in which he addressed spiritual matters. As is traditional in qawwali (see Qawwali#Song content), Aziz Mian also wrote songs in praise of the joys of drink (meh). These songs embody an extended metaphor, wherein "wine" represents "knowledge of the Divine", the "cupbearer" (saaqi) is God or a spiritual guide, and the "tavern" is the metaphorical place where the soul may (or may not) be fortunate enough to attain spiritual enlightenment. the terms Similarly, the romantic songs represent the soul, abandoned in this world by that cruel and cavalier lover, God, singing of the agony of separation, and the depth of its yearning for reunion.
Hai Allah tera naam to woh tha jo be-ginti lete Kya lutf jo gin gin ke tera naam liya O lord, your name deserves to be taken countlessly. What joy can there be in carefully counting it out? (Aashiqi Dillagi Nahin Hoti)
Kho gaya hai kya khuda jo dhoondhta phirta hai tu? Has God got himself lost that you go searching for him everywhere? (Aashiqi Dillagi Nahin Hoti)
Supne vich mera maahi mileyaa Te main paa layi gal vich baawaan Dar di maari palak na kholaan Kitte pher vichhad na jaawan I met my beloved in a dream And locked my arms around his neck. Now I don't dare open my eyes For fear we'll be separated again. (Akh Larr Gayee Yaar Naal)
Tamaam duniya ko dikha baitthe apna jamaal Mera waqt aaya to chilman daal di Bade badnaseeb the hum, ke qaraar tak na pauhanche Dar-e-yaar tak to pauhanche, dil-e-yaar tak na pauhanche You showed your beauty to the whole world. When it was my turn, you let the curtain fall. It was my misfortune, that I could not reach this rest. I could only reach her door, I could not reach her heart. (Bade Badnaseeb The Hum)
Ay Allah, waiz ki bandagi hai jahannum ke khauf se Maine gunah kiye tujhe ghaffar samajh kar The preacher is pious only because he's terrified of hell, Lord. Whereas me, I sinned freely, trusting in your mercy (Hashr Ke Roz Main Poochhunga)
Woh jahannum bhi mujhe de to karoon shukr ada Koi apna hi samajh kar to sazaa deta hai Even if he sends me to hell, I will still be grateful, Since we punish only those who we count as our own (Jannat Mujhe Mile Na Mile)
Main sharaabi, yaaron mujhe muaaaf karo Main nashe mein hoon, yaaron mujhe muaaaf karo Sheeshe mein mai, mai mein nasha, main nashe mein hoon Ye apni masti hai, jisne machayi hai halchal Nasha sharaab mein hota to nachti botal I'm a drunkard; forgive me, my friends. I'm intoxicated; forgive me, my friends. There's wine in the glass, there's intoxication in the wine, and I am intoxicated. But, no, this hubbub is of my own nature. If intoxication lay in the wine, the bottle would do a drunken dance. (Main Sharaabi Sharaabi)
Jannat jo mile, laa kar maikhaane mein rakh dena Kausar ko mere chhote se paimaane mein rakh dena Mayyat na meri jaa kar veerane mein rakh dena Balki paimaanon mein dafnaa kar maikhaane mein rakh dena Saaqi abhi maikhaane ka dar band na karna Shaayad mujhe jannat ki hawa raas na aaye If they give me paradise, just leave it for me in the tavern. Pour the entire fountain of paradise into my little goblet. When I die, don't go leaving my body in some forlorn place. Just bury me in goblets, and leave them in the tavern. And, listen, don't lock up the tavern just yet either. It's entirely possible that paradise won't suit me too well. (Main Sharaabi Sharaabi)
Tere sawaal ka yaar ab jawaab dete hain Ba roz-e-hashr hai, itni bhi jaldbaazi kya Zara sharaab to pee lein, hisaab dete hain Give me a moment, I'll get to your question. It's judgement day, so what's the big hurry now? Some wine first, I'll render my accounts by and by. (Main Sharaabi Sharaabi)
To farishte poochhenge mehshar mein paakbaazon se Gunah kyoon na kare, kya khuda rahim na tha? Trust me, the angels will ask the pious on judgement day: "Why didn’t you sin? Didn’t you trust in God’s mercy?" (Milegi Sheikh Ko Jannat)
Maine dil diya, pyaar ki hadh thi Maine jaan di, aitbaar ki hadh thi Mar gaye hum, khuli rahi aankhen Yeh mere intezaar ki hadh thi I gave my heart; that was the height of love. I put my life in her hands; that was the height of trust. I died, but my eyes refused to close. That was the height of waiting. (Teri Soorat Nigahon Mein)
Is daulat ko kya karna hai ? Yeh soch ke ik din marna hai What use is this fortune? Think: one day you will die. (Yeh Paisa Kya Karega)
Aziz Mian died from complications of hepatitis in Tehran, Iran on 6 December 2000. He was in Iran at the invitation of the Government of Iran, to perform on the occasion of Imam Ali's death anniversary. He is buried in Multan, in the graveyard of Nau Bahar Shah.
Aziz Mian had three sons Imran, Tabrez, and Naeem who all followed in his footsteps. They are very similar in style to Aziz Mian himself and like other sons of famous qawwals (Amjad Sabri for example, or Waheed and Naveed Chishti), they perform many of their father's hits. Tabrez is however considered to be the closest to his father's style. His looks and his style are a mirror image of his father. Tabrez also toured North America for a tribute to Aziz Mian Qawwal.