Wednesday, March 28, 2012




Tasbih Phiri Tay Dil Na Phirya, Ki Laina Tasbi Pharr Kay Hoo
Ilm parhiya Tay Adab Na Sikkhiya, Ki Laina Ilm Nu Parh Kay Hoo

The resonated voice of Muhammad Iqbal pack
ed with trance and spiritual thoughts of great spiritual philosophers- finally sings swansong on March 24.

The accomplished Sufi singer Iqbal Bahu passed away after complaining of chest pains. He was 65. He was known for his singing of Arifana kalam (devotional songs).

The soft spoken benign character, Bahu (1944 – 2012) had mastered the Sufi tradition of well-known Sufi saints Sultan Bahu, Waris Shah, Mian Muhammad Bux, Bulle Shah, Baba Farid and Shah Hussain by rendering their kalam. He had great command over folk songs as well mystical and devotional poetry but the kalam of Waris Shah (Heer), Mian Muhammad Bux’s (saif-ul-Mulook) and in particular Sultan Bahu’s kalam gave him an eternal fame and his name was changed from Muhammad Iqbal to Iqbal Bahu as spiritual affiliation with Hazrat Sultan Bahu.

While having a good time to converse with Bahu at the back stage of PNCA Auditorium quite a time,
Bahu gave an annoyed expression of modern youth being aping western music and oblivion of Sufi music and Kalam- that has something to offer everyone.

Last year, while he was looking pale at the same venue, after a formal discussion I started drilling him to share something about sufi music in context of contemporary music scene and I found him dejected. “Bus yar, chalnay do jo chal raha hay, jaise chal raha hay. Hum to apna kam diyanat dari (with honesty) se kar hi rahein hein,” was his prompt reply. He said no matter what - the world goes on but the echo of Sufi music/ kalam will never be faded as it has the wisdom that could not be found anywhere and strong message of righteousness, piety, self, and devotion are the essence of this poetry.

Born in Gurdaspur, Indian Punjab‚ Bahu migrated to Pakistan after partition and settled in Lahore. After completing his education, he worked in National Bank of Pakistan.

To perfect his singing of the Sufi kalam, Iqbal Bahu is believed to have sought the help of language experts in order to pronounce the words accurately.

Bahu performed for the radio, on stage, and the television in Pakistan as well as in European countries. On March 14, this year, he travelled to India
to perform his Sufiana and Arifana kalam in Lucknow and returned to Lahore on March 20. Since his return, Bahu had been suffering from a severe cough.

On Friday (March 23), he was taken to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology where a report of his angiography was positive. On Saturday, he was shifted to the Services Hospital where he expired during the course of treatment reportedly with cardiac arrest. Bahu leaves behind his wife, three daughters and two sons. Iqbal Bahu was laid to rest at ancestral graveyard in Iqbal Town area of Lahore.

Tasbih Phiri Tay Dil Na Phirya Laina Tasbi Pharr Kay Hoo
(You have been counting your rosary beads, But your heart hasn’t taken a turn for the better. What can anyone gain from such a practice?)
Ilm parhiya Tay Adab Na Sikkhiya Laina Ilm Nu Parh Kay Hoo
(You acquired knowledge by reading scriptures, But you didn’t submit yourself to their mandate, What can anyone gain from such knowledge?)
Chillay Kattay Nay Kujh Na Kujh Na Khattiya Laina Chillian Varr Kay Hoo
(You secluded yourself for forty-day retreats, But that too did you no good)
Jaag Banaa Doodh Jamday Na Bahu Laal Hoovan Bhaaveen Karh Kay Hoo
(You may keep boiling milk forever, O Bahu, But unless it is cultured, it will not yield the essence).