A profound look into the spiritual tradition of Sufi Qawwali music in Pakistan.


After 13 years of deep exploration within this profound tradition of spiritual music, its time to create a comprehensive film!

The qawwali music of Pakistan has had such a substantial impact on the lives of many people. The profound value of this ancient tradition is captivating on many levels: spiritual, cultural & musical. Yet somehow, until this film is created there has never been a comprehensive documentary which explores this genre in depth. There are some wonderful films about the great master Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as well as ufi music as a broad topic, but in my opinion it's time to share the tradition of qawwali with the world at a new level. 

The above video clip was created with my limited video editing/production skills as a promotional tool for our group. As far as the documentary film goes, our journey as Fanna-Fi-Allah is just a small piece of what I plan to share. Our film will be created only with your help, as a non profit educational journey with the help of professional video editors such as the Shumba Records company.

Here is lovely live video by Shumba Records: Allah Hoo

The inspiration for this film has been lingering within my heart ever since I began performing this music over 13 years ago. With my beloved musical companion Aminah Chishty as well my other Fanna-Fi-Allah band mates, i've been deeply immersed within the practice of this genre daily. Now what I plan to share with the world is this music from the inside, from thousands of hours within the company of qawwali's greatest masters in Pakistan. Over all the years of being exposed to this music in Pakistan i've collected countless hours of footage, recordings & pictures enough to make a TV series on the subject. But my aim with this film project is to share this fascinating subject within a 1.5 hr documentary journey. Including some of the best media i've collected & HD footage from our 10th anniversary qawwali tour of Pakistan happening this December, 2013. Inshallah, this film will deeply educate viewers on the topics of:

Mehfil-e-Sama - This is the traditional spiritual setting of qawwali music. How people listen & participate in an extremely interactive way with the intention of spiritual healing. Topics will include: the murshid ( spiritual guide ), Nazar ( giving up worldly attachment ) & Haal ( mystical trance ).

Pakpattan Sharif during the urs of Hazrat Baba Farid

Pakpattan Sharif during the urs of Hazrat Baba Farid

Talim - Transmission of the music from Ustad ( teacher ) to Shagird ( student ). Topics will include: Riyaz ( practice ), Andaz ( technique) & Ganda Bandh ( initiation ).

Translating & transliterating Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwali books with Ilyas Khan. 2003

Translating & transliterating Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's qawwali books with Ilyas Khan. 2003

Aminah Chishty's initiation with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Ustad Dildar Hussain Khan. 2003

Aminah Chishty's initiation with Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Ustad Dildar Hussain Khan. 2003

Fanna-Fi-Allah - The unique journey of our qawwali ensemble studying & performing qawwali worldwide. Topics will include: how listeners respond to our music in western countries verses eastern, the remarkable story of Aminah Chishty studying/performing qawwali as a woman & the blessings of our qawwali teachers musically & beyond.

Fanna-Fi-Allah at Kaliam Sharif. 2007

Fanna-Fi-Allah at Kaliam Sharif. 2007

The History - I'm especially keen on this topic, as this is my opportunity to share for the first time the amazing life stories & accomplishments of our tradition's musical pioneers. Featuring plenty of never before seen footage, pictures & recordings of exceptional qawwali greats such as : Ustad Fateh Ali/Mubarak Ali Khan, Ustad Bakshi Salamat, Ustad Muhammad Ali Faridi, Ustad Rashid/Majeed Faridi, Ustad Hafiz Miandad, Ustad Agha Bashir... & many more.

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Mubarak Ali Khan Qawwali Party

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan Mubarak Ali Khan Qawwali Party

Culture - How qawwali music is deeply rooted in the culture of Pakistan. From quoting qawwali lyrics & blasting Nusrat Khan at the local chai shop, to the arrangement of a Mehfil-e-Sama on eid.

Sufism - This chapter is a wander into the spiritual path in it's living form present in Pakistan. Topics will include : Chishtiya Silsila ( the principal sufi lineage behind qawwali & sama ), Haqiqat - the sufi path to enlightenment & Malang - life style of the wandering dervish ( sufi mystic ).


Poetry - Exploration into the meaning of qawwali lyrics & the poets who composed them. Featuring : Hazrat Data Ali Hajweri, Boo Ali Shah Qalandar, Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Baba Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Abdul Latif, Sultan Bahu & many more.


Museeqi - Music: the melody, rhythm & arrangement of this genre. How the technique & poetry are combined so beautiful as to speak to the heart.

Future of Qawwali - A brief introduction to Pakistan's current & younger generation of great artists. Featuring interviews with : Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Dildar Hussain, Ustad Sher & Mehr Ali, Ustad Rizwan & Muazzam, Ustad Faiz Ali Faiz, Ustad Akhtar Sharif & many more.

Here is a short video of my production work with Ustad Rizwan & Muazzam Ali Khan : Karlo Ganj-e-Shakar

And with Ustad Sher & Mehr Ali Khan : Hamare Khaja

All the inside connections, video footage, recordings & documentary information will be completed on our upcoming Fanna-Fi-Allah tour of Pakistan. But, without your support in making all this into a beautiful film it will all be stored away unseen by all you lovers of qawwali, Pakistan, sufism & Fanna-Fi-Allah.

Haq Farid Ya Farid !

Risks and challenges

The principal challenge to this creation is the cost, as almost all the information & media has been gathered it will require more than just myself to bring the film into a professional masterpiece. 
Secondly, as you know there are many social & political struggles happening in Pakistan currently. For example, our group was touring in Pakistan during the bombing at Damadola in 2006, as well as during the assassination of the female Pakistan Peoples Party leader Benazir Bhuto in 2007, and performing at the urs of Data Sahib when it was bombed in 2010. There are certainly risks... 
But to me submerged in the deep love for this sacred musical culture I trust in the value of this project, beyond what it has given me personally I believe the world is ready for a bigger taste of qawwali.

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Alexandra Stern