Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Pakistani musician, primarily a singer of qawwali (1948-1997)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (October 13, 1948 – August 16, 1997), a world-renowned Pakistani musician, was primarily a singer of Qawwali, the devotional music of the Sufis (a mystical tradition within Islam). Considered one of the greatest singers ever recorded, he possessed a three-octave vocal range and could perform at a high level of intensity for several hours.Extending the 600-year old Qawwali tradition of his family, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is widely credited with introducing Sufi music to international audiences.

Quotes about Nusrat

  • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's voice was otherworldly. For 25 years, his mystical songs transfixed millions. It was not long enough .... He performed qawali, which means wise or philosophical utterance, as nobody else of his generation did. His vocal range, talent for improvisation and sheer intensity were unsurpassed.
  • There are great singers, and then there are those few voices that transcend time. The late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan could not only transcend time, but also language and religion. There was magic when he opened his mouth, a sense of holy ecstasy that was exciting and emotional. It wasn’t uncommon even for Western listeners, who didn’t understand a word he was singing or follow his Sufi traditions, to be moved to tears upon hearing him.
  • Nusrat is one of the greatest singers of our time. When his singing takes off, his voice embodies soulfulness and sprituality like no other.
    • 'Peter Gabriel',Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan A Living Legend
  • The place where my voice finishes ,Nusrat used to start from that place.
  • He used to go and sit by the ocean, and watch it for hours and hours. And one day it occoured to me, that I, as a viewer, am in fact seeing two oceans, for this man himself is an ocean.


  • When I sing for God, I feel myself in accord with Allah, and the house of God, Mecca, is right in front of me. And I worship. When I sing for Muhammad, peace be upon him, our prophet, I feel like I am sitting right next to his tomb, Madina, and paying him respect and admitting to myself that I accept his message.
  • To be a qawwal is more than being a performer, more than being an artist,One must be willing to release one's mind and soul from one's body to achieve ecstasy through music. Qawwali is enlightenment itself.
  • Sufi music tries to banish the hatred living within all human beings. It does not belong to any one culture, but to all of us. It stands for bhaichara. The great Sufis have said that there is no value in namaz if your soul is not clean, no value of bathing in the Ganga, if your thoughts are impure. God is to be achieved through love. Mohabbat (love) is the ultimate reality.
  • I have nothing but dust from the mazars where the beloved of Allah sleep.I transform this dust through my surs into my songs. A recreation , a perennial recitation of the Holy names of Allah, the Holy Prophet(PBUH) and Ali is my heritage. I will pass it on to the next generation. Perhaps Allah likes what I do and He has opened the gates of blessings on me.I love Him. I go far and wide with the name of my Beloved on my lips. To those who do not know language I chant Allah hoo, I sing of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and sing of Ali, the people are enchanted.I claim no skill, it is because of the great men of Allah, when I was awarded the Grand Prixin Paris Uxi Mufti came to me in thr green room and said that I possessed no skill for the honour and that it was because of saintsand blessings of Allah. He was right. what is man but a handful of dust and what can he do? [citation needed]
  • Myself, I am nothing, If I am anything it is because of my companions. An axe cannot chop wood without its handle. I also cannot do anything without my companions and friends who work with me. They are as important as a thumb is in hand.[citation needed]
  • The more honors I am given , the more afraid I become, that I might not slip in the eyes of my fans. I pray to Allah to preserve me and keep me in his favor. I need his friendship . I do not bother about the disaffections of the times.[citation needed]
  • Naheed, my wife and Nida (my daughter) are the two rulers sitting on the throne of my heart. I travel long and wide to extend their empire. But I never forget them. In my heart are two portraits. Whenever I have an opportunity I bend and see them in my heart. The strings of my heart are in their hands. Farrukh and Rahat are my two eyes. I see the world through them. The world looks so beautiful. When these two eyes open it is daylight for me when the close ,the evening strats.[citation needed]
  • My father Ustaad Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, his brothers are my spritual gurus. I am their son, their acolyte. It is my duty to preserve and protect the knowledge the music that they gave me. I do a lot of experiments but the base is classical music. I ambound with ragas. I may road around the world and may acquaint myself with the western instuments I never wander from the central point. from the stage of WOMAD and from the studios of Peter Gabriel, I always emerge depths of my own music.[citation needed]
  • The musical instuments may be western but my voice never wavers away from my own ragas. it is good to make experiments and I do a lot of them but my thoughts always round the centre and that centre is the tradition of my elders and it is classical music..
    • Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan on release of his biography,1992. Statement was included in the book Ahmed Aqeel Ruby, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Living Legend, translated by Sajjad Haider Malik, Lahore: Words of Wisdom, (1992)
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