Introducing Ahmad Sham Sufi Qawwali Group

The Ahmad Sham Sufi Qawwali Group has been performing for more than thirty years and is one of the most highly regarded qawwali groups in Afghanistan. Featuring an array of instruments rarely heard outside their homeland, the Ahmad Sham Sufi Qawwali Group are part of a vibrant musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years. Banned from performing under the Taliban reign, these musicians now publicly reunite to present the healing and spiritual power of qawwali music to Afghanistan and the world.

The singer and harmonium player Ahmad Sham leads the group of musicians who play at the khanaqa (Sufi meeting place) in Kabul where they use the qawwali style of music popularized by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. For them music and religious belief are inseparable. 

Afghanistan is one of the centres of Sufism where music is used in praise of God. Several of the most celebrated Sufi saints came from what is now Afghanistan – Rumi foremost amongst them, who was born in 1207 in the city of Balkh. The central themes of qawwali, as heard being intoned by Ahmad Sham on this release, are traditionally love, devotion and longing (of man for the Divine).

Pause for a moment to meditate in the mist of Ahmad’s melismatic vocal underpinned by undulating drone, propulsive percussion and a chorus of devotional voices. Ahmad Sham’s music is at once drenched in a rich resonant culture of old and a symbol of hope for a brighter future.