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Awards for World Music 2006
Sain Zahoor
The infamous attempts of the Taliban to eradicate music from the social and cultural landscape of Afghanisatan ended in happy failure, but their puritanical zeal still thrives in the region. All the more reason to celebrate the continued existence of various Pakistani and Afghani musical traditions which all owe their spiritual fire to the Sufi path of Islam.

Of these, the music of the qawwali is well known and documented throughout the world, but there is a more obscure breed of 'street' singers who still practise their art at the shrines and festivals of Pakistan and Northern India. Sain (or 'Saeen' or 'Saiyan') Zahoor is their king. Now aged 60, Zahoor started singing at the age of five. 'I dreamt of a hand calling me to Baba Bulle Shah's dargah ('shrine'),' he recalls. 'There I met Ustad Sain Raunka Ali of Patiala. My first lessons in the Sufi kalams were under his guidance.' The kalams are verses of poetry redolent with devotional love, which are sung with the passion and power needed to give listeners a chance of actually knowing the mystery of God. With his robes, beads, tightly bound turban and one string ektara lute, Saeen Zahoor delivers kalams by poets like Baba Bhulay Shah or Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, aka 'The Rumi Of Kashmir', with focused and flamboyant joy.

Zahoor was born and raised in a rural peasant family and for decades he performed exclusively at dargahs and melas in his native Ojara district of Pakistan. In 1989 he was invited to the All Pakistan Music Conference to give his first ever performance on a concert stage and, by all accounts, he transported the 2000 audience members present to heights of emotion which were deemed almost dangerously intense. He now tours the world, often accompanied by harmonium and dholak drum side-players, wreaking the same blissful havoc on devotees and newcomers alike. His piercing chiselled features are a regular sight on Pakistani TV and he has been the subject of at least one documentary.

Fans of the Sufiana kalams claim that seeing and hearing Sain Zahoor in full flow is the closest anyone alive will get to being in the presence of the the Sufi mystics of yore, like Bulle Shah and Shah Hussain. It's a musical spell that is well nigh universally effective. 

Ivan Chrysler

More information from Matteela records
Hindustan Times feature

Syed Akhtar Rawalpindi
Really Superb. He is a great fascinator.I love his voice. It’s my great wish to listen him live. His voice is as pure as nature. Indeed I don't have words to say about him

arslan u.s
I like his voice ......he have apain in his voice and attraction....i have a question which song or kalam was he sung on da was some thing like that.....aaja yaar de deedar...ishq bullhe noon nachawe yaar te nachna painda hai.....if there is anything u found this song.....please upload on computer....i really wanna listen.......tune was da same like aukhay painday.....thanks


Nadeem, Oxford
The minstrel sufi tradition, usually associated with Sufi Shrines, is an integral component of the sufi tradition as a whole. The minstrel captures the heart of the listen listener in its own state of enthymesis or rapture with the sole purpose of unveiling the potency of his/her own himma (creative intention). Zahoor represents this tradition by introducing it in a Punjabi vernacular that strongly appeals to the humanistic tendancies of Paksitani society.

Usman Ashraf Lahore Pakistan
simply the best we can have from a folk music.

Sultan Mehmood, Copenhagen
Do anyone here know where to find Sain Zahoor's LYRICS using the Latin alphabet (not the Urdu alphabet)?

shahid from saudi arabia
people really need the performer like zahoor

Haider Karim - Bradford UK
Sain Zahoor is a very excellent artist his voice and his music awakens thousands of people across the world. His performance was absolutely amazing from a street singer to an award winner That proves he is the best.


SAIN ZAHOOR's way of singing is simple&voice is attractive.his way of singing &style is like(SAIN MUSHTAQ).his voice touch the heart ALLAH BLESS U .

Abdaal Rafique
How can i listen music of Sain Zahoor?

Dr. M. Tahir Rashid, University of Guelph, Ontario
I want to draw your attention to the introduction paragraph about Saieen Zahoor. That is here. "The infamous attempts of the Taliban to eradicate music from the social and cultural landscape of Afghanisatan ended in happy failure, but their puritanical zeal still thrives in the region. All the more reason to celebrate the continued existence of various Pakistani and Afghani musical traditions which all owe their spiritual fire to the Sufi path of Islam. My question is that what Link Taleban has with Saieen Zahoor's music as he is from Pakistan and lives far from Afghanistan border. Why you guys (western media) tells lies or deliver misinformation about Islam. I think Taleban's are unneccessarily been accused deliberatly for every thing happening in the world. There is a mistake in the text about his place of birth (district. It is not Ojara, it is Okara, Punjab Pakistan.

Khuram Javaid
Why did this article have to start with a mention of Taliban. Thats pathetic. The writer in specific and the West in general knows jackass about Pakistan and its culture. Stop associating everything with Taliban.

Gul Khan, Abbottabad Pakistan
An award for anti-Talbanization.

paramjit singh
want to see him singing alive where to find?

raja ahmed norway
no doubt sufi poetry urges the wish to seek God.and the deep voice of sain zahoor strongly urges to listen sufi poetry. thus listening him can take us to the vast deep and true path that leads to God.

Raheel Aslam Choudhry ,London
Awsome, fantastic, mind blowing. I heard Sain Zahoor 15,16 years ago on Pakistan Television, only for 2 or 3 times. I am really glad that he got BBC Mucic Award Of The Year. He is really amazing.

~Alonestar~ Mars
WoW a Gift from God he have ...

Muhammad Saad Sohaib Sarwar,Sahiwal,Pakistan
Iam a true fan of Sain Zahoor.He is an amazing personality.I saw him in aTv show for the first time and he inspired me a lot.Since then Iam in search of his full album.He has God gifted voice.God blees him for this noble deed and give him strength to continue that marvelous job.

paramjit singh london
great music long live sain zahoor

Monieb Mughal,Belgium
I have seen Sain Zahoor in Antwerp, Belgium performing his Sufi kalaam its amazing how he brings that on stage. It was for me an experience above all.

Zaigham, Lahore Pakistan
wow!!! Hats off to him and his troupe... Recently i watched his performance with this SUFI DANCER in lahore Pakistan...that was just superb COMBO of LIFe and SOUL LETS LIVE AGAIN

camran, uk
With such strong kalaam (poetry) with such a God gifted voice. just spiritual trance. can't find words to translate my feelings.

Rafael, Argentina
This music is not our world. Intriguing...

babar hameed
I was introduced to sufi music when I heard Abida Parveen and other sufi singers at a Sufi music festival in Delhi few years ago.The festival in an annual event where artists come from other parts of the world as well.Sain Zahoor is great, hope that this year organisers invite him also. Taliban has nothing to do with Music which was rightly pointed out.I also appreciate the reply given by Ivan. I really appreciate bbc for everything. babar Hameed

Sain Zahoor is the greatest artist who has the God gifted skills.After listening his this performances i was weeping.I love his performance.

Babar -frankfurt germany
I recieved a lovely spritual relexation, with this lovely derwesh voice, nature allway,s a beauty of our planet. many many love to whole team, you are doing more than love.

Babar -frankfurt germany
I recieved a lovely spritual relexation,with this lovely derwesh voice,nature allway,s a beauty of our planet.many many love to whole team, you are doing more than love.

Musa Hanhan San Farncisco USA
This is the best performance I've seen all year WOW Truly a marvellous voice and very genuine

Mahmood (Pakistan)
Lovely song please provide more at your site for our convin,. We love your attitude with the lovers of sofi songs

Zahid, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Saeen Zahoor is a great singer of Punjbai folk music and i can term him as living legend. In last I thank all those who can not understand the Punjabi language and admire this kind of music.

zahoor is tha great ma n i lovee him ver y much you too

liaquat ali ksa.
sain zahoor,s vice is a miracle its a poetic and spiritual experence listening to him.we r listening everyday aokhay painday,

Malik Bilal Awan
Aokhay painday lamiaan rawaan ISHQ deyaan :(

shah , from UAE
He is such a great singer.

Sagheer Ahmad, Pakistan
truly magical voice... Sain Zahoor is simply the best. he is marvelous.

shahid pakistan
sain zahoor is one of the best ever sufi singer i have ever heard and couled be rated best as abida perveen

shahid pakistan
sain zahoor is one of the best ever sufi singer i have ever heard and couled be rated best as abida perveen

zahid attock pakistan
he is great sufi poet composer and singer

I really liked Saeen Zahoor's recordings which I came across on Must hear for Saeen Zahoor fans.

Rina, London
Recently got a CD with Sain Zahoor's music from mentioned by somebody here. The beauty of his voice is indescribable. Are there any more recordings of his available?

Avtar Singh, Folsom, CA, USA
Sai Zahoor Sahib is blessed with everything to touch the souls of listners of both sides of Indo-Pak border.By closing the eyes and listening to Zahoor Sahib one feels roaming in Panjab.

Gurpreet Toor
I just can’t find words to explain this musical phenomenon.

Hiba from Sydney Australia
As I am sufi kind of a person I liked his song which went through my soul.He is real and not superficial. I cant just explain how good he is. I would like to buy his album if any in the shops.

sajjad azam pakistan
mind blowing.pure voice as water clear as mystic soul

Mohsin (Pakistan
sain Zahoor is a great kalam singer i like him

Hassan Shahzad(Gujranwala)Pakistan
I Got comfort of soul after listning the magical voice of Sian Zahoor.It is true that he is true lover of God and a True messenger of God.He has something in his magical voice that can melt the stone.

Haseeb Mehmood, London
Truly magical voice. Time and space hold no meaning, their is a world of its own. Creates an atmosphere which is singular in its own effect on soul.

Potter, Kent
A million thanks to the BBC for bringing such musical pleasures to the nation.Well done you

Muhammad Anzar, Canada
Hazrat Bulleh Shah's poetry is amazingly very powerful, and pure voice of Sain Zahoor made it more intoxicated. Thanks to BBC for acknowledging the voice from a remote area of the Punjab. The richness in his voice and tunes have made him unique in the field of Sufiana Kalam (kafi).

A. Anzar, Canada
It's quiet disheartening to read that people who like Sain Zahoor's music were not able find recordings. These people are gems, that really aren't well kept. They don't really earn a whole lot of money, but the smiles they might put on people's faces are worth alot in His Majesty Allah (SWT) court. May Allah (SWT) bless him in this life and the hereafter, Ameen.

my name is Aisf from germany
self sain zahoor video appertains the was wonderfull kalam.I mean song. self total fill with enthusiasm. thenks

M.Aftab Manchester
I Can't Eplane My Feelings When He Was Performing. His Singing & Perfomance Was Out Of This World & Mind Blowing.He Is Such A Great Sofi Singer . At The End I Just Like To Say Sain Zahoor ZINDABAD . God Bless Him .

Salman, London
I wish everyone could understand these verses that Sain Zahoor sang.......... "Love makes even the most privileged to cry....It makes them dance in streets, whomever it takes hold of! Love resides in every heart all around...It walks the heavens and earth alike. Just like Bulleh Shah these strings make me dance......Hard are the ways and long are the paths of love.

Seva Rumee, UK
Whats so good about this music, I just dont get it!! I dunno..........

Saqib Iqbal, Sargodha
It was very exciting moment for me when i heard him first time live in Sufi Festival at Alhamra Cultural Complex Lahore. Coz no one can ignore the truth of life.

After a long time we have got a man who sings from heart and it directly touches the soul. its a grest treat for the lover of sofiana kalam. Pakistan

celt islam - england
MASHALLAH its wonderfull to hear this true sufi express islamic music at its ultimate best may ALLAH bless sain zahoor and all his family ameen, ma salaam, celt islam

Ghulam Ahmed, LAHORE
congratulations to a worthy winner ! to all those looking for his recordings, a production house by the name of "matteela" is the only one who recognised this man a few years ago.

askin - san francisco
where was i before??? wow! i am glad to come across a great musician whose music takes my breath away.

Mat, London
There can't be a set of ears on the planet that wouldn't agree this was just beautiful; Sain Zahoor is living proof of universals in music that totally transcend cultural categories. Can anyone translate what Sain said when he recieved the award? I thought he said 'Number 10' in English at the beginning but this was not in the translation given on the night.

javid uk
i heard many sufi performers but zahoor is best so far

Leonard, UK
My son introduced me to this moving music. It is hypnotic. I love it.

Arshad Chohan
I am a long time fan of Sain Zahoor but could not get his music on tape, CD or even web. Thank you BBC for putting his music on the web. I wish all his songs could be put on the site, specially his master piece "Allahoo" and "Allah Hi Allah kar Bandya".

Umba - Bethnal Green - London
I don’t believe in god, I don’t understand the lyrics.. But, if god inspires his devotion, his voice, the melody.. I'm happy to let my arguments rest till the end of the song. Beautiful

Aqial Rathore, Watford, UK
the lyrics are just so real the long and difficult path of love. The essence of existence is captured in a few words mixed with alluring and hypnotic sounds only Sain Zahoor could do that Wa Wa Murhabbah Murhubbah

Babur, London
Fantastic. For 11 minutes, Sain Zahoor Sahib takes me back to Home

Dr. Michael Brunson, Utah, USA
Thank you BBC and thank you to Mr. Ivan Chrysler's piece. This is beautiful, God-connecting music and voice. Must say I'm surprised by comments re: the Taliban connection - seems obvious (to my understanding) they tried to repress music, art, and anything not by their 'program,' and that is the reason we are fortunate they are no longer in power. Zahoors voice and music are so special, and the Taliban would likely suppress his voice. Michael Brunson, Utah, USA

Nadir Cheema
What has Taliban got to do with Saeen Zahoor? A grotesque way to introduce such a beautiful artist.

Harminder Singh
Sain Zahoor is truly a messenger of GOD. Hearing his voice is mesmerizing and any person from any faith will feel the enlightenment of his voice and at peace with their surroundings. Definately a way forward for rejoicing in the Lord. Thankfully he sing in my mother-tongue as well which makes it a better listen.

Lukas van der Veen, Groningen, Holland
Pure and simple music never sounded so sweet.

Rasheed, Sheffield.
What an exquisite poetry!!! As the great Lao Tzu said 'Music in the soul can be heard by the universe'.

inder pal singh , delhi , india
magical notes and this mystical voice returns to me after more than a year ,sharing the same performing arts festival , searched for his music in every shop of lahore ,failed, listening to sain right in front of my eyes , a visual treat, moment of silence and sain keeps lifting you to a place that you need a guiding hand strumming various notes . thanks bbc for bringing him close to so many of us

Bilal Mehdi
I have been listening Saaeen zahoor on ARY RADIO in London for last 6 months... But since ARY Radio closed I was not able hear SAIN ZAHOOR... Now thanx to Ivan Chrysler I have got his name. Can we have him properly introduced to the world. His a true Diamond from LAND of SUFIs.

Abé , Stoke-On-Trent
Sain Zuhoor's lyrical voice is so melancholic just like the poet stirring one's heart with his rhythmical verses. And his supplicating voice is sheer incantation for the soul's purification. Congratulations to the BBC for sharing such hidden gem with a worldwide audience.

sonya, UK
Simply Amazing! His voice opens a gateway to another world and takes me away...

Sajid Ali
Sain Zahoor Music work is life changing rythm and spells undefined magic. Sajid Ali

israr ahmed qazi,birmingham
i love it too much... i haven't got words for this...thanks for Saeen Zahoor, thanks for Ivan Chrysler and BBC.

israr ahmed qazi
i love it too much... i hav'nt got words for this...

Saeqa - London
After so many people have sung his praises there is not much more I can say that has not already been said. All I would like to add is that I don’t cry easily but this mans voice has a truth and devotion so pure you cant help but be moved by it. There is no doubt in my mind that he was not singing for me, or the hundreds of people who filled the hall of the London Barbican ... he was singing for his god and regardless of which faith or religious background you may come from, it is not possible to hear such devotion and not be humbled by it. I can not state enough just how much I hope he wins this award

al braxton, canada
wow, what come out of zahoor voice is pure and soothing.

Abdul Wakil Farooqi, Lahore, Pakistan
Simply Amazing

Surjit Dhillon, California
The song transported me back to the land of five rivers. I could not have asked for a better beginning to 2006. Hopefully, we will get to hear this voice more.

Tomek Wysokiski Poland
What can I say... I'm a film director and I'm making with friends a documentary film on the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and sufism. We meet Sain Zahoor last year in the shrine on the old graveyard and we were shooting him when he played on thumba and sang his extraordinary, mystical song Allahoo... His hypnotic, brilliant and deep voice fascinated us. There is no manner of doubt Sain Zahoor is living legend and one from the world's greatest sufi and pakistani folk singer. Salaams

Beautiful, spell binding, teletransportational!

gill usa
mr,sain zahoor. you are the best.

Hira Biswas, Bel Air, Maryland, USA
I celebrated my New Year with Sain Zahoor, his music creates inner silence and joy. I like to know how I can buy his CD or music records in any form? Sain Zahoor is not just a singer, he is a spiritual force who has come in our world in a unique time of our history. Long live Sain Zahoor Hira

Ivan Chrysler, Bristol
I'm really sorry that people have taken exception to the way I have written about this remarkable musician. I can only apologize to Sabir Jaleel for the various spelling mistakes I made, and I bow to his greater knowledge in this area. All I can say is that my sources (and there was precious little I could find on Zahoor) provided me with the spellings I used. It just shows how the web can compound innocent mistakes. Concerning my reference to the Taliban...which alot of you have taken umbrage to, all I can do is try and explain the point I was trying to make, apparently without much success. Granted, the Taliban have nothing to do with Sain Zahoor or the traditional music of Pakistan. But there is a strong puritanical element in both Pakistani and Afghani society that abhors music as sinful. The same element exists in the middle east and North Africa. To the outside and 'ignorant' world, this puritanical element is most easily symbolised by the Taliban. And what strikes anyone who hears the music of Zahoor, or of the Qawwali singers, is how little this puritanical element has in common with the 'real' cultural roots of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. To anyone who knows Pakistan well, this comparison is no doubt pretty lightweight as it ignores the cultural complexities that exist in that country. But to an outsider, the contrast and justaposition between the puritanism inspired by Wahabi and Salafist doctrines from the middle east and the sensuous, joyous and deeply spiritual heart of Sufi music from Pakistan is striking. That's all. But I've learned that maybe it's a little too flippant and superficial to make these comparisons using the Taliban as an illustration, and I will avoid doing so again. Many apologies to anyone who was upset by what I wrote. All the best in 2006, Ivan Chrysler.

A. GADI, Sweden
His music is pure soul which resonates the entire matrix of your body.The meloncholy in lyrics and breadth of his voice are a unique blend which provide you with elevating spiritual experience.

sam jarez
Simply amazing! Trance remix to be released in 2006

Thomas, London
I saw Sain Zahoor at the Barbican a few months ago, and have been trying to find recordings of this fantastic singer ever since. What a voice!


Ahmed Shah
this is music for the soul. does anyone have the translation of Aokhay Painday for those of us not fluent in the lingo.

ahmad irshad from italy and usa
His performance and his acoustic backing were mesmerizing It is a great joy to know Sain Zahoor has been nominated to this prestigious award. He well & truly deserves it. he has wonderful evokative voice

asif shahzad from italy
sain zahoor His performance is so moving because he sings with his heart and soul.Its heartening to know that a non a song .They had very little efffect on the popular culture -and other performing arts -- of Pakistan.

Amarjit Chandan
Subhaan Allah. He sings in my ma boli - mother language- through the voice of Saeen ['Dear' in Turkish]Zahoor.

Mohammad Ilyas
I love Sain Zahoor's voice.He has a magic in his voice.Great Great singer.His voice uplifts soul.

M.Das, Cambridge MA
This is the most unique and beautiful music I ever heard.

Hana Vojtechova, Czech republic
Czech band Cakisou during its participation in World Performing and Visual Arts festival 2005 had a chance to rehears with Sain Zahoor. Together we performed 3times. It was amazing experience for us to meet this great Pakistan singer.

Cassandra Balchin, London
Matteela Records have produced a CD called Awazay (Voices) which features a contribution from Sain Zahoor. You can listen to it on their website He truly transports the soul.

manjit london
I recently got the opportunity to see Saeen Zahoor. His performance and his acoustic backing were mesmerizing. I am so grateful that you have added an audio clip I have been searching to hear his voice again on the net. He is a person with a voice to uplift your soul, he was so humble and grateful to the people for appreciated and enjoyed the music. His message is to spread love, love for God and for humanity as the paths are all long but lead to one, God. His performance is so moving because he sings with his heart and soul.

Mirza Waheed, London
Its heartening to know that a non-qawwali musician has been nominated to this award. The popular (and populist) qawwali genrre has long been seen in the West as the predominant strand of music from Pakistan, which has deprived other classical genres of much-deserved attention. I recently went to a concert where Zahoor also performed; he is sheer joy to listen and watch. At the same concert I was appalled by the introductory brochure which seemed to suggest 'Muslims are not just fundamentalists, they can also produce music...' To say the very least, this was patronising not only to all muslims but also to music lovers. I would advise the BBC not to fall for the same stereotyping. Please see your introduction the Sain Zahoor write-up.

Sabir Jaleel, Multan
It is a great joy to know Saeen Zahoor has been nominated to this prestigious award. He well & truly deserves it. But Mr.Ivan Chrysler has made a couple of mistakes that should be corrected. The correct spellings are: 1."BULLEH" Shah and not "Bulle" or "Bhulay". 2. Ustad "RAUNAQ" Ali not "Raunka". 3. "OKARA" District, not "Ojara". 4. The Taliban have nothing to do with the popular folk music of the Punjab. This is misleading information. Thank you BBC for bringing this great artist to the fore. He is a truly humble dervish in real life.

Ivan Chrysler’s profile of Saeen Zahoor is easily the worst injustice done to a great world artist. Chrysler’s begins his badly written piece with Taliban’s infamy (one wonders what that has got to do with Zahoor’s music)…the only saving grace is that it brings within sight the mystical heights of Saeen’s music.

Danny Sumbler / UK
Just found Sain Zahoors wonderful evokative voice and beautiful grace within his music...a true calling, thankyou to him.

Irfan Khan, Karachi
The music of Sain Zahoor and of tens of thousands popular artists is hardly 'obscure'. It is well rooted in the cultures of the punjab plains and the indus. Musicians like him are adored by the common people. What else an artist could ask for? I would also like to take an exception to the reference to the Taliban regime. They had very little efffect on the popular culture -- music, dance, and other performing arts -- of Pakistan.

Sushma Joshi, Italy
Zahoor's voice is a miracle -its a poetic and spiritual experience listening to him.

Zohar Khalili, Eastbourne, UK
Sain Zahoor is the most powerful performer I have had the pleasure to hear. His voice awakens the soul. His music nourishes the spirit.

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