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Star of Islamic devotional music offers concert in Buffalo

Amjad Sabri, a musical star in countries with large Muslim populations, will perform a concert in Buffalo on Thursday.

Sabri is internationally renowned for his brand of qawwali, a form of Islamic devotional music that is popular throughout South Asia, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

He is the son of another celebrated qawwali singer, Haji Ghulam Farid Sabri, the first person to bring qawwali to the United States in the 1970s on tours with his brother Maqbool Sabri, Amjad Sabri’s uncle.

“He is really a big star in South Asia,” said Faizan Haq, founder of WNY Muslims, which is sponsoring the concert. “He has kept up the tradition of his father and uncle and at the same time added his own contemporary touches.”

Qawwali involves repetitive singing of Sufi Muslim spiritual poetry, usually in praise of Allah, or of Muslim teachers and saints. The singing is accompanied by harmonium, a portable organ that sounds similar to an accordian, and a tabla, a hand-struck drum. It often invites interaction from audience members and joyous clapping and swaying.

Haq compared qawwali to Gospel music in the Christian tradition.

Sabri typically tours larger cities such as Toronto, New York City and Chicago, so Buffalo is lucky to get a performance, said Haq.

The concert starts at 7 p.m. in Adam’s Mark Hotel and Event Center. Tickets are $50, $75, and $100 and can be puchased online at wnymuslims.org. Student tickets are $10, with proper student identification. Call 923-4386 for more details.