Fateh Ali Khan (Qawwali singer)

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Fateh Ali Khan
Born1901 (1901)
Jullundur, Punjab, British India
Died1964 (aged 62–63)
Occupation(s)Musician (Qawwali singer)
Instrument(s)Vocals, harmonium, tabla

Fateh Ali Khan Jullundhri Qawwal (1901 – 1964) was a classical singer and a qawwali musician in the 1940s and 1950s.[1]

He was born in Jullundur, Punjab, British India in 1901. Fateh Ali Khan was the father of Pakistani Qawwali musicians, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan. Their family has an unbroken tradition of Qawwali, linked closely to the Sufi Chishti Order for over 600 years.[2][1]



Fateh Ali Khan was trained in classical music and Qawwali by his father, Maula Baksh Khan (Ali Khan), and he, soon after his training, distinguished himself as a skilled vocalist and instrumentalist. He learned to play traditional Indian instruments such as sitar, sarod and vichitraveena as well as Western instruments like the violin. He also mastered thousands of verses in Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic and Persian.

Leader of Qawwali Party[edit]

Fateh Ali Khan was the leader of his family's Qawwali party but they were billed as Fateh Ali Khan, Mubarak Ali Khan & Party. Mubarak Ali Khan, his brother, shared both singing and harmonium-playing duties with him. They were regarded as among the foremost exponents of Qawwali in their time. They are credited with popularizing the poetry of Allama Iqbal through their singing.[3]

Allama Iqbal's poetry was regarded as difficult to set musical tunes to, and while he was highly admired in academic circles and by intellectuals, Allama Iqbal did not have much of a popular following yet among the common people mainly due to the radio broadcasting technology still under development back then in British India. Fateh Ali Khan and Mubarak Ali Khan, more than anyone else, helped Iqbal achieve popular success as well:[4]

Allama Iqbal paid the ultimate homage to the two brothers by saying: 'I was restricted to schools and colleges only. You (Ustad Fateh Ali Khan) have spread my poetry through India'.[1]


In 1948, his son, Nusrat, was born in Faisalabad, Pakistan. Fateh Ali Khan wanted Nusrat to become a doctor or an engineer because he felt Qawwali artists had low social status. However, Nusrat showed such interest in and aptitude for Qawwali that his father soon relented, and began training him. However, Fateh Ali Khan died in 1964 at the age of sixty-three, when Nusrat was sixteen and still in school. Nusrat's training was completed by Fateh Ali Khan's brothers, Mubarak Ali Khan and Salamat Ali Khan. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan went on to become a household name and widely respected as the greatest exponent of Qawwali.[1]

Awards and recognition[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e 10 Best Pakistani Qawwali Singers of All Time DESIblitz.com website, Published 22 May 2020, Retrieved 21 March 2022
  2. ^ Article on qawwali on Encyclopædia Britannica Retrieved 21 March 2022
  3. ^ Fateh Ali Khan sings Allama Iqbal's poem, rare videoclip on YouTube Retrieved 21 March 2022
  4. ^ Ahmed Aqeel Ruby, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: A Living Legend, translated by Sajjad Haider Malik, Lahore: Words of Wisdom, (1992)