Over two and a half extraordinary hours at MIF13, Abida Parveen showed exactly how she earned the title of the world’s greatest Sufi singer. Audiences danced, sang and shouted their love and appreciation for this inspirational performer.
Abida was born in Larkhana in the province of Sindh, which
could be called a heartland of Sufism; there are dozens of Sufi
shrines there, including Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She was
drawn to mysticism at a young age and was initially trained by
her father, Ghulam Haidar, a well-known classical vocalist of
his time who not only nurtured his daughter’s immense
talent but also, bypassing his sons, named her his musical
successor when she was just five years old.
There are very few other female Sufi singers in Pakistan and
certainly none with a profile like Abida’s. Women from decent families in Pakistan are not supposed to sing on stage, let alone unveiled. But asked whether it has been hard to make her way as a female performer, she plays down any difficulties. ‘I never had therealisation of being a woman,’ she says. ‘I have been given a mission. I have this work and it cannot be divided – this is for a woman and this for man. This is how it is happening and the Lord is making it happen.'
By Simon Broughton.
Taken form the MIF13 Abida Parveen event programme.