Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral- The people’s singer

Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral- The people’s singer

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Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral- The people’s singer

Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral catered to the popular sentiments of people. The vocalists of Chitral are not formally trained; neither do they belong to a family of musicians. However, they have the ability to touch the popular sentiments of the people. Iqbal Uddin Sahar is a live example of such talent. He is from Shoghor, a small valley towards Garamchashma. 

Lyrics play an important role for a vocalist to make the song endearing. The common people in the street take lyrics as the most important aspect of a song. The lyrics represent their compressed feelings and their emotions outflow. 

Iqbal Uddin Sahar always selected a song with emotional lyrics. Chitrali music has a unique emotional expression. Usually in the popular folk expression, in the Kaloom, the geets or Bashavono represent the people.

Folk music of Chitral.

Among vocalists of Chitral who sing folk music the “ang” is the most important aspect of music. It may be the distinguishing feature of, their music. Since Chitrali Music is not totally formalized and does not attempt to achieve the standardization that is the hallmark of a classical vocalist or an instrumentalist. Folk music of Chitral has a distinctive flavor that separates it from the music of another region.

The traditional music of Chitral is everlasting in its taste. The young generation likes another form of music rather than classical music. According to Iqbal Uddin, pure music is the classical music of Chitral. He is against computer-generated sounds. Iqbal Uddin considers electronic songs as a disturbance for the youth. 

One has to learn how to hear and how to sit before joining a musical gathering. The Taste of Chitrali literature has a different dimension to open the window of wisdom. One has to find one’s ways to separate the chaff the grain in Khowar tradition. 

His Education Life:

After passing the 8th class from the Middle School Shoghor, he got admission in the 9th class of the then High School Chitral, now Government Centennial Model School Chitral. There are many shining stars from this school. One can know more about these personalities.

The teachers of  Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral were the late- Mir Faiz, Haseen Ullah, Mukaram Shah, the late Umer Hayat, Ghulam Sarwar, Waqar Ahmad, and Amir Shah, etc.  Recently, in a gathering with Iqbal Uddin Sahar and he shared his ideas about music.  

Question: Why our traditional music of Chitral is declining?

Iqbal Uddin Sahar of Chitral: In this country, classical music is declining due to political, economical, and religious reasons. Lack of state patronage, absence of suitable institutions, uneducated musicians or artists, and unavailability of standard literature have made our great music heritage away from our reach.

Our media is also pro-western rather than presenting our own culture. The purpose of our music was to feed the soul but people have associated it with sexuality and other uncivilized act.

What is the difference between Chitrali Music and Indian Music?

See, our music has very sweetness due to its melodramatic nature. If we take the example of Nan O begal, one can feel the emotions of a mother in the music of Chitral.  Here is the story of Begal.

Begal was from my village, Shoghor (a village situated 15 miles away from Chitral towards Garmchasma). He lived with his mother and was a good polo player in his lifetime, which is also the national sport of Chitral. Polo was also a rehearsal and preparation for war. The polo ground in Chitral is historical, it is known as Junali in Khowar. Begal was the only polo player of his time whose name is still remembered. He won many matches against the teams of Gilgit, Puniyal, and Ghezar and thus made the Mehtar happy. On one Nowroz, there was a polo match in Shoghor between the teams of Begal and of Mehtar.

Begal was superior and he won the polo match from the Mehtar. When Mehtar of Chitral went home, the wife of Mehtar taunted him that Begal won every time, while her own husband kept losing the matches. This taunt hurt and infuriated the Mehtar and the next day he challenged Begal to a horse race. Mehtar had concealed a ditch to make Begal’s horse trip and fall but he did not succeed. He subsequently challenged Begal to a fight and killed him. Begal’s mother later sang in the praise of her son, which today is known as Begal’s Song or Begalo Hang.


Mitaro berahmiyo lo haye nano Begal.

Zakhmi ma hardiyo lo haye nano Begal


Oh, mother’s Begal! Look at the cruelty of Mehtar. Oh, mother’s Begal! See the

Injury your mother’s heart suffers.

The Indian way of understanding music

Scientifically, the whole existence is just music because the whole existence is just a reverberation. If there is a vibration then there is also a sound according to physics. The whole universe is just a reverberation and amalgamation of sound.

In this way, every sound has a form and every form has a sound attached to it. If the right kind of sound has been produced then its effect is unmeasurable and a unique experiment towards higher consciousness and mystical dimension.

Therefore, all the Indian ragas and music have been evolved to create a certain environment where an individual can raise his consciousness or communicate at a higher level of understanding.

Similarly in the traditional culture of Chitral, music, dance, or whatever else you did was not entertainment. But it was also a spiritual process. Dance is not just entertainment. If you use the postures and the movement properly, it will lead to ecstasy. Similarly, when someone sees a person rendering music then it was supposed to be a necessary work for their well-being Music was not some “ding- ting” that somebody invented just for entertainment. Entertainment was not the attitude in life. Everything was to reach a higher level of consciousness.

So, the most important thing is not only to produce music but to listen to music in the right way. Music becomes only noise for those who listen to it in bits and pieces. Music should be listening to totally and as a whole. The purpose of the music was to touch the inner music. Outer music is only to experience the inner music and if somebody becomes successful to touch the inner music then he will realize the purpose of music and he will feel the ultimate reality.

As it is, your contribution to Khowar literature and music is unprecedented so what is your contribution which is a pride for you in Khowar music. At least tell only one contribution.

Many tunes have almost died while many are dying day by day. For example, the bol of the song “kecha maraz ma xany” is already lost to history. Bervazi is a unique dance for this song. I have written lyrics on this tune and preserved the tune from being lost. Similarly, “Orghochano gonian” and many songs have lost their original lyrics. I remade to preserve the original taste and tune of our folk music. The Government High School Chitral encouraged me to work in different fields of life including music.

I always preferred to promote the culture of Chitral inside and outside of Chitral. I think I am fortunate that I gave only love to the people of Chitral. Because nothing is precious than love. 

According to Iqbal Uddin, in the stretch from Drosh to Chitral and then to Lot Koh Valley, the “ang” is more or less the same and is distinct from the one that is heard in Buni and Mastuj as well as Lower Chitral.

Iqbal Uddin always likes a suitable environment to perform and religate his fans. He doesn’t like to shower currency notes by people. Not agitated or disturbed, however, he is always performing to their request and the people inundate him with requests for numbers that they like and he dares not to say no, any farmaish. He performs and the people go ecstatic after their desired emotions embedded in the song fulfilled.

Some of Iqbal Uddin’s most popular numbers are: a ma husnu gamburi ta yadi goya no, suherman khavosher ta haya nawjuwan mehfil, nasa neshe ma hay ashruan oshmaravo, Zindageo terytam gudazia shakhsetm, e kharkar naswar pehako dust, wa kit a pashem xan chaghul chamoti ki dasem xan, zindagi arzuwan awezan, a dilbar e dildar harosh divana ka asor and haya hasay angar ki chokisher tanar

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