Abida Parveen – The Queen Of SUFI

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While I wait, I ‘m curious about what the legendary Abida Parveen really is like. My dad, himself a Sindhi and a lover of Sufi poetry, still talked so much about her. He had repeatedly offered to introduce me to her, claiming it would be a learning opportunity for me to tete a tete with the legend themselves. A little too young and a little too smitten with the world’s glitz and glamour, I then paid no attention to him. Now years later I find myself eagerly awaiting this long-awaited meeting with him having passed on.

abida parveen

Abida Parveen’s daughter takes me to the section where Abida is staying. Splendid with motifs from Sindh ‘s heart, her living room is a vibrant splash. In the chilly 

winter of Islamabad, the thick carpet is soothing. The sofas are trimmed. The adjraks are seen.

Spiritual Journey of Abida Parveen

Her spiritual affiliations occur in the form of wall hangings and scattered decorative items. Sachal Sarmast shares room with Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sultan Bahoo, and Baba Bulley Shah, a table on the side are laden with books on Sufi poetry — rich collections of Kaafis and Abyaat. Tabriz shams lie next to Sant Kabir.

In one table laid the works of so many kindred souls, separated by time and space, and yet converging in the same direction. Then the one silent echo that I hear in this place is that of all these people, two words singing at once: “Allah hoo.”

abida parveen

When she comes in she has a distinctive aura, wearing her signature simple shalwar kameez with buttons closed to the waist. Her hands are delicate, soft, and sensitive to the touch as she grips warmly my hands. Personified with modesty, she bends down so low as to greet me that I’m afraid she’ll tip over! Within a higher spiritual dimension, she can live but her social abilities are extraordinary. Instantly she makes me feel at ease talking about my dad. Start the conversation.

The interview is short of what was planned. Abida speaks in a few words, in volumes.


Its journey began nearly six decades ago. Born in Larkana, Sindh, in mohalla Ali Goharabad, Abida ‘s learning started at home with her father Ustad Ghulam Haidar, whom she proudly calls an “away.”

abida parveen

“It’s all a present from my brother,” she says. “This is because of his (blessing) Barkat. Yet he ‘d never pressured me to sing. I myself am drawn to this. My first memories since I was three was when I would play with the harmonium. I felt a pull toward Sufi poetry and music. As I heard Bhittai’s Abyaat I always felt a sense of inner joy. I have always felt attracted to dargahs (shrines). Mujhe a diya Maula ne se jor. I believe that this relation is created before one is born.

“The spark is for all human beings. God held it inside of us. When we come into this world, with the innate spark in us for the Divine ‘s devotion, it intermittently tugs our heartstrings. That’s one present. This is in us all. Everything spiritual masters and prophets do is stoke this fire if it begins to die out. It turns the spark into a full-fledged fire by visiting shrines or remaining in the company of the pious or reading this poem. If the fire catches on, then … “she knowingly chuckles, a smile on her lips, and the uncontrollable mop of hair that frames her lips. The laughter has an innocence and spontaneity sort of childish.

In one table laid the works of so many kindred souls, separated by time and space, and yet converging in the same direction. Then the one silent echo that I hear in this place is that of all these people, two words singing at once: “Allah hoo.”

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