Milestones in the journey of fanna-fi-allah
FFA's journey into qawwali music started in 2001. Sixteen years later they have been blessed with many amazing opportunities.
Studying with the masters
Tahir & Aminah return regularly to Pakistan for performances as well as to receive talim (music instruction). Tahir studies with Ustad Sher Ali Khan and has received teachings from esteemed mentors like Ustad Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Muazzam Ali Khan & Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan. His knowledge of Raga is mostly owed to his guru of classical music from India, Pandit Pashupati Nath Mishra of Benaras. He says: ’Classical music technique is at the heart of qawwali training, without the patience of my beloved guru in Varanasi and my Ustad in Faislabad, I would not be able to reproduce a single note.’
Aminah Chishti is extraordinarily devoted to her tabla studies with her Ustad in Lahore - Haji Dildar Hussain Khan. She has dedicated herself to a consistent practice of the qawwali tabla from the Atawala tradition. Tahir and Aminah wish to express a deep gratitude to their teachers for supporting and encouraging them on the path of music.
challenging social barriers
Aminah Chishti is well known for becoming the first female tabla player in the history of classical music to perform at Sufi shrines around Pakistan and even India. Aminah was fortunate to be taken in and taught by the greatest qawwali tabla player in Pakistan, Ustad Dildar Hussain, who toured internationally with Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for 30 years. He defied convention to teach an American female student and has encouraged her in her practice for the last 15 years. Aminah has had the blessing of performing at the shrines of Baba Farid in Pak Pattan, Data Ganj Baksh in Lahore, Baba Bulleh Shah in Kasur, Kalyar Sharif, Meheroli Sharif and Baba Lasuri Shah in Faisalabad.
Pakistan peace tours
For more than a decade members of Fanna-Fi-Allah have been travelling to Pakistan to study with the greats, to perform and to soak up the rich culture. They have become cultural ambassadors in the West, sharing their love of qawwali and helping people to understand Islam and Sufism. In 2013 the group received a grant from the US Consulate of Islamabad to travel through Pakistan. They played at orphanages, schools, universities, concert halls, consulate offices and at important Sufi shrines. In 2014 they received a 2nd grant to tour again, and they brought a videographer to film their journey and interview master qawwals for their documentary,
Press & Media
Over the years Fanna-Fi-Allah have been featured in a wide range of media including:
Radio - BBC Machester; KEXP Seattle; KPFA Berkley; BBC Asia Network
T.V. - PTV Lahore; VAQT TV Islamabad, Urdu Voice Washington; India's Got Talent Mumbai
Print - India Times, Dawn (Pakistan), New York Times (USA), Sufi Journal (USA), The Express Tribune (Pakistan), ABC News (Australia)
qawwali in India
Tahir and Aminah began their journey into qawwali music in Ajmer, India back in 2000. Most of the group undertake regular trips there to study classical music and to perform qawwali. They have visited and played at the sufi shrines of Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki (Mehrauli, Delhi), Moinuddin Chishti (Ajmer), Ali Ahmad Sabir (Kaliar), Haji Ali (Mumbai) and their favourite Nizamuddin (Delhi).
In 2016 they headlined the World Sacred Spirit Festival in Jodphur, collaborating with Ajmeri qawwals - Ustads Zakir and Zaki Ali.
Uk & Europe
It has not been hard to see that people LOVE qawwali in the UK!!
Fanna-Fi-Allah have performed in Birmingham, Manchester, Burnley, Glascow, Bradford, Luton, London and even Stoke-on-Trent.
Qalandar Arts have been an amazing support for FFA and are hosting their 2017 tour which will include Europe too.
qawwal family tour with FFA in USA
Fanna-Fi-Allah have been honoured to host Ustad Dildar Hussain in the USA on several tours. Aminah's teacher and the greatest qawwali tabla player in the world, Dildar is an important wisdom keeper in the lineage. His sons Abrar Hussain and Israr Hussain also regularly play with the Fanna-fi-Allah and are dear friends of the group. It has been important for U.S audiences to understand more about the tradition through this family.
Qawwali in the 'west'
Fanna-Fi-Allah have now toured throughout America and Canada more than any other qawwali group. In this way they have become a 'bridge' to qawwali music in the west. They seek to represent the music in its traditional, authentic form and are committed to helping spread qawwali's message of love and peace throughout the world.
As 'goras' ('whites') they have sometimes come up against some skeptism, but through their studies in the East and their performances worldwide they have proved themselves as accomplished musicians and carrier of qawwali.
Journey to the pyramids
2012 saw Fanna-Fi-Allah perform at a concert that was located at the site of the Great Pyramids of Egypt. The concert was part of a tour organised by a U.S. event group called 'The Great Convergence.