Hamid Ali Bela: Tribute to Legendary Sufi Singer – I

Mujhe Khabar Nahin Ye Shayari Hai Ya Kuch Aur
Atta Huwa Hai Mujhe Zikr-o-Fikr-o-Jazb-o-Suroor

(Translation: I do not know if it is poetry or something else, I have been bestowed with the attributes i.e., remembrance; reflection; rapture & passion) – Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Hamid Ali Bela was a legendary singer who had mastered the poetic work of Shah Hussain a revered Punjabi Sufi poet. Hamid has also sung Khawaja Ghulam Fareed’s poetry with no less perfection.

Hamid wanted to become a ghazal singer, but on the advice of senior professionals he opted to tread upon the difficult path of Sufi singing, and his voice had a natural semblance with different mystical moods depicted and portrayed by Shah Hussain through his multi-dimensional poetic work.

‘Bela’ means wilderness and Hamid in a TV interview revealed that once he was singing at the tomb

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of Shah Hussain where a Darvish was listening to him. The Darvish suggested that since his

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voice was deep and serene so he should adopt the name ‘Bela’. Hamid Ali is a beautiful name but ‘Bela’ adds another endearing dimension to it.

So it is not just a coincidence or a sheer stroke of luck that the first ever Kafi of Shah Hussain that Hamid rendered became an instant hit and an all time great listening experience. Here are some verses with translation from this illuminating piece of art:


Mae ni main kinnoun aakhan [O’ mother with whom shall I share…] Dard vichoray da haal ni [The pain of losing touch with the Beloved…]

Dhuan dhukhay mere murshad wala [Underneath smouldering heap of my Mentor’s love…] Jaan pholan taan laal ni [Lies red hot fires…]

Jungle baille phiraan dhoudaindi [But wandering from one wilderness to another…] Ajay na payou laal ni [I have yet to meet my Beloved…]

Dukhaan di roti, solan da salan [I eat and drink nothing but pain…] Aahen da balan baal ni [And hot sighs to breath…]

Kahay hussain faqeer nimana [Says Hussain the hapless faqeer…] Shoh milay tan thewan nihal ni [Only communion with the Beloved can give me real joy…]


It is believed that Shah Hussain symbolically used to equate the grave with mother’s womb meaning thereby that just as a child remains in mother’s womb before birth, grave keeps the body till transition to next life. For a saint, communion with the Beloved is like a new birth, hence is the driving inspiration. The deep and rich quality of Hamid’s voice well translates

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the essence of Shah Hussain’s verses.

The pain of separation, thoughts of remorse, helplessness and ordeal of temporary existence are esoterically portrayed by the master singer. Sweetness, serenity and depth in his voice lend beauty and grace to the mystical expression. This is the reason why among renditions of the same Kafi by many notable singers, Hamid’s version stands out to most unique.

The somber and deep expression of the above Kafi (no. 102) is replaced with a joyful Mera sohna sajjan ghar aaya [My adorable Beloved has graced my abode… Kafi no. 118]. Here Shah Hussain paints a joyful picture of communion with the Beloved in the following manner:


Tusi rul mil dayou mubarkaan [Please offer me collective felicitations…]
mera sohna sajjan ghar aaya ni
[My adorable Beloved has graced my abode…]

Jis sajjan nu main dhoond-di wataan, [The One whom I always long for…]
sou saajan mein payou ni
[So I have found Him…]

Vehda te aangan mera bheya sohana [My home has blossomed…]

muthe noor souhaya ni [My forehead radiates with joy…]


Hamid improvises a little bit to maintain rhythm and harmony by skipping a few words to fine-tune phonetics. He emphasizes on ‘sohna sajjan’ meaning the most beautiful Beloved. ‘Noor’ means enlightenment of soul and intellect, as Lord Almighty has shown the right way to mankind i.e., how to offer prayers, observe religious rituals and achieve highest moral, ethical and spiritual levels. Hamid’s awareness of the significance of symbols used in this Kafi is evident from his rendition. It is indeed a difficult task to maintain the sanctity of the mystical expression particularly when it has been camouflaged with the notations used by mortals. Only Hamid can do it.

Rabba mere haal da mehram toun [O’Lord you are fully aware of my ordeal…]

Ander toun hain, baahar toun hain, roum roum vich toun [You are inside me, You are all around, You are in every part of my soul]
Toun hain tana, toun hain bana, sabh kujh mera toun
[You are the weft, You are the warp; You are everything I have]
Kahe Hussain faqeer namana, main nahin sab toun
[Says Hussain the hapless faqeer, I am nothing You are everything]


Hamid elates the feelings and fuels the spirit by perfectly illustrating the Sufi experience of annihilation of great Shah, and Hamid’s voice depicts typical Lahori Punjabi dialect and mood. Opening line is so fulfilling that you forget you have to taste through more delicacies. The Kafi flows smoothly like a clear running

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water on a serene lush green piece of land. Hamid takes off and flies so cleanly.


End of Part-I… continued!

Check the below link for Part-II:



  3 comments for “Hamid Ali Bela: Tribute to Legendary Sufi Singer – I

  1. mashaikh@hec.gov.pk'
    Shaikh M. Ali
    June 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Wah! Aap bhi kamal kartey Hain (Wow! You write so well on sufi subjects)

  2. dastavez@yahoo.co.uk'
    June 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks so much Sir…

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