Aziz Mian Qawwal (Urdu: عزیز میاں قوال) (April 17, 1942 – December 6, 2000) was one of Pakistan's leading traditional qawwals and also famous for singing ghazals in a unique style of qawwali. Aziz is still one of the most popular qawwals of South Asia. He is responsible for the longest commercially released qawwali, Hashr Ke Roz Yeh Poochhunga, which runs slightly over 115 minutes.
Early life and background
Aziz Mian was born as Abdul Aziz (Urdu: عبد العزیز) in Delhi, British India. The exclamation Mian, which he often used in his qawwalis, became part of his stage name. He began to introduce himself as Aziz Mian Mairthi. The word Mairthi refers to Meerut, a city in northern India, from which he migrated to Pakistan in 1947.
At the age of ten, he began learning the art of Qawwali under the tutelage of Ustad Abdul Wahid Khan. He received sixteen years of training at the Data Ganj Baksh School of Lahore, and earned degrees in Urdu literature, Arabic and Persian from the University of Punjab, Lahore.
Aziz Mian was one of the more traditional Pakistani Qawwals. His voice was raspy and powerful. Aziz Mian was the only prominent qawwal to write his own lyrics (though, like others, he also performed songs written by other poets).
His break-out performance was in 1966, when he performed before the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He won first prize and a gold medal from the Shah of Iran. In the early days of his career, he was nicknamed Fauji Qawwal (Urdu: فوجی قوال) (meaning "Military Qawwal") because most of his early stage-performances were in military barracks for army personnel. He was known for a "more recitative, more dramatic diction" and inclined toward qawwali's religious rather than entertainment qualities, though he also enjoyed success in more romantic qawwals.
For his service in philosophy and music, the Government of Pakistan awarded him the Pride of Performance medal in 1989.
He was fond of discussing religious and Sufi paradoxes in his qawwalis. He directly addressed Allah and complained about the misery of man (the greatest creation of the Almighty). In addition to his own poetry, Aziz Mian performed poetry by Allama Iqbal, and a number of contemporary Urdu poets, including Sadiq and Qateel Shifai.