Sufi singer Ashraf Hydroz has been all over India learning and performing music. He speaks about his musical journey and future plans...
Ashraf Hydroz is so humble that you don’t realise how accomplished he is till he tells you about his decades of singing Sufi music. The full-time Sufi musician’s roots lay in Fort Kochi.
“I grew up in Fort Kochi, but then moved to other places for studies and work — to Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru,” Ashraf says.
He has learnt Carnatic and Hindustani music, but it is in his years away from his home that he came close to Sufi music. “There were days when I used to go to the Dharga, that’s where I learn Sufi music. I was fortunate to witness the Sabri brothers perform at Teen Murti Bhavan with Ghulam Jaffer Khan Qawwal. It was a turning point in my life to shift to Sufi singing in classical traditional way,” he says.
He was a bank manager, and the job had taken him to several places across the country. But Ashraf always asked for places where he knew he could practice his Sufi music. “It is not so popular back home,” he says. As his guru — Ustad Faiyaz Khan — is based in Bengaluru, it suited him to shift there.
“I have been singing all kinds of classical music before, even when I had the job. I have retired now. But it is in the last ten years that I have been focusing on Sufi music,” Ashraf says. He grew fonder of Sufi music on knowing how it is used to convey messages of peace, crossing all religious boundaries. “The songs come with the message that love is the basis of all. I choose such poems. Songs by Kabir Das, Amir Khusrow... all of which are about universal love between human beings.”
He gives a sample:
Chaap Tilak sab cheeni re tose
naina milayee ke
Apni chhabb banaye ke jo main pi ke
Jo chhabb deki piya ki toh
apni bhool gayi
I gave up my bridal finery when I exchanged glances of love with you.
I went to my Love as a properly made-up Bride but when I saw His visage,
I forgot my own.
“The sufi songs are in different languages and dilects. Braj, Urdu and Hindi are the common ones that are sung. So in between the songs, we explain the messages according to the audience and region we are performing in. The idea is to pass those messages of peace. Many people think that Sufi music is only meant for a particular religion, but it is not that way. Sufi music is meant for everyone,” Ashraf says.