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Saieen Zahoor


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Sain Zahoor or Saeen Zahur Ahmad (Urdu: سائیں ظہور) (b. around 1945) is a leading Sufi musician from Pakistan. He spent his life singing in the Sufi shrines, and had not cut a record until 2006, when he was nominated for the BBC World Music awards based on word of mouth. He emerged as the “best BBC voice of the year 2006”, an award that had earlier recognized other prominent Sufi singers such as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen. Sain is not his first name but an honorific and is also spelt Saeen or Saiyan, and Zahoor may be spelt Zahur. Sain Zahoor known for his “Magical” Voice which is known to put his listeners to trance.

Born in the Okara/Sahiwal region in the province of Punjab (Pakistan), Zahoor was the youngest in a rural peasant family. He is said to have started singing at the age of five, and from that early age, he had dreamt of a hand beckoning him towards a shrine. He left home at the age of thirteen, roaming the Sufi shrines of Sind, Punjab and liberated Kashmir, making a living through singing. Eventually, Sain was walking past a small shrine in the south Punjab town of Uch Sharif (known for its Sufi traditions), when “someone waved at me with his hand, inviting me in, and I suddenly realised that it was this hand which I saw in my dream.”

For some time, he studied music under Ustad Sain Raunka Ali of Patiala Gharana, whom he met at Baba Bulleh Shah’s dargah (shrine), and who became his first guru for Sufi kalams (verses). Sain also learned music from Uch Sharif based musicians Ustad Ronaq Ali and Sain Marna.

Sain cannot read or write but is known for his memory of song lyrics; mostly he sings compositions of the major Sufi poets, Bulleh Shah, Mullah Shah Badakhshi, Muhammad Buksh, and others.

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