Yesterday in lecture my teacher asked me to tell me the difference between Song and Qawwali and don't have any answer and he said me to tell me the difference b/w them tomorrow.Please tell me the real difference b/w these two. Thanks

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    – Bebs
    Commented May 23, 2019 at 8:12

2 Answers 2


Qawwali is a specific style of music that arises out of the mystical Sufi tradition of Islam. Perhaps the most internationally famous Qawwali singer was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan of Pakistan.

I strongly suspect that the distinction your teacher is expecting to hear is that Qawwali has a deeper spiritual dimension --both in terms of the (typical, but not universal) religious meaning in the lyrics, and due to the hypnotic quality of the chanting. A song is just a song, but Qawwali is a spiritual discipline.


Qawwali (कव्वाली) and songs are quite similar. Qawaali however is more often sung live before audiance and less often appears in cinema. Though music is present in Qawaali but its mostly supporting, music of Qawaali is not primary. Qawaali is supposed to contain couplets called sher(शेर). I do not agree with other answer about Qawaali having any deep spiritual meaning. Most often, Qawaalis have romantic meaning. However, Qawaalis are always supposed to be meaningful (romantic or otherwise). Audience that goes to listen to Qawaali program expects some meaning.

Also, pace of Qawaali can be really slow. Many Indian or Pakistani Qawaali have been brought in mainstream cinema as proper songs. Those songs can no more be called Qawaali becuase they are faster and have better music than is generally available at a Qawaali stage programme.

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