Abrar-ul-Haq (Urdu/Punjabi: ابرار الحق) (Abrar is also spelled as Ibrar) is a Pakistani pop, bhangra and folk singer. On his first album "Billo De Ghar" his name appears as simply "Abrar". His best-known work is the song "Billo De Ghar". Before becoming a singer, he was a teacher at Lahore's Aitchison College.
He was born on July 21 in Faisalabad. Like many other young Pakistani artists, Abrar had kept his year of birth secret from public in order to hide his age, but in a recent interview he said he was born in 1968. He used to give clues in TV programs saying he was quite young and not that old, and said he was born in the 1960's.
He got his initial education from Gujrat and Rawalpindi. Took his Bachelor's degree from Sir Syed College (Rawalpindi) and acquired Master's degree in social sciences from Quaid-i-Azam University (Islamabad).
He joined Aitchison College’s permanent faculty in 1996. He had to quit teaching to pursue his career in pop music; although he considers the day he joined Aitchison College the proudest day of his life.
He primarily sings in Punjabi which is the main language of bhangra genre, language of most populated province of Pakistan and Abrar's native language. He sings in Urdu too. His popular single "Sanu Tere Nal" is in English and Punjabi.
Abrar's first single "Billo De Ghar" was an instant hit along with his album. According to his web site more than 16 million copies of his debut album have been sold.
Music and style:
Abrar's music is sometimes considered of bhangra genre, however, three genres, pop, rock and bhangra overlap in his musical work. His most popular songs are in Punjabi language, although, he has sung almost equal number of Urdu songs which are parts of all of his albums.
His Urdu language songs have not gained that kind of popularity which has been earned by his Punjabi work. It is partly because of the vast difference of his style in these two languages. His most Punjabi songs are upbeat, and lyrics are very down to earth representing Pakistani culture with a humorous touch and clever sarcasm. On the other hand his Urdu music is mostly sad, romantic and patriotic. In some of his Urdu songs, he has copied some Urdu classics of Pakistani music.
He is often compared to Indian bhangra singers because of his popularity in India. Most Indian Punjabi songs tend to celebrate the province of Punjab and its culture but Abrar's music lacks this style. The reasons behind this are of political nature. In Indian Punjab the political and cultural circumstances are quite different from those of Pakistani Punjab. In Pakistan, Punjab is a dominant province, therefore, music focusing on Punjab can be seen as politically provocative in other provinces.
Although, beat is an essential part of Abrar's music but he choses his melodies very carefully and always tries to keep them consistent with the beat. He writes most of his songs, however, he often borrows poetry from Sufi poets of Punjab which he cleverly mixes up in his humours songs.
Abrar-ul-Haq is arguably the pioneer of bhangra music in Pakistan and one of most influential musical figures of his country. He is considered The King of Pakistani Pop by some fans.
He emerged in the era of heavy metal guitar and with predominantly Urdu language pop music. His debut single was a Punjabi song Billo De Ghar (Billo's home) which was an instant hit.
Abrar once told in a TV interview that he took six months to create this song. Following his second album Majajni, which was also a big hit, Pakistani pop music saw an explosion of Punjabi music which still continues.
Like many other famous singers Abrars's musical work also has caused public debates.
Billo De Ghar:
His debut single, Billo De Ghar, erupted great controversy and gathered much debate. Billo is a fairly common female nickname among predominantly Muslim Punjabis of Pakistan. First line of the song, Assan Tay Jaana Billo De Ghar, Kinnay Kinnay Jaana Billo De Ghar (Punjabi: We will go to Billo's home, who else will go to Billo's home), was used as tease by street bullies for Billo named young-adult females. This caused a fierce reaction from the families of female victims, often resulting in physical fights. In order to avoid any more of such situations in his another single, Preeto, Abrar used a non-Muslim female nickname Preeto. This name is almost extinct in Pakistan.
Nach Punjaban Nach:
Nach Punjaban Nach (Punjabi: Dance Punjabi (woman) Dance; Punjaban is female for Punjabi), second line of Abrar's single Punjabi Touch also caused a public outrage as it was taken as an address to all Punjabi women of Pakistan (more than 97% of Pakistani Punjabis are Muslims). Abrar was sued in Lahore High Court. He personally went to the court and told the judge that he would change the word Punjaban to Majajan. He re-recorded the song and new batch of copies of his album, Assan Jana Mall-o Mall, has the modified version of the song, however, copies of the album with older version are still available and were never pulled from the market. During a TV interview, he was asked about the meaning of Majajan. He said, "Majajan is not a word. Real word is Majajni. I changed it to Majajan to rhyme it with Punjaban."
SAHARA for Life Trust:
He is the founder and chairman of SAHARA for Life Trust (tax exempted charity organization), a charitable organisation promoting health and education in remote areas. The term SAHARA stands for: "Services Aimed at Health and Awakening in Remote Areas".
The abbreviation SAHARA has been chosen very cleverly as it is Roman script or transliteration for a word of Urdu (سہارا) which means aid or assistance.
Recently, Abrar has teamed up with Gurdas Mann and Sukshinder Shinda in a Punjabi single called Collaborations. The song was an immediate success. (2006)
Abrar's next album will feature Gurdas Mann and Sukshinder Shinda again where a duet between Abrar and Gurdas which will be produced by Sukshinder Shinda. Abrar's album, Preeto, was released in 2006.
Regular studio albums
- Billo De Ghar (1995)
- Majajni (1997)
- Bay Ja Cycle Tay (1999)
- Assan Jana Mall-o Mall (February 5, 2002)
- Nachan Main Audhay Naal (June 1, 2004)
- Naara Sada Ishq Aey (March, 2007)
Hits compilations / Studio albums
- Mein Gaddi Aap Chalawan Ga (2000)
- He has developed quite different personal image considering his field of music. He has never appeared in any elaborately fashioned dresses which are normally associated with pop music. He almost always appears in business casual dress except for rare occasions where he wore salwar kameez, the national dress of Pakistan.
- In 2000, PTV World gave him award for best folk singer and following year he won award for best pop singer from the same institute.
- It is alleged that he belongs to Tarar family and is related to Muhammad Rafiq Tarar but there is no proof to accept or reject this claim.
- He owns a mercedes and is seen frequently in Rawalpindi.