Ramadan icons: Meet Sayyed Al-Nakshabandi – The munshid of the holy month

Amina Youssef , Thursday 21 Mar 2024

As Egypt highly celebrates the holy month of Ramadan, among the famous Ramadan inshad songs (Sufi praise chants) we grew up with was “Mawlay, Inni Bebabek Qad Basat Yadi” (O God, I Have reached out to You at Your door) by iconic munshid Sayyed Al-Nakshabandi (1920-1976).

Said Al Naqshabandi
Said Al Naqshabandi iconic inshad figure


His deep voice, accompanied by drum beats, was usually the official announcement of the holy month start on national TV.


The following series is created in collaboration with Al-Ahram Information Centres.


Al-Nakshabandi is one of Ramadan ions and a prominent munshid, whose voice has captured the hearts of his audience as they answered back his chant “Dear God.”

The Sufi order

Al-Nakshabandi was born on 7 January 1920 in Al-Demera village, Dakahliya governorate.

His family soon moved to Tahta in Upper Egypt, where he learned to recite the Holy Quran when he was only 10 years old. 

He learned inshad in the chanting circles of the Al-Nakshabandi Sufi sect, founded by Bahaa Al-Din Al-Nakshabandi in the 12th century.

His father was the sheikh of the Al-Nakshabandi Sufi order in Egypt at the time.

He grew up memorizing and chanting hundreds of Sufi poems to well-known poets, like Al-Busiri, Ibn El-Fared, Ahmed Shawqi, and others.

Music composer

He studied all of the oriental music meters and started to compose music to the poems he chanted.

He was passionate about his work and believed that the Doaa (Prayer) was as important as religious sermons.

At age 25, he moved from Tahta to settle in Tanta in Upper Egypt.

Chanting at Moulid Al-Hussien

Al-Nakshabandi’s fame boomed when he started to chant on the closing nights of Moulid Al-Hussien.

When prominent presenter Ahmed Faraag heard his chants and recitations, he requested to record a session with him. Then, he aired it in two episodes on his radio programme “Fi Rehab Ramadan” (In the Realm of Ramadan). From that moment, his voice went viral on the National Radio.

The star of National Radio

In 1967, renowned radio presenter Mostafa Sadek introduced a daily Doaa (after Azan Maghreb Prayer) to the National Radio.

Since then, his chants, recitations, inshad, and Doaa have enriched the Egyptian National Radio’s library, and his name has become associated with the holy month of Ramadan.


Mawlay is one of his most famous chants composed by great music composer Baligh Hamdi.

Al-Nakshabandi was reluctant to collaborate with Hamdi, fearing that his inshad would turn into songs, which could have deviated him from the religious music realm.

However, when he heard the music composition, he admired it and agreed to chant to it, among six other ibtihalat (religious songs) composed by Hamdi.

Mawlay remains the most famous chant aired on national TV since the 1970s, announcing the beginning of the holy month.


Al-Nakshabandi was awarded an array of trophies worldwide.

In 1979, late Egyptian president El-Sadat awarded him the Medal of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

In 1989, he was commemorated by being awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor from the first degree by the late Egyptian President Mubarak.

On 14 February 1976, after taping “Subhanak Rabi Subhanak” (Praise to God), he went back to his home in Tanta, where he had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 56.

Until today, almost 50 years after his death, his voice enchants us.

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