A Tribute To Alys Faiz
By Aisha Fayyazi Sarwari
The topography of women’s empowerment in Pakistan is a treacherous terrain, harsh on the eyes. It is often marked by subjugation, lack of education and basic literacy, utter neglect of health; for instance, Pakistan has among the highest occurrence of preventive complications leading to steep maternal mortality rates in the world, and downright flogging in honor-based regions. Traveling this road, names like Fatima Jinnah, Shaista Ikramullah, Jahanara Shahnawaz, Tassadaque Hussain, Sughra Begum, Nusrat Khanum, Mumtaz Shahnawaz and Fatima Begum stand out like a desert rose that builds its beauty because of and not despite of the sharp winds and extreme temperatures of cultural oppression. These women were active political leaders, they brought down the Union Jack and hosted the Pakistani flag during the independence movement, got rounded up in jails, they worked relentlessly for women’s rights and literacy and were a big part of the agitations that brought military governments down. Indigenous movements led by them left a mark on History, though in the history written by men, they are mere footnotes. A far more indelible one is left by someone who was once part of the retreating colonial British government pre-independence.
By Dr. Ali Hashmi
Muhawaraa Maa Bain Khuda-o-Insan (Dialogue between God and Man):
The third poem in this selection, ‘Muhawaraa maa bain Khuda-o-Insaan’ features one of Iqbal’s favorite styles, a dialogue or interplay between earthly and celestial figures. It also employs one of Iqbal’s favored poetical styles, the Socratic Method (or Socratic Debate), named after the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates, a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another. One of the most famous examples of this genre is Iqbal’s lengthy poem ‘Shikwah’ or ‘Reproach’ in which Man(representing the Muslim faith) complains to God about the shabby treatment meted out to Muslims by God inspite of the sacrifices that Muslims have made on God’s behalf. The poem, which caused quite a stir when first read by Iqbal in public, is a bold criticism of God’s indifference to a people who feel they deserve better: Continue reading
By Dr. Ali Hashmi
Khizr-e-Rah (Khizr the Guide)
Al-Khizr (Arabic: “the Green One”) is an enigmatic figure in Islam. He is best known for his appearance in the Qur’an in Sura al-Kahf. Although not mentioned by name, he is assumed to be the figure that Musa (Moses) accompanies and whose seemingly violent and destructive actions so disturb Moses that he violates his oath not to ask questions.
Islamic tradition sometimes describes him as Mu’allim al-anbiya (Tutor of the Prophets), for the spiritual guidance he has shown every prophet who has appeared throughout history. In Sufi tradition, Khizr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path and also figures into the Alexander Romance as a servant of Alexander the Great. Al-Khizr and Alexander cross the Land of Darkness to find the Water of Life. Alexander gets lost looking for the spring, but Khizr finds it and gains eternal life. Continue reading
By Dr. Ali Hashmi
A Psychological Interpretation of ‘A Mother’s Dream’
On the surface this poem is simply a description of a mother’s dream about her young son who is lost somewhere. Some commentators have described it as a lament by a mother whose child has died. However, there is a more life affirming explanation which makes more sense psychologically.
The poem starts out simply enough. It is in the first person with a mother describing her dream:
‘Main soey jo ik shab toe dekha yeh khwaab
Badha aur jis say meraa iztiraab
Yeh dekha kay main jaa rahi hoon kahin Continue reading
A Psychological Interpretation
By Dr. Ali Hashmi
‘Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me’ Sigmund Freud
One of Iqbal’s translators, the Scotsman Victor Kiernan wrote ‘Mohammad Iqbal, the ‘Poet of the East’, lived a life of which outwardly there is little to be said and inwardly, of which little is known.’ Works on Iqbal by scholars and academicians would fill up a small library, particularly in Pakistan, where he is revered as one of the country’s founding fathers. He was one of the early proponents of the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of British India, a fantastically improbable idea at the time. His eventual whole hearted support for the idea of Pakistan was surprising considering that one of his early poems ‘Tarana-e-Hindi’ (‘Song of India’), first published in 1904, is still sung and revered widely in India. Mahatma Gandhi wrote to Iqbal that he sang it hundreds of times during his many prison terms for sedition and political activity against the British Raj. Iqbal did not live to see his dream of a separate homeland for India’s Muslims brought to fruition and would, surely, have ‘recoiled in horror’, as Kiernan wrote, had he witnessed the communal blood bath that accompanied the birth of his vision. There are still no accurate estimates of the number of people that perished on both sides of the newly created border but half a million people killed and twelve million made homeless is one estimate. All this came much later though. Before all this was the poetry, page after page of lyrical, melodious poems reflecting on themes as simple as mountains, animals and insects and as exalted as God, Heaven, Angels and everything in between. Continue reading
(Posted by YLH)
A few weeks ago an ignorant little Mullah from the Jamaat-e-Islami claimed that Dr. Salam’s achievement in science was nothing compared to many other great scientists of Pakistan and that Salam got the Nobel Prize because he was a “Jewish agent”. I suppose one of these “great scientists” he was referring to was the idiot who read his paper on “how to harness the power of genies for electricity production” at Zia’s famous “Science Conference” in International Islamic University in the 1980s. Well this article by Kunwar Idris in Dawn shows just how amazing a scientist and how great a patriot Dr. Salam was- especially in comparion to the crooks, cranks and madmen who have now become- to use Justice Kiyani’s apt phrase- the chachas and mamas of Pakistan:
Abdus Salam’s 15th death anniversary went unnoticed recently. The 25th death anniversary of Waheed Murad that fell on the same day was celebrated with fanfare. They say nations which do not honour their great men cease to produce them.
Pakistan, for sure, has produced no scientist of Salam’s stature nor perhaps an actor of Waheed’s popularity. Whether it is serious research or playful acting, the national scene remains barren. Continue reading
Today is the birthday of Pakistan’s National Poet/Philosopher Dr. Muhammad Iqbal’s Birthday. This above is a beautiful song that he wrote so many years ago and which has become the anthem of Pakistan’s children.