Tag Archives: Iqbal

Do not do it…

ماسوا الله کوئی حَئی و قیوم نہ رکھ

مرے سامنے  تذکرہِ معدوم  نہ رکھ

Other than her

There is nothing eternal

Therefore do not speak to me

Of things fleeting and secretive

 

اقبال و بصری کی ایک ہی دعا تھی

تو مجھے دیدار سے محروم نہ رکھ

Iqbal and Rabia

Said the same prayer

Do not keep me

From your sight

 

تیری اشنانی میں ہی میری نجات ہے

مجھے  خود  سے  نامعلوم  نہ رکھ

Your vision

Grants me freedom

Do not keep yourself

Unknown

 

کون لاتا  محکوم  حاکم کے سامنے؟

یوں ظالم کے سامنے مظلوم نہ رکھ

And who brings

The ruled to the ruler

Do not present

The weak before the mighty

 

وہ بھی یاد کر جو میرے ستم تھے

میری یاد کو اتنا  معصوم نہ رکھ

Recall

My faults and sins

As well as

The good in me

 

کچھ  فرق کر  دل  دماغ  کا  استاد

دل کے سامنے اپنے علوم  نہ رکھ

Keep some distance

Between the mind and the soul

What can your knowledge do

To surpass the heart’s desire

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Where do we go from here?

Punjabi is one of the languages that is tremendously close to my heart. A friend of mine recently talked about the language and brought up Bullay Shah as one of the poets that inspire. I freely admit that Shah’s words have often inspired me as much as Rumi’s or the Allama’s even though I perhaps understand Iqbal better. At the same time, I find that there is a certain passion and depth as well as common sense simplicity in Bullay Shah’s words that is difficult to replicate in Persian. While Rumi and Iqbal seek to solve the mysteries of the universe, Bullay Shah is more concerned with the reality and experience of love rather than the esoteric idea of love.

As a child, one of my instructors told me that the Punjabi language will die out in a few hundred years simply because there are fewer and fewer individuals who are able to write it. At that time I was somewhat shocked and saddened to realize that the words of poets such as Waris Shah and Bullay Shah may be lost for future generations. With that realization, I also thought about all the words and works that have fallen victim to time. I’m fairly certain that there were great poets and writers as well as philosophers in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Babylon whose works are now lost. Sadly, that seems to be the essence of evolution and perhaps one should not lament the loss but celebrate that those words existed at all. Or maybe the lamentation itself should lead us towards preserving what is left. It is with that feeling of not knowing exactly what to do or feel about things that I present this dismal Punjabi ghazal.

اودے کہر وی ہو آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟

سارے کم مکا بیٹھے آں،  هن کتہے جائیے؟

I returned from her house

Not knowing where to go next

I finished all that I had to do

Now where do I go?

j

مکے مدینے ہو آئیں آں، زم زم پانی پی آئیں آں

حج تے عمرہ کر آئیں آں،  هن کتہے جائیے؟

I traveled to holy lands

I drank from the sacred wells

I performed my pilgrimage

Now where do I go?

j

کی پلیکها پا آئیں آں؟ کی کی گلاں کہ آئیں آں

اودا  دل  دکھا  آئیں  آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟

Have I created a confusion?

Whatever did I say?

Did I hurt her somehow?

Now what do I do?

j

یار  نواسی چھڈ آئیں آں، بتاں وچ وڑ آئیں آں

اے کی ظلم کما آئیں آں؟ هن کتہے جائیے؟

I left my friend alone

I have seen the temple of falsehood

O what a crime have I committed

Now what can I do?

j

دل گنوا ویکھا,  ٹھیر  مصیبتان  پا  ویکھا

رب نو وی بھلا آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟

I lost my heart to her

I took on a mount of troubles

I even forgot God in the process

Now what can I remember?

j

سنگھی کوئی ملدا نہی, دل دا ول کھلدا نہی

ایدر اوھدار ہو آئیں آں، هن کتہے جائیے؟

I do not find a friend

To whom I can unburden my soul

I went from pillar to post

Now where should I go?

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What is it?

کوئی پوچھے یہ خدا کا کرم ہے کیا؟

میں بولوں توں بتا کے ظلم ہے کیا؟

I was asked

What is the mercy of God?

I replied with a question

What is God’s curse?

 

ظاہر سے گزر کر، باطن پے نظر کر

عرشِ برین کے سامنے حرم ہے کیا؟

Stop looking at the obvious

Take a deeper view

Looking at the immortal throne

The Kaaba seems a stone building

 

اس ناداں کو اقبال کیسے سمجھاؤں؟

پوچھے  لوح  ہے  کیا؟  قلم ہے کیا؟

And how do I explain

Iqbal to this fool?

He asks what is the tablet of fate?

What is the tool used to etch it?

 

اک اور وعدہ کیا سو  توڑنے  کے بعد

یہ  وعدہ  بھی  توڑ  دے  بھرم ہے کیا

And you have made another promise

After breaking a hundred

Might as well break this one

Could I really trust you?

 

آج میرے سامنے، وہ پہلوِ رقیب میں

اس  ستم  سے بڑھ  کر  ستم  ہے کیا

In my view

I see her in his arms

Is there a greater curse

To be blessed with this vision

 

نہ رہی وعدہ وفائی، نہ وہ کجکلاہی

تیرا  جذبہِ  عشق  اب  کم  ہے  کیا؟

Why do you not keep

Your promises, your sense of propriety

Has your passion

Been reduced somewhat?

 

چلے ہیں آج وہ  کہیں بجلیاں گرانے

ارادے کہاں کے ہیں؟ عزم ہے کیا؟

And it seems she is on her way

To strike fear into the hearts of men!

Where do you plan to go?

What do you plan to do?

 

ان سفید بالوں سے دھوکہ نہ کھائیو

دل پے ہاتھ رکھ دیکھ! گرم ہے کیا؟

Do not be fooled

By my grey hair

Feel the blood coursing in my veins

Is it warm to the touch?

 

جگر ہے تو شیرِ نر سے پنجہ لڑا

میدان میں تو آ ، بتا  دم  ہے  کیا؟

And if you dare

Battle with the hungry lion

Come to the killing field

Do you have courage to do so?

 

اک ساعت کا فرق حیات و وفات

موت ہے کیا؟ سفرِ عدم  ہے کیا؟

The difference between

Life and death, is the difference of a second

So what is death?

What is the journey to the other side?

 

استاد نے غزل درغزل لکھ ماری

جانتے بھی ہیں وہ ؟  نظم ہے کیا؟

And he has written

Ghazal upon Ghazal

Does he even know

What other forms of poetry exist?

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The complaint

Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was one of the greatest poets who ever lived in the Mughal Empire. More than his poetry, it is his life and love for life that I find quite inspiring. Undoubtedly, his words have inspired generations of poets that followed him and I still find his diwan (collection of poetic writings) to be quite delightful. The first couplet of the diwan is reproduced below:

نقشِ فریادی  ہے  کس کی  شوخیِ تحریر  کا

کاغذی    ہے   پیرہن    ہر  پیکرِ  تصویر  کا

Naqsh-e-faryaadi hai kis ki shaukhi-e tehreer ka

Kagazi hai pairahan har paikar-e tasveer ka

A rather simplified meaning of this couplet is:

This sign made by the one who complaints

Is it a mischief through writing?

Every image worthy of being admired

Wears paper thin clothes

Obviously, different thinkers and critics have applied their own meanings to the words and a very powerful as well as detailed explanation (along with criticism) can be found at the Ghalib index maintained by Columbia University. I suggest you read it if you’re so inclined. It does explain a lot of the difficulty in translating poetic thought, particularly from languages such as Persian and Urdu. As I reflected on Ghalib’s words, a rather dismal ghazal formed in my mind, of which the hasil-e-ghazal (primary meaningful verse) is the second couplet.

ان مناظر  پے  اب  دھیان کون کرے

ترے سامنے تعریفِ جہاں کون کرے

These vistas

Are immaterial

Am I to waste time praising the world?

Or should I admire your beauty?

j

شوخیِ تحریر تو جرم  ٹھہری یاروں

فریادی  موجود پر، نشان کون کرے

And it is a crime to write

Or to make a mark

The injured party is there

Who registers the complaint?

j

دیوانگی میں افسردگی؟  ہنسی اتی ہے

ہم ہنسے  رقیب ہنسے،  فغاں کون کرے

A sense of sadness

With a hint of insanity

It makes me and him laugh

But who cries?

j

کیوں  صدائیں  اپنی جدا  ہو گئیں

آج تجھ کو میرا،  ہمنوا کون کرے

And for some reason

We now have different beliefs

Who today

Will make us sing in harmony

j

فیضی ضبطِ حالی، اقبالی کم نصیبی

اب  تیرے  در کو،  آستان  کون  کرے

Faiz like patience

Poor timing as Iqbal

Now who shall make your house

A dwelling

j

کوئی تو  ہے یہاں,  جو من میں  آتا ہے

یوں میری جان کو، جانِ جان کون کرے

You are creeping further

Right into my heart

Turning my life

Into the life of your life

j

رنگے مرے ہاتھ اسی کے لہو سے

اب مرے ہاتھوں کو، حنا کون کرے

And my hands are soaked

In her blood

Who shall now

Put henna on my hands?

j

یہ  شہر  تو تیرے  اسیروں کا ہے

جو  قید توں کرے، رہا  کون کرے

This city belongs to those

Who have been ensnared by your tresses

And who can free

Whom you have captured

j

عجب بے دلی سی ہے سرِ شام

جفا  ہوتی نہیں،  وفا کون کرے

Without her

The evening feels sad

I am accused of being faithless

Who can be faithful?

j

بس   کر یہ فتوے   بازی   او قاضی

جنہے  رب اک  کرے، جدا کون کرے

Please stop

Passing judgements and sentences

Individuals who are made to think alike

Are alike in action

j

کچھ سبب تو ہے، کے خاموشی ہے

اک  راز پنہاں ہے،  آیاں کون کرے

There must be a reason

For this silence

A secret, hidden

Who makes it obvious?

j

ہے تو استادِ بے باک جو سچا ہے

جراتِ گناہ اسکے سوا کون کرے

And it is only I

Who says the truth

This courage to sin

Belongs to none other

j

اَلصَّلاَةُ خَيْرٌ مِّنَ النَّوْمِ سنا صبحِ ازل

ایسی  پر  سوز  اذان  کون  کرے؟

With first light I heard

Worship is better than sleeping

Who said

Those beautiful words?

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A Friend to the Angels… یارِ ملائک

Shams Tabraiz was one of the many influences on Rumi. I do not think it is possible to describe how difficult it was to write that sentence since the relationship between Rumi and Tabraiz is one of the most complicated ones with regard to theology, mysticism and even poetry. I am actually afraid to write anything about the two (other than using the poetic license of verse) since I would not presume to put anything down which seeks to explain one of the most beautiful connections that ever existed. Rumi of course, is one of the great masters of mysticism and esoteric knowledge. Quite literally a source of inspiration for generations of poets and writers from the East as well as the West. Tabraiz being his master/teacher/guide/friend/supporter (the number of slashes only show the jumble in my own thoughts concerning the two!) also holds his own place in the hearts of Eastern writers.

I recently reread some words by Rumi concerning death and rebirth into a higher from which in the original persian sound tremendously beautiful. I also found a related verse by Shams which was as follows; “Ma ba falak budaym yar e malaik budayum”, which in English means, I was living in the heavens, I was friends with the angels. The essential idea being that before we were born we were in the heavens as spirits therefore death will only take us back to the place which is our essential home. Of course, neither Rumi nor Shams had a death wish but I do feel that their poetry and words have an understanding of death as moving to a higher plane of existence.

I have been told that some of my poetry can be quite morbid as it deals with subjects such as death or growing old but I would like to explain that it is simply a move from one plane of existence to another. As Iqbal put it, “Maut kia shay hay? Faqat alam-e-maani ka safar” (what is death but a journey to a different plane of meanings). That, I believe has to be remembered as the essence of what poetic death means and quite a few orders of sufi as well as esoteric schools of thought agree with that idea. With the notion of remembering and forgetting, I present this poor effort for your amusement below.

j

باخدا   ہمیں   اب  وہ  رات   یاد  نہیں

اس رات میں کہی کوئی بات یاد نہیں

I do not recall that night

I do not recall anything

That was said

That night

j

سادہ دل لوگ ہیں، جشنِ آزاد مناتے ہیں

جیت انہیں یاد  ہے،  کوئی مات یاد نہیں

They are a simple people

They are celebrating their freedom

They remember a victory that took place ages ago

They do not remember recent defeats

j

موارخ  سے یہی  پوچھا  کرتا ہوں میں

کمالِ مغرب یاد ہیں، خرافات یاد نہیں؟

Is ask my historian friend

You easily recall the wonders of civilisation

You forget

Its discontents

j

کس جوش سے مانگتے ہیں اسلامی ریاست

خلافت  تو یاد  ان  کو،   مساوات  یاد  نہیں

With fervor he asks for

The power to govern

He remembers ruling others

Not being equal to the ruled

j

پھر عشق کی رہ چلے؟ آفریں حافظے پے

رنگِ  عشق   یاد   ہے،  آفات  یاد  نہیں؟

You are walking the path of love again?

What a wondrous memory my friend!

You recall the beauty of love

Not its miseries

j

ما  با  فلک   بودیم،  یارِ  ملائک   بودیم

استاد تجھے تبریز کی یہ بات یاد نہیں؟

I was living in the heavens,

I was friends with the angels.

Do you not remember

These words of Tabraiz?

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Look upon my own deeds… حساب آیا

Poetry and rhythm are deeply connected particularly when we consider persian and urdu poetry that have a long history of melodic voices transferring the message of the poet to the audience. in certain cases, the voice itself added new meaning to the words particularly with regard to the works of poets such as Urfi, Rumi, Ghalib, Iqbal and Faiz. I say that because I feel that their poetry has layers of meanings and especially in the case of the Urdu poets Iqbal and Ghalib (more so than Faiz) because of the multiple meanings for words borrowed from Persian, Arabic or Sanskrit.

 

I am pretty sure I could write volumes (mostly filled with flawed information) with regard to various renditions of different verses by various artists but that might be a boring exercise for anyone who reads this. Nevertheless, I did try to work with a specific structure in this shoddy ghazal I present below. The commas in the line with the kafia should pleasantly present the structure (poorly made as it is) with regard to the ghazal itself.

نہ جانے شاعر کو پھر کیا خواب آیا

دلِ وحشی،  سکوں فاسق،  عذاب آیا

Another poetic prophetic dream

Has made my heart wild

Robbed me of calm

Placed me in misery

 

لوٹے یوں بھی کبھی درِ یار سے ہم

سوالی کو،  مایوس کن،  جواب آیا

And there were times

I came back from her door

Just as if

A beggar had been turned away

 

حالتِ جان یوں بھی کبھی بدلی یاروں

ویرانے میں، اچانک سے، گلاب آیا

And such was the turn of moods

As if a full bodied rose

Dropped into

A wasteland

 

ولولے تھے ہمیں دامنِ یزداں کے بہت

شرمندہ ہوے،  روزِ حشر،  حساب آیا

I had made plans

To reach for God’s apron

But I was ashamed

To look upon my own deeds

 

کسی خوشفہمی میں سفر ختم کر بیٹھے

منزل نہیں، نشان بھی نہیں، سراب آیا

A poor mistake to end the journey

You’re not at your detination

Not even close

It is a mere mirage

 

دورِ مطاہر تیرے دولت کدے میں

محفل سجی، شراب ائی، کباب آیا

I see happy times at your

House of wealth

There is wine

And good food

 

کچھ زاہدوں کے آج عقیدے بدل گئے

ماہ جبیں وہ، جواں ہوئی، شباب آیا

Certain pious men

Changed their beliefs today

The lady with a body like the moon

Has come of age

 

کوئی جستجو استاد کو پیاسا رکھے ہے

ورنہ وہ، ہر چشمے سے، سیراب آیا

There is something

That keeps him thirsty

Although he has had his fill

From many watering holes

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The Caravan of Life… زندگی کا کارواں

The Caravan of Life… زندگی کا کارواں

On an unseasonably warm day, the idea of a walk in nature is quite disturbing. Admittedly, on any other day where the temperatures hover around 20 and partly sunny conditions exist، I’d happily go on a trail or along a creek enjoying what nature has to offer.

However, on some days it is simply better to go for a walk through the mall. A place which is certainly as far as one can be from nature and in many ways, malls today are the cathedrals of capitalism but they still offer such a wonderful cross-section of life and what life has to offer that some of my best thoughts come to me in a mall. [Aside: It is also usually full of beautiful happy people which is good for the eyes and certain parts of the soul]. In any case, a walk through the mall once elicited this weak ghazal (as i reflected on Iqbal’s me nagreem o me raweem) that I present for you.

زندگی کا کارواں، زیست دریاِ رواں

ہم  بہتے  جاتے،  شعر کہتے جاتے

The caravan of life

A moving river

I flow with it

I say what I want to say

j

خدا بڑا مہرباں، ناصح ذرا بد زباں

ہم سنتے جاتے،  شعر کہتے جاتے

A merciful God

A furious pastor

I listen

I say what comes to mind

j

انجمنِ دوستاں، راز ہوے  ہیں  آیاں

دل دکھتے جاتے، شعر کہتے جاتے

A gathering of friends

Some secrets revealed

Some hearts hurt

I say what I had to say

j

میری قومِ مومناں، با حالِ بے کراں

ہم روتے جاتے، شعر کہتے جاتے

My people are full of hope

But remain in a poor condition

I weep

I say useless things

j

دل ہے بے ایمان، پر  ہے  رازدان

ہم ہنستے جاتے، شعر کہتے جاتے

I am dishonest

But I keep secrets

I smile

I speak when I need to

j

کوِ ملکِ دوستاں  تا رہِ  شہرِ دشمناں

اکیلے استاد جاتے، شعرکہتے جاتے

From the house of my friends

To the city of my enemies

I walk alone

I sing while I go to my death

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