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And Look at This My Lord… میرے ربّا دیکھ

کیا   ہو  گیا  یہ  جہاں ؟ میرے ربّا دیکھ

کھا گیا انسان کو انساں،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

And what has happened to this world

Will you take a look my lord?

A man seeks to destroy another man

Will you take a look?

j

حکم  ہے  کے  نگاہیں  نیچی  کروں

ہم دیکھیں سوِ جاناں،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

And I was ordered

To lower my gaze

But I look towards her beauty

That is all I do

j

ووہی بےرخی رہی تو ووہی سردمہری

دیکھا  ان  کا  منانا ؟  میرے ربّا دیکھ

The same cold manner

The same aloofness

Do you see my lord

How she tries to endear herself to me?

j

مسافر ہیں وہ مشرق و مغرب کے

ہاے ان کا آنا جانا! میرے ربّا دیکھ

And she travels

From a city in the East

To a town in the West

Lord look at her comings and goings!

j

چلا ہے ہجوم در ہجوم اب مقتل کو

حالِ مستیِ رندانہ،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

A horde of innocents

Is led to slaughter

Drunk and helpless

Will you stop this procession my lord?

j

میں کہوں نہی نہی، توبہ سلامت ہے ابھی

پکڑائیں  وہ  پیمانہ،  میرے  ربّا  دیکھ

And I say no!

I still hold to my word

Yet she presses the cup in my hand

Dear lord I am being told to drink!

j

اندازِ دشمن بھی دوستانہ سا لگے کے

ہے انداز جانا پہچانا!  میرے ربّا دیکھ

And the ways of my foes

Are quite friendly

Oh dear God

I recognize these acts

j

دل مسل مسل کے، اب تھک گئے ہیں وہ

بعدِ  قہر  انکا  سستانہ،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

Although she tried vainly

To crush my heart

The effort has exhausted her

I should giver her some room to rest

j

عذرِ شرعی کرتا ہوں سب گناہوں کا

ہر بار نیا بہانہ،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

I present a pious excuse

For all my sins

Each time a new reason

For earlier transgressions

j

نہ  خلوص  نہ  یقین، بس  پیسا آفریں

یہ کونسا ہے زمانہ؟  میرے ربّا دیکھ

No clarity

No belief

A pursuit of dollars

What is this world you’ve made my lord?

j

مظلوم  مارا گیا، معصوم  تباہ ہوا

یہ کیا ہوا وہاں؟  میرے ربّا دیکھ

The oppressed are killed

The innocent destroyed

What happened there?

Did you see my lord?

j

اور کیا ننگِ اسلاف مچائے گا استاد؟

دیکھے جانا انجانہ،  میرے ربّا دیکھ

And how does he plan?

To bring more shame to his ancestors?

The world is watching

Are you watching my lord?

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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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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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Spring and Autumn… عالمِ بہار یہاں پر رنگِ خزاں

I heard a fantastic verse which was as follows:

اسی  تلاش  و  تجسس   میں  کھو  گیا  ہوں  میں

جو میں نہیں تو کیوں ہوں، جو ہوں تو کیا ہوں میں؟

 

“Isi talaash-o-tajassus mein kho gaya hun main,

jo main nahi hun to kyun hun, jo hun to kya hun main”

 

The search for an answer and my curiosity

Has me lost in bewilderment

If I am not, then why am I?

If I am, then who am I?

 

As I thought more on it, the beauty of the lines started forming more words in my mind. I’ve always felt that great art inspires more art and with that measure, the verse above is certainly great art. I wrote something in a similar vein but as the words came to me in a sort of rush, I feel it remains a little disjointed (Particularly the first two couplets). I so wish I could write better and give a better tribute but still, my words remain. You might even consider the first two couplets as a response to the verse above and take the remaining ghazal on its own merits. Limited as they may be 🙂

 

توں ساتھ ہی تو رہتا ہے جہاں ہوں میں

تبھی  تو  فکر نہیں کے  کہاں  ہوں  میں

You remain with me

Wherever I may be

Therefore I do not wonder

About my whereabouts

 

کبھی شاہ پھر گدا،  کبھی  رند  یا  پارسا

تیرے عشق میں آخر، کیا کیا نہیں ہوں میں

A king, A beggar

An alcoholic, a pious man

In your love

I took on so many shapes

 

 

صد افسوس کے لب نہ کھلے عالمِ نزاع میں

معلوم  ہوا  بسمل  کا،  نعراِ فغاں  ہوں  میں

I could not speak

As I lay dying

I then discovered

I am a silent scream

 

کیفیتِ  دورِ  حاضر تو  یہی  کہتی  ہے دوست

معرکہِ  حق ہونے کو ہے، صداِ  اذان  ہوں  میں

The state of the world tells me

The battle for truth

Is about to take place

I am the siren’s call

 

عمر کی نقدی کم ہوئی، چاندی بالوں میں دیکھی

ہے  تو  عالمِ  بہار  یہاں،  پر  رنگِ  خزاں ہوں میں

The accounts of my life are low

I see strands of grey in my hair

I see spring everywhere

But carry autumn within

 

عشق سے بچیں کیسے کے وہ ہنس کے کہتا ہے

جہاں چاہے رخ کر،  مکان  و  لامکاں   ہوں  میں

How can you protect yourself from love

It smiles and says

Turn where you may

I am here and nowhere

j

میرے  دل  کے فیصلے، یکلخت  مت کرو  ایسے

ہم سے بھی پوچھ لو، کوئی بے زبان ہوں میں؟

Do not presume to make for me

The decisions of my thoughts

You should ask me

I am not speechless

 

حبِ  حق کی آواز تو دل ہے، سن کیا کہتا ہے

بیانِ  یزداں  ہوں  میں،  پیامِ  قران  ہوں  میں

Your soul is the voice of truth

Listen to it

It is the word of God

The lesson of the scripture

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The Western Wine and the Eastern Drunk

It has been recommended to me that I should place translations of what I write in Urdu alongside the Urdu text. In fact, a transliteration is also a part of the suggestions I have got from some very experienced individuals in the field of writing. Strangely, while I like and can understand the need for a translation of a work (Aside: Heaven knows I’ve read my fair share of translated global literature!) A transliteration feels quite strange to my hands ears and eyes! I doubt I’ll be doing that but translations are a go. I’ll try my best to translate all the works I put on these pages and those that go into the book.

Obviously, it does take a lot of time to translate a thought. Particularly a poetic/creative one since a lot of meaning or shades of meanings are not easy to convey. While a simple translation and explanation of the words comes quite easily, setting them together to give them some coherence is quite difficult. Clearly then, a translation would be inherently flawed therefore please accept it in the spirit it is given. While it is ideal to read a creative work in the language it was written in without translations we’d probably have far fewer people who are familiar with Homeric epics or even major religious texts that were written in languages few can read/understand anymore such as Aramaic or Old Sanskrit.

The following is a rather philosophical rubaai that I believe loses a lot from translation. Nevertheless, I have tried to translate it as best as I could. Given my crude understanding of the English language and my poor knowledge of the English poetic tradition, It may not follow the rules exactly. But, here it is 🙂

کام  ایک  پر ہر جگہ دستورِ ساقی  عجب ہے

مےِ  غربی  عجب ہے،  رندِ شرقی  عجب  ہے

عجب انجام ہے اوفلیا اور سوہنی کے عشق کا

بے تکی  ظلماتِ عشق، دریا غرقی عجب ہے

Translation:

The task is the same

Yet the ways chosen by the cupbearer vary strangely

From place to place

The wine from the West is strange

The intoxicated lover from the East is strange

And what a strange end to the story of both Ophelia and Sohni

A useless overwhelming dark love

Followed by a strange drowning in a river

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