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Saturday, December 31, 2005

The demise of Urdu poets Moin Ahsan Jazbi, Umar Ansari and closure of Shabkhoon


Is it the occasion to talk about death when we are ushering into the New Year? But 2005 was the year that took Moin Ahsan Jazbi away from us.

The last of the great and popular Urdu poets of the Taraqqi Pasand Tehreek [Progressive Writers' Movement] Jazbi, who was a close friend of Majaz, left for heavenly abode.

Besides, veteran Urdu poet Umar Ansari, the doyen of Urdu literature in Uttar Pradesh also passed away. He was the man whose couplet...

Mere haathon ke taraashe hue patthar ke sanam
Aaj bhagwan ban ke baithe hain butkhaon mein



....had become universally popular in Urdu world almost a decade before independence. Ever since, Umar Ansari kept the 'shamaa' of classical poetry alive in Lucknow, for almost six decades. These are great losses for us.

Once, hoping to get the job of a schoolteacher in Punjab, Jazbi had managed to get into train through a friendly railway official. Having just a few coins, he reached the school to find that the job was already given to a person.

With nothing to eat and no money in his pocket, Jazbi, in sheer desperation wrote a ghazal that is rememberd for its poignant lines:

Marne ki duaayen kyoon mangoon, jeene ki tamanna kaun kare
Yeh dunia ho ya woh dunia, ab khwahish-e-dunia kaun kare

Jab kashti saabit-o-saalim thi, sahil ki tamanna kisko thi
Ab aisi shikasta kashti par sahil ki tamanna kaun kare


This ghazal is recalled as much as his legendary nazm 'Maut' [Death]. Some of the stanzas of the long verse are often quoted even in this era and poetry lovers will always remember Jazbi for writing these unforgettable lines:

Apni soyii huii dunia ko jagaa luu.n to chaluu.n
Apne Ghamkhane mein ek dhuum machaa luu.n to chaluu.n
Aur ek jaam-e-mai talkh chadhaa luu.n to chaluu.n
Abhi chalta huu.n, zara khud ko sambhaluu.n to chaluu.n


Meri aankhon mein abhi tak hai muhabbat ka ghuruur
Mere honton ko abhi tak hai sadaqat ka ghuruur
Mere maathe pe abhi tak hai sharaafat ka ghuruur
Aise wahmon se abhi khud ko nikaloon to chaluu.n



Read Jazbi's works in Urdu, Hindi and English at BESTGHAZALS


Shabkhoon: A magazine, a movement

Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's Urdu literary monthly Shabkhoon that began publication in the mid-sixties was closed this year. This has been a big jolt for Urdu literature in India.

Faruqui's magazine not only established the modernist trend in Urdu poetry but also brought new writers and poets on the scene. In the most difficult circumstances, the magazine was published regularly. Shabkhoon had its detractors.

But it also set new trends. Hundreds of past issues of this magazine will become collector's issues in future and the magazine will always be remembered as a trend-setter in Urdu world. 

Friday, December 30, 2005

A Mumbai-based poet's Urdu ghazal

Abdul Ahad 'Saaz'
It is commonly heard that quality literature is not being written in this era but I don't agree. It is true that the era of Manto-Rajinder Singh Bedi-Krishan Chander-Asmat is long gone in Urdu prose and so is the era of Faiz-Majaz-Makhdoom-Sardar Jafri.

But there is no dearth of litterateurs and poets whose writings can astonish you. The difference is that people are not reading much in the current era. Abdul Ahad Saaz is one of the leading contemporary poets from Mumbai.

Read his Ghazal:

Khud ko kyoon jism ka zindaani karein
Fikr ko takht-e-suleimani karein

Der tak baith kar sochein khud ko
Aaj phir ghar mein biyaabaani karein

Apne kamre mein sajayen aafaaq
Jalsa-e-bay-sar-o-samaani karein

Umar bhar she'r kahein, khoon thookein
Muntakhib rasta-e-nuqsaani karein

Khud ke liye mol lein izhar ka qarz
Doosron ke liye aasaani karein

She'r ke lab par khamoshi likhein
Harf-e-nagufta ko la-faani karein

Keemiyakari hai fan apna Saaz
Aag ko haithe hue paani karein

Abdul Ahad Saaz


To read this ghazal and more verses in Urdu, Hindi and English, CLICK HERE


Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Keats of Urdu poetry: Majaz Lakhnavi


Asrarul Haq Majaz was the darling of the Urdu world, the most famous and loved poet of his generation. His nazm, 'Aawara' Aye gham-e-dil kya karoon, Aye wahshat-e-dil kya karoon....[What to do O aching heart, what to do O frenzy wild] is considered one of the most popular verses of Urdu poetry.

Majaz was the uncle of Javed Akhtar and brother-in-law of Jaan Nisaar Akhtar. He was born in 1911 in Rudauli (UP). He was the first Urdu poet who looked at woman with a different persepective, as a 'hamsafar' [companion] and yearned for an intelligent, enlightened and equal life partner.

His ghazal 'Tere maathe pe yeh anchal bohot khoob hai/ Lekin tu isse ek parcham bana leti to achchha thaa' was the foremost progressive voice in 30s.

A darling of poetry-lovers, Majaz was so popular that Ismat Chughtai recounts, Girls college mein ladkiyan usse shaadi ke liye qura nikaalti theen"[it was a pastime among hostel girls to play draw of lots to decide which girl will marry him].

Kuchh tujhko hai khabar ham kya kya ai shorish-e-dauraan bhool gaye
Woh zulf-e-pareeshan bhool gaye, woh deedae-giryan bhool gaye

Ab gul se nazar milti nahin, ab dil ki kali khilti nahin
Ai fasl-e-bahaaran rukhsat ho hum to luft-e-bahaaran bhool gaye

Ai shauq-e-nazaara kya kahiye, nigahon mei koi surat hi nahin
Ai zauq-e-tasavvur kya kahiye hum to surat-e-jaanan hi bhool gaye

Sab ka madawa kar daala apna madawa kar na sake
Sab ke gireban see daale apna hi girebaan bhool gaye

Ab apni wafa ka yeh aalam hai, unki wafa ko kya kahiye
Ek nashtar-e-zeher aageen rakh kar sarhaane, rag-e-jaan bhool gaye

Click for Majaz's ghazal in Urdu, Hindi and Roman scripts here.

Majaz was the natural choice when All India Radio started airing its programmes and he named the Urdu programme 'Awaz'. But his unrequited love affair with a girl and financial problems cost him dearly.

This unique generation of poets had awaited the dawn of independence and dreamt of an independent nation. He wrote anti-imperialistic poems like 'Musafir bhaag waqt-e-baykasi hai/tere sar par ajal mandra rahi hai....and the immensely popular Tarana-e-Alighar...Sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis hoon'

Along with his potery, his wit was becoming legendary and he was always mobbed. People wanted to have the honour of drinking with the famous poet. But he was losing his mental balance.

As Josh once told him, Majaz ghadi rakh kar piya karo' asking him to drink steadily, the maverick poet laughingly said,' Josh sahab main ghada rakh kar peeta hoon'.

Once Josh wrote 'Pindnama' in a magazine asking him to cut down on his drinking while praising Sheikh Abduallah [of Kashmir] in the same breath and Majaz replied,

'Nutq hairaan, dahan dareeda hai, yeh shuneeda nahin deeda hai, rind-e-barbaad ko naseehat hai, sheikh ki shaan mein qaseeda hai'.

Whatever Majaz wrote...either.....

Jalaal-e-aatish o barq-e-sahaab paida kar, ajal bhi kaanp uthe tu woh shabaab paida kar
Tu inquilab ki aamad ka intezar na kar, jo ho sake to inquilab paida kar
or
Chhalkein tere aariz se gulaab aur zyada. Allah kare zor-e-shabaab aur zyada...

And the lesser poetic:

Ilaahabad mein har soo hain charche ki dilli ka sharaabi aa gaya hai
Guaabi laao chhalkao ki shaida-e-gulaabi aa gaya hai
Yahan ke shaharyaaron ko khabardaar kar do ki woh mard-e-inquilabi aa gaya hai

His poetry struck chord with the generation of youths before and after independence. But the bloody riots of partition and bloodshed in Punjab shocked the nation and more so the progressive poets.

Poets were lamenting like Wamiq Jaunpuri who wrote: Yeh do-aab hai, sah-aab hai, Punjab nahin. Majaz was also left disillusioned. He fell ill and after recovery he was no longer the same person.

On a chilly winter night, he was taken away by a group of 'fans' who left him all alone on a hotel roof after drinking till late night, and he died alone in the bitter cold. Lucknow mourned and the nation mourned. At the age of 44.

Ab iske baad sub'h hai aur sub'h-e-nau majaz/ hum par hai khatm shaam-e-ghareeban-e-lucknow.... A part of Lucknow died that day.

bohat mushkil hai dunyaa ka saNvarnaa
teri zulf ka pech-o-kham nahii hai

Read seven best ghazals and Nazms of Majas in Urdu, Hindi [devanagri] and Roman English scripts at Best Ghazals.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A unique Urdu nazm: Alif ki Khudkushi

The followin verse 'Alif ki Khudkushi' is now remembered as one of the finest verses in modernist urdu poetry. It will need some patience to read it but has an unparalleled dramatic impact.

Alif ki Khudkushi

Jalti bujhti roshniyon mein saaya saaya jalta tha
Saara kamra whisky aur cigarette kii boo mein dooba tha
Ubal raha tha zahar ragon mein, maut ka nasha chhaya tha
Sara manzar nuqta nuqta, muhmal sa lagta tha
Shayad kuchh din pahle tak yah koi bhoot basera tha
'Alif' nihattha...'Jeem' nihatthi...saare bay-hathiyar
Apne mulk aur apni qaum ke murda pahredaar

'Jeem' ne saare rang utaare
Aur qahqaha maar ke garji
Hai koi daavedaar
Saare jaam utha kar cheekhe, tere ek hazaar!
'Jeem' andheron se baahar aayee, kiya Alif par waar
Baap tera maqrooz tha, mera qarz utaar
Aar-paar sab saaye gum, bhoot bane darwaze
Pret Aatmaon ki soorat khadi hui deewarein
Gahree--apaar khamoshi--gahri athaah apaar
Bay-awaaz andhere barse, barse moosladhar
Bijli ban kar kaundh rahe the yahi shabd, 'baap tera maqrooz tha mera'

Ek Anokhi khabar chhapi hai shahar ke sab akhbaron mein
Sab dukanein band padi hain koi nahin bazaaron mein
Saaen Saaen loo chalti hai, mitti mitti mausam hai
Aaj Alif ke jal marne par duniya bhar mein maatam hai

Jalti bujhti roshniyon mein saya saya jalta hai
Ubal raha hai zahar ragon mein maut ka nasha chhaya hai
Sara manzar nuqta nuqta mohmal mohmal lagta hai
Elipena sach kahta tha; Yeh koi bhoot basera hai.

(Kumar Pashi, was amongst the few remaining non-Muslim poets in the movement of modernist poetry as Urdu was increasing becoming a Muslim language in India after the decades of 70s and few Hindu or Sikh poets came after this generation).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hindu Food, Muslim Food, SC/ST Food.....

In the movies of 40s and 50s, one can see the occasional scenes of a train stopping at a railway station and the vendors screaming, 'Hindu paani, Muslim paani', 'Hindu chaai, Muslim chaai' (Hindu water, Muslim water).

But that was more than 50 years ago when untouchability was widely prevalent and casteism of a much higher degree existed. Naturally the tea and water were sold by Hindus and Muslims separately for their communities. The untouchables could not buy from either of them.

But this situation exists today. In Patna, the food prepared for policemen is cooked separately. The Hindu food (for upper castes) cooked by their rasoiya, the Muslim food by Muslim cook for Muslim personnel even if they number juste 5 or 50, and so is the case for lower castes.

Isn't it surprising? When the newly elected Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was informed about this practice. He said, "I will seek information and then take action". Now the Bihar Police Association is getting vocal and demanding the top officials be axed for such a practice continuing till date.

As long as the groundlevel situation is concerned, ask those eating and serving, they don't find it disgusting in secular India that got independence almost sixty years ago. For them it's nothing unusual. It was a millennium ago Subuktgeen told his son Mahmood that 'Hindustan ajaayabat ka mulk hhai'. A 1000-years later there is no change apparently.

An Urdu couplet:
Legend in Urdu crime fiction Izhar Asar's poetry:

Milti hai wahi shai jo khayalon mein naheen hai
Yeh baat kitaabon ke hawaalon mein naheen hai

Paas aa ke kisi shai mein tajassus nahin rahta
Ab chaand bhi chehre ki misaalon mein naheen hai

NEWS:

1.The launch of Microsoft 2003 this week at Karachi is a welcome step. For years the need was felt but it is to be seen that when the version reaches India. None of the top portals have felt the need for Urdu emails in India until now.

2. Now comes news about a financial scandal in AP Urdu academy. Nothing unusual. After all, the institutions either that of Urdu, Waqf Board, Madarsa Board or similar Muslim academies are always in the midst of such crises.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas for a Muslim child in India: 20 years ago

Christmas was always an important festival but when I walk down memory lane, I feel it hardly made any impression on my mind in the childhood, of course except the images of Santa Claus in comics and book.

Living in a colony of dozen-odd apartments, having ten flats that formed a mini-India of over 100 families from all over the country, I did have a few Christian neighbours--mainly from Kerala.

There was a family of South Indian near my building. Every year a big illuminated star was hung outside their verandah during Christmas. I liked the sight of that star which remained there for months until the rains arrived reducing it to mere frame.

I used to wonder why Muslims never put a crescent on Id. The Christian family was dark, brash and tall--fitted into the image of Christians that comes to us from movies of 70s and 80s--the Villains or the vagabond occasional do-gooders.

The two sons were elder to me and the daughter was young. She was beautiful--unlike the dark family members she looked stunning and at the age of ten or eleven was quite grown up, knew how to carry herself and was the cynosure of all teenagers' eyes in the colony.

And what great myths were spread about the family though no one dared spoke in front of the tall youngsters. It was said that there were no rats because of the cats in the locality and where were the cats? All cats went into their stomachs!

'Woh to billi khate hain', that was rumoured. I remember once I ventured into their house, it was to watch a cricket match because I had no television then. There were few televisions then. I sat silently watching Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil score their 50s against New Zealand under flood light to win a match in 1985 Benson and Hedges.

The group of youngsters almost double my age ( I was 9-10 then) making a few obscene gestures and some non-vegetarian talk. I was feeling more and more uncomfortable and thought they were trying to make fun of me but sat silently as if understanding nothing of their talk and came out soon after the match. That was my only visit.

Oh yes Christmas! I could never celebrate with anyone except the customary Happy Christmas greeting to a couple of class mates with whom I was never too friendly. As it used to fall during winter vacations, by the time we went back to school the fervour of the festival would have been replaced by New Year.

During my teenage I met many Christian boys but I had come to know that everything prepated during Christmas has either wine or rum in it. Even the cake has it. I was caught up in the dilemma.

I thought it would be improper to go and then express my inability to eat and spoil the festive mood of the family. At times I went and after handing over Christmas card, came out in a hurry, almost unnoticed.

Though lot of Hindu friends never ate at our place clearly saying that it was Mangalwar or Brihaspatiwar or some other day of fasting, would say that particular thing they wouldn't eat. There were some Brahmin women who said it in our face that they won't eat at our house.

In a society extremely conscious of caste, creed and communal identities and obsessed with dissecting the 'other' in which I was also a minority, things often become too complex for a child. Among the upper class Christmas was a festival celebrated by all but in middle-class Id was more Indian than Christmas.

I remember children in schools talking about Christians in hushed tones. Of course, the circumcision of Muslims evoked equal contempt, laughter and intrigue. But then Christians were more different.

Despite the fact that for Muslims, Jesus is a prophet and venerable, his respect being integral to Muslim faith. As a minority you felt their unease as they were less acceptable unless they came from well-to-do families. But then the Christian girls, they looked so composed and carried themselves like queens.

I was 13 that a Christian girl probably started liking me. I could not reciprocate, I was shy and probably girls grow earlier than boys so I was not absolutely sure of what was happening.

I missed the opportunity and regretted it a year later when I yearned for a girl friend. But I recall, how I consoled myself with the thought that kissing a girl who perhaps drank wine and ate pork would have been bad.

So I am fine without a girlfriend. How wicked I was! Now I remember and laugh. Wishing a Merry Christmas to all. Cheers :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

Enchanting Urdu couplets

Read the following qita'a I hope you would like it. It is one my favourites:

Aao is lamha-e-fursat ko farozaan karlein
Teergi badhne se pahle chiraaghaan karlein
Shab guzarni hai to kucchh uska bhi samaan karlein
Dil ke zakhmo ko ginein, dard ka unwaan karlein


The lines were penned by Ali Abbas Ummeed, a native of Ghazipur.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Urdu poetry, homosexuality and medieval culture

I did not initially want to write about this subject that needs at least a book on this blog because it might appear too perverted in this era. But I have got some emails and I think I should write on it because people generally are not aware about that particular 'culture' of the bygone era.

And yes, classical homosexuality or pederasty should not be confused with Gays. They are different. Fellow blogger, Lucky Fatima, has written about Urdu also, I will deal about that latter in detail or kindly read Shamsurrahman Faruqi's great work on this subject that dispels myths of centuries about Sanskrit-Prakrit-Urdu-Hindi.

Firstly, we all know Firaq's son committed suicide because he was a master 'aghlaam-baaz or amrad-parast viz. those who had sexual relations with young boys (teenagers). Firaq had not spared even his son's friend who had stayed for a night in his house.

Josh Malihabadi was a great amrad-parast and in his autobiography Yaadon ki Baraat he has taken great pains to describe both his pederastical as well as heterosexual affairs. Basically, for centuries when women remained confined to houses, the men preyed on young boys.

Somehow after partition in India at least (I thank god for end to that murky world of middle-aged men preying upon young boys all-over North India). Not jus ordinary folk bu clerics, litterateurs and great educationists of the era were all fond of this hobby.

In fact, it was bisexuality at its best. Meer was of course mad after the son of an itr-seller. His collection has hundreds of couplets explicitly reflecting his sexual orientation and the uftaad-tibaa.

The situation was so bad in North India that after maghrib (evenig), the boys were just not allowed outside their houses. The teachers, a majority of them, even in madarsas lured their pupil.

One has to just read legendary poet Akhtarul Iman's autobiography in which he has written how men exchanged their 'boys tutored in the art of sex' all over Delhi.

Or how a famous poet who was associated with All India Radio recalls in his autobiography that when he was ten or twelve ( he was fair and had soft features) the situation was so bad in the city that groups of middle-aged men and youth were hunting for him.

His parents were asked to shift him to a southern city else he might have lost his 'virginity'. Today it may be difficult for our generation to understand what either of the sides enjoyed so much in this relationship but those familiar to this dark world are aware that once a 'master of this so-called art' trapped a boy, the latter also found it tough to get out. I don't want to be too explicit though.

Read 'Tazkira-e-Khush Muarka-e-Zeba' about the social life of Oudh during Nawabi era where almost every male on the street appeared bisexual. In fact, our society treated these subjects as taboos and the books in Persian and Urdu of that era gathered dusts, who is there to read them or even the new books about that era now?

Lack of familiarity for Urdu script has brought us here that we don't even know how different that period was. Mercifully though. But those living in old quarters of Lucknow, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Delhi and other cities of UP, Bihar still know how widespread this amrad-parasti is.

I wonder how the eminent personalities like that great editor of a famous urdu newspaper always kept 4-5 young boys for sexual gratification and when about it would laugh it off. Like Hoor and Ghilman promised in paradise, this ghilman or young boy as sweet as pearls brought a hypocritical religious sanction for pederasty.

If anyone wants to have a peep into that world he can read Gulistan of Saa'di where scores of pages are devoted to stories about young males in love, living like 'badaam mein do giri'. And mind you, Gulistan was taught to Muslim boys all over the world for centuries.

It must have been deliberate process to make the young ones accept this as fate and condition their minds. Read Olympian Aslam Sher Khan's book in which he cites how no boy could play hockey at higher level until he submitted to his 'ustaad' in Bhopal. This book 'To Hell With Hockey' is available online.

And the poignant account of his life when an elderly person tried to bring him to couch. That man was his father's friend and Aslam Sher Khan was in tears. Hurt and angry, he threw hockey stick in disgust.

But homosexuality as our poets like Iftikhar Naseem of Pakistan 'Ifti' who claim is different from this pederasty. Like he says in India-Pakistan Shaadi is a purdah and Ifti claims he is a female trapped in a male's body but his relationship is with consent and with adults. There are finer differences. I think books can be written about this but it is useless.

Allah ka shukr hai that such society that had created such a disgusting culture is now history. More so in Persia (Iran) it was always the culture. Still, it is prevalent in Afghanistan. And though Muslims were champions of this art including our great kings, one of whom had died in one such passionate session that reached heights of nonsensical perversion, even Hindus were no less addicted in North India.

We all know that all the founders of RSS--either the 'great' Vir Sawarkar or the killers of Gandhi viz. Karkare, Apte etc were homosexual. Read Freedom at Midnight's original unedited version.

[I do not want to hurt anyone's sentiments. I have not gone into real details because it may shock people and it will not serve any. I have no business to condemn any sexual attitude as long as it is not forced. As far as religion is concerned, it is not our job to judge a fellow Muslim or non-Muslim. Thanks]

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Urdu translation of Hafiz's Persian couplets

Legendary poet Hafiz, the Bulbul-e-Shiraz, is one of all time great poets of the world whose poetry transcends the barriers of language, country and race.

For centuries the lovers of Hafiz deemed Diwan-e-Hafiz as almost next to divine. His son Khwaja Bahauddin came to India and was buried in Burhanpur (the newly created district of Madhya Pradesh) at the border of Maharashtra where originally Mumtaz Mahal, Shahjehan's lovely wife, was also buried before being shifted to Agra.

Gar aan turk sheerazi be-dast aarad dil-e-maara
ba khaal hindosh bakhsham samarqand o bukhara ra

(If that Turk listens to my heart's cry, I can foresake Samarqand and Bukhara against the black mole on his face)

Legend is that after hearing this Tamerlane (Amir Taimur) called Hafiz and asked him that how dare he could gift the magnificent cities so easily which the king had won with great effort.

Hafiz gauged the mood of Tamerlane and said that this habit of spendthrift has reduced him (Hafiz) to penury. Tamerlane laughed and set him free.

Hafiz loved nothing but Ruknabad, the beautiful city which was his homeland. Interestingly, few now realise that like most of the early Urdu poetry of Meer, Ghalib and other Persian poets, Hafiz's lover used to be a boy and not a girl.

Urdu translation:
Hafiz sa-deeda dana-e-ashke hamee fishan
bashad ki murgh-e-wasl kunad qasde-daam-e-maa
[Hafiz, aankhon se aansuon ke daane bikher, shayad wisaal ka parinda hamare jaal ka qasd kare]
shahid aan nees ki moo-e-o-miyaan-e-daaad
banda-e-tala'at aan baash ki aane darad
[Maashooq woh nahin hai jo zulf o kamar rakhta ho/Uske chehre ka ghulaam ban jo koi aan rakhta ho]

Plan to write a lot more on Hafiz soon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Who says Indian Muslims don't oppose MF Husain's paintings: Enough of this anti-Muslim bias, false propaganda

Muslims against MF Husain: Holding footwear, banners
The photograph on the left shows Muslims opposing MF Husain, the celebrity painter, for his nude paintings that outraged a section of Hindus.

I am not an artist. Creative art and boundaries of artistic freedom is quite a big issue and needs a bigger space.

What I know is that Muslims are targeted just because MF Husain happens to be a Muslim. So what should I do?

For every wrongdoing or crime by a Muslim, shall I go to street and protest. And by the same yardstick, for every crime by a Hindu, Hindus should hold demonstrations and say 'We condemn it'. This is all bullshit. Law must prevail.

Already he has cases registered against him in police stations and would be arrested if he comes to India. Many Hindus support his right to draw Saraswati and Bharat Mata. I am opposed to it. Hasn't he apologised?

The Saffron brigade that loves Salman Rushdie, is not satisfied and wants more. The problem is even when Muslims take to streets, openly opposing Husain, media doesn't report it. The photo here shows Muslims holding a banner against the painter and also holding footwear that carry the painter's picture.

Now, still, you claim that Muslims don't oppose the paintings! First, the TV Channels and newspapers don't print these photos and don't send reporters to cover these protests. Then, they claim that Muslims don't hold events. Damn it.

The following story http://in.rediff.com/news/2005/dec/16rajeev.htm appeared on the homepage of Rediff a few days back and still features in the homeapage. I am apalled and wonder what is the limit of free speech?

How can such things that are so ridiculous and aimed at poisoning minds besides creating rifts in Indian society be featured prominently? Not Togadia or Shahabuddin who are known rabblerousers, it is people like these who feature such articles need to be condemned. 


Three or four instances that fit in your ideological angle are collected and a web of lies is spun to cast aspersions. Everyone is shaken by such deaths but portraying them and seeing them in terms of Hindu, Muslim, Christian is criminal.


I am a Muslim so am I not a human? I may ask what is the value of Muslim's life during riots and carnages like Gujarat. The eye for eye case was shown on television channels again and again [of course to show the era Saudis think they live in] and the pressure mounted on government.

Rubia was Home Minister's daughter and had it been the daughter of Karan Singh it would have been the same case. In my humble opinion, if there is a big event small news stories do not get mentioned but when there is no such news, a story like eye-for-eye gets more prominence but not the death in Afghanistan.

Is it not electronic print media and the circumstances like that of Sarabjeet Singh which was taken up by the entire media as a cause but never in the past the issue of hundreds of Indians languishing in jails became a national debate.

One does not expect an opinion-maker website like Rediff.com to carry such a poor piece.

Raja Mehmoodabad gets back Butler Palace

English daily The Hindu has published a photograph of Raja Mehmoodabad (aka Amir Mohammad Khan) receiving the keys of Butler Palace in Lucknow.

It took a harsh Supreme court verdict for the administration to hand over the property back to the rightful owner. The ancestor of Amir Mohammad Khan, Nawab Ali Khan (who had been adopted from Bilehra) had fought alongside Begum Hazrat Mahal against British and the riyasat had been annexed.

Interestingly, the British governor's wife saw Raja's son playing and enchanted by his manners picked him up. And the elderly employee of Raja instantly reacted saying that the child was now in her custody.

This saved the princely state from getting annexed. In 1937 the then Raja Amir Ahmad Khan had formed All India Muslim Students Federation. He had placed all his wealth at the disposal of Muslim League.

But the Raja got disillusioned with Pakistan and soon left the newly created nation to head for Iraq. He was a devout Shia. He then shifted to England. Ultimately he was buried at Mashhad in Iran.

But his wife and son, Amir Mohd Khan, stayed back in India. The present Raja Mahmoodabad is a connoissuer of art and culture. He is quite popular among the masses also. After a long struggle the family has got its due.

Monday, December 19, 2005

An Urdu couplet

Main gunahgar aur anginat paarsa chaar janib se yalghaar karte hue
Jaise shabkhoon mein uthein log ekdam se 'talwar talwar' karte hue

This is senior poet Muzaffar Hanafi's couplet. When I first got a SMS from a friend who had sent me this couplet, I was left wondering who was the creator of these lines.

The couplet makes fun of the self-styled 'devout'. The poet is scare of narrow-minded religious bigots and wants to keep away from them and their attacks on his free thought and his life.

Apart from the experiment with the long 'bahar', the variety of ideas in this ghazal also impresses you. Muzaffar Hanafi, hails from Haswa (UP) and spent most of his early life in Khandwa, Sehore and Bhopal.

You can read the whole ghazal in Urdu script at this link.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Irteza Nishat: Urdu poet from Mumbai to Mirreekh [Jupiter]

Irteza Nishat
I really admire the poetry of Irtiza Nishat*, a Mumbai-based Urdu poet. In case you have not heard about him, here is a couplet of him.

Aasmaa.n, Mirreekh tak jaane ke baad
Chaai ki dukaan lagta hai mujhe

I hope you are not bewildered. That was on a lighter note. But a few more couplets I would like to share:

Sabse dilchasp yahi gham hai meri basti ka
Maut pasmaanda ilaqe mein dawa lagti hai



[This is the biggest irony of my locality/Death looks like a medicine in a backward city]

That was a rough translation so that the meaning could be conveyed.

How Irteza has depicted the real pain of the poor. Those who can't afford the cost of treatment and for whom death appears to be an easy way to get rid of the suffering. It is couplets like these for which Irteza Nishat is known for. 


Mustahaq ke haq se kamzarfon ke saaghar bhar diye
Naqd ke naa-ahl paimaano yeh tumne kya kiya


This couplet is directed towards the critics. Here the poet rues that the deserving were left unattended while they were busy filling the goblets of undeserving ones. That's true to a large extent as poets who didn't take interest in PR [public relations] and keeping critics in good humour, were confined to periphery of literature.

Mohabbat mein hamesha martabe neeche utarte hain
Sadaf se abr gauhar baar zer-e-aab milta hai


Anwar Khan termed him a poet of 'barahna asloob' [poet of naked realities]. Nishat sahab writes a daily piece of poetry in Urdu newspaper Inquilab under the pseudonym, Alif Noon. These four-liners have wit, sarcasm and harsh criticism in the form of poetry.

Read one of his daily Qitas, which was published when a Muslim leader had made a nonsensical and emotional appeal. To mock him, Irteza Nishat wrote these lines:

Ek se ek hai Rustam ke gharane wala
Hai koi Qibla-Awwal ko chhuDaane wala?
Aur ek naara-e-takbeer ba-awaaz e buland

Aur phir koi nahin samne aane wala


[*He spells his name as 'Irteza', not Irtiza]

Do Jews ever recall the historic role of Muslims in saving, protecting them?

Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly said that Israel should be wiped off from the world apart from saying that Holocaust was doubtful and Israel ought to be shifted to Europe.

Not very simple comments indeed but the figure of deaths attributed to Holocaust has been disputed for long.

Head of states are not supposed to issue such statements, more so when it concerns Israel. It is not politically correct!

The West (Europe) perpetrated Holocaust and six decades later the mention of the word unsettles them to no end. What a moral guilt! They created Isreal, the rogue state in Palestinian land. And Muslims who for centuries gave refuge to Jews fleeing the excess of Christian west have been paying the price. 

But see the shock on the faces of many self-styled intellectuals in countries who have nothing to do with either Israel/Holocaust or Iran. The collective guilt of Europe has brought tremendous suffering for Palestinians.

At least, Ahmadinejad has the courage to call a spade a spade. After all, Jews of the present generation must know that it was the Muslim community that had safeguarded their interests and rights for centuries when there was hatred for them in the Christian world that perpetrated atrocities on the followers of Judaism. In those days Jews were burnt and codemned across the Europe.

Examples of intolerance towards Jews in Christian world:

1. In Spain, every child born of marriage between Christian and Jew was to be baptised. Later at the height of inquisition all Jews were given the option to convert or leave Spain. Thousands were burnt alive and many lived as crypto-Jews.

2. When epidemics like plague spread, the Jews were always blamed and charged with the spread of diseases. Like in 14 th century when thousands of Jews were held responsible for Black Death and killed.

3. In 1215 Jews were ordered to wear distinct dress from Christians so that they could be identified. At many places they were made to wear yellow badges or specified dress.

4. Almost 13,000 Jews were burnt in Spain alone during inquisition for not converting to Christianity in 15th-16th centuries.

5. Popes through out history condemned Jews. Pope Julius III publicly condemned their holy book Talmud.

6. For two millennium (2,000 years) Jews were persecuted in one form or the other in Europe. Always harassed and thrown into ghettoes.

But forgetting all this the Jews after getting the state turned against the new enemy--Muslims, who had always welcomed the Jews who fled the European persecution.

I wonder if Jews ever think about it or they are really too selfish and driven by avarice to have forget the humiliation of centuries!

Also read the post on this blog. Jews suffered holocaust, now Israel inflicts the same on Palestinians.

[Photo courtesy: Historical Pics. Its Twitter LINK]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Great Urdu Poets: Ghazals Across Centuries, Poets' Chronological Listing and History

Mirza Ghalib
Urdu poetry has a unique appeal that cuts across languages, regions and countries. Millions who can't read the script, enjoy the 'shayri' and quote couplets.

I plan to bring a representative collection of great poets and most of the gems of Urdu poetry to you both in Urdu [Perso-Arabic], devanagari and Roman Scripts. The poets' names are in chronological order*.

From Wali Dakani, the pioneering poet, to the giants of Urdu poetry like Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib, Zauq, Momin, Zafar and later Dagh, the ghazals are posted.

Subsequently, Iqbal, Jigar Muradabadi, Josh Malihabadi, Majaz, Faiz, and contemporary poets of India and Pakistan. The links go to ghazals on my blog BESTGHAZALS.



I
Vali Dakani [also spelt as Wali Dakni, Dakhni] Click

II
Shah Hatim
Mirza Mazhar Jan Janaan Click
Mulla Vajahi
Ghawasi
Nishati

III
Mir [Meer Taqi Meer] Click
Mirza Rafi Sauda Click
Khwaja Meer Dard Click
Shekh Mohammad Qaa'em Chandpuri Click
Mir Abdul Hai Tabaan
Inamullah Khan Yaqeen
Siraj Aurangabadi Click
Mir Taqi Mir

IV
Shekh Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi Click
Sheikh Qalandar Bakhsh Jurat
Syed Inshallah Khan Insha  Click
Wali Mohammad Nazir Akbarabadi Click

V
Shekh Imam Baksh Nasikh Click
Shekh Haidar Ali Aatish Click

VI
Shah Naseer
Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq Click
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib Click
Hakim Momin Khan Momin Click
Sirajuddin Khan Bahadur Shah Zafar Click

Sadruddin Azurda
Mustafa Khan Shefta



VII
Khwaja Mohammad Wazir
Daya Shankar Nasim
Syed Muzaffar Ali Asir
Arshad Ali Qalaq
Wazir Ali Saba
Mohammad Khan Rind
Syed Ismail Husain Munir Shikohabadi Click
Nizam Rampuri Click
BAHADUR SHAH ZAFAR




VIII
Munshi Amir Ahmad Amir Minai Click
Nawab Mirza Khan Daagh Dehlvi  Click
Meer Mehdi Majrooh
Syed Zamin Ali Jalal Lucknowi
Munshi Amirullah Taslim Lakhnawi
Mohammad Ali Tishna
Khawaja Altaf Husain Haali Click



DAAGH DEHLVI
IX
Syed Akbar Husain Rizvi Akbar Allahabadi Click
Pundit Brij Narayan Chakbast Click
Syed Ali Mohammad Shad Azimabadi Click
Mirza Mohammed Hadi Ruswa Click
Riyaz Khairabadi
Muztar Khairabadi Click
Jalil Hasan Jalil Manikpuri
Hafiz Jaunpuri Click
Nuh Narvi Click
Syed Ali Taqi Zaidi Safi Lucknowi Click
Mirza Muhammad Hadi Aziz Lakhnavi Click
Mirza Zakir Husain Saqib Lakhnawi  Click
Tilok Chand Mahroom
Josh Malsiyani
Jafar Ali Khan Asar Lakhnavi
Pt Brij Narain Chakbast

X
Syed Fazlul Hasan Hasrat Mohani Click
Asghar Husain Asghar Gondvi Click
Shaukat Ali Faani Badauni Click
Ali Sikandar Jigar Muradabadi Click
Mirza Yaas Yagaana Changezi Click
Syed Anwar Husain Aarzoo Lakhnawi
Ameer Kazim Ali 'Jamil' Mazhari Click
Mohammad Ali Jauhar Click






IQBAL

XI
Dr Sir Sheikh Mohammad Iqbal 'Iqbaal' Click
Josh Malihabadi, Shabbir Hasan Khan Click
Firaq Gorakhpuri, Raghupati Sahai Click
Seemab Akbarabadi, Ashiq Husain 'Seemab' Click
Hafiz Jalandhari Click
Akhtar Sheerani Click
Saghar Nizami
Ravish Siddiqui
Anand Narain Mulla
Ahsan Danish Click
Pundit Harichand Akhtar Click
Arsh Malsiyani
Mohammad Deen Taseer Click
Saifuddin Saif
Abdul Hamid Adam Click
Shad Arfi


JOSH MALIHABADI



XII
Faiz Ahmad Faiz Click
Asrarul Haq Majaz Click
Moin Ahsan Jazbi Click
Makhdum Mohiuddin Click
Ali Sardar Jafri Click
JaaN Nisaar Akhtar Click
Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi Click
Kaifi Azmi Click
Saahir Ludhianvi Click
Ali Jawwad Zaidi
Majrooh Sultanpuri Click
Ghulam Rabbani Tabaan
Sikandar Ali Wajd Click

Sanaullah Saani Daar 'Miraji' Click
Noon Meem Rashid [NM Rashid] Click

Ejaz Siddiqui
Shamim Karhani
Khurshid Ahmad Jami

KAIFI AZMI
Nazish Pratapgarhi
Nushoor Vahidi Click
Qateel Shifai  Click
Sahir Ludhianvi Click
Majeed Amjad
Gopal Mittal
Maikash Akbarabadi
Aal Ahmad Suroor
Jagannath Azad Click
Salam Machhlishahri
Akhatrul Iman Click
Akhtar Saeed Khan Click

POST PARTITION

NIDA FAZLI
MODERN ERA

Nasir Kazmi Click 
Irfan Siddiqui Click
Shakeb Jalali Click
Ahmad Faraz Click
Shaharyar Click
Nida Fazli Click
Rajendra Manchanda 'Bani' Click
Ahmad Mushtaq Click
Jaun Elia Click
Parvin Shakir Click
Abdullah Kamal Click
Abdul Ahad Saz Click


Shahzad Ahmad, Aziz Qaisi, Prem Varbartni, Makhmur Saeedi, Mazhar Imam, Hamdi Kashmiri, Sultan Akhtar, Prakash Fikri, Shaz Tamkanat, Taj Bhopali, Waheed Akhtar, Unwaan Chishti and Irtiza Nishaat. 

[*The chronological order is to give you an insight regarding the development of Urdu language and its poetry.]

The Jantar Mantar in a girl's brown eyes

I was watching a mushaira on television. Eminent Urdu poet Rahat Indori was reciting his verses in his characteristic style. Though he is not considered a poet of classical style, this ghazal succeeded in enchanting the audience.

A few couplets that I noted down:

Uski katthai aankhon mein hain jantar mantar sab
Chaaqu waaqu, chhuriyan wuriyan, khanjar wanjar sab

Jab se woh roothe hain, roothe roothe se lagte hain
takia wakia, chadar wadar, bistar wistar sab



Read Rahat Indori's ghazals in Urdu, English & Hindi scripts. CLICK HERE

More than words it is his style of delivery that brings a dramatic impact. Also, I had the privilege of listening to Jamia Chancellor Syed Hamid, a great educationist. 

Hai kahan tamanna ka doosra qadam ya rab
Hamne dasht-e-imkaan ko ek naqsh-e-paa paya


This is a Mirza Ghalib poet. Hamid sahab quoted it during his speech. One could see the desire and passion in his words. That people would stop being pessimistic and instead get to their feet and go about chasing their dreams.


But then how many people who listen bring the thoughts into their actions.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Couplets on the love for one's motherland: How I can leave my India?

Reading a blog today, I just remembered the answer given by veteran poet Shafiq Jaunpuri to hiis fan who urged him to come to Pakistan. The veteran poet had penned these lines:

bulaa to rahi ho tum hamein Karachi
magar wahaan watan ka nazaara kahaan se laayenge

bajaa ke saahil hain pur-bahaar magar
wo Gomti ka kinara kahaan se laayenge

Ye Kaashi, Ye chitrakoot, Ye raud-e-gang-o-jaman
tum hi batao Khudaara kahaan se layenge

It is undoubtedly the biggest decision of one's life to leave your land. Either it is the Punjabi, the Sindhi, the Muslims of India who shifted from their homeland or the Kashmiri Pandits from J&K, the pain is universal.

Ug raha hai dar-o-deewar pe sabza
Hum pardes mein hain ghar par bahaar aayee hai

Muslims storm Indian mindscape

So I was back home in the afternoon and watched Star News. The newsreader read the headlines:

1.Arrest warrant issued against Salman Khan in black buck hunting case (the actor had not responded to court's summons and the plea the last time was that he had dyed his hair so couldn't move out of Mumbai)

2. The car of Chhote Nawab (Saif Ali Khan) hits a boy

3. Irfan Pathan's 93* against Sri Lanka strengthen India's position (India later won the test and talks about Irfan being the next Kapil Dev have begun)

4. Abu Salem's aide arrested from Mumbai airport

All the four top headlines were about Muslims. What a turnaround. Heroes or Antiheroes. Muslims have arrived in India like never before. Good Muslims and Bad Muslims but not without Muslims.

Sanghis better watchout! They would prefer more news about Muslim criminals, as such news items demonise Islam and the Muslims. But seems positive news from Muslims is now coming much more than the negative news.

We are having heroes like Irfan and Sania Mirza. Not just the bad boys. At least, the scenerio is better than it was till a couple of years back. Hoping that it keeps getting better in future.

No discrimination against Indian Muslims in jobs!

The Asian Age has reported that Omar Khalidi's book Muslims in the Indian Economy suggests Muslims do not face discrimination in jobs. It is not absolute truth though.

In my humble opinion, we, Indians are strange nation--all Indians irrespective of religion and caste. We are heavily biased against each other and though we may appear most liberal and secular, the truth is that the majority of us harbour deep suspicion about each other.

For Brahmins the Banias are badmash, for upper castes the Dalits are meant for menial jobs, then there are further religious biases apart from North Vs South, Bengali Vs Marathi, Hindi Vs Non-Hindi et al.

On face one may seem secular to the core but that is often a wrong impression. I have numerous personal experiences of such biases. Once a person feels that he belongs to your community then he might spell out the choicest abuses for the other community without any reason.

In an interview of UPPSC I was asked, "Isn't Islam a regressive religion", "Don't you people treat women badly" and a host of similar questions in hostile tone. When I answered them back and told them that I have lived in the past in Bhopal, a place where Begums ruled for over a century.

And it is only in Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan where women become heads of state (not USA in its three centuries of democracy) the mood of the interview board was that of a shock, as if they didn't expect it.

They appeared offended. No question about my stream or the job which I applied for but the questions were just about Muslims being fundamentalists and retrogressive. That's just a personal experience.

But if you go to an officer, send in your visiting card and tell him that you want to share his sentiments about Muslims, he will surely tell you what a great language is Urdu, the Muslims are great connoissuers of food and that Taj Mahal was built by Muslims, who are great lovers of beauty and all the great love stories are that of Muslims like Laila Majnu, Sheerin Farhad, Wamiq-Azra or Heer-Ranjha.

There are statistics to prove my point that there does exist a discrimination which you can never fathom unless you are in the shoes of an unemployed ordinary Muslim job aspirant. Of course, a Dalit may also face some form of prejudice.

In private sector, it is tough to find a Dalit in higher positions. Besides, there are forms of discrimination that includes regional bias. But it is communal discrimination which is more widely prevalent though it is not visible to a third person.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Riots in France: Spain, Muslims and Sanghis of India

While images of rioting in France were flashed on TV channels, the Islamophobes seemed more excited. The self-proclaimed intellectuals [right-wing] in Europe and India are also churning out columns after columns in papers.

The approach is that "...didn't we tell you that these Muslims are troublemakers and you were not listening then...". Loony fringe and the xenophobes have got a great opportunity to brand the Muslims as fundamentalists once again.

In fact, their Indian counterparts--Prafulla Goradia and Sandhya Jain--seem more excited. The intellectually poor columnists are portraying the incidents as Islam Vs France. The reality is different. It is poverty and joblessness that are at the root of the riots.

The French intelligence report has now confirmed that riots had nothing to do with religion. The politicians hadn't thought much about it about higher unemployment rates in ghettoesl. The French will now change, adjust, and will definitely take remedial measures.

Muslim population is estimated at nearly 7-10 million in France and these Muslims are there to stay. The RSS' favourite kids--Sandhya Jain and her ilk, need not go hysteric. It is quite early. The Muslims can't be thrown out of any country, en masse, in this age and era.

The RSS has always expressed its desire to learn from Spain [Inquisition] and aimed to replicate the experiment when countless Muslims [Jews] were killed and expelled from Spain in 15th century. But the Spain from where Sanghis get all inspiration has also changed a lot.

The mosques now dot the landscapes of Cordoba, Granada and all other cities in Spain. Do they know Barcelona had more than 1 lakh Muslims when they last counted. Most Muslims just like the vast majority of Hindus and Christians are peace loving.

And they live amicably in Western countries. Our homegrown fascists needn't worry about the affairs of France and the riots in Paris. It is a social issue and they will take care of it. We have much more serious problems. The columnists who are drawing sadistic pleasure should come out of their make-believe world

Thursday, December 08, 2005

RSS chief exhorts Hindus to produce more children in order to check demographic changes in India

RSS-walas can be allowed to marry for more kids!
The irresponsible statements of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] chief Sudarshan exhorting the Hindus to produce more children has hardly drawn any attention or criticism.

Had any minor leader of any other community made a similar statement, mediamen and political parties would have been baying for his blood.

But, it seems the hate-preachers of a particular hue are exempted from any criticism. All their diatribe goes without any censure. 


States like Madhya Pradesh have already ordered revoking the ban on those with more than two children from contesting elections to panchayats. Sudarshan was speaking at the function to release a book on changing religious demography of India.

The RSS chief said that 3-4 children per parents would be fine, as this will ensure that the religious demography of India isn't changed or affected. Sangh leaders who issue such calls should remember that this issue is not linked with religion.

In Muslims, the educated have fewer kids. Similarly, in Hindus, Dalits tend to have more children and have much higher birth rate. Besides, Sangh should also think of sparing its own volunteers, who don't marry. If one goes by this theory then, celibacy among RSS cadres affects the Hindu Rashtra most.

Shouldn't Sangh activists marry and have kids? After all, they would be able to imbibe Hindu culture and Hindutva among their own children, better than the other normal Hindus. And there are lakhs of Swayamsevaks, wasting their vigour and vitality.