Monday, May 28, 2007

'Blasphemous' Urdu couplets: Poor understanding of poetry or growing intolerance in society

First read the two Urdu couplets:

dair-o-haram meN mil na sakaa hai agar Khudaa
hogaa vahaan zaruur chalo maikade chaleN

dil ko sukuuN milegaa kahaaN soch lijiye
masjid hai ghar se duur chalo maikade chaleN

These are two couplets of poet Afzal Manglori that have caused a controversy in Western UP. Voices for Manglori's boycott are growing shriller apart from little-known organisations issuing statements that term his poetry as un-Islamic.

There are allegations that in his ghazals, he has mocked at Ulema. First of all, there is nothing objectionable about these couplets. Such thoughts abound in Urdu poetry. In fact, Urdu poetry has been historically liberal and only those with no understanding of literature can make such a hue and cry over these couplets.

Meer, Ghalib and other greats took much greater liberty with religion. Had they been in our times they would have been labelled as 'mushrik/mulhid' innumerable times and God knows what would have happened to them.

What surprises me is that this is just a non-issue and there is hardly anything worth a protest in these couplets. Now Manglori is showing his divan to all and sundry to prove that he is not anti-Muslim. As far as Ulema is concerned, the Sheikh/Naseh/Waaez has always been a target in poetry.

Manglori says that his family has been associated with the dargaah at Kaliar Sharif and affirms that he believes in Islam.

With these couplets here on the left, he proves his credentials. In fact, they could also be used to accuse him of blasphemy.

He should also realise that these are no less dangerous because many people would not know that the metaphors of intoxication are commonly used to express devotion to the beloved who can be anyone including a holy person.

Yes, even these couplets, who knows, might provoke those who don't understand an iota of literature and poetry but when it comes to criticism they are always ready to jump the gun. I wish those who protest like organisations of Bijnore, Najibabad and Rampur, would have done this kind of 'bayaanbaazi and akhbaarbaazi' for victims of Hashimpura or some other cause.

Or, at least, they should read classical poetry and improve their Urdu.