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Controversy over poet Ali Haider!

KULIYAT-I-SALEH MUHAMMAD SAFOORI plus Supplement on Mai Safoora tey Ali Haider; by Sahibzada Yousuf Tahir; pp 240; Price Rs300(hb); Publishers; Maktaba-i-Safooria, Ideal School Building, Abdul Hakeem Shehr, district Khanewal.

Sahibzada Yousuf Tahir 'invaded' the city of Lahore with a book of poetry by one of his ancestors Haji Muhammad Safoori. This was the versified story of Sassi Punnu, a folk story from Sindh which remained always popular with Punjabi poets. Haji Muhammad was the great grandson of Haji Saleh Muhammad, who was the son of saint Mai Safoora to whom great Punjabi poet Ali Haider had paid great tribute

Ali Haider himself was quite senior in age to Mai Safoora but a prominent scholar and teacher Shaukat Ali Qamar while writing a doctoral thesis on Ali Haider doubted whether Ali Haider had accepted the religious or spiritual position of Mai Safoora? That hurts Yousuf Tahir and he has come out with many historical, geographical, cultural and family tree, and official documents of Mughal and British period and thus questioned the credentials of Dr Shaukat Ali.

Whether Qamar had consulted the close members of the family or dynasty of Mai Safoora or not, Tahir Yousuf, asserts that every researcher should try his utmost to collect as many facts as from all the available sources. Perhaps that has not been done by Qamar. Thus, one of the six chapters of the book is about Ali Haider, his ancestors, his own learned position in the area where he was counted among the Qazi family.

Qamar is of the opinion that stories about Ali Haidar's devotion or respect for Mai Safoora had no foundation because Mai Sahiba was almost 54 years junior to the saint whose tomb was constructed in 1795 by the order of Multan's Afghan ruler Nawab Muzaffar Khan. According to the chronology quoted by Yousuf, Ali Haidar died some four years after the death of Mai Safoora. Ali Haidar died at the age of 98. There are some other controversial points which have been challenged by Yousuf and one among them is the position of Khwaja Noor Muhammad Maharvi and Ali Haidar before Fakhr-i-Jahan who came from Aurangabad to Delhi in 1751 when Ali Haidar was of 64 years, therefore, stories of Ali Haidar, Noor Muhammad Maharvi and Khwaja Fakhr-i-Jahan are baseless. Qamar according to the claim of the Qazi family in his research says that Ali Haidar was a Qureshi by caste. Yousuf says that Haidar was Sidhal Jat and the poet had himself called him Sidhal Jat. All Yousuf wants to say is that respected and learned Dr Qamar should have taken more pain while collecting information about the poet and his life.

All that was about one chapter of the book, the other five are about Mai Safoora and her elder son Saleh Muhammad Safoori whose father Noor Muhammad was cousin of his mother. Haji Saleh was a learned man and his first writing made public by Yousuf Tahir was a piece in Persian poetry about Sufi poet Baba Bulleh Shah who had visited Sufi Abdul Hakeem, a senior contemporary of Ali Haider and Mai Safoora. Bulleh Shah's visit to Hakeem was also mentioned by Khwaja Farid in Maqabeesul Majalis. That Persian Tazkara written by Saleh Muhammad is still in manuscript form and it requires more investment than perhaps Yousuf Tahir, the great grandson of Saleh could afford. Yousuf in this volume includes, the Punjabi works of his ancestor which consist of story of Sassi Punnu, story of Sohni Mahinwal, two si-harfis, two poetic tribute to Sufi Sultan Abdul Hakeem and Jati Abdal, one in memory of his mother Mai Safoora… all spread over 62 pages. Saleh Muhammad says about his mother:

Some of the other chapters of the book present a clear picture of the history of the area and the style of the life of the people and the close relationship between the different religious communities settled in Sidhnai belt of River Ravi.


KALAM PIR FAZAL GUJRATI edited by Dr Nabeela Rahman; pp 752; Price Rs800 (hb); Publishers, Maqsood Publishers, Jeelani Centre, Ahata Shahdarian, Urdu Bazaar, Lahore.

Born in the last decade of the 9th century, Pir Fazal Husain belonged to the family of the religious saint Shah Daula of Gujrat but his first collection of ghazals was published at the age of 67 and his second collection Takoran was also published in his lifetime while the collection of Hamd and Naats; Qutbi Tara and Punjabi da Qutbi Tara were published after his death. The last section of this book includes Fazal's unpublished poetry.

From Baba Farid, the founding father of Punjabi poetry to Mian Muhammad Bukhsh, ghazal never found favour with Punjabi poets. Two prominent poets Aurangzeb's contemporary Shah Murad wrote ghazal but in Urdu much before Wali Deccani and second was Khwaja Farid of Mitthan Kot who wrote a full Diwan of ghazals but in Urdu and never included any ghazal in his Punjabi/Seraiki collection published in his lifetime.Mian Muhammad was perhaps the first who composed verses in ghazal style in his verse story Safarul Ishq or Saiful Muluk and later on it were the poets from Peshawar like Ahmad Ali Saeen and Barda Peshawari who wrote ghazals and then their junior contemporaries like Maula Bukhsh Kushta and Pir Fazal Gujrati expressed themselves in ghazal genre. Maula Bukhsh Kushta wrote a Diwan which he claimed that it was the first ever Diwan in Punjabi but Pir has no such claim. First collection of ghazals Doohngay Painday was published in 1963 by Pir Sahib himself while his second collection Takoran was published by a publisher of his own city Gujrat in which he first included a ghazal with rhyme “Iqbal ghazal da”;

(That is the style of expressing his loyalty with ghazal). — STM

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