KARACHI: Urdu poetry lovers on Tuesday had a wonderful time listening to delectable sulasis, nazms and ghazals by distinguished poet Himayat Ali Shaer at an event organised in his honour by the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu at its office.
Shaer, who now resides in Canada and is in Pakistan on a personal visit, before reciting his poetry, delivered a rather lengthy speech to emphasise the importance of languages in society.
He claimed the Anjuman was originally founded in Aurangabad, his birthplace. India had a beautiful geography and significant history, he said, adding that the element of civilisation was vital to history. For 700 years, Persian was the dominant language in India because of the ruling Muslims, but basically it had not emerged from Indian soil. Indian Muslims, due to their faith, were also familiar with the Arabic language. However, not many were cognisant of the vastness of Arabic. Since both languages had common aspects in terms of script, Persian became dominant. Persian influenced culture, literature and values and had the Urdu language as its legacy (virsa). Urdu replaced Hindi which was why Hindi did not remain in use. Unfortunately both languages were associated with the respective faiths. Muslims were linked with Urdu and non-Muslims with Hindi, which was a wrong practice. The poet wished Muslims were also well-versed in Hindi.
Shaer told the audience that today’s Muslims in India had also begun to learn Hindi. Even in Hindi the greatest literature existed in Sanskrit.
“Languages have nothing to do with religions; they have a connection with civilisations, not religions,” he commented.
He lamented that the Urdu-speaking lot which migrated from India to Pakistan after partition and settled in Sindh did not learn Sindhi.
Shaer then read out some sulasis, a three-line poem invented by himself. The first one was related to the topic he waxed eloquent on:
Aalim thay ya kamal thay, ahl-i-kitab thay
Aankhein khuleen to apni haqeeqat bhi khul gaee
Alfaz ke lihaf mein hum mehv-i-khwaab thay
(We thought we were learned, enlightened people
But when we woke up, reality dawned on us:
We were asleep, covered by a quilt of words)
Shaer gave the title ‘secularism’ to the following sulasi:
Is dukh bharay jahan mein koee kahan rahay
Girja ho, gurdwara ho, mandir ho ya haram
Jis ko jahan sukoon miley wo wahan rahay
(Where shall one live in this grief-stricken world?
Be it church, gurdwara, temple or haram
One should live wherever there is peace)
The sulasis were followed by a
nazm ‘Puraney Silsiley Aur Naey Rastay’ and ghazals.
Journalist Mehmood Shaam, who was the chief guest, talked about his recent trip to India when he also visited the region where Shaer was born.
Prof Sahar Ansari recalled his first meeting with the poet. He shed light on Aurangabad’s contribution to the Anjuman and Shaer’s various creative achievements, including his autobiography Aaena dar Aaena and quite a few poetry collections. As Mr Ansari often does to enrich poetry lovers, he quoted one of Shaer’s couplets:
Wo musht-i-khaak hava ne jisay bakhair dia
Samaitnay ki tug-o-dau hai, aadmi kia hai
(Man is nothing but an endeavour to gather
The fistful of dust which the wind scattered)
Prof Dr Shadab Ehsani spoke on the remarkable songs that Shaer wrote for Pakistani films, which Dr Eshani said had literary flair.
Manzar Ayubi talked about his personal association with the poet.
Aftab Ahmed Khan thanked the audience for turning up. Azfar Rizvi conducted the programme.—Peerzada Salman