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DAWN - Features; January 14, 2003

January 14, 2003

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Selected poetry of Iqbal in Pakistani languages

To use the oft-repeated quotation from Robert Frost that “poetry is what is lost in translation”, may, indeed, be all the more true in case of a great poet like Allama Iqbal.

But the Allama Iqbal Open University does not seem to be daunted by the challenge. Dr Inamul Haq Javaid, Chairman Pakistani Languages Department of the University has compiled translations of Iqbal’s well-known Shikwa wa Jawab-e-Shikwa, his poem Marde Musalmaan and one of his ghazals

Phir chirghe lala say roshan hoay koh-ho daman,

mujh ko phir naghmon pay uksanay laga murgh-i-chaman in a book of Iqbal’s translations in Pakistani languages.

There are translations in Punjabi, Sindhi, Pushto, Balochi, Brahvi, Seraiki, Balti, Kashmiri ,Burushaski, Shina and Khowar. No wonder the preface deals at length with the various views of difficulties in translations and even mentions the hackneyed French view (are any feminist activists reading?) that “translations are like women; when they are faithful they are not beautiful, when they are beautiful they are not faithful.” The author tells us that there is quite a long tradition of the translations of Iqbal’s poems in Punjabi and, as of now, apart from books in prose written by the great poet, his translations of poems written in Urdu and Persian have been published in the language. For instance, seven different translations of Shikwa and Jawab-i-shikwa are already available. The translation of Shikwa included in the book is by Pirzada Fazal Ahmad Farooqui, who besides being a poet of substance in Punjabi used to move in the company of luminaries like Maulana Ghulam Qadir Girami and Hafeez Jullundhuri. This was the first Urdu translation that had been published even during Allam’s life. It was later published in 1964 by Punjabi Adabi Academy Lahore, along with a detailed preface by Dr Gohar Naushahi. (It is said that the translation was presented to Iqbal at a literary meeting in Jullundhur.) Ahmad Hasan Qureshi Qiladari has translated the shikwas,and Aseer Abid Punjabi the nazam and ghazal of Iqbal.

Translations of Iqbal in the Sindhi language had come out even during the poet’s life, and the first such attempts was the translation of Islami quomi tarana by the famous poet and litterateur of Sindhi language, Shamsul Ulema Mirza Qaleech Beg in 1920. The translation used to be recited during assemblies in schools of Sindh. It became the most popular tarana in the province during the Pakistan Movement. Translations of some poems of Iqbal have also been done by Shaikh Ayaz, Agha Gul Hasan, Shamsherul Haideri, Ghulam Ahmad Nizami, Shabaan Bakht and others. Shabaan Bakht’s translation of shikwa and jawab-e-shikwa have been included, while the translations of the nazam and ghazal are by a Sindhi scholar and poet Mehboob Sarwari.

Pushto translations of Iqbal had started appearing during his lifetime. Four translations of shikwa and jawab-e-shikwa have already been published. Hakim Maulvi Sahab Gil of Mardan published one under the name Gila jawab da gilay which was published six years after the death of Iqbal, and the second by Abdul Manan of Charsadda was published in 1945. The translation of the shikwa and jawab-e-shikwa in the book are among the earliest translation done during the publication of the original by Syed Rahat Zaghli, who died in 1963. Translations by Syed Taqvimul Haq of the nazam and by Abdullah Jan of the ghazal have also been included.

In Balochi, translation of Iqbal and books written about him by Mir Mitha Khan Marri like dar Gaal-e-Iqbal and Ghaus Bakhsh Sabir’s books Lal-e-Liqa, Do Shageen Kaif and Allama Iqbal are well-known. The late Malik Mohammad Ramzan had also done a translation of the shikwas, as also Dr Fazle Khalif, which have not yet been published. The translations of shikwa and Jawab-e-shikwa by Wahid Bozdar, a Balochi scholar who teaches at the Quaid-i-Azam University, while Ghaus Bakhsh Sabir’s translation of the ghazal of Iqbal have been included in the book. Much has been written on Iqbal in Brahvi and names of Dr Abdul Rehman Brahvi, Pir Mohammad Zebrani and Wahid Zubair are well-known; and the two shikwas have also been translated. In the book it is the one by poet and scholar Jauhar Brahavi. Abdus Samad Shaheen’s translation of Marde Musalmaan and young poet and scholar Hussain Baksh Sajid’s translation of the ghazal have been published.

More than one translations of Iqbal have been done in Seraiki, including of shikwas by Dr Ayaz Ahmad Suharwardy, which has been included in the book. The nazam and ghazal of Iqbal have been translated by a poet representing the young generation of poets of substance Asghar Abid, who has also written a number of books, including a biography of the Quaid in poetry.

Balti is one of the important languages of a large number of people spoken in Baltistan, Northern Areas. It is now written in Persian script (its original script was called “agay” but in the fourteenth century due to the spread of Islam the court language Persian became an inseparable part of the language. Translation of the senior Balti poet Shamim Baltistani from his book Baraq Shang, published by the Iqbal Academy, has been included.

Translation in the Kashmiri language by Syed Ghulam Qadir Indrabi, a well-known scholar and poet in Kashmiri (who has also translated Baal-i-Jibreel and Pas chey kard aiy Aqwame Sharq of Iqbal) of the ghazal and Mushtaq Kashmiri’s translation of nazam have been included

Burushaski is spoken in Hunza, Nagar and Yasin, besides neighbouring areas where a number of people also speak it. Alwaiz Ghulamuddin Ghulam, famous for his mystic poetry, has translated Iqbal’s ghazal, while Ghulam Qadir Baig, a broadcaster has translated the poem.

Shina, another important language of Northern Areas also gets a place in the book where Habibur Rehman Mushtaq, an important poet in Shina, who also writes poetry in Urdu, is the translator of the ghazal, and Jamshed Khan Dukhi the translator of the nazam.

Khuwar, one of the important languages of the people in Chitral, Ghizer District of Northern Areas, has been known to be the Durri branch of the Indo-Aryan languages. More than 500,000 people speak this language. Mohammad Irfan Irfan, a poet in Urdu, Persian and Khuwar has translated the poetry of Iqbal.

Shikwa is the “complaint” of Iqbal to God on behalf of the Muslim Ummat about its plight in days that the great poet lived. The “response to the complaint” is, as it were, the reply form the Heavens as to why it has been so!—Mufti Jamiluddin Ahmad

Sugarcane purchase crisis continues

KAWISH writes that as the owners of sugar mills in Sindh have continuously refused to pay the government-fixed price for sugarcane, the growers have been compelled to take to the streets. The sugarcane growers blocked the National Highway by staging a sit-in at Qazi Ahmed on Friday.

At a tripartite meeting of the representatives of the mill owners, the farmers and the Sindh government, held earlier this month, it was unanimously decided that the mills would pay Rs40 for 40kg of sugarcane to the growers of Nawabshah, Naushahro Feroze and Khairpur districts for two months, while the farmers of the lower Sindh would be paid Rs43 for 40kg of sugarcane.

However, the managements of sugar mills in the three districts have refused to pay even the reduced rate and insisted on paying only Rs36 for 40kg of sugarcane. Similarly, sugar mills of the lower Sindh are also not willing to pay the agreed rate to growers.

As far as the Sindh government is concerned, it seems to be unable to implement its decision regarding the price of sugarcane. It has called another meeting on Jan 26 to resolve the crisis, which implies that the sugarcane crushing would be late by another fortnight in the province. Under the circumstances, the crushing season, which should have begun in mid-October, has not started yet despite the lapsing of three months. This period is enough to cultivate and harvest another crop.

The situation may not only cause an unbearable loss to the growers of Sindh, who are already facing a tough time because of water shortage, it may also lead to a crisis for sugar next year.

The refusal of sugar mills to offer growers a just price for their sugarcane can lead the latter to switch over to other crops next year. It will mean no sugarcane for the mills to crush and consequently a shortage of sugar in the country.

To avoid the predicament, the Sindh government should, on the one hand, ensure the payment of the sugarcane price fixed by it to the growers, and, on the other, it should make a clear policy to prevent the crisis from resurfacing.

Sach adds that all over the world countries take various measures to control prices of agricultural produce. For instance, the USA dumps huge stocks of wheat into the sea to help stabilize the price of the crop. Perhaps, ours is the only country which lacks any mechanism to control prices of crops.

The crisis of sugarcane purchase highlights the need for a permanent mechanism to control crop prices.

Tameer-i-Sindh writes that the Sindh cabinet, at its first session, has decided to ask the federation to provide the province with the due share of the divisible pool according to the income generated by it.

It is a most welcome decision, but the Sindh government should also take up other issues related with the province’s sources of income before the Centre. The issues include that of establishment of dry ports in upcountry, which transfers Sindh’s source of income to other provinces, and the recovery of highway taxes by Islamabad.

Ibrat writes that Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad and Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Mahar have stressed the need for a better coordination between the province and the Centre.

The coordination is important since several problems of Sindh, water shortage being the most crucial among them, cannot be resolved without the intervention of the federation.

Similarly, the Sindh government has also announced to develop a working relationship with the opposition in the provincial assembly, which is necessary to strengthen the democratic set-up in the province.