PESHAWAR: Writers and poets at a literary event paid a tribute to Sufi poet Amir Hamza Baba and remembered him as a great peace poet.

A literary organisation, Hamza Baba Pashto Adabi Tolana, in collaboration with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa culture directorate organised the event to mark the Baba’s death anniversary at Nishtar Hall here on Saturday.

Fiction writer and spiritual successor of Hamza Baba, Syed Tahir Bukhari, in his inaugural speech said that Hamza Baba had not only contributed to Pashto, but also to peace. A large number of writers, poets, research scholars, intellectuals, students and fans of Hamza Baba attended the function. The event was devoted to three sessions; poetic tribute, paper presentation and Sufi musical concert.

Poets, writers present tribute to the Sufi poet at a literary function

Around 30 poets paid their poetic tribute to the legendary poet while 10 scholars read out papers on different aspects of Baba’s life and services. Research scholars highlighted important features of the Sufi poet and hoped that young writers would explore him in true spirit. Chief organiser of the event, Naveed Alam Shalmani, presented the inaugural address and shed light on the objectives of his organisation.

Mr Bukhari said that Baba had advocated peace, humanism and mutual love in his writings.

He said that Baba had launched his writing career from composing verses in Urdu when he was in fifth grade, but on the advice of his spiritual guide, Syed Abdul Sattar Shah Bacha, he switched to Pashto. “We need to spread his message of peace as he was a great figure who promoted universalism and humanism owing to his Sufi thoughts and this is what we need today,” he said.

Prof Zubair Hasrat, director of Pakhtunkhwa Research Centre, in his paper said that Hamza Baba had pioneered many genres in Pashto from scripting first ever Pashto movie ‘Laila Majnoon’ in pre-partition era to the poetic travelogue in the modern age. He said that Baba had mastery over Urdu, Persian and Arabic too and he also contributed to the disciplines of philosophy, human psychology and anthology.

Muntazir Shinwari, a senior poet, dwelt on his long association with Hamza Baba and shared some memories with the audience. He said that Baba had never indulged in unnecessary debates. He said that being a spiritual guide himself Hamza Baba wanted a broadminded Pashtun society free from all kinds of prejudices. “Baba as a literary giant had explored new dimensions to use his talent for the unification of Pakhtuns. He promoted Pakhtun Sufism and merged it with romanticism,” he explained.

Kalimullah Kalim, grandson of Hamza Baba, said that Baba’s translation in other major languages of the world was cry of the time so that people could know his peace message. He said that substantive research on Baba’s work should be carried out to understand his deep thoughts. Dr Masood, a disciple of Hamza Baba, said that Sufi thoughts were reflective of Baba’s sublimity and creativity drenched in his imaginative flight.

“Most of Baba’s poetry and prose tell us that he was a Sufi par excellence in this turbulent time,” he remarked. Later, a musical concert was conducted in which folk singers, including Meena Gul, Shahsawar, Shaukat Mahmood, Lal Jan Ustad, Gul Sanam and Danyal Ahmad sang popular Sufi numbers of Hamza Baba.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2017