Allah Hafiz

March 20, 2020


APROPOS Dr Rauf Parekh’s column ‘Allah Hafiz’ was first used 180 years ago, not in 1986’ (Dawn Metro South, March 16). It is not the age of the two idioms which is at issue, but their usage. Allah Hafiz and Khuda Hafiz are contemporaneous but are used in two different situations.

Allah Hafiz is an admonition. A person has done something daring or ruinous that only Allah can protect him/her. This is borne out by the topmost entry reproduced by Dr Rauf Parekh. Pahanta hai woh gul phoolon ka gajra/ Gulabi ka bas ab Allah Hafiz. (The flower is wearing a garland/ Now only Allah is Pink’s protector)

Khuda Hafiz is an idiom employed while bidding someone farewell as per the topmost entry given by Dr Parekh. The meaning of Khuda Hafiz is given as rukhsat karne ke mauqe par musta’mil is used while bidding someone farewell. The synonyms are fi aman Allah in Arabic, while in Urdu it is Allah ko sonpa (in Allah’s protection), and consigned to Allah. There is no cultural aversion to the divine name, but only deference to how a language evolves.

If the line had stopped at Allah Hafiz there might have been something to Dr Parekh’s contention, but since it does not, it does not. ‘May God be with you’ may have the same meaning as good bye, but they are not idiomatic equivalents.

Dr Muhammad Reza Kazimi

Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2020