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KARACHI: Fehmida renders Rumi’s verses

February 17, 2007

KARACHI, Feb 16: The Literary Committee of the Karachi Press Club and the Women’s Action Forum organised an evening with eminent poetess Fehmida Riaz at the KPC’s lawn on Friday.

The well-attended programme was arranged in connection with the Pakistani Women’s Day, which is observed every February 12 to remember the women’s protest for their rights during General Zia’s regime in 1983.

The programme ended with a revelation to the fans and critics of the most revered poetess for the feminists when they saw her reciting the poetry of 13th Century Sufi Persian poet Maulana Jalaluddin Mohammed Rumi, the part of which she has lately translated in Urdu.

According to her, Rumi created those verses in love of his master Shams Tabrez and they were so rhythmic in their content that Rumi was himself whirling and dancing while reciting them. Such was the situation that later his followers, known as whirling dervishes, formed the Mevlevi Order, famous for their practice of whirling as a form of zikr (remembrance of Allah).

Fehmida Riaz said she never sang her poetry but she could not help her singing Rumi’s – both Persian and translated Urdu – and in the end the evening virtually became the launching ceremony of her latest book of the translation of Rumi’s Dewan-i-Shams Tabrez.

Famous for her left-oriented stance and Marxist approach, Ms Riaz said she did not know what Sufism really was, but if it was what Rumi depicted in his poetry it was not at all against life.

“Such poetry is not against the life. Instead it brings its readers and singers to the goal of life. It is a medium, which joins both spirit and matter,” she said.

She said she had no materialistic assets but what she got in the process was great for her to cherish for life.

Poetess Fatima Hasan said Ms Riaz had depicted a woman who had been denied any representation in the society.

Writer Asif Farrukhi spoke about Fehmida Riaz’s role as a poetess, prose writer and translator. Mujahid Barelvi and Anis Haroon spoke about their past relations with the poetess.

Poet Fazil Jamili said Fehmida could not be confined as a poetess of women, but she had similar stature as other great poets of resistance enjoyed. Poetess Atiya Dawood conducted the proceedings.