Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hum Bhi Dekhenge (We Shall also See)

14th August has been celebrated annually with pride and fervor by Pakistanis around the globe since the year 1947 to mark the country's birth and freedom from British rule. Today marks the 68th Independence Day of Pakistan, a time when once again its countrymen are rising in patriotism, this time to free themselves from the corrupt politicians who have been slandering the country's interests. I believe this is a time for celebration and hope because it means the Pakistani people will no longer submit to slavery or accept their basic rights being abused. I am obviously a supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, under the leadership of Imran Khan, because I am tired of the shameless, blatant corruption of the previous politicians. How people can sleep peacefully in the warm beds of their huge mansions after eating up money of the poor, suffering, starving masses is beyond my comprehension, and beyond the dignity of humanity. Yet this very thing is happening, and is in fact shamefully prevalent. So far only Imran Khan has had the courage to stand up to these powerful evil politicians and such leaders are rare so they should be supported. I wish their Azadi March today success and the best of luck.

To make the 68th Independence Day of Pakistan, I would like to share a poem by the great Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984).  I have previously blogged about this national hero on my blog post Behind the Magic in his Words and have also mentioned him in my blog post Poetry. His poems are great works of art, and I believe his poem 'Hum Bhi Dekenge' is aptly appropriate for today. I will share his poem in Urdu, and then provide an English translation by Mustansir Dalvi that I found on the internet. The original poem in Urdu is:

Laazim hai ki hum bhi dekhenge
Woh din jiskaa ke waada hai,
Jo lau-e-azl mein likha hai

Jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-garaan
Rooi ki tarah udd jaayenge,

Hum mehkoomon ke paaon tale
jab dharti dhad dhad dhadkegi,

Aur ahl-e-hukam ke sar oopar
Jab bijli kad kad kadkegi,

Jab arz-e-khudaa ke kaabe se
Sab but uthwaaey jaayenge,

Hum ahl-e-safaa mardood-e-haram
Masnad pe bithaaey jaayenge.

Sab taaj uchaaley jaayenge.
Sab takht giraaey jayyenge.

Bas naam rahega Allah kaa,
Jo ghaayab bhi hai, haazir bhi,
Jo manzar bhi hai, naazir bhi.

Utthegaa ‘An-al-haq’ kaa naara
Jo main bhi hoon, aur tum bhi ho,

Aur raaj karegi Khalq-e-Khuda
Jo mai bhi hoon, aur tum bhi ho.

-Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A translation of the above poem is given below. I got this off the internet and the credits go to Mustansir Dalvi.

Inevitably, we shall also see the day
that was promised to us, decreed
on the tablet of eternity.

When dark peaks of torment and tyranny
will be blown away like cotton fluff;

When the earth’s beating, beating  heart
will pulsate beneath our broken feet;

When crackling, crashing lightning
will smite the heads of our tormentors;

When, from the seat of the Almighty
every pedestal will lie displaced;

Then, the dispossessed we; we,
who kept the faith will be installed
to our inalienable legacy.
Every crown will be flung.
Each throne brought down.

Only His name will remain; He,
who is both unseen, and ubiquitous; He,
who is both the vision and the beholder.

When the clarion call of ‘I am Truth’
(the truth that is me and the truth that is you)
will ring out, all God’s creatures will rule,
those like me and those like you.

Personally I can't wait to see the dawn of such a day. Hopefully that day will come soon and so I end this post with a heartfelt Pakistan Zindabad.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The World of No Place, No Time

Wise people from millennia have tried to decipher the meaning of life. Some have agonized upon this mystery so much that they have made their mark on history. There are those who have reached enlightenment and have been in direct contact with the Divine. The answers these people have come up with, be in prophets, philosophers, sages etc. have striking similarities and yet stark differences. Certain religions quote life to be a one time test, whilst other religions speak of reincarnation. Conventional Science explains life to be a mere coincidence due to the Big Bang and Darwinian evolution whereas new age Quantum Physics talks about energy and parallel universes. Chinese philosophy talks about how everything has an exact opposite, the Yin and Yang theory. Life does have an opposite, which is a very certain thing everyone agrees upon: Death. Yet is it really the end or is it just a transition? Why is it such a mystery? Some answers we may never know.

I remember when I was a sophomore in university, I took a course on Islamic Spirituality. My maternal uncle had died a year before whom my brothers and I were very close to. He had no children of his own and loved us as if we were his kids. My course instructor was Sheikh Kamaludin who is now quite well known for his lectures around the world, from what I hear from people. Yet at that time, he was teaching his first course in Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). I remember he was a great orater, he had the power to make most students laugh or cry, with almost all of them hanging on each and every word he uttered. I just took this one course from him, and respect him for he was a teacher but I personally prefer a much more moderate view of Islam.

I asked him if people who have died can still see us who are alive. He pondered on my question for a few minutes before answering that he was unsure of the answer. He said it would be painful for the people who have passed away to see their loved ones in this world, especially if they were mourning about their death. Maybe they don't even remember the ones they have left behind. Yet he couldn't be sure, only Allah knew the truth.

I was probably seeking some comforting reference in religion that everyone who has lost a loved one would want about how people who died were happy souls flying around with the angels. So I was a bit perturbed at the answer, which on hindsight I shouldn't have been since the teacher himself didn't know. Life after death is one of the biggest mysteries in this world after all. When my mom passed away few years later, I started reading Rumi because I found comfort in his words and I have always had a soft side for poetry. I believe the positivity and hope in Rumi's poetry gave me the strength to carry on. I especially like what he has to say about life after death. I know that when my time comes, I would want my loved ones to think of me as just transitioning from my human body to eternal love, a world of no time and no place.

On the day that I die,
When my coffin is being taken out,
you must never think I am missing this world.

Don't shed any tears,
Don't lament or feel sorry.
I am not falling into a monsters abyss.

When you see my corpse being carried,
Don't cry for my leaving.
I am not leaving: I am arriving at eternal love.

When you leave me in the grave,
Don't say goodbye.
Remember a grave is only a curtain for the paradise behind.

You'll only see me descending into a grave,
Now watch me rise.
How can there be an end when the sun sets or the moon goes down.

It looks like the end,
It looks like sunset but in reality it is dawn.
When the grave locks you up that is when your soul is freed.

Have you ever seen a seed fallen to earth,
Not rise with a new life?
Why should you doubt the rise of a seed named human?

Have you ever seen a bucket lowered into a well coming back empty?
Why lament for a soul,
When it can come back like Joseph from the well.

When for the last time you close your mouth,
Your words and soul will belong,
To the world of no place and no time.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Dream Within a Dream

One of the great paradoxes of life is that no matter how fully you live it, it will eventually run out of time. In that sense, it can be said to possess a dream like quality. Dreams may be vivid, seem magical  and real but the truth of the matter is that they occur in a state of slumber in our mind, ending abruptly upon being awakened. The great writer Edgar Allan Poe takes this concept and wonders if life may also be an illusion of our imagination, similar to a dream in his poem 'A Dream Within a Dream.' Ordinarily, I am not the biggest fan of Edgar Allan Poe's writings, since his work is a bit 'dark' for me. Nonetheless I admire how he has captured the irony of how time is always slipping away and yet there is nothing man can do about it. Life is finite, and that makes one question what is real, since whatever is real must be infinite. Maybe life really is an illusion and a dream. 

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow —
You are not wrong, who deem,
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away,
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amidst the roar,
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand,
Grains of the golden sand —
How few! yet how they creep,
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep — while I weep!
O God! Can I not grasp,
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save,
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem,
But a dream within a dream?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Here I am

Muslims around the globe are celebrating the blessed month of Ramadan, in which the Holy Quran was revealed as a complete and thorough guide to life. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calender and is a month where fasting is observed by Muslims from dawn till dusk. Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal and also prayer.

I recently stumbled upon this beautiful poem by the great Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi. It reminded me of how many devout Muslims around the world spend their days and nights in prayer in remembrance of Allah. I am sure majority of them have strong faith but for those few who may wonder about the answer to their calls, this is a heart warming story.

'All night, a man called “Allah”,
Until his lips were bleeding.
Then the Devil said, “Hey! Mr Gullible!
How comes you’ve been calling all night?
And never once heard Allah say, “Here, I am”?
You call out so earnestly and, in reply, what?
I’ll tell you what. Nothing!”

The man suddenly felt empty and abandoned.
Depressed, he threw himself on the ground.
And fell into a deep sleep.
In a dream, he met Abraham, who asked,
“Why are you regretting praising Allah?”

The man said, “ I called and called,
But Allah never replied, “Here I am.”
Abraham explained, “Allah has said,
“Your calling my name is My reply.
Your longing for Me is My message to you.
All your attempts to reach Me
Are in reality My attempts to reach you.
Your fear and love are a noose to catch Me.
In the silence surrounding every call of “Allah”
Waits a thousand replies of “Here I am.”

- Rumi

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rumi and Ramadan

The blessed month of Ramadan is here. It is a special month for Muslims, in which the holy book of Islam, The Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. The Quran is said to be a complete and timeless guide to living for mankind. Muslims around the world observe Ramadan by fasting from dawn till dusk, praying and overall following the five pillars of Islam. It is a time of spiritual renewal and also a blessed month free from satan who is caged away in hell by God.

Here are some words of wisdom on Ramadan by the wise Sufi poet Jalaluddin Rumi:

O moon-faced Beloved,
The month of Ramadan has arrived.
Cover the table,
And open the path of praise.

O fickle busybody,
It’s time to change your ways.
Can you see the one who’s selling the halvah?
How long will it be the halvah you desire?

Just a glimpse of the halvah-maker,
Has made you so sweet even honey says,
"I’ll put myself beneath your feet, like soil;
I’ll worship at your shrine.”

Your chick frets within the egg,
With all your eating and choking.
Break out of your shell that your wings may grow.
Let yourself fly.

The lips of the Master are parched,
From calling the Beloved.
The sound of your call resounds,
Through the horn of your empty belly.

Let nothing be inside of you.
Be empty: give your lips to the lips of the reed.
When like a reed you fill with His breath,
Then you’ll taste sweetness.

Sweetness is hidden in the Breath,
That fills the reed.
Be like Mary – by that sweet breath,
A child grew within her.

- Rumi

I wish everyone a blessed month of Ramadan. Ramadan Kareem.