Stories about Allama Iqbal

Revisiting Josh Malihabadi’s tribute to Urdu on his 38th death anniversary

Shabbir Hasan Khan ‘Josh’ Malihabadi (1898-1982), who passed away 38 years ago today, was the patron saint of the Progressives, who conferred upon him the fond honorific Shaayar-e-Inquilab – the poet of revolution. And he returned the compliment in his own way by summing up the agenda of the Progressives pithily: “Kaam hai mera taghayyur, naam mera hai shabaab Mera naara inquilaab-o-inquilaab-o-inquilaab” (My name is youth, and upheaval is my mission My slogan: Revolution. Revolution. Revolution.) Josh was a freedom-fighter and was part of the movement which called for the end of British rule in India. Despite being close friends with Jawaharlal Nehru, and being awarded the ...

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In conversation with Pervez Hoodbhoy – Part 3: South Asian politics and culture

This conversation with Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers Pakistan’s education system. Part 2 discusses Pakistan’s language conundrum . Part 3 includes a conversation regarding South Asian politics and culture. ~ South Asian Politics and Culture Hassan Mirza (HM): Was India ever a proper democracy? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): India was a secular democracy in its first few decades but, like Pakistan, is now becoming a majoritarian democracy. That’s very dangerous for minorities. There’s a real danger of the two countries becoming mirror copies. For example, last year I arranged a talk by the anti-Modi Indian liberal politician, Mani Shankar Aiyar, at Forman Christian ...

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Has contemporary Urdu poetry lost its essence?

In Urdu literature, traditionally two concepts have remained dominant with regards to where creativity emanates from. The first is amad (spontaneity) and second is awrad (contrived). For a long time, the majority of Urdu writers, and the socio-cultural ethos in general, tilted more towards the amad theory, with Mirza Ghalib writing, “Aate hain ghaib se ye mazaameen khayaal mein Ghalib  sareer-e-Khaama nawaa-e-sarosh hai…” (The subjects (for my poetry) come to me from divine hidden sources, The scratching sound my pen makes resonates like the sound of angels) There were several writers who grappled with these ideas in Urdu literature, however they were not formally conceptualised until Muhammad Hussain Azad, ...

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Coke Studio: New season, new talent, new genres – but is that enough?

Coke Studio launched season 11 with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge, and let’s just say our expectations were sky high due to this beautiful rendition. We were thrilled that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community was represented on such a prominent platform, like any other artist. They showcased inclusiveness by involving various cultural backgrounds, along with certain renowned and raw talent, leaving us eager for more. However, perhaps we spoke too soon. Let’s take a look at all the tracks that have been released so far, starting from the best to the worst, based on my preference. Episode one: Shikwa/Jawab-e-Shikwa It is courageous in itself that Coke ...

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Happy 84th Birthday to Gulzar: 5 short poems for the 21st century revoluntionary

Gulzar remains one of the most influential, intellectual and cultural figures in the Indian subcontinent. His towering contributions as a poet, short-story writer, filmmaker, scriptwriter, lyricist and a story-writer for children are well-known. What is less well-known is the fact that he was born in the city of Dina, near Jhelum in Punjab, 13 years before the Partition. Today marks his 84th birthday, and thus the month of August is synonymous with the Partition of India as well as the birthday of Gulzar. Equally well-known is Gulzar’s love for both the Urdu language and Pakistan. As a birthday tribute, I have ...

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#ETBlogs plays Independence Day trivia: How well do you know Pakistan?

Like every year, celebrations for our Independence Day have begun full swing. Patriotism can be felt in the air, with brands airing special ads in honour of our 71 years and TV channels airing dramas with an added twist of nationalism. With the creation of ‘Naya Pakistan’ falling around the same time as the creation of the old one, perhaps this year is extra special in how much and how visibly we choose to declare our love for our country. However, as we step into Naya Pakistan, how well do we remember the old one? We took to the streets of Karachi ...

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How I jumped off the porch and wrote a book at the age of 21

When I was seven-years-old, I wrote a poem about a cat too afraid to jump off a three-foot porch. The cat’s name was Tom, and he was afraid of heights and thought he’d die if he made the jump. At the end of the two stanza poem, Tom makes the jump and realises he’s a fairly good jumper – as all cats are. From that day on, Tom isn’t afraid to jump off the porch. From that day on, Tom is brave. When I was 16-years-old, I fell in love with an amazing girl who would go on and break ...

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Today, Jinnah and Allama Iqbal’s noble profession is being held hostage by rogue elements

The practice of law is considered a noble profession in every society, pursued by those for whom reading, writing and interpreting sentences, words and even punctuation marks is second nature. Lawyers breathe life into the sacrosanct Constitution and other legislated statutes, construing them in different ways when presenting their cases before judges. The reverence for legal practice lies precisely within this sophistication. Today, the profession of Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal is being held hostage by a few rogue elements that have slowly crept into the system. Misbehaving with judges and locking them up in their chambers is now a ...

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The tales of Karachi’s love for old books

We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there ...

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I think, pray and speak in English, so why should I speak to my children in Urdu?

My twins are almost three-years-old and they can’t speak Urdu, my ‘mother tongue’. They hear it being spoken around the house, and occasionally I may try to converse with them in Urdu but truth be told, it doesn’t come naturally. As first-time parents, we did get the infamous lecture that we should only speak to our children in Urdu or else they will never be able to speak the language. People would say, “Don’t worry, they will learn English at school but you must speak to them in Urdu.” The common fear is that our children will drift away from their cultural heritage. Most people believe that language is what will keep our ...

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