Stories about Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The sad tale of Delhi: As narrated by its bards – Part 1

Bad times have befallen Delhi again. The capital of India has been in the news lately because of the widespread protests by citizens and students across the communal, linguistic, cultural and religious divides which have come to the forefront ever since the promulgation of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed by the Narendra Modi government. Delhi has been the site of protests, most of them congregating in and around the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), the Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh. Interestingly, the protest poems of Pakistani resistance poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib have become very popular ...

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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 2: Pakistan’s language conundrum

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. ~ Pakistan’s Language Conundrum Hassan Mirza (HM): The English language continues to dominate South Asia in many spheres of life, and its authority is almost unchallenged by many of the local languages. Will Urdu (also Hindi in India) fade away in a century’s time and be replaced by English completely in Pakistan (and in India)? What is the future of Urdu and Hindi? Pervez Hoodbhoy (PH): Urdu is certainly not fading ...

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Celebrating Faiz’s 109th birthday by remembering his defiant political anthem

The great poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-84), whose 109th birthday is being celebrated today, was a staunch communist. He had written his famous poem “Hum Dekhenge” (We Will See) in January, 1979 during a time of great political upheaval in Pakistan. With the rise of General Ziaul Haq and the sweeping changes which his regime would bring to the social fabric of the country, the poem served as a potent challenge to the years of dictatorial rule which were to follow. However, the poem remains just as prescient today as it was back in 1979, not just in Pakistan but perhaps for the ...

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Kishwar Naheed’s moving tribute to Asma Jahangir: “Asma! You are immortal”

Today marks the second death anniversary of arch-feminist and champion of human rights, Asma Jahangir. Her staunch commitment to the ideals which she believed in won her many admirers but also many detractors. Even after her passing, she continues to be deified around the world yet demonised by many in her native country. However, the truth is that we in this nation have never needed her more than we do now because intolerance, bigotry, censorship, and creeping authoritarianism are rife in Pakistan. Hence, not only is it important to remember her steadfast contributions to the country but it is equally important to ensure that we continue ...

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Islam’s mythopoetic conundrum

One of the unique traits of the Pakistani masses in general, and the ‘intellectuals’ in particular, is the arbitrary use of concepts without exploring their epistemological basis, resulting in a collective failure to explore the true depths of the different facets of life. It also explains our unwillingness to venture into domains which have thus remained unexplored. Though religion is the preferred topic of discussion for many, we remain largely ignorant about the topic because of a reluctance to truly engage with the religious corpus. For a clear understanding of religion, it is imperative to explain the nature of religious language and critically analyse different approaches, including theology, ...

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The indivisible relationship of Urdu and Karbala

Karbala is an event that carries no parallels and transcends beyond time and space. There have been several incidents where people have lost lives and families have been destroyed. However, Karbala is different; the events of Karbala are categorised as a climax of collective spatial and temporal oppression. At one time, in one location, all the violence that can possibly take place came together. The tale of this tragedy is never ending. Translated in different languages, it has inspired many people all over the world. However, the relationship of Karbala with Urdu is unique. As soon as Muharram starts, we ...

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Nandita Das does justice to the iconoclastic Manto in a way Sarmad Khoosat could not

Viewing the trailer of Nandita Das’s Manto was a great pleasure, especially since prior to seeing Sarmad Khoosat’s biopic of Saadat Hasan Manto released in 2015, I had not seen its trailer. Comparisons of Das’s version with Khoosat’s trailer will seem inevitable, even much-needed, given what the respective directors and main actors are trying to prove in a short span of less than three minutes, if the trailers are to be believed. Das’s Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, comes across as an iconoclast and a rebel right from the opening scene of the trailer, where Manto is shown to be in ...

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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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Coke Studio season 11 shows how beautifully diverse Pakistan is

In the midst of an agonising election season, and after the incredible success of Coke Studio Explorer, we just witnessed the release of the Coke Studio season 11 trailer. Leaving us utterly speechless with its ravishing and inclusive rendition of ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the song previewed many of the artists who will make their Coke Studio debut this season. Coke Studio has perhaps finally caught on to showcasing new artists that needed mainstream public attention for so long. These new artists are not only well-versed in their melodic symphonies, but also carry a cultural reminder, exemplifying what Pakistan’s ...

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