Faiz and the Times

He was the master of Ghazal
Faiz and the Times
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On 2nd of December 2020, the Boston Mayor Joseph M Petty announced that from now on November 20 (the date of death) will be celebrated as Faiz Ahmed Faiz Day officially, to pay homage to the great poet. Mayor further stated that “the services of Faiz Ahmed Faiz in the field of literature and culture are exemplary, particularly he is hailed as ‘poet of peace’ and we admire his great anthems of peace and love.”

South Asia’s literary soil has been greatly fertile as it has produced so many great names in art and literature, whose works have played a significant role in making this world a better and beautiful place. Undeniably, the name of the well-known poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is one of the most prominent names in the list of great writers globally.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) hardly needs to be introduced, the poet made the poetry as a channel—rather the only channel from home, confines and exile to make his point wide. There have been many poets across the world, who have tried to make sense with written record called poetry. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, is one such poet whose name often comes when the caravan of great Urdu poets is recalled. Credited after third to Ghalib, and Iqbal, Faiz remained a strong voice that is being studied, researched, and sung across globe. The main feature of Faiz’s poetry is that he opened the new horizons for Urdu poetry by bringing revolutionary ideas to it. He changed the subject matter of Urdu Ghazal, by incorporating novel ideas without losing its taste. His use of metaphorical language is to defeat the system of dentation, while every word is being securitized. Faiz is able to create a room of lovers and revolutionary in one cell, rather in one word, where sometimes it becomes difficult to distinguish between the beloved and the nation. A romantic by heart, a rebel by choice, he became the romantic rebel in the eyes of great scholars like Agha Shahid, Shiv K Kumar etc.

Poetry for him was an act of resistance, and salvation too. It is against all kinds of injustice, inequality and oppression. Faiz was no stranger to sufferings, and hardships that his poetry may cause. Writing poetry for him was a source of consolation and solace from hardships and ordeals, as famous Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad writes in one of his poems; “how sweets are the poems in the times of hardship”. Faiz’s poetry is not only made out of words, but are deeply cries of his feelings and emotions for the cause of every man’s concerns. His concern for society is more than that of his personal, and that is why he famously wrote, “and here are other sorrows than this love”. While paying good bye to traditional love, he never forgets or underestimates erstwhile beloved, nonetheless conveys that his former love is still beautiful, however, the poet is now occupied with other concerns, which are now dearer to him.

The romantic rebel, chose the long spells of imprisonment and exile but never bowed in front of the power. Neither incarceration nor exile could stop him from writing poetry, like a warrior, he did what Pablo Neruda once wrote; “broke the prison walls//, that hold you in.” He carried his defiance against all kinds of tranny. For him these tortures and sufferings are transitory, and he echoed, “gar aj auj pe hai tale-reqeeb to kya baat//ye char din ki khudaia koi baat nahie// affirming his strong belief in the ruin of oppressors, and thereby ascertaining a hope to the hopeless masses. A voice to the voiceless, Faiz remained a rebel throughout his life, championing the cause of freedom.

There are hundreds of examples when Faiz is then and now related to the contemporary world making him a universal poet. Many of his poems are on the lips of lovers and revolutionaries like Hum dekiengay gay, Bol li lab azad hai teray, Muj sai pehli si muhabbat, Gulon main rang bhare, Dil na Umeed to nahin nakam hi to hai, etc. Faiz’s universalism could be argued from his poems like, a Aajavo africa’, Ek Taraana Filastini Mujaahidon Ke Naam, etc.

Reading Faiz fills the vacuum in the hearts of lovers and revolutionaries alike. Similarly, Faiz’s poetry has such oeuvre and power that beyond the South Asian scholarship, American and European scholars have taken equal interest in studying his poetry and art. Times unforgettable poet Faiz is.

Ahsan ul Haq, Assistant Professor, Higher Education, J&K

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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