This moving poem by Faiz was written forty years ago and still sounds so fresh and relevant…

Du’aa (Prayer) — A nazm for Pakistan’s Independence Day, 1967

Come, let us join our hands in prayer.
We, who can not remember the exact ritual
We, who, except the passion and fire of Love,
do not recall any god, remember no idol.

Let us beseech, that may the Divine Sketcher
mix a sweet future in the present’s poison
For those who can’t bear the burden of time,
the rolling of days on their souls, may He lighten

Those, whose eyes don’t have in their fate, the rosy cheek of dawn
may He set for them some flame alight.
For those, whose steps know no path
may He show their eyes some way in the night.

May those whose faith is following falsehood and pomp
have the courage to deny, the boldness to discover.
May those whose heads wait for the oppressors sword
have the ability to push off the hand of the executioner.

This secret of Love, which has put the soul on fire,
may we express it today and the burning be gone.
This word of Truth that pricks in the core of the heart,
may we say it today and the itching be gone.

(Faiz translated by Agha Shahid Ali)

Here’s the Urdu version –

aayeh hath uthein hum bhi
hum jinhein rusm-e du’aa yaad nahin
hum jinhein soz-e muhabat ke siwa
koi buth, koi khuda yaad nahin

aayeh urz guzarein keh nigar-e hustee
zehar-e imroz mein shirenya furda bhar de
wo jinhein taab-e garaan bary-a iyaam nahin
un ki pulkoon peh shaub-e roz ko hulka ker de

jin ki aankhoon ko roz-e subh ka yaara bhi nahin
un ki raatoon mein koi shuma munawar ker de
jin ke kadumoon ko kisi reh ka sahara bhi nahin
un nazroon peh koi raah ujagar ker de

jin ka deeN pariw-e kizb-o riya hai un ko
himet-e kufr mile, jurat-e tehqiq mile
jin ke sir muntazar-e tegh-e jafa hein un ko
dust-e qatil ko jatuk deenay ki taufiq mile

ishq ka sir-e nihaaN jaan tapaaN hai jis se
aaj iqrar karein aur tapish mit jaa’e
hurf-e haq dil mein khatakta hai jo kante ki turhaaN
aaj izhar karein aur khalish mit jaa’e

Another favourite of mine is Ustad Daman’s immortal poem in Punjabi about the sorrows of partition that we often forget while celebrating this day. Millions had to leave their homes, were killed or hurt – and this bloodline still continues to haunt us…