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Baba Najmi’s little poem

Iko Tera mera payu (You and I share the same father)

Iko teri meri maan (We share the same mother)

Iko saadi janam bhon (one is our birth place)

Tu Sardar tey mein kammi kiyon? (why are you the chief and I a slave)

February 11th, 2010|Poetry|10 Comments

Whatever shrine I go to

Another readable piece by Dr Sher Zaman Taizi

This poem in ghazal form is very simple and direct. It starts with a direct address to God and gradually moves on to ethical values, human needs and human nature. I will try to transliterate the original Pushto verses into English with the hope that readers will be able to appreciate its meaning.

Not for a single moment, am I indifferent to You! Not indifferent to Your invocation and reflection! Whatever shrine I go to, I have You in mind!

I am not interested in any pilgrimage to mosque or temple! […]

April 7th, 2009|Personal|1 Comment

Nightingale of Peshawar falls silent

My piece published in The Friday Times

The bombing of Rehman Baba’s shrine is more proof that we are slipping, inch by inch, into an abyss. It is as if the soul of Peshawar, and by extension that of the whole of Pakistan has been scarred by those barbaric bombs and grenades. Among other ironies of the situation, this one stands out: the late Baba was instrumental in disseminating the message of Islam in the Khyber valley and beyond. And today the zealots destroy his shrine for being un-Islamic! A poet of love and tolerance, of amity and forgiveness to be treated in this manner displays how brutal we have become as a society and how fissured our state is. Otherwise a successor of a mighty steel frame, the indigenised state has surely given up to the hordes that are now hell bent on destroying Pakistan.

   
 

Rahman Baba was born in 1632 A.D. at Bahadur Kala, a village close to Peshawar. The Pashtuns hold his work in high esteem and his rank in Pashto poetry matches that of Hafiz Shirazi in Persian literature. The simple, down to earth and universal messages of his poetry have been revered by the Pashtuns as well as many adherents of the Sufi creed in South Asia and elsewhere.

In Afghanistan too, Rehman Baba was an icon and his muse was referred to as the ‘heart-beat’ of every Afghan. A friend told me how Saidu Baba, the famed saint of the now destroyed Swat valley, remarked that if the Pashtuns were to pray from a book other than the Holy Quran it would definitely be Rahman Baba’s work. But nothing describes Baba better than what Janes Enveldson had named him: the “Nightingale of Peshawar.” Alas, nightingales do not sing in gardens that have been ruined by long, harsh winters or other cataclysms such as hatred and violence. […]

A sufi in Budapest

Cross-posted from here

Legend has it that a Bektashi dervish who was also a companion of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent introduced roses to the city of Budapest. This man was thus named Gul Baba – Gul meaning ‘flower’ in Persian and Urdu. I am not sure if the legend is true but I was surely surprised to find the tomb of a 16th century sufi saint in Budapest. Of all places in the world, I didn’t expect to come across a sufi shrine there. But perhaps it’s not that unusual since the Ottomans ruled Hungary for 150 years and some traces of their occupation still linger in the form of architecture. Budapest still has a couple of original Turkish baths that are still open and functioning. […]

March 24th, 2009|Personal|0 Comments

“Desecration of Rahman Baba’s tomb is desecration of humanity”

The SCN press release echoes my sentiments at the disgusting act of vandalism in Peshawar. It is a befitting metaphor for the barbaric bigotry and the ineffectual state – a dangerous mix.

It is a matter of national shame for Pakistan to have sunk this low. Rahman Baba (1653 -1711 AD) commands a universal following for his mystic syncretism, has now fallen prey to the cannibalistic doctrine of bigotry and intolerance. […]

March 7th, 2009|Sufi poetry, Sufism|10 Comments