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Manto’s women

Manto stands more or less alone in the position he takes on women, contends Raza Rumi, in an exploration of Manto’s relationship with his female protagonists


Manto2Saadat Hasan Manto

Perhaps the most well-known and also controversial Urdu writer of the twentieth century happens to be Saadat Hasan Manto. He left us with a stupendous literary output, which continues to remain relevant decades after his death. Manto, not unlike other ‘greats’ died young and lived through the greatest upheaval in the Indian subcontinent i.e. the Partition. As a sensitive writer, he was influenced and traumatized by political turmoil during 1947 and beyond. His stories reflect his repeated attempts to come to terms with this cataclysmic event especially for millions in North India. For Manto, partition remained a mystery but he did not keep himself in a state of denial about it. He always used the word ‘batwara’, never partition.i Manto felt that it was the ripping apart of one whole and would lead to greater divisions among the people of the subcontinent. This coming to terms with the ‘batwara’, is experienced in his works by unusual characters driven by plain ambitions, mixed emotions and above all sheer humanity.

Like Nazeer AkabarAbadi, Manto’s characters are universal and often it is difficult to condemn or dislike them since their humanity remains overarching. Manto raised the slogan of humanism at a time when the subcontinent presented the picture of a boiling cauldron of religious riots and protests, of acts of misogyny committed in the name of communal honour and ‘nationalism’. For example, in the story Sahai, Manto writes, “Don’t say that one lakh Hindus and one lakh Muslims have died. Say that two lakh human beings have perished.” Manto uses his characters as metaphors to highlight the prevalent abuse of humanity in those times.


Indus Valley School of Learning: The school which teaches Humanism

On Pakistan Day, I was invited by the Indus Valley School of Learning in Rawalpindi. I tweeted about my visit and the pleasant experience. There is so much about Pakistan that remains invisible – many people who are working hard to make it a plural and tolerant place. Whilst I complain about our […]

A special message for Jahane Rumi

Sometimes I am most touched by such messages concerning my blog. I am posting this message not because I want to beat my own drum but to share the beauty of this email and how Sufism connects the world and humans estranged from each other:

Subject: The Birth of the Spirit out of the Agonies and Yearnings of the Flesh

“You have no idea how hard I’ve looked for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right. What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean. Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So- I’ve brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me!”

Salaam, Peace & Blessings Dear Brother,

My name is Felix and I’m from Israel. My journey brought me to Sufism some many years ago, as a direct result of my interest in Dervishes, Sadhus and Wandering Mystics. As a Humanist, I was amazed to find out how rich and infinite the spirit of Sufism is…

Life is not easy where I am right now. The middle-east is burning in fire of hatred and disillusions. But – One day, this dark age will be over & I truthfully hope to see the world become a much better place to raise our children based on values of Love, Respect and Brotherhood.

I’ve found your outstanding blog + photographs on the web the other day, and would like to kindly thank you for your priceless & beautiful deeds. Wonderful & Kindhearted people like you give me great hope for a much better & brighter future for humanity.

Your journey is an inspiration – may peace, love and light be upon you.

While our background is very different, I humbly feel as if we are all interconnected – we are all brothers, come what may – the whole world is connected through an infinite life line. The human spirit is eternal.

“We are the flute, our music is all Yours;
Your wind invisible sweeps us through the world” […]

July 24th, 2008|Personal, Sufi poetry, Sufism|5 Comments