People of this Murderous City

The other day, I translated my poem in Urdu written after the events of 27 December, 2007. It has been published by this blog. I am reproducing it here.

In this island of grief
Where all journeys stand directionless
Fragrant Roses adorn your image
And, We, your murderers, impotent accomplices,
Cast guilty shadows across this barren land

O, the gifted leader, that inimitable image
You had given a new meaning to resplendence
Dragging your worn feet
and covering your bare head
You had borne invective upon invective
And the half-dead people of this city
gaped at your strength

This was the murder of all my visions
And all my dreams cracked
as you entered hades*,
beneath the weight of roses

Though a grave shall unfold its fragrance
We the ashamed,
fighting our tears
holding the placards of our dreams
Will analyse, compose elegies

And the bleeding wound shall scar
all the paths
The moon shall keep waxing
As the illumining candles of your tomb
reveal an endlessly humiliated Yazeed**

There is just a little request
Enact another wonder
what the city of Yazeed could not do
Forgive those
Who could not forgive you
and pushed you over the edge of Euphrates***

And today,
locked in the mist of wistfulness
gripping their torn shirts
they search for their forsaken hearts

* the underworld kingdom in Greek mythology inhabited by the souls of the dead.
** Yazeed (645 – 683), the second Umayyad ruler who established monarchy and killed Husain and his family members, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad who had challenged the principle of rule without the consent of the ruled.
*** The location of the legendary battle of Karbala.

The Urdu version can be read below. Continue reading “People of this Murderous City”

Shah Ast Hussain

10th Moharram is a day of mourning for all Muslims. The tragic incident at Kerbala where the righteous Hussain refused to submit to the autocracy of Yazid is an event laden with deep symbolism. Hazrat Imam Husain and his faithful companions preferred to die on the banks of river Euphrates and upheld the struggle of good against the evil.

Khawaja Muinuddin Chisty’s powerful verses epitomise the reverence and devotion of Muslims towards Imam Hussain:

Shah ast Hussain, Badshah ast Hussain

Deen ast Hussain, Deen Panah ast Hussain

Sardad na dad dast, dar dast-e-yazeed,

Haqaa key binaey La ila ast Hussain

Loosely translated

Ruler is Hussain, Emperor is Hussain,

Faith is Hussain , guardian of faith is Hussain .

Offered his head and not the hand to Yazid.

Truly, the mirror of faith is Hussain

As Adil Najam writes on All Things Pakistan:

Growing up in Pakistan, the night of Ashura was always defined for me by the Majlis i Shaam i Gharibaan (often by Allama Naseer ul Ijtihaadi) on PTV on the night of dasveen Muharram, which was followed immediately – and at right about midnight – by Syed Nasir Jahan’s soulful recitation of Salam-i-Akhir.

Bachay to aglay baras hum hain aur yeh gham phir hai

Jo chal basay tou yeh appna salam-i-akhir hai

His soulful voice, so pregnant with a deep and heartfelt pain, always echoes in my head when I read of continuing sectarian violence and the instigation of sectarian hatred.

However, the ugly face of sectarianism is now haunting the entire Islamic world. There have been deaths in Pakistan recently and I have forgotten the number of people dying each day in Iraq. Forgotten? Yes, it sadly increases by the day..

And the true spirit of this sacrifice by Prophet’s family gets clouded by politics and imperial projects.

And for the poor Iraqis, Kerbala is not an event from their distant past.