Faiz Ahmed Faiz: The voice of the voiceless

Faiz Ahmed Faiz lived and wrote in turbulent times. But his poetry even today remains the voice of the downtrodden, the deprived and will always remain a strong voice against fascist forces

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Rukmini Sen

It is 110th birthday of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and he still evokes strong emotions among the political youth and their detractors across the subcontinent. Be it the protests against the Citizen Amendment Bill in India in recent times or protests against the dictatorship of Zia Ul Haq in Pakistan the slogans of - Hum Dekhengey  and Bol Key Lab Azaad Hai Terey resonates with us even now.

Faiz is the voice of the voiceless. He is the voice of the partitioned India. He is the voice of people of Palestine, Vietnam and Bangladesh. Faiz writes-

mat ro bachche

ro ro ke abhī

terī ammī kī aañkh lagī hai

mat ro bachche

kuchh hī pahle

tere abbā ne

apne ġham se ruḳhsat lī hai

mat ro bachche

terā bhaa.ī

apne ḳhvāb kī titlī pīchhe

duur kahīñ pardes gayā hai

mat ro bachche

terī baajī kā

Dolā pardes gayā hai

mat ro bachche

tere āñgan meñ

murda sūraj nahlā ke gae haiñ

chandarmā dafnā ke gae haiñ

mat ro bachche

ammī, abbā, bājī, bhaa.ī

chāñd aur sūraj

tū gar ro.egā to ye sab

aur bhī tujh ko rulvā.eñge

tū muskā.egā to shāyad

saare ik din bhes badal kar

tujh se khelne laut ā.eñge

This is Faiz Ahmed Faiz. The poet who wrote a lullaby for children of Palestine. He is also the poet who mourned the loss of a home and a family in 1974 when he visited Dhaka. Three years after the liberation of Bangladesh. As the citizen of Pakistan he mourned for the love lost, the bloodshed, the broken hearts and not Pakistan's  loss of East Pakistan.  Faiz wondered how many rains it would take to wash away the  marks of blood. While most leaders in the subcontinent ruminated over expansionism of nation states this poet wondered why had he become a stranger suddenly to his own people and how many meetings would it take to build a home again with them?

ham ki Thahre ajnabī itnī mudārātoñ ke ba.ad

phir baneñge āshnā kitnī mulāqātoñ ke ba.ad

kab nazar meñ aa.egī be-dāġh sabze kī bahār

ḳhuun ke dhabbe dhuleñge kitnī barsātoñ ke ba.ad

the bahut bedard lamhe ḳhatm-e-dard-e-ishq ke

thiiñ bahut be-mehr sub.heñ mehrbāñ rātoñ ke ba.ad

dil to chāhā par shikast-e-dil ne mohlat hī na dī

kuchh gile shikve bhī kar lete munājātoñ ke ba.ad

un se jo kahne ga.e the 'faiz' jaañ sadqe kiye

an-kahī hī rah ga.ī vo baat sab bātoñ ke ba.ad

Faiz lived in politically volatile times in Indian subcontinent and world at large. He was critical of Hitler and Nazi Germany. He was also one of the first Urdu poets who found the partition an bearable thought much to the chagrin of many of his contemporaries in Pakistan. He wrote-


Ye daagh daagh ujaala, ye shab- gazeeda sehar
Vo intezaar tha jis ka, ye vo sehar to nahin
(This blemished light, this night-bitten dawn
This is not the dawn we awaited so long)


Faiz  was obsessed with "love" in his poems dating from about 1928 to about 1935s.  However, he was deeply disturbed with the developments in Nazi Germany. Especially the rise of Adolf Hitler in  1933.  This was the time of Wars, unemployment, the great depression.  Around this time a new movement in literature and the arts came to force in the Subcontinent, with the formation of the All-India Progressive Writers’ Association (PWA).  In 1934, Faiz began teaching at Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College in Amritsar. This was where he bonded with Sahibzada Mehmooduzzafar and his wife Rasheed Jahan, who were teachers, writers and progressives. Impressed with this couple's views Faiz joined the PWA. His life and politics changed forever.

It is from here that faiz Ahmed Faiz's poetry transcended from love poems for a beloved to poems of revolution. This phase began with amalgamating the romantic love with the love of revolution with his poem ‘Do not ask of me, my beloved, that same love’.

mujh say pehlisi mohabat mere mahboob na maang
main ne samjha tha ke tu hai to darakhshan hai hayat
tera ghum hai tu gham-e-dehar ka jhagra kiya hai

teri surat say hai alam mein baharon ko sabaat
teri aankhon ke siva duniya mein rakkha kya hai

tu jo mil jaye to taqdeer nigoon ho jaaye
yuon na tha, main ne faqat chaha tha yuon ho jaaye

mujh say pehlisi mohabat mere mahboob na maang

an ginat sadiyon ke taarek bahemana talism
resham o atlas o kam-khab mein bunwaye huye
ja-ba-ja biktey huye koocha-o baazaar mein jism
khaak men lithre hoye khoon mein nahlaye hoye

laut jaati hai idhar ko bhi nazar kya keeje
ab bhi dilkash hai tera husan magar kiya keeje

aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein mohabat ke siva
rahateen aur bhi hain wasal ki rahat ke siva

Aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein mohabbat ke siva
Raahaten aur bhi hain vasl ki raahat ke siva

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Published: 13 Feb 2021, 5:50 PM
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