Monday, September 01, 2008

Ahmed Faraz Dies in Islamabad

On August 25th, the celebrated Urdu poet Ahmed Faraz died in Islamabad at age 77 after a protracted illness. In Faraz Sahib not only have we lost an excellent ghazal poet but a courageous and honorable man whose consistent stance against Pakistani dictatorships will never be forgotten. He opposed military rule whether it came in the guise of a ruthless Islamist like Zia-ul-Haq or a self proclaimed "moderate" like Musharraf. To his credit he saw through veneers and opposed authoritarianism which has been the scourge of the Pakistani state since independence. As a poet he has long been acknowledged as one of the masters of modern Urdu ghazal but his return of the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2006 (Pakistan's highest civilian honor) as a protest against Musharraf's authoritarian rule once again demonstrated his lifelong commitment to the primacy of human rights and dignity.

Rest in peace Faraz Sahib.

Ranjish hi sahi dil hi dukhaane ke liye aa
Aa phir se mujhe chor ke jaane ke liye aa

Ik umr se hooN lazzat-e-girya se bhi mehroom
Aye rahat-e-jaaN mujh ko rulaane ke liye aa

Dawn had an obituary on Faraz Sahib the day after his death written by Mushir Anwar which sadly lifted several passages directly from Wikipedia (hat tip: Abbas Raza). However, today's New York Times also has an obituary by Haresh Pandya which despite some elemantary errors does a good job of suveying Faraz Sahib's life (e.g. Urdu poets whose work is both read and sung are not rare). I can always count on 3quarksdaily and the Raza family for wonderfully original content on Urdu literati. Today, there is a simple but lovely remembrance by Atiya Batool Khan on Faraz Sahib. (Azra Raza's appreciation of Qurratulain Hyder that appeared on 3QD in August last year is one of the best personal pieces written about Aini Apa in English that I can find.)

To remember Faraz Sahib what better way than to listen to the above mentioned "Ranjish hi sahi" beautifully sung by the inimitable Mehdi Hasan Sahib, the virtual creator of modern semi-classical ghazal singing.

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