Thursday, November 30, 2006

Giving One's Life in the Holy Land - ...هم مدينے مين تنحا نكل جائينگے

Just thought I would share a post on my blog centered around a very small news story in an Saudi Paper and it's evoking a spiritual poem from "back home"...
hum madinay main tanha nikal jayaingay
aur galiyon main qasdhan b-hatak jay'eingay

hum wahaan jaa kay waapas naheen aayaingay
d-hoondthay d-hoondthay loag th-hak ja'eingay
in quick-and-dirty translation:
we will venture out into The City (of Madina) all alone
and lose our way in the streets, on purpose

we go to that land, and will not return
try and try as they might, folks will tire of trying to find us
The post is at:

Main Blog at:

If you are in Pakistan or elsewhere where you have difficulty accessing the Blogspot domain due to censorship, etc., please use

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Are you sure... Qabil Ajmeri - مگر كبهي دل كي دهركنون مين ... قابل اجميري

Unaiza Nasim has a new (or at least new to me) blog where she seems to just be collecting good, really good, Urdu poetry. Here's one that had a very special place in our hearts back in college:

It's by Qabil Ajmeri...someone whose life story itself, we are told is the stuff of literature.

(And yes, I know I have used a "ray" () where I should have used a "Ray", so to speak, in the subject line/heading. But I am on a Apple OS X computer and don't have any keyboard options that type the right character. I will fix it later.)

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

rumi-o-hafiz-o-khayyam ka dhaik-ha hai kalaam

Also posted on the iFaqeer blog, with the title "Rumi. And Hafez. And Khayyam. And Of Whence They Spake.".
All the positive feedback on my post yesterday has been very gratifying.

Readers might also want to read this.

It is my desire to bring the poets and qawwals of South Asia to as wide an audience as "Rumi-o-Hafiz-o-Khayyam". We all read these these elders, and we all need to. But especially in this day and age we (all of us; Muslims and not, Sufi-leaning or not, Westerners and not) need to reconnect with the living tradition they represent--especially in South Asia. We need to connect with the zawiya, or angle, facet, of Islam that was, and still is, rooted so deep in the lands from where all we hear nowadays is "Deobandi", "Taliban", "Maududi", "Terrorism", and on and on.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee! !حاءے كمبخت تو نے پي هى نهين

Strong Disclaimer: This post is written purely "for myself". I know some will be touched by it--in whatever way--but if you're put off by either metaphysics, tasawwuf (Sufism), abstractions, or weird, personal transliteration schemes, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not read on. I really don't want to get into detailed discussions of any kind.
There are moments when one just wants to let go; to be lost in something. Something deep. When that happens, I often find myself gravitating to Qawwali, the Muslim mystic musical art form of "Sama" in its South Asian incarnation.

There's one piece, in particular, that I have been promising myself I will translate, render, if you will, into English and post, but just haven't had the energy and bandwidth to sit down and apply myself to the task.

So I just got home about 11 pm tonight (technically yesterday at this point) after attending, I guess, what you'd call a political meeting. After the meeting, I got into a rather refreshingly intelligent conversation with a relatively new friend. By the time I got home, and had checked in on the kids, and sat down to dinner, like I said, I was in a mood that was definitely leaning towards mu'arfa, irfan, tasawwuf, the metaphysical, or whatever you want to call it. So I turned to one of the only two bookmarks I have in the Real Player on my Mac at home.

And the first through, I just got lost listening to this piece. By the end of it, I was definitely close to a "haal", the Sufi version of what our US brothers and sisters would call "being in the zone", "the flow", and so on. And I am not even a formal Sufi. For a traditional "desi" like me (a South Asian), that is a title reserved for some attainment in the metaphysical realm. I am just someone who, I will admit, has an inclination in that direction and, frankly, have been too chicken to formally step on the "tareeq", or Way.

The piece just captures the mood I am in perfectly; the frustration with Naseh, The Preachy Folks, and their obsession with preaching and obsessing with enjoining moral conduct; the reference to the Wine of Truth's greatest bartenders (others use the word "cup bearers", but let's get with the 21st of Our Lord, The Prophet of Divine Love, shall we?) being exactly in Karbala, Najaf, and Samarra; and, of course, the frustration with folks who interpret the references to Wine, and Love in "our" language as moonshine (how else do I translate "t-harra"?) and carnal lust...

So then I looped back and transcribed the parts of it that I think really should be brought to the Rumi- and Hafiz- and Khayyam-in-English-reading public. I am going to try and do the translation some time later. But if you care to, and understand Urdu and/or the languages around it in the linguistic geography (like Hindi and Dakkani and Awadhi and...), do take a read to the following...and/or just watch this space for a translation.

The piece is almost universally referred to as "ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!" (Oh! You Unfortunate Wretch! You have not Imbibed!) Here are my selected excerpts. First the prologue, itself one the most deliciously intense tongue twisters in the Urdu language:
samajh samajhna samajh kay samjhoe
samajh samajhna bhee aik samajh hai

samajh samajh kay bhee joe na samjhai
mairee samajh main woe na samajh hai
and then the Qawwali itself, sung at the link above by the person who people who connect with the art on a very unvarnished, unapologetic level, as about the greatest proponent of that form in the 20th Century; Aziz Mian:
lutf-e-mai tujh say kya kahoon, nadaaN
(aray) ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!

x x

bathla'ey dhatha hoon thujhay maikhaanon ka patha
batha-o-kazmain, khurasan, saamara

khurshid mudha'a maira burj-e-sharaf main hai
aik saaqi karbala main maira, aik najaf main hai

x x

mairay shairon kay haqeeqath main na maanee samjha
badha-e-haq koe thoo angoor ka paanee samjha

thoo nahee jaantha arbab-e-thariqath kay usool
thayray bayhoodha sawaalaath sar-a-sar hain fizool

thoo nahee jaantha paymana kisay kehthay hain
thoo nahee jaantha maykhana kisay kehthay hain

isthaylaahaath-e-thasawwuf kee nahee thujh koe khabar
faqr kee raah main jahaan miltha hai jahaan kaif-e-nazar

kot-chashmi say thujhai k-hotee k-haree lagthee hai
mai-e-irfan bhee thujhay laal paree lagthee hai

ha'ey kambakhth thoo nay pee hee nahee!

x x

ahl-e-daanish nay thairay zehen ko kaisa samj-ha
baadha-e-shair koe jis dhum thoonay t-harra samjha

mai-e-tauheed kee main thoe wazahath kee th-hee
thoo na samj-hay aray nadaan yay qismath thairee

rumi-o-hafiz-o-khayyam ka dhaik-ha hai kalaam
jaam-o-meena kay libadha main thareeqath th-hee thamaam

naseha thuj-hai naseehath kay siwaa kaam nahee
jaam main gharq na kardhoon thoe maira naam nahee!

x x

(yay) Allah ki inayath hai kay main saif zubaaan hoon
Aur naasay, thairay liyay main koh-e-garaan hoon
I should put that last couplet in my email signature...once I have a translation, I guess...

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