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Al-Quds Article Final 2

Al-Quds Article Final 2

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Published by Akif Syed

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Published by: Akif Syed on May 01, 2009
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Portrayal of Al-Quds and Muslim Political Aspiration inUrdu Literature
By Dr. S. A. K. Kashfi and S. A. A. Akif Urdu is one of the most widely spoken languages of the world. Figures for Urdu-usersrange widely from 60 million (as pure Urdu for first language users)
1
up to 330million people throughout the Indo-Gangetic plain (as Urdu-Hindi).
2
Not only is Urduthe national language of Pakistan (while its spoken equivalent Hindi enjoys the same position in Indian), more importantly, it is the lingua franca of over 300 millionMuslims of South Asia, large numbers of whom are now part of the Urdu diaspora. Although Urdu emerged as a distinct language only in the 17
th
century, it underwentrapid development on account of having inherited the highly developed tradition anddiction of Arabic and Persian literatures. During the last 100 years of Mughal India(1526-1857), Urdu developed as the language of the urban Muslim nobility andacquired a central position in the power and cultural structures of the royal court as aresult of which it replaced Persian as the official language. Thus the literature produced in Urdu was of a much superior quality than could have been expected of ayoung language.Early Urdu literature was weighed in favour of poetry that covered varied subjects of  philosophical and psychological importance but not issues of political of socialsignificance.
3
Modern Urdu poetry developed in the aftermath of the total replacementof Muslim power by formal colonialism under the British crown starting in 1857. Intime Urdu evolved to become a vehicle of communication for the aspirations of Indian Muslims who were increasingly becoming politically mature and developing anational outlook, not only in its limited sense but also in terms of its greater pan-Islamic Muslim nationalism. From the last quarter of the 19
th
century, Urdu played animportant part in the strengthening of the Indian Muslims’ struggle against colonialoppression (throughout Muslim lands). Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) emerged notonly as the philosophical leader of the Muslim’s struggle for a separate homeland inIndia, but also became the leading proponent of a new
Ummatic
vision for the newIslamic renaissance. The late 1930’s saw the rise of the Progressive WritersMovement who while professing a broad universal, secular outlook towards life, werenonetheless deeply involved with local political and social issues.Thus Urdu poets and writers became world citizens well before the advent of thecurrently popular theme of “the global world.” The reasons for this outlook weremany: Coming to the sub-continent from different areas in the Middle East andCentral Asia, these writers brought with them different literary traditions. On the onehand they retained customs and traditions of the lands of their origin and on the other they attempted synthesis with the trends prevailing in the sub-continent. The secondand more important reason for their international outlook was their adherence to andrespect for Islamic values, including, the unity of man, universe and God, freedom,equality and justice. They had a natural affinity to oppressed people and aspired for a just system.1
 
The turn of the 19
th
century was a time when crisis upon crisis was emerging in theMuslim world which was still falling in a pit that seemed to know no bottom.Western imperialism was dividing up Muslim lands and sowing the seeds of division,enmity and hatred amongst the Muslims and also the non-Muslims who lived in andaround their lands. The Mughal Empire had been lost earlier and the Ottomons werestruggling against the tide of history. Nations under Turkish control in Eastern Europewere gaining independence while those in North Africa were being taken over byWestern powers. By the second decade of the 20
th
century the Balkan Wars and thenthe First World War put the last nail in the coffin of “the sick man of Europe.” TheBalfour Declaration had given the Jews a renewed energy and sense of a secondrealization of their ‘promised land.’ The Sykes-Picot agreement and manipulations byT. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) had successfully raised the spectre of limitednationalisms amongst the Arabs.It was in this light that Urdu poets took up their pens and began writing odes of theheart. This paper seeks to provide a brief introduction to non-Urdu readers about theimmense treasury of literature produced by Urdu writers on pan-Islamic themes veryclose to their intellectual and emotional selves. These include the illegal occupationof al-Quds, one of the three most important religious sites of Islam; their sense of attachment to the struggle for the liberation of Palestine and desire to share the trialand tribulation of the displaced people of that unfortunate land– even if it be a moremetaphorical than real manner; their desire to associate with the universal brotherhood of Islam, especially in its struggle to assert Muslims political aspirationsin the emerging scenario of ‘clash of civilizations.’ Unfortunately the scope of thisarticle is far too wide for a paper of this length. Accordingly readers are bound to feel both a lack of continuity and a sense of incompleteness. Like literature itself, thearticle is divided into poetry and prose, with the former taking the major share.
POETRY
The first Urdu poet who wrote beautifully and significantly about the sad happeningsin Muslim lands faced with imperialist onslaught was Shibli No’mani. Although penned almost a hundred years ago (in the wake of the Balkan Wars and WW I), his poem
Shehr-ay-Ashob-ay-Islam
4
 (Destruction in the World of Islam) sounds verycontemporary, indeed: 
With our power in decline, How long will our name and existence last  How long will the dead candle’s smoke permeate the air Morocco is gone, Iran too, it only remains to be seen How long will this ‘Sick man of Europe’ remain alive?Will someone ask these preachers of human civilization How long this injustice, how long this apocalyptic destruction
Shibli then links this state of affairs with Salahuddin’s victory and capture of al-Quds.
 How long will you take revenge of Salahuddin’s victory from us?
2
 
Muhammad Iqbal, later to be the Poet-Philosopher of Pakistan, had emerged as aremarkable force on the intellectual scene early in the 20
th
century and was writing powerful nationalistic poetry well before the Great War. Two of his long poems,
 Khizre-Rah
(the Guide) and
Tulu-e-Islam
(the Dawn of Islam), which appeared after the War, indirectly referred to the state of Islam generally and by implication to thePalestinian struggle of the early 1920’s. One couplet of 
 Khizre Rah
summarizes theMuslim situation by way of allusion to the event narrated by the Holy Qur’an inwhich the Prophet Ibrahim is thrown into a fire that is extinguished by Divineintervention. 
 Fire, Ibrahim’s progeny and Namrood* Does someone again seeks our trial?
5
(*The Babylonian King who ordered Prophet Ibrahim to be thrown into the fire) Towards the end of the poem, the overall state of the Islamic world is analysed. Iqbalstates that the West has divided the Muslim
millat 
(nation) and that Muslim blood has become as cheap as water. Grim as the reality is, Iqbal presents his own ideal andremedy:
United stand all Muslims in defence of the Holy Land  From the shores of the Nile to the sands of Kashghar 
In
Tulu-e-Islam
, Iqbal predicts a bright future for the Muslim nation. In his last Urducollection,
 Zarb-e-Kaeem,
Iqbal presents the Palestinian problem very clearly. TheZionist claim on Palestine having been recognized by Britain primarily as a war strategy to gain Jewish support – and perhaps also as atonement for the West’smistreatment of Jews over many centuries - is put to historical test. Iqbal refutes thisclaim by comparing a hypothetical Muslim claim on Spain with that of the Jews onPalestine.If the Jews have rights on the soil of PalestineWhy have the Muslims no rights on Spain?
7
In his short poem,
 Falasteeni Arab Say
, (“To a Palestinian Arab”), Iqbal tells thePalestinian that they should not look for any support from the League of Nations or the British, as the West is economically dependant upon the Jews. He says thatnations can only gain freedom from slavery by raising their ‘khudi’ (self esteem, inner moral resolve, super-ego) and their own sense of belonging to themselves.
Your remedy lies neither in Geneva
*
 , nor in London Firmly caught in Jewish clasp is the West’s jugular  I have heard that fools deliverance from slavery Lies in cultivation and sweet realization of ‘khudi’ 
8
(* Then the headquarters of the League of Nations) Throughout his stay in Europe (1905-08) Iqbal was actively involved in its intellectualcircles (B.A., Cantab., Ph.D., Heidelberg, 1907). He thus had a very deep and clear 3

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