Shamim Hanafi

Shamim Hanafi
the man,the vision

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Shamim Hanafi at Qatar

Shamim Hanafi's visit to Pakistan

Ghalib, Faiz’s forgotten English poem discussed

KARACHI, Nov 24: Three meaningful sessions on Urdu poetry, with especial reference to Ghalib, were held on the penultimate day of the 4th international Urdu conference at the Arts Council on Thursday.
The title of the first session, presided over by Dr Shamim Hanafi and conducted by Naqqash Kazmi, was Ghalib-i-Ahd Afreen.
Dr Rauf Parekh immediately gave impetus to the sitting by analysing Ghalib’s objection to lughat naveesi (lexicography).
He said at a turbulent period in Indian history when Ghalib had time on his hands, he began flipping through Burhan-i-Qaitey and it didn’t take him long to find faults in it. He said this sparked off a series of arguments and counter arguments as four books against Ghalib’s observations were published. Quoting Nazeer Ahmed, Dr Parekh then gave a list of Ghalib’s objections and found loopholes in them.
He said Ghalib introduced those words into the Persian language which lacked credibility.
Amjad Tufail’s paper was on Ghalib’s influence on modern Urdu poetry. He unequivocally remarked Ghalib saw ahead of his time even before Sir Syed, and it was he who had advised Sir Syed to think along modern lines.
Talking about the poets who were openly impressed with the great poet, he said Iqbal, like Ghalib, had touched on philosophical topics in his nazms and ghazals. He said Faiz’z concept of raqeeb (rival in love) was also borrowed from Ghalib and Rashid’s Persianised diction too was inspired by his work.
Dr Zafar Iqbal’s topic was Ghalib’s prose in light of his letter writing.
He said two aspects clearly came out of his epistolary communication: humanism (insaani hamdardi) and caring for others (ghamgusari). He argued that Ghalib’s prose writing was a reflection of his personality.
Dr Qazi Afzaal Husain summarily rejected some of the earlier speakers’ observations, stating it made no difference what Ghalib thought of dictionaries or who wrote in Ghalib’s style; what mattered was that Ghalib stood tall among the rest of Urdu poets by virtue of his creative prowess. It was Ghalib’s creative prowess which changed the direction of tradition in Urdu literature — he neither had a predecessor nor a successor.
Dr Alia Imam said Ghalib was a timeless poet and his thoughts were relevant to date.
Turkish scholar Khalil Toqar shed light on the interest with which Urdu was learnt as a language in Turkey.
He lamented that some students had started taking interest in the language, but when they witnessed disinterest for the language in Pakistan, they were putt off.
Dr Shamim Hanafi commenced his paper on Ghalib by suggesting the topic was a challenging one.
He said it’s time we discussed great writers without using the crutches of terminologies (istalahat). He said the era in which Ghalib existed was full of tumult and the city he identified himself with had undergone tremendous destruction. In the face of it all, Ghalib kept going steadfastly, feeling the pain of his time.
He was a non-conformist and a bohemian. As far as the language went, he was an iconoclast. Though he was in favour of modern times, he was never impressed with the British. In many of his ghazals he looked back in time with wistfulness.
Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din 
Baithey rahein tasawwar-i-janan kiyey huay
(The heart longs for old times
When we did nothing but think of beloved)

He said in the aforementioned ghazal, Ghalib repeatedly used the word ‘phir’ (again) which signified how hurt he was with the changing times. Yet he was adamant that:
Apni hasti se hi ho jo kuch ho
Aagahi gar nahin ghaflat hi sahi
(The self should attain everything
Be it wisdom or mindlessness)

The second session was on modern Urdu poetry. Ziaul Hasan was the first speaker who threw light on contemporary ghazal writing.
He said though experiments which were done with the genre by modern poets hadn’t been successful, they nonetheless kept its inherent strength intact. He said it was in the 1970s that new trends began to emerge, but in the 1980s they manifested themselves with full force. He said the genre brimmed with possibilities. He claimed it’s not how correctly words were used in ghazal but how creatively they’re employed which mattered.
Yashab Tamanna talked about those poets who were writing Urdu poetry in the UK.
Obaid Siddiqi told the audience that ghazal was such a powerful form that in India even poets of regional languages were adopting it. He said the word ‘modern’ was often confused with ‘new’. He pointed out ghazal was influenced by Persian, but it were Firaq and Nasir Kazmi who liberated it from the Persian clutches.
Syed Mazhar Jamil read out an interesting paper on one of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s forgotten poems written in English and published in the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore in March 1961.
The poem titled The Unicorn and the Dancing Girl was written against the backdrop of Moenjo Daro. He iterated Faiz not only wrote poems in Urdu and Punjabi but also in English, a fact which critics hadn’t looked into the way it merited. Sarshar Siddiqi, who presided over the meeting, objected to a speaker’s view that ghazal was a genre in which just two lines (misrey) were used.
The third session, conducted by Javed Hasan and presided over by Farhad Zaidi, was dedicated to two giants of Urdu poetry N. M. Rashid and Majaz.
Ambreen Haseeb Amber read out an analytical essay on Rashid and highlighted the element of storytelling (dastaan goee) in his poetry. She complained that his poems were read in bits and pieces and not in entirety.
Prof Sahar Ansari spoke on Majaz. Combining his speech with anecdotes and excerpts from some of the poet’s famous nazms, Prof Ansari commented that despite the great stature of the poet not much research work on Majaz had been undertaken. He mentioned Mustafa Zaidi in the same vein.
In the end known TV artiste Talat Husain recited five of N. M. Rashid’s poems, including Hasan Koozagar and Andha Kabari.
In the end two books –– Justuju Kia Hai by Intizar Husain and Jalib Jalib by Mujahid Barelvi –– were launched.
Known poet Anwar Masood was listed to recite his humour-laden poetry after the launch.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Urud Academy Delhi Presents, Urdu Hai Jiska Naam

Urud Academy Delhi Presents, Urdu Hai Jiska Naam

Sooraj dheere dheere pighla..

band kar le khirkiyaan

Band kar le khirkiyan yun raat ko baahar na dekh
Doobti aankhon se apne shehr ka manzar na dekh
Kya pata zanjeer mein dhal jaaye bistar ki shikan
Yeh safar ka waqt hai ab jaanib bistar na dekh
Khaak-o-khoon meraas teri khaak-o-khoon tera naseeb
Is zeyaan khaane mein apne paaon ka chakkar na dekh
Toone jo parchhaaiyan chhorein woh sehra ban gayeein
Aye nigaare waqt ab peechhe kabhi mur kar na dekh

..shamim hanafi

Woh ek shor..

April 3, 2005

AUTHOR: Shamim Hanafi: The humble critic

By Sumera S. Naqvi

Succumbing to the common notion that intellectuals are cynical (and they have reason to be so), I was nervous about my meeting with the much acclaimed Indian Urdu short story writer, critic and poet, Dr M. Shamim Hanafi. An interview with a person of his stature on the status of Urdu literature in the present world was indeed a challenge. “Today the situation is that if any Tom, Dick or Harry fails to understand the masterpieces of literature, he holds the writer responsible for it, not his own comprehension,” he writes in his book Khayal ki Musaafat. I couldn’t help imagining myself being one of the three.

On meeting Dr Shamim Hanafi, my fears seemed to subside. Here was a scholar who does not mince his words while putting his mind across. “I am a man of simple words,” he says, “and am quite weary of istilahat and difficult ideologies. Though I write literary essays that demand a certain finesse and standard in the use of language, I am weary of writings that are too loaded.” Khayal ki Musaafat is a proof of his statement as he touches upon the burning issues in Urdu literature with such clarity of thought and a simple style that a lay reader not only understands but is also encouraged to form a humble opinion on these issues.

“People say that I’ve written valuable critiques. I wonder why as I don’t feel I qualify as a critic,” he says. This aura of humility in his views also wears all over his personality. Clad in a neat shirt and a pair of pants adorned with a waistcoat of check earthly motifs and open sandals, he truly breathes what he believes in.

Dr M. Shamim Hanafi retired recently as dean of the department of arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, after a long teaching career in various universities for 40 years. Born in Sultanpur, UP, which is 30-35 miles away from the Babri Masjid, Dr Hanafi did his masters in history and Urdu from Allahabad University. While moving on to his PhD, he was offered the job of a lecturer where he spent four years. Later he joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1976 from where he did his DLit. (Jadeediat aur Falsafi Ehsaas and Nai Shaeri Riwayat) which was published in two volumes.

At the Jamia Millia, he was director of correspondence courses in Urdu and also served as editor of the famous magazine, Risala Jamia, of which Dr Zakir Hussain and Dr Abid Hussain were also editors. He remained as editor of the magazine for 12-14 years and on retirement requested to be relieved of the editorship as well, but the Jamia refused to part with him. He still serves as honorary editor of the magazine. These days he teaches at the Academy of Third World Studies as visiting professor, particularly the Pakistan Studies department that has recently been set up.

So I posed the most commonly asked question to him that triggers many an emotion in Pakistanis — the issue of script. “My friend Yaginder Singh Yadev who is the editor of the magazine, Hans, that was once edited by Premchand, asked me whether I wanted the script to be saved or the language. He believes that if Urdu is written in the Devanagri script it will be preserved. Professor Jamil Ali Akhtar goes a step further. He believes that the use of alternate scripts should be sanctioned like the Roman script, which is now widely used by immigrants living in the West. There are also many magazines and newspapers that are making use of the Devanagri script in India. The Jamaat-i-Islami publishes a magazine in the Hindi script.

“This situation is worrisome as there was a lot of antagonism against Urdu after partition which has put the Urdu language at a disadvantage ever since. Though many organizations were set up by successive governments, it was a situation where a tree’s branches are watered but the roots whither away. Urdu language sprawls over a history of almost 300 years. It could not be transferred to another script.

“I do not mind writers making use of the Devanagri script but I do feel that the script of a language cannot be changed like a dress. The relationship of a language and its script is that of the heart and the soul,” he says.

Was then Fort William College a good idea for the uplift of Urdu? “It definitely benefited Urdu. Who can deny the treasure trove that was created at the college like Mir Amman’s Bagh-o-Bahar.

“The British had their own set of values, their system of government, ideology and policies. But I need to emphasize here that we should blame ourselves for the disunity among us. We should size up ourselves before blaming others for our meloncholies. The aim of the Anjuman-i-Punjab, for instance, was to improve relations between the rulers and the ruled but the fact remains that the movement gave us some good writers. The progressive writers nurtured some very good writers but the incipience of extreme emotionality damaged the cause. A good writer does after all make it to the top.”

There is no denying the fact that Urdu is widely spoken and understood today but Dr Shamim Hanafi feels that it is infested with too many futile controversies that damage people’s perception of the language. They need to be cleared. “Urdu breathes in many ideological controversies like progressivism, modernism and the latest stir, post-modernism. Such controversies are beyond me. Speakers of other languages make fun of us for being embroiled in such a situation. I feel that good literature is good literature at the end of the day. If a writer indulges in sloganism for instance, but adds no creative value to literature, his writing would not impress me,” says the tough critic.

Shamim Hanafi celebrates the fact that today there is less bias against Urdu in India than it was years ago. “The reason is that there is democracy in India and the current government is more enlightened.” He does lament, however, that there has been no proper system of teaching Urdu in educational institutions. He agrees with Dr Ralph Russell who has pointed out in some of his articles that Urdu-wallahs (the thekedar of Urdu as Dr Russell calls them) are largely to be held responsible for causing damage to Urdu language. “There is a crop that has used Urdu for ulterior motives, to make progress in their careers. They have made it to the parliament or become governors, etc. Urdu is also made a means of getting access to power. I am more interested in people who stay out of the limelight. I am myself a person of seclusion who prefers to sit in a corner and work,” he adds.

Among his famous translations are Muntakhab Tehriren: Jadd-o-Jehd Ke Saal (Pandit Nehru’s Writings: Years of Struggle) and Hamari Azadi (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s India Wins Freedom) which are his magnum opus. “I have translated writers that I have been impressed with. I haven’t translated for a living,” he adds. Translations, Dr Hanafi believes, are a good way of transporting writings to foreign lands, which is why more translations should be carried out. “More and more people have started showing an interest in Urdu after having read translations. Many orgainzations in India have been set up. The Translations Studies is an organization that has been set up in many universities for this purpose. Many publishing companies in Urdu like Katha are concentrating on translations. The poetry of Faiz, Iqbal and Ghalib is being translated along with the works of contemporary poets. The OUP has done tremendous work in Pakistan in this area.”

Besides Khayal ki Musaafat, a collection of essays and critiques, his other books include Qari say Mukalma — Mazameen ka Majmua, Jadeediat aur Falsafi Ehsaas and writings on Sir Syed, Firaq, the creative role of Ghalib, etc. Dr Hanafi has not restricted himself to this genre of writing. He has also written many stories for children. “I like to write for children as I enjoy the flight of imagination that entails, though I am not irrational.” He has also been interested in painting, theatre and films. He has too many feathers in his cap, as he confesses that he suffers from Kisi fun mein kamal haasil hone ki talab (passion to acquire excellence in any skill).

The polarization of regional languages and Urdu in Pakistan worries him. “I don’t understand why Urdu is directly compared with other languages in the country. All other languages deserve respect in their own right but Urdu is a link language. The Urdu-wallahs should not construct their cause at the expense of the regional languages either. We find very solid Sufi traditions in regional languages which is a treasure for us,” he says.

Dr Shamim Hanafi is not only concerned about the future of Urdu but about all languages all over the world. “We are endangered by the information litter that has overloaded us with the advent of information technology. I think there will come a time when we all would not need a language at all. Human and social sciences are being distorted, let alone languages. This marginalization of knowledge and language is quite worrisome. But then I am reminded of Marquez who said that no matter how far the computer makes progress, it can never replace the value of a book. The book will always remain indispensable, so we have hope that Urdu will also survive.”

Shamim Hanafi

SHAMIM HANAFI:The Poet,The Dramatist,The Critic

Shamim Hanfi was born in Sultanpur on May 17th, 1939.Son of a renowned advocate, Mohd.Yaseen Siddiqui and Begum Zaibunnisa he was the eldest of the six siblings. His interest in Urdu literature was the result of his father’s perseverance and close proximity with his teacher Qadri Sahib, who happened to be a close friend of his father. The house in Civil Lines was always open to the men of letters.

He spent his early life in Sultanpur.However; he shifted to Allahabad to pursue his college studies. At Allahabad he came in contact with Firaq Gorukhpuri who left an indelible impact upon his mind. He was not just a teacher, but a guide and a mentor for him as well.
Shamim Hanafi spent a few years of his life in the beautiful city of Indore, Madhya Pradesh.

He served as a faculty in Aligarh Muslim University and here he met some of his closest friends.Syed Wiqar Hussain (who was also a colleague in Indore),Shahryar Sahib,Waheed Akhtar Sahib,Ale Ahmad Suroor Sahib,Asloob Sahib,Zauqi Sb,Khaleel Sb,Nasir Sb were some of his close friends.The social and academic circle in AMU spent creative time at the Staff Club where poetry reading sessions ,discussions and mushairas were held.

Few people know that Shamim Hanafi is an artist as well. His sense of aesthetics is unique and rich and is evident in his passion for performing arts, painting, pottery etc. This is the reason that some of his close friends are from the artist community-Gogi Sarojpal,Ved Nayyar,Ramachandran Nayar,Arpita Singh, Rajiv Lochan ,Paramjit Singh ,Jatin Das to name a few.

Shamim Hanafi is now Professor Emeritus at Jamia Millia Islamia and resides in New Delhi.

Following is the list of publications by Shamim Hanafi:

Jadidyat ki Falsafiyan Asas
Ghazal ka Naya Manzarnama
Nai she'ri Riwayat
Kahani ke Paanch rang
Firaq, Shair-wa-Shakhs (Ed.)
Firaq Dayare-e-Shab ka Musafir (Ed.)
Iqbal ka Harf-e-Tamanna
Qari Se Mukalma
Siyah Faam Adab. (Ed.)
Sir Syed Se Akbar Tak (Ed.)
Ghalib Ki Takhleeqi Hissiyet
Hamsafaron Ke Dermiyan
Hamnafason Ki Bazm Mein
Ijtemayee Zindagi aur Infaradi Shaoor
Khyal ki Masafat
Tareekh, Tehzeeb aur Takhleeqi Tajreba
Raat,Shaher aur Zindagi
Adab,Adeeb aur Maashrati Tashaddud
Jadeediyet aur Shair
( 20-A)Urdu Culture aur Taqseem ki Virasat

Qaumi Yakjehti aur Secularism (Dr. Tara Chand's Lectures)
Yadon ki Duniya (Dr. Bhagwan Singh's Biography)
Shahr-e-Khoon Asham (Contemporary Bengali Poetry)
Hamari Azadi (Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's India Wins Freedom)
Muntakhab Tehriren : Jadd-o-Jehd Ke Saal (Pundit Nehru's Writings : Years of Struggle)
Mitti ka Bulawa
Mujhe Ghar Yaad AAta Hai
Zindagi ki Taraf
Bazar Mein Neend
For Children
Mirza Ghalib
Jawahar Lal Nehru
Indira Gandhi ki Kahani
Fairy Tales
Bhooton ka Jahaz
Kata Hua Haath