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faiz ahmad faiz: dua (prayer) فیض احمد فیض: دُعا :سرِ وادیِ سینا

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Published on Feb 8, 2010

The Poet: Faiz Ahmad Faiz (takhallus: Faiz) was born on 13 February 1911 in Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan (then in British India). His parents were Sultan Fatima (mother) and Sultan Muhammad Khan. Sultan Muhammad Khan had been the Chief Secretary of Emir (the ruler) Abdur Rehman Khan of Afghanistan (Emir: 1880-1901). His three sons were Tufail (the eldest), Faiz, and Inayat (the youngest). He practiced law and it seems that although he was not very rich, he was among the prominent citizens of Sialkot.

As a young boy, Faiz would accompany his father every day to the local mosque for the dawn (fajar) prayers where Maulvi Ibrahim Mir Sialkoti would give lectures on the Quran. Later on, in the evenings, he would write letters and read newspapers for his father. This helped his literary skills in Urdu and English. Close to his house was a bookshop which rented books at 2 paisas / book. He was an avid reader of Urdu and English books. Also close to his house was a house with a big courtyard (haveli) where Urdu mushairas were held in winters. They were organized by Pandit Raj Narain Armaan and presided by Munshi Sirajuddin (a friend of Allama Iqbal and the Mir Munshi or Chief Secretary of the Maharajah of Kashmir). He read poetry in a few of these mushairas and had started composing poetry in Grade 10. He studied at the Scotch Mission School, and then at Murray College (both in Sialkot). He was fortunate to have teachers like Syed Mir Hassan (Arabic), whose title was Shams-ul Ulema (the sun of scholars) and who had also taught Allama Iqbal, and Professor Yousuf Saleem Chishti (Urdu), who wrote about Allama Iqbals poetry.

He moved to Lahore for his postgraduate education and did his masters in English literature from GC (Government College), Lahore, Punjab. At Lahore, his literary qualities flourished under teachers like Pitras Bukhari and in the company of literary giants like Maulana Abdul Majeed Salik, Dr. M.D Taseer, Sufi Tabassum, Imtiaz Ali Taj, Charagh Hasan Hasrat, Hafeez Jallandhari, and Akhtar Shirani. Being a close friend of Khawaja Khursheed Anwar, he also got interested in music. Following his masters in English, he did his masters in Arabic from the Oriental College, Lahore. In Lahore, he used to live inside Masti Gate.

He started his career in 1935 as a lecturer at the M.A.O. (Muhammadan Anglo Oriental) college, Amritsar, Punjab, India. With Sahibzada Mahmud-uz Zafar and his wife Rashid Jehan, Faiz started a branch of Progressive Writers' Movement in Punjab in 1936. He was also an editor of the literary Mahnama (monthly) Adab-e Lateef from 1938 to 1942. He was also a lecturer at Hailey College of Commerce, Lahore. He briefly joined the ISPR (Inter Services Public Relations) branch of the British Indian Army and was promoted to the rank of Lt. Col (honorary). in 1944. He resigned from the Army in 1947 and returned to Lahore. There he become the first editor in chief of the Pakistan Times.

He was not happy with the way Pakistan slipped into the hands of dictators who made it a satellite of the UK and the US. In the Pakistan Army, several officers were of the same view. Faiz Ahmad Faiz was arrested (along with many others, both civilians and military officers) on 9 March 1951 and charged with conspiring to overthrow the government. He was first held at Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) and Sargodha jails, then in Hyderabad jail, and lastly in Montgomery (now Sahiwal) jail. He was awarded 4 years rigorous imprisonment and was freed in April 1955. Two of his works, Daste Saba (1953), and Zindaan Nama (1956) are based on his experiences in jail. He was awarded the Soviet Lenin Peace Prize (1962) and the Pakistani Nishan-e Imtiaz (1990, posthumous). He went into exile to Beirut, Lebanon, in 1977, was editor of the magazine Lotus, and returned to Pakistan in 1984. He was married to Alys Faiz, a British woman, and had 2 daughters. He passed away on 20 November 1984. He is considered one of the greatest Urdu poets of the 20th century and his poetry, rich in Farsi term, reminds one of Hafiz.

His Publications: Naqsh-e Faryadi (1941), Dast-e Saba (1953), Zindan Nama (1956), Mizaan, a collection of literary articles (1956), Dast-e Tah-e Sang (1965), Sar-e Waadi-e Sina (1971), Shaam-e- Shehryaaraan (1979), Merey Dil Merey Musafir (1981), Nuskha Haa-e Wafa, a collection of all the previous works (1984).

This poem is from Sar-e Waadi-e Sina (1971). It was written at the 20th Independence Day of Pakistan on 14 August 1967.

خاموش تماشائی
(KhamoshTamashai)

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