Sunday, August 28, 2022

Firaq Gorakhpuri: A Hindu Who Proudly Called Himself An Ahle-Zabaan (Native Speaker) - On Firaq Gorakhpur's Birthday, August 28

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 28 August 2022 Nature Hardly Makes Such A Great Individual Like 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri. In These Times And Climes, ' Firaq' Is All The More Significant When Urdu Is Being Called The Language Of Muslims And Fanatic Hindus Are Purging Hindi Of All Persian, Arabic And Turkish Words To Make It The Tongue Of Sanatanis ---- Mad Mein Doobi Hui Ye Raat Nargis-E-Neembaaz Ka Aalam Mere Naghme Ki Narm Lay Mein Dekh Jumbish-E-Paainaaz Ka Aalam -Firaq Gorakhpuri (The night is steeped in wine/ Like a half-open Nargis/ Look at the soft cadence of my song/ It's as if a beloved comes tip-toeing). The astounding juxtaposition of Hindi and Persianized Urdu immortalized Raghupati Sahay ' Firaq ' Gorakhpuri's exquisite Urdu poetry. " Raghupati Sahay ' Firaq ' Ne Na Sirf Hindi Aur Urdu Mein Tavazun Rakha, Balke Urdu Sukhanvari Ko Parvaan Chadhate Hue Hindustani Ke Pahaluon Mein Bhi Izafa Kiya." - Late Dr Gopichand Narang, noted Urdu critic and writer (Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri not only struck a perfect balance between Hindi and Urdu, but by lifting Urdu poetry, he also enriched the facets of Hindustani) " The perfect amalgamation of musicality, beauty and sensuality in Firaq's Urdu poetry is unsurpassable." -Qurratulain Hyder " Aa Jaata Hai Husn Mein Salonapan Aur Chanchalpan, Baalpan, Anailapan Aur Kat-Te Hi Suhaagraat Dekhein Jo Use Badh Jaata Hai Roop Ka Kunwarapan Aur " - ' Firaq ' Gorakhpuri (The beauty gets all the more lovely/Its naughtiness and impish charm increase further/When you see her after the 'rendezvous'/The virginity of her comeliness gets enhanced manifold) ' A poet belongs to no creed, culture or country, ' magnanimously opined the great English poet-critic Dr Matthew Arnold (1822-1888). This observation aptly applies to Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri whose 126th birth anniversary falls on August 28. One of the greatest poets to have graced the last century was 'Firaq' alongside Ali Sardar Jafri, Josh Malihabadi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Pakistan's legendary Ahmad Faraz. What pains me sorely when some numskulls ask me, 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri Hindu Thay Ya Musalman '? (Was 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri a Hindu or a Muslim?). This very question is audaciously silly because it's asked about a man, who at the age of twenty four, penned, 'Main Na Hindu Na Musalmaan Hoon/Shayari Karta Hoon, Ahle-Zabaan Hoon' (I'm neither a Hindu, nor am I a Muslim/I write Urdu poetry, I belong to Urdu). 'Firaq' always called himself an 'Ahle-Zabaan' (native speaker) and never a 'zabaandaan' (who learns the linguistic nuances as a second language). Born in a Hindu-kayasth family in Gorakhpur in Eastern UP on August 28, 1896, 'Firaq' like Munshi Premchand, yet another Hindu-Kayasth from Lamhi in UP, picked up Urdu-Persian as his mother tongue. ' Kakhara Alif-Bay-Pay Se Hua Hai Mera/Ragon Mein Meri Karti Hai Raqs Urdu ' (My alphabetic learning began with Urdu/ It (Urdu) dances in my veins). 'Firaq' spontaneously blurted out this couplet when an editor of a Pakistani Urdu daily dared question 'Firaq's' claims and credentials as one of the finest poets Urdu language has ever had after Ghalib, Daagh, Mir and Momin. That editor later apologised and specifically came to meet this great poet in Allahabad in 1961. 'Meri Urdu Ko Nigah-E-Shak Se Dekhta Hai/Ye Tifl Abhi-Abhi Jawaan Hua Hai' (He casts doubts on my Urdu/Methinks, this boy has just grown into a young man), he said this about the hugely apologetic Munir Raza who came all the way from Karachi to say sorry to 'Firaq'. Such was the aura and impact of 'Firaq'. I really feel sad when people, even young Muslims, don't know anything about Raghupati Sahay 'Firaq'. In this age of WhatsApp poetry of the lowest level and an abysmal language, people have no knowledge of this great poet. I feel all the more sad when some good-for-nothing critics call him just a 'homosexual' poet. Agreed, he was an avowed homosexual. But what does this preference have to do with his poetic genius? 'Ilzaamaat Lagate Hain 'Firaq' Pe Humjinsiyat Ke/ 'Firaq' Ne Kab Iss Shauq Se Inkaar Kiya Hai?' (There're allegations on my homosexuality/ But have I denied my predilection?). Firaq's article in defence of homosexual love (1936) and its depiction in the Ghazal remains a classic, where he defiantly describes the depiction of homosexuality and lesbianism in poetry across time and cultures in the works of Sappho and Socrates, Saadi and Hafiz, Shakespeare and Whitman, Rumi and Shams and Oscar Wilde. 'Firaq' was as candid as his poetry. He wasn't a poet who only delineated feminine beauty in his prolific oeuvre. Late critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi called him a 'Shayar-E-Husn ' (a mere poet of beauty). It's a mistaken observation. Faruqi may not have read Firaq's wonderfully philosophical Ghazals and couplets like, ''Raaz-E-Wajood Kuchh Na Poochh, Subha-E-Azal Se Aaj Tak Kitne Yaqeen Guzar Gaye, Kitne Guzar Gaye Gumaan' (Don't ask the mystery of the existence/ Right from the dawn of human civilization till date/ So many soi disant beliefs and doubts have come and gone) or 'Taqdeer Toh Quamon Ki Hua Karti Hai/ Ek Shakhs Ki Qismat Mein Taqdeer Kahaan' (Only a race or community has a destiny or fate/ There's no fate in a mere mortal's luck). He defined luck, fate and destiny through his multifarious poetry. He was the head of the department of English at Allahabad University and was equally proud of his mastery over English. But it must be stated that his poetic life was busier than his academic life. Firaq once 'justifiably' claimed, 'Only two and a half people in India know English: 'Firaq' and Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan know the language completely and Nehru knows it half!' What he said about himself will always be relevant, 'Aane Waali Naslein Tum Pe Rashk Karengi Humasro/Jab Ye Khyaal Aayega Un Ko, Tumne 'Firaq' Ko Dekha Hai ' (The generations to come will be envious of you that you saw 'Firaq' in flesh and blood). Nature hardly makes such a great individual like 'Firaq' Gorakhpuri. In these times and climes, ' Firaq' is all the more significant when Urdu is being called the language of Muslims and fanatic Hindus are purging Hindi of all Persian, Arabic and Turkish words to make it the tongue of Sanatanis. Instead of reading pedestrian poets, writing on plebeian issues and concerns in faulty Urdu and Hindi, readers must read Firaq's poetry and his book 'Gul-e-Naghma.' Alas, who has time to read in these philistine times? The morbid obsession with WhatsApp, Instagram and all social platforms has robbed us of our love for books. ----- A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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