Everybody - from Irfan Habib to Barkha Dutt to Swara Bhaskar to other left-liberals — have been teaching us the “context” of Faiz’s “revolutionary” lines
Here are some claims about the lines, its author, its context and everything else
On 17 December, 2019, I complained against a gathering at the Institute of Technology-Kanpur (IIT-K) in India. I also mentioned in my complaint that the following lines recited from a poem of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s favorite offended my religious sentiments:
“Hum dekhenge... Jab arz e khuda ke kaabe se sab but uthvaaye jaayenge... Bus naam rahega Allah ka...”
It literally translates into the following:
“We will see... When from the house of Allah, all idols will be removed… Only Allah’s name will remain...”
I knew the poem. So I objected instantly. A few others joined me. Based on our complaint, the institute set up an enquiry committee and requested all members of the institute’s family to not post anything on this matter so that harmony is restored.
Since then, everybody — from Irfan Habib to Barkha Dutt to Swara Bhaskar to other left-liberals — have been teaching us the “context” of these “revolutionary” lines.
Coincidentally, the set of all these Faiz lovers seems to contain exactly the same elements who were praising a similar revolution in JNU a few years ago when “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge” slogans were raised, and were cracking “Gaumutra jokes” against the ruling party before elections this year. (Even the Pulwama attacker, the Pulwama mastermind and the Pakistan Government have shown exactly the same literary preferences. Refer .)
Here I would share perspectives on Faiz and this poem that everyone – including those Indians who are heralding him as father of Indian poetry – seem to be conveniently unaware of.
I am presenting it in form of claims and truths about the lines, its author, its context and everything. ‘Claim’ is from Faiz’s newborn Indian kids; ‘Response’ is mine.
Claim: Anybody who has attended any such gathering — where people challenge authorities — knows this is the norm. People shout slogans. They sing songs. They celebrate great poetry.
Response: If the call for idols’ destruction means challenging authorities and is a norm of such gatherings, those attending these gatherings must be extremists. This is exactly what invaders like Qasim, Ghazni, Khiljis, Ghori, Timur, Babur, Jahangir, Shahjahan, Aurangzeb, Nadir Shah, Abdali, and terrorists like Ajmal Qasab and Aadil Dar did. There is a history of over thousand years of attacks on temples, idols and idolaters in India (read more by Dr B R Ambedkar on history of Islamic invasions in India and their connection with assault on idols here).
Creation of Pakistan came about with destruction of hundreds and thousands of temples and idols. The terrorist of Pulwama — Aadil Dar — wanted to teach a lesson to “idol-worshippers” and show the “power of Allah” to the world. In this “context” of continued assault on idols, temples and idolatry in the name of Allah for over thousand years in India, nazms like — “when idols will be removed and only Allah’s name will remain” — are seeds of terror being sowed in innocent minds.
Claim: This poem has been recited across multiple marches, across multiple universities in India before.
Response: By this logic, a chor (thief) having a history of theft should not be punished. A serial killer should not be caught. A serial rapist should not be brought to justice, because he has done this with multiple people before.
There have been many terror attacks on our universities in the past with similar anti-idolatry pro-Allah slogans. Check the history and destruction of the ancient universities — Nalanda, Vikramasila, Odantapuri, Somapura, Jagaddala, Vallabhi. All were burnt or destroyed during Islamic invasions. All had the same story.
Claim: It is a popular poem that was written by Faiz against an authoritarian military government in Pakistan.
Response: This statement has many contradictions, errors and irrelevancies. Let’s tackle them one by one.
Popular poem: Popular is a subjective term. Popular among whom? Popular for a good reason or bad? I asked my uncle — a veteran — whether he knew this famous poem. I asked my cousin who has served in Rashtriya Rifles. I asked my grandfather who fought for India’s independence. I asked a farmer. None of them knew about this poem.
I asked an Indian scientist in the UK if he knew this poem. He replied — “Yes. Poem that calls for Islamic state”.
On the other hand, Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid, Shehla Rashid, Imran Khan, and ISI are very well aware and fond of “Hum Dekhenge”.
What do I do if you sing a popular Pakistani poem asking for removal of idols? Isn’t that what Pakistan was created for? Why would I tolerate this Islamist supremacist call in India?
Written by Faiz: if someone is talking about destroying my faith and establishing one that I do now follow, how does it matter whether the threat is coming from an angel or a fairy? A man, Kamlesh Tiwari, was beheaded at the instigation by mobs from across India because he was accused of “insulting” Prophet Mohammad by calling him gay.
Nobody cared about the context. None asked him for the context. None inquired who Kamlesh Tiwari was. There was no rally or protest by the Left-liberal mobs despite LGBTQ rights being on their prime agenda. No Left-liberal came forward to inform the murderous mobs baying for Tiwari’s blood across the country that being gay is not a shame, crime or insult.
Faiz might be your prophet, why should he be mine? His poem is full of rabid anti-idolatry words and historical references. Now you must interpret his poem in my context. I don’t have time to waste on Pakistani poetry when I have to deal with Pakistani terror. It’s not my or any Indian’s responsibility to know Faiz. It is your responsibility to not sing his poem that threatens me and my faith in the literal sense.
Against the authoritarian Pakistan government: there is a redundancy error in this statement. Pakistan is authoritarian by its very existence.
Demanding the creation of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah had said: “I want to eat the cow the Hindu worships. The Moslem has nothing in common with the Hindu except his slavery to the British."
The term “Pakistan” itself meant that what was left in India after Pakistan’s creation was naapaak (land of impure). Slaughter, rape and abduction of millions of Hindu-Sikhs and millions of people losing homes was celebrated.
Pakistan’s Constitution says that no non-Muslim can become president or prime minister of Pakistan. You can’t hold a Pakistani passport until you declare that Ahmadis (a Muslim sect) are non-Muslims. Know why Pakistan is not just an authoritarian state but also an Islamic state. Read here.
The “revolutionary” Faiz opted Islamic Pakistan over secular India — Pakistan that promised to degrade Hindu-Sikh-non-Muslims to second-class citizens. No, it was not fear of death in ‘Hindu India’ that made Faiz opt for Pakistan. Sahir Ludhianvi, Ghulam Sarwar, Taj Muhammad and many migrated from Pakistan to India during and after Partition. Faiz didn’t. Faiz literally thought of creation of Pakistan as liberation of Muslims.
This is what Faiz wrote on Jinnah,
“…the man who has been responsible for the birth of a major State and the liberation of a major nation from economic and political bondage, the Quaid-i-Azam has already passed into history…. The future of Indian Muslims who have done as much and suffered far more for Pakistan than we the Muslims of Pakistan have, is still uncertain…”[Faiz’ editorial on 27.12.47, republished by Pak Tea House]
Faiz not only praises Jinnah for ‘liberating Muslim nation’ in 1947 but also thanks ‘Muslims of India who created Pakistan but didn’t move there’. (Notice that while anti-CAA protesters and fans of Faiz in India want everyone to believe that Indian Muslims rejected Pakistan in 1947, Faiz claimed that Indian Muslims had done as much for Pakistan’s creation as Muslims of Pakistan. Who is lying?)
Is this a coincidence that all protests against CAA-NRC — something done to partially heal wounds of persecuted non-Muslims and idolater Hindus of the fanatic Islamic state(s) that I find extremely necessary — use a Pakistani poet’s poem that has derogatory and violent references towards idolatry and a call for an exclusive Islamic state?
All CAA-NRC protest mobs are rubbing salt on the wounds of crores of idolator victims of Partition and current Islamic states when their settlement in India is opposed using poems filled with the very attacks on idolatry written by a Pakistani, who chose an Islamist Pakistan over a secular India.
Claim: But Faiz was a revolutionary. He always stood against Pakistan’s authoritarian regimes.
Response: Utter lies. First of all he should have opposed Pakistan, the original sin as explained above. To an idolater like me whose family was slaughtered in 1947 with the same slogans against idolatry, Pakistan remains an enemy in totality. An internal fight between an Islamic state’s civilians and military who both are united against my idolator faith and existence, has no significance for me. Hence, even if Faiz challenged military of Pakistan (which is again a lie), he remains a part of the problem. He chose Pakistan over India. That’s enough for me.
Faiz standing against authoritarian regimes is the biggest lie anyway. He chose an authoritarian state — Pakistan — to live. He led Pakistan Times in 1947 itself. Immediately after the 1971 genocide of three million Bengalis by Pakistan (primarily a Hindu genocide), Faiz accepted the position of adviser to Ministries of Culture and Education under Bhutto. Bhutto, along with Military dictator Ayub Khan, got millions of Bengalis slaughtered and women raped in his urge to grab power in Pakistan against the mandate.
Claim: It is not a poem promoted by Islamists.
Response: Wrong. This poem was instrumental in kickstarting Imran Khan’s (who opposition called Taliban Khan for his blatant justifications of suicide attacks by Taliban) politics in 2013. The nazm was part of Khan’s Islamabad jalsa of 2013, and was also widely used by his party during its election campaign later.
That Khan has been propped up by the Pakistan Army and the ISI is known to all. Check Chaudhary Pervez Ilahi or reports by other prominent Pakistani commentators on how serving ISI chief — General Shuja Pasha — funded Imran Khan’s PTI and arm-twisted political parties and leaders to surrender to Khan.
Claim: Faiz’s poem is used in a particular context and should be interpreted accordingly.
1. Exactly. Faiz’s poem is used by Islamists to establish that they are more Islamists than their adversaries in the market. Had he been an anti-Islamist revolutionary as falsely claimed, he would have attacked symbols of Islamism.
2. Is it the first law of thermodynamics that only Faiz’s words will have context and others’ won’t? Our criticism of Faiz must also be seen in the context of our fear of persecution for being an idolater.
Leave this bogus argument aside. Let’s now see what the context of the actual lines Faiz wrote in the poem was. I could have given context myself as I am versed with Islamic history and scriptures. But sharing Sharjeel Imam’s words here. He writes:
In this.. Faiz uses the image of a victorious Prophet Mohammad emptying Kaaba of hundreds of idols after the conquest of Makkah.. The term mardood e haram, i.e. barred out of sacred places, refers to Mohammad and his companion who were forced to leave Makkah 8 years earlier, because of the Islamic rejection of idolatry. The mardood e haram finally defeat the Meccan idolators, come back to the Haram [kaaba], and purify it from idols.
The context is clear. It’s all about hate for idolatry. So much hate that all falsehood and negativities were being termed as “but or idol” by Islamic scholars. This is ingrained hate for idolaters that Left-liberals import from Urdu poetry without applying brains. Not anymore. Enough is enough.
Claim: Faiz was a proclaimed atheist.
Response: How does it matter whether the dagger slitting my throat was made in India or China? Moreover, if an atheist wants all idols removed and Allah’s name alone, who needs Islamists?
Do some homework. Faiz was not an atheist.
He married a British lady — Alys. Alys converted to Islam. She became Kulsoom. They had a ‘nikah’ — an Islamic marriage in which both bride and groom must be Muslims.
“In Rudaad e Qafas, Major Ishaq, who was a companion of Faiz, mentions that when they were jailed together, Faiz famously taught Quran and Hadees to the prisoners in the Hyderabad jail. Faiz himself mentions that a colonel explicitly asked him, why he was teaching Quran when he was an atheist. When Faiz clarifies that he is a Muslim, the colonel starts appreciating his Quranic lessons,” Sharjeel Imam writes.
Finally, a litmus test for every participant of anti-CAA marches and fans of Faiz’s “Hum Dekhenge”. If you think you and your fellow participants have no hate and agenda when you recite “when idols will be removed, only Allah’s name will remain” and defend it, can you recite the lines of this nazm after replacing “idols” with “Kaba”/ “Rasul” and “Allah” with “Ram”?
If you can, post your videos on social media and start singing the amended version in the next anti-CAA protests. Ask all of your fellow participants to do the same. Test your honesty and that of those who you are defending as ‘peaceful students’. Count how many fans of anti-CAA protests/Hum Dekhenge are indeed secular and not religious fanatics.
(The full version of this post was originally published on Dr Vashi Sharma’s blog here. It has been reproduced with permission. Views expressed in this article are of the author alone).