Shah Hussain’s poetry panacea for worries, says scholar
ISLAMABAD, April 15: The message of Shah Hussain’s poetry is universal love, fraternity, equality and peaceful co-existence and it still possess remedy for most of our socio-economic ills.
Prof Sajjad Shaikh said this while delivering his paper on “Shah Hussain - The Red-Robed Saint” at TVO here on Friday. The event was organized by the Islamabad Cultural Forum.
Mr Shaikh said Shah Hussain should be studied in the backdrop of the Mughal emperor Akbar’s era in which he lived. In his poetry, he said, one could find traces of Akbar’s liberalism with his all-embracing religious doctrines and policies, Bhugti Tehrik, Vedantic Mysticism and the impact of Guru Nanak’s Movement on the Indian masses.
Though, he said, Shah Hussain’s views were coloured by his contemporary cultural and social ethos, his philosophy had a universal appeal and was relevant to our own age because it could not be confined to a particular period of history.
He said Shah Hussain’s verses depicted a bitter criticism and unequivocal condemnation of the centuries-old feudal system as well as its chief traditional supporters and the yes-men - the Mullah and Qazi - who represented corrupt judiciary and religious orthodoxy.
These negative characters, he said, had been condemned in Shah Hussain’s poetry both in plain and indirect language as well as in the garb of poetic devices.
He said the poet used animal imagery and symbols like crows, kites, vultures, monkeys, foxes, wolves, vipers and serpents to highlight the cunning nature, cruelty and monstrosity of these negative characters.
“Shah Hussain is different from other mystics whose main concern is union with the divine merely through renunciation. According to Shah Hussain, the ultimate union with God is possible through grace but in order to be eligible for the divine grace, man must perform good deeds,” Prof Shaikh said.
Born in Lahore in 1538 to Shaikh Usman, Madhu Lal Hussain, popularly known as Shah Hussain, was a rebel. Once Mughal emperor Akbar called Shah Hussain and wanted to test his spirituality by giving him a bottle full of wine, Prof Shaikh said.
He said the saint filled eight bowls out of it and offered them to the emperor one by one. Akbar sipped a few drops from each bowl and was astonished to find that each of them contained a different drink such as water, milk, honey etc.
Science, Prof Shaikh, said had conquered time and space but the distance between human hearts was increasing day by day. In the age of industrialisation and supremacy of machines, people had become machine-like in their approach to their fellows, while the insatiable lust of the big businessmen and industrialists for wealth had carried them far beyond human values resulting in the break-up of humanitarian and social bonds.
During the past three decades, he said, a sincere attempt had been made to revive Shah Hussain’s works, which was a significant step in the right direction to recapture our lost identity and heritage.
Ishfaq Saleem Mirza of Islamabad Cultural Forum said the great mystic must be analysed in the social context of his own age.
Curtsey:DAWN.COM, — PUBLISHED APR 16, 2005
‘Shah Hussain felt and voiced pain of the downtrodden’
LAHORE: “Shah Hussain is a poet of pain who draws sustenance in his poetry from the sufferings and anguish of people. He was a wordsmith whose Kaafis were composed in a cultural template of the downtrodden and economically and socially marginalised people of that period. His poetry is superbly relevant to the present times when the people of this country are suffering the same travails”.
This was stated by World Punjabi Congress (WPC) Chairman Fakhar Zaman at Shah Hussain Conference, organised by Pakistan Academy of Letters, International Writer’s Council, WPC and Idara Fikr-o-Funn.
He said Shah Hussain was among those Sufis who lived among the masses and could feel their pain. The spinning wheel or ‘Charkha’ in his poetry was symbolic of the entire span of human life with all its concomitants and vicissitudes, he said, adding that his diction was superb, tender and direct and that’s why it touched heart.
Shah Hussain, Zaman said, used to stand on one leg in River Ravi to pray for the salvation of the poor and the hapless. He was also a revolutionary and a rebel of his times and was said to have witnessed the hanging of Dullah Bhatti in Lahore, he added.
Mr Zaman further said his love for Madhu was a metaphor for tolerance, secularism and inter-faith harmony. He belonged to Mulamatiya school, expressing his resentment against the oppressive society and establishment of the time, he added.
He reiterated the WPC demand to declare Punjabi as medium of instruction at the primary level and the establishment of a Punjabi University in Lahore to be named after Shah Hussain.
He said the conference was the fifth in the series on Sufi poets of Pakistan, adding that the next one would be on Sultan Bahu and Khawaja Farid, to be followed by conferences on Sufi poets of Sindh, Balochistan and KP, wherein scholars from these provinces would also be invited.
Dr Imrana Mushtaq, the president of International Writer’s Council, dwelt upon various aspects of Shah Hussain’s kaafis, adding that he was a great influence on other Sufi poets.
Idara Fikar-o-Funn head Mumtaz Rashid said Shah Hussain’s poetry was representative of folk culture of Punjab.
Academy’s Assistant Director Muhammad Jameel said such conferences would promote national integration.
Journalist Akram Sheikh discussed at length the history of Sufi movements and Bhagti Tehreek in the subcontinent.
Writer Ghafar Shahzad in a thought-provoking article interpreted various dimensions of Shah Hussain’s Kaafis in the perspective of present social and political conditions. He endorsed WCP’s suggestions that Sufism should be taught as a compulsory subject at college and university level.
In the end, Pakistan Academy of Letters director and eminent writer Asim Butt stated that the academy had published the translations of Sufi poets of Pakistan into major languages of the world and the books were available in foreign libraries.
Neelama Durrani and Haroon Adeem also shed light on Shah Hussain’s poetry.
Published in Dawn, July 16th, 2015