Sunday, May 01, 2011

Literature in Bidar

The prayer for all


None would imagine that the piety-filled prayer that emerges from the tomb of the Prophet in Makkah has its roots in Bidar. It was written by Hazrat Ishqui, a poet from Bidar

HOARY PAST A file photo of Rajya Sabha member, the late Maqsood Ali Khan, felicitating Rashid Ahmed Rashid in Bidar. Rashid was called Shayar-e-Hayat by fans
The air around the Masjid –E-Nabavi in Mecca in Saudi Arabia reverberates with the sound of the prayer “Ya Shafi Ul Wara Salam Un Alaik…”, five times a day, everyday. This mosque, also called the Mosque of Prophet Mohammad, co ntains the tomb of Prophet Mohammad and is considered holy by Muslims all over the world.

The prayer sung here is written in praise of the Prophet. This beautiful piece of Arabic poetry is the creation of Hazrat Ishqui, who lived in Bidar in Karnataka nearly 200 years ago. The saint poet Hazrat Ishqui is revered across the globe. His religious writings in Arabic and Farsi are still recited by believers in Iran, Egypt, Indonesia and other countries.

Hazrat Ishqui was born in Bidar. Kings of the Asaf Zahi dynasty supported him. He lived in this historic city till he was very old. He died in Hyderabad around 1805.

Bidar has had a glorious literary tradition. Its fame was so widespread that modern writer Mohsin Quamal described it in his shayari: “Bidar Hai Jiska Naam Voh Ek Shaher –E –Gazal Hai” (Bidar is that place which is the city of songs).

It is said that the lyrical novel “Masnavi Padam Rao Kadam Rao”, published in Bidar between 1325–1338 is the first ever publication in Urdu. “Research in Karachi University in Pakistan has confirmed this,” says Quazi Arshad Ali, editor of the Hindi daily, Bidar Ki Awaaz.

The first king to patronise arts and literature was Sultan Humanyun of the Bahmani Sultanate in the 14th century.

The Bahmani Kings ruled this province till the late 16th Century. Baridshahi kings took over from them. Bidar was the capital for both kingdoms. Both these dynasties supported writers. Prominent among those who received their patronage are Abdul Quareem Hamdani, Mulla Nizami, Syed Taheer, Mulla Dawoodi, Mulla Quashfi, Mahamood and Qutbuddin Quadri.

A very important poet of the period was Feroze Bidri who lived during the transition period between Bahmani and Baridshahi kings. He is credited to have brought out the first poetry collection in Urdu. His collections are preserved in the Kolkota museum. Great poets like Mulla Wazhi and Ibne-e-Nishati have called him Ustad Shayar or “teacher”, informs literary critic Anees Hashmi. After spending his youth in Bidar which was then called Mohammadabad- Bidar, Feroze settled in Golconda where he died.

Urdu was made the official language of the state by the Nizams of Hyderabad. “It is the only period in Indian history that Urdu has enjoyed the status of an official language,” observes Mr. Ali. The Nizam rule ended in 1948. However, literature continued to flourish in Bidar in independent India.

Interestingly, a significant number of non-Muslims also wrote Urdu poetry. Works of Hindus like Pandit Yashwantrao Korekal of Manik Nagar and Pandit Damodar Pant ‘Zaki’ and Sikhs like Sardar Charan Singh Charan of Bidar are popular even today.

In the last 100 years, the direction of poetry has changed and writers focus more on crisis of modern living. Among the modern writers are Hazrat Ghulam Mohinuddin Fitrat, Maqdoom Mohinuddin, Hazrat Wafa, Sikandar Ali Wajd, Hazrat Kunj-E-Nasheen, Syed Hussein Saifi and Hazrat Sajjad Basha Sajjad. The most famous poet in the recent times is Rashid Ahmed Rashid. He is called “Shayar-E-Hayat” or the Sun who shines on the land of poetry. He went to Osmania University for studies and came back to settle in Bidar. In the annals of Urdu literary history, he has been compared to Jigar Moradabadi and Josh Maliabadi of Uttar Pradesh. He is known as the poet who turned the attention of the poetical world away from the themes of love, beauty, and the intoxicating effect of love and liqour. He spoke of human suffering, enlightenment and philosophy. His first collection, Kham-E-Abrao (’The twist of the eye brow’) earned him instant praise and recognition. His most famous work is Ilham-O- Yakeen, or “Enlightenment”. It is a treatise in philosophy and dwells into problems faced by mankind and its possible solutions. He reflected the poverty and deprivation of his fellowmen in the poem “Sitam Rashida Hoon”.

His contemporary Suleiman Khatib popularised the Dakhani Urdu or the desi dialect. Khatib’s poetry is marked with wit and humour. His couplets are known for their multiple layers of meanings. His “Kivde Ka Ban” describes a garden of beautiful flowers that may be concealing dangerous snakes.

Other important writers are Ata Kalyanvi who popularised the Naat style of poetry and Desi Bukhari of Chitaguppa who used the Dakhani Urdu. Allah Baksh Bakshi and Mohammad Jahangeer have also helped put the name of Bidar on the map of Urdu poetry.

Writers like Anees Hashmi, Quaisar Rehman Basit Khan Sofi and others are still active and continue to bring out poetry and works of criticism.

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