Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ghalib, Iqbal and Faraz :-(

On social media (Facebook, What’sApp groups etc) I am seeing this mentioned again and again. Some ash’aar (couplets) are presented, claiming them to be written by none other than Ghalib, Iqbal and Faraz. A typical post will mention something like following. There will also be claims such as how these poets have expressed this across 3 centuries, and how interesting it is to see them offer different viewpoints on the same subject. Some posts also offer translations.
Ghalib Vs Iqbal Vs Faraz

Ghalib Sharab Peene De Masjid Mein Beth Ker,
Ya Wo Jagah Bata Jahan Khuda Nahi.

Masjid Khuda Ka Ghar Hai Peene Ki Jagah Nahi,
Kafir K Dil Mein Ja Wahan Khuda Nahi.

Kafir K Dil Se Ayah On Ye Dekh Ker Faraz,
Khuda Mojood Hai Wahan Per Usay Pata Nahi

This is misinformation at it’s finest. There is so much wrong here, that I do not even know where to begin. Maybe I can start by saying, everything, EVERYTHING is wrong. 

The first sher is well known. Except that the first word is “zaahid”, meaning a religious person. The order of words is wrong, and last word “nahi” is actually “na ho”. That’s not the real problem though. Replacing the first word with “Ghalib” does not make it a sher by Ghalib. Sometimes it’s hard to ascertain the originator of a very old sher. In this case, I am absolutely certain. This sher is not present in Deewaan-e-Ghalib. It’s easy to check. Accuracy of Ghalib’s deewaan is also not a suspect, because Ghalib himself published it. There is no argument here. To some it may be a good sher to recite at party over some wine, but please do not associate this sher with Ghalib.

Second sher is even more of a travesty. First of all it’s not a very good sher to begin with, and it’s definitely not by the great Iqbal. Now I do not have complete works of Iqbal, like I have for Ghalib and Faraz. But I do not need that in order to bet my money that this sher is not written by Alama Iqbal whose poetic prowess was boundless. When it comes to decide who is the best Urdu poet of all, his name features at the top of list, along with Meer and Ghalib. 

It’s not just the question of quality. Let’s get this straight. Iqbal was a devout Muslim. He would have never said that God does not exist in any place. Period. Secondly, he was religious, but not narrow minded. As a man of very high intellect, as a philosopher, he would never disrespect any other religion. Associating that sher with Iqbal is same as insulting him. Let’s not do that mistake. 

Now about the last sher. Faraz in my opinion, is the best Urdu poet of our times. He was primarily a poet of love and emotions. He hardly ever wrote about religion. The last sher is not his style either. More importantly, I have his works, I have checked, and I can tell you, the sher is not in any of his collections. 

All these couplets are not that good, but it’s my subjective opinion. The fact is, there is no deep message here. It’s fluff. And none of the great poets ever wrote those substandard couplets.

When I derive pleasure from the works someone, an artist, a singer, a poet - I feel gratitude. I feel I owe them something back. This is my attempt to do the right thing by bringing more awareness. I urge you to do the same thing. Please spread the word. You can link to this post, or just respond on social media pointing out that the attribution is wrong.

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