Thursday, June 12, 2008

Hazrat Ameer Khusro

Born at Delhi in 1253 AD, Amir Khusro served seven kings and three princes from the times of Sultan Balban to Mohammad Bin Tughlaq. His passion for his birthplace Delhi was ripped to the extent that when he was posted in Patiali, he not only lamented but completed a masanwi under the title ‘Shikayatnamah-e-Patiali’. Condemning Patiali and recalling the beauty and pleasure of his hometown Delhi, he compares himself with Joseph, who in separation from his home town Kan’an, feeling himself distressed, always pined for it.

Poetry was inherent in Ameer Khusro. The day he was born, his father took him to a God absorbed darwesh, who said to his father, "You have brought one who would go two steps a head of khaqani (nightingale)."
In his early childhood, Khusro had developed a putting together in verse form worse of discordant meaning. Up to the age of sixteen, whichever book of verse he happened to lay his hand on, he tried to follow its author in the art of composition.

His adolescence ushered him under the guidance of both Mufti Muizzudin Gharifi and Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia, his mentor. Both of them guided him to the path of following the style of Saddi and Kamal Isfahani. Even at that young age, he used to lambaste his contemporaries, including Hasan Dehlavi in qitah (quatrains).

"My verses have so far been collected in three diwans, would you believe, that if there were a system of notation for registering musical compositions, my performance in the field of music too, would have been collected in three registers" He invented number of ragas and raginis which include such novelties as Qaul, Qulbanah, Taranah. He also composed verses in Persian and Hindwi.

On the one hand Sultan Aalauddin, for the sake of righteousness and expediency of empire, stamped out all kinds of intoxicants, the prohibited things, the wherewithals of disobedience, debauchery and wickedness with the use of chastisement and and on the other side Ameer Khusro opened wide the gate of discipleship and accepted all kinds of men as his murids, be they high or low, wealthy or impecunious, noble or faqir, learned or ignorant, high born or low born, urbane or rustic, soldier or warrior.

They all abstained from improper acts and if anyone would commit a sin, he would come and confess his guilt before Khusro and would indeed renew his discipleship. Men and women, young and old, merchants and ordinary men, slaves and servants and even young children began offering prayers regularly including the late morning prayers. Even the royal ameers, the armed acquirers, secretaries, clerks, sepoys and royal slaves, were particular about offering these supererogatory prayers. Owing to Khusro’s barakah (blessings), most people of the area including the high and low and irrespective of cast and creed became involved in prayers, tasawwuf (mysticism) and tark (renunciation) and turned to piety. During the last few years of Sultan Alauddin’s reign no person would talk of liquor, of beloveds, of debauchery and gambling, of obscenities and indecent life and no one would commit usury or usurp others’ rights.

Out of the teachings of Khusro, the shop people gave up lying and cheating and underweighing. Scholars visiting Khusro would talk of books on tasawwuf such as Fawaid-ul-Fuwad, Qut-ul-Qulub, Ihya-ul-Uloom, Kashif-ul-Mahjub, Awarif and Malfuzat of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. People visited the bookshops in search of the books on suluk (deportment and self-control). Owing to the increased demand among the Sufis for lota (water vessel used specially for ritual cleansing) and tasht (basin for washing hands), the prices of these articles had slightly gone up showing that most people bent towards spiritual Sufi lifestyle.

Ameer Khusro served as an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity in his time. His Hindu or Hindwi poetry for which he has been so popular among the school-going children as well as elderly generation. In his introduction to Ghurra-ul-Kamal, Khusro writes, "A few poems that I have composed in Hindwi, I have made a gift of them to my friends. I am a Hindustani Turk. I compose verses in Hindwi with the fluency of running water."

It was he, who himself called Tuti-e-Hind’(parrot of India). ‘To speak the truth, I am an Indian Parrot. If you want to listen from me some subtle verses, ask me then to recite some of my Hindwi poems." He himself did not collect and preserve his Hindwi poems but made a gift of them to his friends. His poem, Kaliq Bari is a lexicon composed of synonymous words, from four languages, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hindwi.

Hazrat Ameer Khusro was a devout Muslim. He was a friend and disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia. He was a profound expounder of ethics and strict observant of Sharia. Sharia acquires meaning when it maintains a close relation with reality partaking the essence of reality-love of God. If Sharia is lacking in that or in other words if it is without ain (the alphabet meaning the essence of God-love) it becomes shar (evil). Like Shah Waliullah of the subsequent year, his attitude towards the Sufis of hypocrisy was very critical.

Hazrat Ameer Khusro’s spiritualism, in fact, consisted in his philosophy of love, which he shared with all the Sufis. The depth of humanism in his poetry springs from that source of ‘Divine love’. He has composed as many as 99 works and four lac lyrics, which cover almost every aspect of life. He was a living legend. He was more of a qalandar (a free soul), though not less of a Sufi, Khusro’s humanism transcended all barriers of cast, colour and creed. In an autocratic age, when the king’s wilful actions were unrestricted, Khusro had the courage and the intrepidity to speak before the king, of the value of the equality of the man.

By Firoz Bakht Ahmed

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In poetry, the ghazal (Persian: غزل; Turkish gazel) is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain. Each line must share the same meter. The Arabic word "ghazal" is pronounced roughly like the English word "guzzle", but with a different first consonant, and literally means "speaking with women." A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasiida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarcan sonnet. In its style and content it is a genre which has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world.
The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century under the influence of the new Islamic Sultanate courts and Sufi mystics. Exotic to the region, as is indicated by the very sounds of the name itself when properly pronounced as ġazal, with its very un-Indian initial voiced velar fricative g. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of Urdu poetry, today, it is found in the poetry of many languages.
Ghazals were written by the Persian mystics and poets Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (13th century) and Hafez (14th century), the Turkish poet Fuzuli (16th century), as well as Mirza Ghalib (1797–1869) and Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), who both wrote Ghazals in Persian and Urdu. Through the influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), the ghazal became very popular in Germany in the 19th century, and the form was used extensively by Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) and August von Platen (1796–1835). The Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali was a proponent of the form, both in English and in other languages; he edited a volume of "real ghazals in English."
In some modernized ghazals the poet's name is featured somewhere in the last verse.

The ghazal not only has a specific form, but traditionally deals with just one subject: Love. And not any kind of love, but specifically, an illicit, and unattainable love. The subcontinental ghazals have an influence of Islamic Mysticism and the subject of love can usually be interpreted for a higher being or for a mortal beloved. The love is always viewed as something that will complete a human being, and if attained will lift him or her into the ranks of the wise, or will bring satisfaction to the soul of the poet. Traditional ghazal love may or may not have an explicit element of sexual desire in it, and hence the love may be spiritual.
The Persian historian Ehsan Yar-Shater notes that "As a rule, the beloved is not a woman, but a young man. In the early centuries of Islam, the raids into Central Asia produced many young slaves. Slaves were also bought or received as gifts. They were made to serve as pages at court or in the households of the affluent, or as soldiers and body-guards. Young men, slaves or not, also, served wine at banquets and receptions, and the more gifted among them could play music and maintain a cultivated conversation. It was love toward young pages, soldiers, or novices in trades and professions which was the subject of lyrical introductions to panegyrics from the beginning of Persian poetry, and of the ghazal." (Yar-Shater, Ehsan. 1986. Persian Poetry in the Timurid and Safavid Periods, Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.973-974. 1986)
The ghazal is always written from the point of view of the unrequited lover, whose beloved is portrayed as unattainable. Most often either the beloved does not return the poet's love or returns it without sincerity, or else the societal circumstances do not allow it. The lover is aware and resigned to this fate but continues loving nonetheless; the lyrical impetus of the poem derives from this tension. Representations of the lover's powerlessness to resist his feelings often include lyrically exaggerated violence. The beloved's power to captivate the speaker may be represented in extended metaphors about the "arrows of his eyes", or by referring to the beloved as an assassin or a killer. Take for example the following couplets from Amir Khusro's Persian ghazal Nami danam chi manzil buud shab:


Nami-danam chi manzil buud shab jaay ki man buudam;
Baharsu raqs-e bismil buud shab jaay ki man buudam.
Pari paikar nigaar-e sarw qadde laala rukhsare;
Sarapa aafat-e dil buud shab jaay ki man buudam.


I wonder what was the place where I was last night,
All around me were half-slaughtered victims of love, tossing about in agony.
There was a nymph-like beloved with cypress-like form and tulip-like face,
Ruthlessly playing havoc with the hearts of the lovers.