Faiz Ahmad Faiz

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Faiz Ahmad Faiz (13 February 1911 – 20 November 1984) was an Urdu Marxist, poet, and author. He was one of the most celebrated writers of the Urdu language, equally revered in both Pakistan and India.

Quotes[edit]

  • Human ingenuity, science and industry have made it possible to provide each one of us everything we need to be comfortable provided these boundless treasures of nature and production are not declared the property of a greedy few but are used for the benefit of all of humanity… However, this is only possible if the foundations of human society are based not on greed, exploitation and ownership but on justice, equality, freedom and the welfare of everyone… I believe that humanity which has never been defeated by its enemies will, after all, be successful; at long last, instead of wars, hatred and cruelty, the foundation of humankind will rest on the message of the great Persian poet Hafez Shiraz: ‘Every foundation you see is faulty, except that of Love, which is faultless.
    • Speech at the Lenin Peace Prize ceremony, 1962, quoted by Zafar Ullah Poshni in ""My Jail Mate"
  • I had to listen when my friends told me to wash my eyes with blood
    Everything at once was tangled in blood —
    each face, each idol, red everywhere.
    Blood swept over the sun, washing away its gold.
    The moon erupted with blood, its silver extinguished.
    • quoted from Tariq Ali - The Clash of Fundamentalisms_ Crusades, Jihads and Modernity-Verso (2002)

Poetry[edit]

  • Last night your lost memory so came into the heart
    As spring comes in the wilderness quietly,
    As the zephyr moves slowly in deserts,
    As rest comes without cause to a sick man.
    • Poems by Faiz, translated by Victor Kiernan, 1971, p. 49
  • Love, do not ask me for that love again.
    Once I thought life, because you lived, a prize—
    The time's pain nothing, you alone were pain;
    Your beauty kept earth's springtime's from decay,
    My universe held only your bright eyes—
    If I won you, fate would be at my feet.
    It was not true, all this, but only wishing;
    Our world knows other torments than of love,
    And other happiness than a fond embrace.
    Dark curse of countless ages, savagery.
    • Poems by Faiz, translated by Victor Kiernan, 1971, p. 65

Stanzas[edit]

  • If ink and pen are snatched from me, shall I
    Who have dipped my finger in my heart's blood complain—
    Of if they seal my tongue, when I have made
    A mouth of every round link of my chain?
    • Poems by Faiz, translated by Victor Kiernan, 1971, p. 117

Quotes about[edit]

  • One of Pakistan’s greatest Urdu poets of the twentieth century, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, had spent the first few years of Zia’s time in power in prison and then in exile in Beirut, preferring the chaos of Lebanon’s civil war to the darkness of repression. An uncle and mentor of Taseer, the leftist poet of love and revolution had embraced the intellectual effervescence of Lebanon and found kindred spirits among the Palestinian revolutionaries sitting on café terraces during cease-fires. But the Palestinians kept attracting worse and worse Israeli retaliation and, in the summer of 1982, Israeli tanks reached Beirut. Faiz and his wife were forced to flee and return to Pakistan. He died in his home country a month before Zia’s referendum, perhaps in anticipation of the unbearable realization that the general had found a way, yet again, to stay in power.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Faiz’s revolutionary poetry was still banned by the regime, but one woman, a singer, defied Zia. It was always the women of Pakistan who gave the dictator the most grief. A year after the poet’s death, Iqbal Bano, a national icon, obtained rare permission to hold a concert in Lahore. There were some things even Zia couldn’t refuse. And there was a way of getting around the ban of singing and dancing: asking for permission to hold a “cultural event.” Bano wore a sari, a dress forbidden under Zia both because it was associated with enemy India and because it showed a woman’s midriff. And then she lent her voice, powerful but melodious, controlled but emotional, to the most defiant of all of Faiz’s verses, written in 1979 in protest at Zia’s authoritarian Islam. Hum dekhenge, she sang, we shall witness. For ten long minutes she sang the verses as the emotions of the crowd of fifty thousand Pakistanis rose and swelled with her, applause punctuating every pause.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)
  • Faiz’s verses were deeply subversive. And they seemed directed not only at Zia the oppressor but also at those who proclaimed themselves the guardians of sacred places: the Saudis. There were screams of Inqilab zindabad at the concert: long live the revolution, in Urdu, long live the fight against Zia. A live recording of the song was smuggled out, and copies made on cassette tapes were passed around secretly and copied again until they had traveled well beyond the country’s borders. The Pakistan that Faiz had known was dying. So was the Beirut he had loved and left. The Lebanon of Musa Sadr and Hussein al-Husseini was no more.
    • Kim Ghattas, Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East (2020)

External links[edit]

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