Kiva Lending Team: Faiz Ahmad Faiz
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We are students, friends, and family members of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, one of the greatest poets of Urdu and Persian Language.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz (Urdu: فیض احمد فیض; February 13, 1911 – November 20, 1984) MBE, NI, was an influential left-wing intellectual, revolutionary poet, and one of the most famous poets of the Urdu language from Pakistan. A rising figure and notable member of the Progressive Writers' Movement (PWM), Faiz was an avowed Marxist and was a recipient of Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union in 1962. Despite being repeatedly accused of atheism by the political and military establishment, Faiz's poetry suggested his complicated relationship with religion in general and Islam in particular. He was, nevertheless, inspired by South Asia's Sufi traditions.
Faiz was controversially named and linked by Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan's government for hatching the conspiracy (see Rawalpindi conspiracy case) against Ali Khan's government, being Plot's central leader which was supported by left-wing military sponsor Major-General Akbar Khan. Having been arrested by Military police, Faiz among with others received a maximum sentence by JAG branch, although his sentence was commuted after the assassination Liaquat Ali Khan in 1951.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz was born in a small village, Kala Kader located near by Sialkot (a city near distance from Lahore), United Punjab of British Indian Empire to the parents Sultan Mohammad Khan and mother née Sultan Fatima. Faiz hailed from an academic and well-known literary family, where a company of local poets and writers were usually be at his home which met on a annual basis to promote the literacy movement in his native province. His father was a hired barrister for the British Government, a learned man, a self-taught person, and an autodidact who wrote and published the biography of Amir Abdur Rahman, an Emir of Imperial Afghanistan. Although his family was a devoted Islam practitioner, but Faiz was brought upon to secular mode. Following the Muslim South Asian tradition, his family directed him to study Islamic studies at the local Mosque to be oriented to the basics of religious studies by Maulvi Ibrahim Mir, a tradition was that of Muslim orthodoxy where he memorized Koran and learned Arabic, Persian, Urdu language and the Quran. However, according to a book written by Sarvat Rehman, Faiz was brought up as Orthodox Muslim, saw himself as an agnostic, though a devoted member of Muslim society. Faiz was also a Pakistan nationalist, often quoting "Purify your hearts, so you can save the country...".
His father later pulled him out from Islamic school, as he wanted his son to follow the foot steps of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, sending him to attend the Scotch Mission School managed and run by the local British family for academic education and after matriculation joined Murray College at Lahore for intermediate study and graduation. In 1926, Faiz enrolled in Department of Languages and Fine Arts of the Government College University (GCU). At there, his most influential professors were Professor Mir Hassan and Professor Shamsul Allam who taught Arabic language. Professor Hasan had also taught the renowned philosopher, poet, and politician of South Asia, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. In 1926, Faiz attained his B.A. with Honors in Arabic language, under the supervision of Professor Mir Hassan. In 1930, Fair joined the post-graduate programme of the GCU, obtaining M.A. in English literature in 1932. The same year, Faiz passed his post-graduate exam in the 1st Division, for the master's degree from the Punjab University's Oriental College, where he obtained M.A. in Arabic language in 1932. It was during his college years, when he met with M. N. Roy and Muzaffar Ahmed who deeply influenced Faiz in Marxist ideas, becoming the member of Communist Party.
In 1935, Faiz joined the faculty of Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, serving as the lecturer in English and British literature. Later some time in 1937, Faiz moved to Lahore to reunite with his family after accepting the professorship at the Hailey College of Commerce, initially teaching introductory courses on economics and commerce. It was short live when he applied for the British Indian Army in 1942. He was given commissioned and reached the rank of Captain in British India Army. Faiz served with the unit led by Akbar Khan, a left-wing general, whom Faiz had deep connections. Although, he was kept out of the World war operations, Faiz was given a desk assignment when he joined the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in New Delhi. In 1943, Faiz was upgraded to Major rank; and a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1944. Faiz was among the very first and one of the very few commissioned officer who opted for newly established State of Pakistan, proceeded his service with the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Public Relations. However, after witnessing the 1947 Kashmir war with India, Faiz decided to leave the army and submitting his resignation letter to Army Board of Service in 1947.
In 1936, Faiz joined a literacy movement, Progressive Writers' Movement (PWM) and was appointed its first secretary by the fellow Marxist Sajjad Zaheer. The movement was extremely influential and devoted for human welfare cause after the partition of India. In East and West-Pakistan, the movement has gained considerable support in public sector and civil society. In 1938, he became editor-in-chief of monthly Urdu magazine "Adab-e-Latif (lit. Belles Letters) until 1946. In 1941, Faiz published his first literacy book "Naqsh-e-Faryadi" (lit. Imprints) and joined the Pakistan Arts Council (PAC) in 1947. From 1959-62, Faiz served as the secretary of Pakistan Arts Council, and later became Rector of Abdullah Haroon College in 1964. The same year, Faiz was succeeded as vice-president of Pakistan Arts Council in 1964 which he presided the council until 1972 after picking up the government assignment.
Faiz was among a good friend of Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko who once said "In Faiz's autobiography... is his poetry, the rest is just a footnote". During his lifetime, Faiz published eight books and received accolades for his works. Faiz was a humanist, a lyrical poet, whose popularity reached to neighboring India and Soviet Union. Indian biographer Amaresh Datta, compared Faiz as "equal esteem in both East and West". Throughout his life, his revolutionary poetry addressed the tyranny of military dictatorships, tyranny, and oppressions, Faiz himself never compromised on his principles despite being threatened by the right-wing parties in Pakistan. Faiz's writings are comparatively new verse form in Urdu poetry based on Western models. Faiz was influenced by the works of Allama Iqbal and Mirza Ghalib, assimilating the modern Urdu with the classical. Faiz used more and more demands for the development of socialism in the country, finding socialism the only solution of country's problems.] During his life, Faiz was concerned with more broader socialists ideas, using Urdu poetry for the cause and expansion of socialism in the country. The Urdu poetry and Ghazals influenced Faiz to continue his political themes as non-violent and peaceful, opposing the far left politics in Pakistan.
Faiz believed in Internationalism and emphasized the philosophy on Global village. In 1947, he became editor of the Pakistan Times and in 1948, Faiz became vice-president of the Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF). In 1950, Faiz joined the delegation of Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan, initially leading a business delegation in the United States, attending the meeting at the International Labour Organization (ILO) at San Francisco, California. During 1948-50, Faiz led the PTUF's delegation in Geneva, and became an active member of World Peace Council (WPC).
Faiz was a well-known communist in the country and had been long associated with the Communist Party of Pakistan, which he founded in 1947 along with Marxist Sajjad Zaheer and Jalaludin Abdur Rahim. Faiz had his first exposure to socialism and communism before the independence of State of Pakistan which he thought he was consistent with his progressive thinking. Faiz had long associated ties with the Soviet Union, a friendship with atheist country that later honored him with high award. Even after his death, the Russian government honored him by calling him "our poet" to many Russians.However his popularity was waned in Bangladesh after 1971 when Dhaka did not win much support for him. Faiz and other pro-communists had no political role in the country, despite their academic brilliance.
Although Faiz was a not a hardcore or far-left communist, he spent most of the 1950s and 1960s promoting the cause of communism in Pakistan.During the time when Faiz was editor of the Pakistan Times, one of the leading newspapers of the 1950s, he lent editorial support to the party. He was also involved in the circle lending support to military personnel (e.g. Major General Akbar Khan). His involvement with the party and Major General Akbar Khan's coup plan led to his imprisonment later.
Later in his life, while giving an interview with the local newspaper, Faiz was asked by the interviewer as if he was a communist, Faiz he replied in his usual nonchalant manner: "No. I am not, a communist is a person who is a card carrying member of the Communist party ever made. The party is banned in our country. So how can I be a communist?"
Although living a troubled life, Faiz's work, political ideology, and poetry became immortal, and often dubbed as "greatest poet" of Pakistan. Faiz remained extremely popular and infleuntial figure in the development of arts and drama in Pakistan's drama and theatre industry. In 1962, Faiz brought a great name for his country in the Soviet Union who had been hostile and antagonistic relations with Pakistan. The Lenin Peace Prize, a Soviet equivalent of Nobel Peace Prize, helped lift Faiz's image even higher in the international community. It brought Soviet Union and Pakistan much closer, putting past behind and working for development of people of both sides. Most of his work was translated was translated in Russian language.
Faiz, whose work is considered the backbone of development of Pakistan's literature, arts and poetry, was one of the most beloved poets in the country. Along with Allama Iqbal, Faiz is often known as "Poet of East". While commenting on his legacy, classical singer Tina Sani mesmerized Faiz's legacy as she puts it:
Faiz Ahmad Faiz... (was) like a comrade, his thoughts were soft but effective and inspired the classical singers as it did others in the plays we did... Faiz’s poetry never gets old because the problems and situations in this country have not changed. Today we sing him because of his beautiful poetry, missing out on the reasons behind his poems that had predictions...
—Tina Sani, commenting the legacy of Faiz
Major literary works
Mere Dil Mere Musafir
All these have been combined as one book Nuskha Haa-e-Wafa (Urdu: نسخہ ہاے وفا).
In 1990, his services were belatedly honored by the Pakistan Government when ruling Pakistan Peoples Party led by Prime minister Benazir Bhutto, accepting the recommendation, and posthumously awarded Faiz, the highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz in 1990. In 2011, the Pakistan Peoples Party's government declared the year of 2011 "as the year of Faiz Ahmed Faiz". In accordance, the Pakistan Government set up a "Faiz Chair" at the Department of Urdu at the Karachi University and at the Sindh University, followed by the Government College University of Lahore established the Patras, Faiz Chair at the Department of Urdu of the university, also in 2011.The same year, the Government College University (GCU) presented the golden presented shields to the University's Urdu department, which was issued and presented by the GCU vice-chancellor Professor Dr. Khaleequr Rehman, who noted and further wrote: "Fiaz was poet of humanity, love and resistance against oppression". In 2012, at the memorial ceremony was held at the Jinnah Garden to honor the services of Faiz by the left-wing party Avami National Party and Communist Party, by the end of the ceremony, the participants chanted his name: "The Faiz of workers is alive! The Faiz of farmers is alive...! Faiz is alive....!".
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