human values.” The traditional definition of humanism emphasizes the dignity and worth of all people, a commitment to the search for truth, and faith that people can build a better world. It values art and beauty, as well as personal independence. However, the term has been redefined and sensationalized by Christian fundamentalists as “secular humanism,” which is different from traditional humanism. ‘Secular humanism’ refers to a belief in scientific knowledge rather than religious revelation, and emphasizes pragmatism rather than romanticism or idealism. Sometimes it is given political dimensions- as in the ‘one world government’ and ‘new world order’ ideas that came from the Bahais a century ago For fundamentalists, secular humanism is equivalent to unbelief, and its concern for morality is ignored- indeed, it is said to be unconcerned with ethics. It is a ‘humanism’ which has little or nothing to do with the humanities. Indeed, it finds the humanities ultimately irrelevant. The term “humanism” can thus be confusing, because it is used to mean very different things in the modern media. In this paper, Nazrul’s humanism refers to the original Renaissance or traditional definition, a concern for lasting human values, and the dignity and worth of all people. We might also note that Nazrul was an excellent twentieth century example of the ideal of the “renaissance man”, a person who had many skills and abilities. Nazrul was a songwriter, a musician, a director, an actor, a poet, an artist, and a composer. He wrote over 3,500 songs and ghazals, 25 books of poetry, 29 plays and operas, and numerous essays and speeches. He fits perfectly the ideal of a cultured man of many talents. If we look at themes that are found in traditional humanist writings, there are four important ones that I will list here: 1. The dignity and worth of each human being 2. The value of human love, creativity and wisdom 3. Compassion for human suffering 4. The desire to contribute to a better world, with less suffering and more tolerance These can be found in Nazrul’s writings. For example, on the theme of the dignity and worth of each person he writes: I sing of equality There is nothing greater than a human being Nothing nobler… He also writes in the poem “Human Being” of the selfish hypocrites: Who are they, hating human beings Yet kissing the Quran, the Vedas, the Bible? Snatch away those books from them. The hypocrites pretend [to be] worshipping those books By killing the human beings who have, in fact, Brought those books into existence!… All the holy scriptures and houses of worship Are not as sacred as that one tiny human body. Human beings have their own divinity, which is largely unrecognized, as he states: Friend, you’re full of greed With a blinder of selfishness over your eyes. Otherwise you’d recognize the god Serving you as a coolie. In his poem “God,” Nazrul speaks of this: Don’t shudder Hero, don’t be intimidated By the scholars of the scriptures- They’re not God’s “private secretaries.” We all are His manifestation He is present in us all.
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