Date: Tuesday, May 25, 1999 1:25 AM
Subject: Kazi Nazrul in his own word!
Salaam and greetings.
Both Mr. M. N. Chatterjee and Mr. Ravana are to be commended, the former for writing and the latter for posting to Alochona, the article about Kazi Nazrul Islam (title: "A Religious Vision Defined By Struggle" under the thread Faith and Struggle).
Quite beautifully Mr. Chatterjee wrote:
>By the time he passed away in Dhaka on August 29, 1976 --
>having spent 34 years in paralytic torment -- he had become a legend, the exemplar
>of a religious sensibility that was not bounded by abstract definitions, but defined
>itselfin the acts of devotion, empathy and creativity.
Nazrul as a poet and as a human being was enigmatic to lot of people, both religious and non-religious. Of course, he was more than just a poet. He was the Rebel poet. His humanistic vision, philosophy and spirit transcended many orthodox boundaries. Given his unique personality and multifaceted contributions, there is also tendency among many to impose their own views and perspectives on the portrayal of Kazi Nazrul. In case of Kobi Nazrul it usually is irrelevant and ineffective, because unlike many poets of obscure thought and philosophy, and despite the fact that in some of his writings he has used ingredients from other religions, particularly Hinduism,he is transparent, candid, and unambiguous about himself - his spirit, his conviction, his faith, his aspirations, and his values.
Also, the Rebel poet was not only a "maatir manush", his communication was also simple that can be understood by masses. So those who want to characterize him differently than what he was find it an impossible task. For those who want to simply describe him, it is a redundant effort. The Rebel poet is best described, understood, and appreciated in his own words!
Mr. Chatterjee wrote:
>His songs dealt with the themes of love, nature, divinity and nationalism;
To describe Nazrul's works in the framework of nationalism is problematic, because the Rebel poet did not believe in the kind of narrow nationalism that has become the foundation of our contemporary nation-states. A nationalist rarely cries:
"Nohi neta rajnoitik, prem-bhikhkha amar niti
PRITHIBI shorgo, PRITHIBITE fer jaguk shorgo-priti".
[Allahr Rahe Bhikhkha Dao]
I am not a politician, my principle is to seek love
This heavenly earth! May on this earth rise again the love for heaven above.
[I beg you for the sake of God]
"Jatitie jatite manushe manushe ondhokarer e bhed-gan
obhed 'ahad'-montre tutibe, shokole hoibe ek shoman".
"The darkness of discord and disunity among people and nations
will be shattered by pure monotheism, and all will be equal in relations."[The Big Battle]
"Jobe utpiriter krondon rol akashe batashe dhonibe na
ottacharir khorog kripan bhim rono bhume ronibe na
bidrohi rono klanto
ami shei din hobo shanto." [Bidrohi]
>Through its columns be propagated his ideas of liberal humanism and universal
>brotherhood. The avowed object of his paper was to remove the barriers that
>stood in the way of Hindu-Muslim unity and rid religion of cant. Explaining
>his non-sectarian credo, he declared, ``He who has faith in his own religion
>can never hate the religion of another.''
The above statement may not properly convey the spirit of Kazi Nazrul. That is because here Kazi Nazrul is not being allowed to speak for himself. The liberal humanism and universal brotherhood Mr. Chatterjee refers to in connection with the Rebel poet, the poet himself has conveyed the message in no unequivocal term as to what is the nature and foundation for his ideas.
"Sharbojonin bhratritto, islamer shammobad
juge juge ei ashur shenare koriyeche borbad" [Moharram]
"Uhara prochar koruk hingsha biddesh are nindabad
amra bolibo, 'shammo, shanti, ek Allah jindabad...
ora kada chure badha debe bhabe - oder ostro nindabad
mora phul chure maribo oder, bolibo -'Allah jindabad'"
[Ek Allah jindabad]
"Let them spread jealousy, prejudice and defamation,
We will offer justice, peace and one Allah's proclamation. ...
Let them enjoy mud-slinging, their weapons are malice and vilification,
We will throw bouquet at them, and trumpet to one Allah our salutation." [Salutation to One God]
As a Muslim, his life was dedicated not merely to Hindu-Muslim unity, but to the unity and harmony of humanity. He saw how Islam as a liberating, universalistic faith has become hostage of its adherents and targets of its opponents. Because, he was, without any question in his mind, aware of his own identity, he took the Muslims, particularly of Bengal, to a scathing task:
"Kotha she ajad? Kotha she purno mukto mussalman?
Allah chara kore na kareo bhoy, kotha shei praan?...
Ache she Koran-mojid ajio porom shokti bhora
Ore durbhaga, ek kona tar peyechish keu tora?...
jeno dole dole koler putul shokti shourjohin
nahiko imam, bolite hoibe - ihara muslemin?...
Onnere dash korite kingba nije dash hote, ore
Asheniko dunyai muslim, bhulili kemon kore?
Bhangite shokol karagar, shob bondhon bhoy laj
elo je Koran, elen je nobi, bhulili she shob aj?...
Manushere dite tahar najjo prappo o odhikar
Islam eshechilo duniyai, jara korban tar." [Azad]
There were very few people, either among the Muslims of Bengal or Muslims elsewhere who have articulated the liberating, egalitarian, and universalistic message and spirit of Islam as did Kazi Nazrul. He appreciated Islam and its beauty in its universalistic perspective. Imbibing the spirit of Islam and echoing the message of the Qur'an: "You (O believers) are best of people EVOLVED FOR MANKIND [3/Ale Imran/110]", he wrote:
"kebol musalmaner lagiya asheniko islam
shottyo je chai Allai mane muslim tari nam"
He knew the root of his abounding energy, sparkling courage, and undaunting spirit. He unequivocally proclaimed:
"Ami peye Allar shahajjo hoiachi chiro-nirvoy
Alla jahar shohay tahar kono bhoi nahi roy." [Chiro Nirvoy]
His non-sectarian credo is rooted in the pristine message of Islam. Echoing the message of the Qur'an: "Let there be no hostility except against those who practice oppression" [2/al-Baqara/193]
"Houk hindu, hok khristan, hok she musalman
khoma nai tar, je ane tar dhoray okollyan...
nirjatiter Allah tini, kono jati nai tar
juge juge mare utpirokere tahar probol mar.
tar srishtire bhalobashe jara, tarai musalman
muslim shei, je mane ek she Allar formaan..." [Eki Allar kripa noy?]
In 1930s the Rebel poet felt a deep desire to write a poetic biography of the Prophet Muhammad. He undertook the project, but was unable to complete it due to untimely affliction of a disease in 1942 that silenced the Rebel poet's voice and froze his pen. His wife Promila Debi knew his wish. At her initiative, Moru Bhashkar, the incomplete poetic biography of the Prophet, was published in 1957.
The Rebel poet was probably very conscious that how his message of "liberal humanism and universal brotherhood" might be misconstrued and mischaracterized. Therefore, he did not want to leave any room for others to define him. He wanted that to be done by himself:
"Ami Allar shoinik, mor kono badha-bhoy nai
tahar tejer taloware shob bondhon kete jai.
Tufan amar jonmer shathi, ami biplobi hawa
jehad, jehad, biplob, bidroho: mor gan gawa." [Chiro nirvoy]
"Ami bujhi nako kono she 'ism' konorup rajniti
ami shudhu jani ami shudhu mani, ek Allar priti."
[Eki Allar kripa noy?]
What was the most precious desire the Rebel poet had in his life? In the preface of his Kabbyo Ampara, a poetic translation of the last volume (para) of the Qur'an, he wrote: "The biggest desire of my life was to render a rhymed, poetic translation of the Holy Qur'an." That was an important milestone in his life. In this work, he must have wanted to define himself. Categorically.
He was a messenger of liberating the human spirit, of universal brotherhood, of courage and dignity, of peace and harmony, of unity and cooperation, of what is right and just, of what is true and beautiful, of love and compassion, of non-dogmatism and non-fanaticism. He concluded the preface of the work that represented the biggest desire of his life by identifying himself:
Khademul Islam, Nazrul Islam. [See Nazrul Rochonaboli, Vol. 2, p. 336, 1996]
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
Associate Professor of Economics and Finance
Upper Iowa University