Sunday, May 27, 2012

Songs of Peace: Pakistan/America

A Pakistan boy is silhouetted against sunset while he transports wood to be used as a fuel for cooking and heating in the cold weather on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed) This photo can cause deep reflection for any who would
seek peace in this part of the world.  For just one reason to pause: what are leaders of the US and others doing in good faith with care to residents of this region so that this boy may have a future worth living or even a future at all?

Among famous Pakistan poem-songs is a close parallel to a famous American song (see below this one) that reads rather like an inspired adaptation by one of the most popular Urdu poets, Qateel Shifai (1919-2001). It is a poem that was rendered to music by A. Hameed and sung by Mehdi Hasan which can be roughly translated as:
People are uniqiue, but the longing is one and the same:
We all look different but blood is of the same hue.
This attire which you hold so dear, my friends,
It is but a thing to cover the bare realities, my friends,
Otherwise the honor and shame of all here is the same.
Even today I am hearing that song in every city and town,
That can enchant even this indifferent and cruel world,
Each and every song coming forth is striking the same note.
The whole universe is created from the essence of Love:
Ask your heart if you do not believe me,
For the tune and melody of every inner voice is the same.

That every soul is to be held in high esteem,
Hearts should be free of hate, and everyone respected:
In this war to attain that respect, we are all on the same side.
There are many songs about changing the world but what is special about these two poems are that they don't feed on hatred and violence in order to defy a corrupt world order. At the same time they do not lose touch with reality, nor preach weakness and escapist sentiment. They reinforce patience and hope, and the certainty that moral force will eventually win - there is no way it can lose in the end.

Here is the American one mentioned:

'This Is My Song' written by the American poet Lloyd Stone (1912-1993) to the tune of the Finlandia melody from the Finnish composer Jean Sybelius (1865-1957) is one of the best-loved statements of world peace which does not oversimplify the concept:
This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.
May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.

This post is almost exactly like part of one posted by Khurram Ali Shafique Sahib in
his website Republic of Rumi -- see his blogpost on Consensus and great Pakistani poets/writers under a section named Qateel Shifai.  There are other posts Shafique Sahib has written on Consensus Literature and that others have written on this concept named by him.  See the Comments now and later which I hope will have more leads soon.

The 2nd image called "Self-Same Sky" was used for a children's science exhibit -- the words a take off on a Shakespeare sonnet -- and found here

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Her Price is Far above Rubies

Prayer Without End
info on this painting below*

All week -- the week following Mothers Day --  my mother has been a strong background note to my week. So here's my tribute. The following is a paraphrase using several favorite interpretations -- including a paraphrase by a woman -- with a few of my own choices of words.

Of course in each particular case and for our time there will be various versions of this well-rounded
woman. Yet, there's still an abundance of the highest qualities which can be an example for any era, background or variation of talents.  ( Not a bad set of traits for the selecting of a spouse as well!) 

Interesting that my mother's name is RUBY... She certainly comes to mind whenever I read or ponder this rich and wonderfully evocative poem full of metaphors and realities for us all. 

(originally this was an acrostic poem with twenty-two verses, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet starting from the first in order.)

Proverbs 31 beg. vs.10    

Who can find a ]virtuous woman whose price is far above rubies?
Her husband trusts in her confidently from his heart...
She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.
She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands to develop whatever is given her to do.
She is like the best of  merchant ships -- bringing home quality items; she brings her household resources carefully chosen from various places.

She rises while it is yet night to prepare her work both spiritually and practically.
She considers a  field  (which she may plant or buy -- whether land or opportunity) carefully. Yet she does not court nor neglect  her current necessary duties.
She girds herself with strength (spiritual, mental, and physical) and makes her arms strong and firm.
She tastes and sees that her work is good and so is the fruit.
Her inner and outer lamp does not go out  -- no matter the situation or weather...

She opens her 'hand' to the poor (whether in body, wisdom or simply from spirit to spirit.)
Yet, she fears not the snow for her family -- whether of weather or challenges -- for her household is ready...

Due in part to her care, her husband is also known with respect by all -- by leaders and common folk alike.

Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future... 

She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness. The bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.

Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], "Many 'daughters' have done virtuously, but YOU excel them all."

Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain, but the woman who reverently and consistently loves and respects the Creator of all -- she shall be praised!

Let her own works and who she is praise her in the gates... 


Thank You. Dearest Mother, for your lifetime of consistent faith and devotion.  Nobody else I know -- or know about --  exemplifies the spirit and practical wisdom of this scripture-poem any better!

With Love Forever,

Your Connie


Although this painting is of an older-looking woman -- it symbolizes for me a woman who puts her 
devotion to God and practice of prayer above all.  This painting is called " Prayer Without End" and comes from the dutch tradition . My mom Ruby came from Mennonites who were originally farmers and teachers from the Netherlands.  Link to painting here or simply put "Prayer Without End" in a search engine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Allama Iqbal's Memory of his Beloved Mother

Imam Bibi  --  who's death from this earth was 1914 -- see photo credit/url below*

By Allama Iqbal


This poem was written in Europe at the time of the death of ‘All«mah Iqb«l’s mother. It is not only an expression of his grief on this sad incident but is also an expression of the philosophy of life and death and the grief created by them. It expands the thoughts expressed in Poem No. 82 Falsafah-i-Gham (The Philosophy of Grief). In spite of realizing that everything in the universe is subject to the Will and Command of God the news of his mother’s death was too hard to bear. He reminisces his whole life and recapitulates some memorable events of his domestic life. He explains with several examples , that death is a transitory phase in existence and is not designed to annihilate a person. The last verse of stanza 8 is important. By comparing man with stars he presents the Islamic concept of man’s superiority over the rest of creation. The last two verses of stanza 10 are important. Though time mitigates all grief the loss of his mother has caused him so much grief that time cannot reduce it. The poem ends in a supplication to God for his mother.


Every particle of the universe is a prisoner of destiny

Prudence is a cover for helplessness and compulsion

The sky, the sun and the moon all are helpless

The fast moving stars are compelled to moving

Breaking is the end of flower bud’s pitcher in the garden

The garden’s verdure and flowers are also compelled to grow

It may be nightingale’s song or conscience’ silent call

Everything is chained in the same universal chain!

When this secret of helplessness becomes evident to the eye

The turbulent flood of tears in the heart dries up

The dance of pleasure and grief does not remain in the human heart

The song remains but the pleasure of treble and bass does not remain

Knowledge and wisdom are robbers of tears and sighs’ wealth

That is the intelligent heart is a piece of diamond!

Though the dew’s freshness does not exist in my garden

My eye is not enriched with the red tears

Ah! I am aware of the secret of human afflictions

But my nature’s orchestra is unaware of complaint’s song

The story of vicissitudes of time does not come on my lips

My heart is not astonished, not laughing, not crying

But O messenger, your picture is one of constant wailing

Ah! this is the contradiction of my firm wisdom!

Life’s foundation becomes lasting with overflowing wailing

The hard hearted Intellect is embarrassed with the knowledge of pathos

My mirror is bright with the wave of sighs’ smoke

My skirt is full with the treasure of tears

The miracle of your picture has surprised me

Which has completely changed the flight of time

As if it brought the past and present together

It acquainted me again with the age of infancy

When that feeble soul was being nurtured by your side

Whose tongue was not adequately familiar with talking

And whose linguistic spice is now the subject of conversation

The pearls of whose jewel-shedding eyes are priceless

The learning’s serious discourses, the shrewdness of old age

The dignity of worldly honors, the pride of young age

We descend from the positions of dignity in life

We descend as a simple child in the lap of the mother

We are laughing informally, we are free from care

We are once more living in the same lost paradise

Ah! Who will now be waiting for me in the homeland?

Who will become restless by not getting my letter?

I will come to your grave carrying this lament

To whose thoughts will I come in the midnight prayers?

With your up-bringing I became fortunate like stars

The house of my ancestors became a source of pride

Your life was written in gold letters in the existence’ book

Your life was a full lesson of secular and religious education

Your love remained in my service for your whole life

When I was able to serve you, you did not survive

That youth who equals the slender cypress in stature 1

Who became more fortunate in serving you than me

That constant companion of mine in the business of life

That picture of yours in love, that source of my strength

He is crying like a helpless infant for you

He is crying with impatience from morning till evening

The love whose seed you planted in our life’s field

By the grief of separation that love became more firm

Ah! This world, this mourning place for the young and old!

In what a strange ever-changing prison man is imprisoned!

How difficult it is to live! How easy it is to die!


Gratitude to Khurram Ali Shafique -- a top scholar of the work and life of Allama Iqbal who when I asked for a poem he loved on grieving sent this poem to me in this form and with the added notes below.

Find both Shafique Sahib's and Allama Iqbal's work as well as that of Iqbal and Rumi students at
Republic of Rumi website/blog

 "The end of the fire of life is NOT in the ashes!" ( This line focus was sent in a comment from  Akhtar Wasim Dar Sahib -- one of the most literary people on earth whom I'm privileged to know. Plz see his fuller comment below this post. )

Republic of Rumi website and blog

 * photo url/credit here

Explanatory Notes:

1. Allusion to younger brother, which extends up to the end of this stanza.
2. Allusion to the nine planets of the sun's solar system and existence of other systems beyond it.
3. Quds√Ęs  These are the angels surrounding the Divine Throne.