Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a well-known poet of the Indian Sub-continent. He died two decades ago, yet his poetry lives on in the Urdu language. Besides being a poet, Faiz was a political activist.
A substantial part of his poetry reflects the struggles he went through. His mastery over the Urdu language and idiom is unmatched. Even as he reflects poetically on political struggles, a unique and artistic dimension enhancing the moral argument is obvious through his work. Many of his poems were composed while he was in prison on account of his political beliefs. Any work of art, if it is truly that, has resonance into eternity. His verses though written several decades ago are very much alive and speak to the freedom struggles of the masses across the world. He writes about the desire of people whose palpable unrest and longing for their rights and freedom has been so much a part of human history and experience. The other body of his work that is equally compelling is the poetry of romance.
In the Urdu language it is expressed in the Ghazal-a collage of seven or more verses each ending in rhyming words, and expressing a variety of emotions but mainly that of longing for the loved one. Each couplet reflects a different thought or emotion and can stand on its own in rendering with great beauty a moment in the life of one possessed with love. Faiz's own mastery in this discipline again reflects the expanse of not just the rich vocabulary but his poetic imagination.
The wizardry of his words makes it possible for us to enter and enjoy, much like taking a pleasurable morning stroll in a lush garden. According to Santayana, "a translator is a traitor;" perhaps because no translation can do justice to the original work whose beauty remains unmatched. And yet a translator's act of treason deserves a fair trial in the court of public opinion. All I can offer as my own defense for being presumptuous in attempting to translate some of Faiz's work is to offer the classical argument often used-that of emotions overcoming reason! I know of no other way of translating poetry. --Pakistan Link
About the Author
Dr. Nazir Khaja is a distinguished medical doctor and assistant professor at the University of California Los Angeles, School of Medicine (UCLA), who is better known internationally as an American Muslim leader and peace activist and advocate. He has been on several Humanitarian and Peace Missions concerned with conflict resolution, humanitarian aid and seeking release of those in prison mainly because of their beliefs. Dr. Khaja has written, produced and broadcasted about 300 television programs pertaining to the challenges the American Muslims are faced with. He was a co-producer for a documentary "Living Islam" shown on the History Channel. He is currently doing documentary "The Promise of Pakistan". Dr. Khaja enjoys literature and poetry. Besides writing poetry in English, he has also translated from his native language Urdu, the work of a poet whose work reflects the struggle of the masses against tyranny and oppression.