‘Bhitai’s message of peace, tolerance is as relevant today as in the past’
KARACHI: “The lack of tolerance, lack of understanding and all this aggressiveness that we see in people nowadays makes us think back to how it used to be. It is what makes us cherish the past. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s universal message of peace and tolerance is as relevant today as it was in the past,” said Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah at the inaugural session of ‘Sindh, Sindhu and Shah Latif’, a two-day national conference organised by the Siraj Institute of Sindh Studies (SISS) in collaboration with the Endowment Fund Trust at the Mohatta Palace Museum on Saturday.
“When my father used to drop me and my sisters to school in the 1970s, he would tell us about Shah Latif’s message and his beautiful poetry which, thankfully, has stayed with me,” he added.
“If one talks about the richest person of Sindh over the years, that person has to be Shah Latif and if one talks about the humblest person of Sindh, that, too, would be Shah Latif,” said writer and former minister Noor ul Huda Shah.
“If read with understanding, Shah Latif’s poetry can help people model their lives after his ideology,” said Dr Fahmida Hussain of SISS.
“Poets, in particular Sufi poets, mirror society through their poetry,” said Dr Fatima Hassan of the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu while speaking on the subject of enlightenment in the poetry of Shah Latif. She also spoke about how Shah portrays women in his poetry. “He writes about her truthfulness, her emotions and thoughts and her passion and not her body. He is only concerned with the purity of her soul,” she said.
Picking up from where Fatima Hassan left off, writer and journalist Zahida Hina spoke about Shah Jo Risalo’s seven heroines — Marvi, Momal, Sassui, Noori, Sohni, Sorath and Lila — whom she referred to as ‘princesses’. “The stories of these women shake the soul and light a flame in hearts, a flame which carries on burning,” she said.
“They were not bound by caste, creed or religion, they only lived for love. Love, for which they were not afraid to fight and in doing so they have lit a path for us and shown us the way,” she added.
“Shah’s poetry also discusses things such as nationalism and socialism while denouncing things such as feudalism. He was all for revolution,” she said.
Rahat Saeed of the Irtiqa Institute of Social Sciences said that it was a pity that those who cannot follow Sindhi are not familiar with the writings of Shah Latif. “It’s a big loss that his poetry has not reached more people here due to language constrictions,” he said. “Therefore, it is important to hold seminars, lecture series and more conferences like these to help spread Shah Latif’s message of love and the rich culture of Sindh,” he said.
Naveed Siraj of SISS, Vice Chancellor of Sindh University Dr Fateh Mohammad Burfat, Shabir Kumbhar, Mazhar Ali Dootio, Amar Fayyaz Burriro, Dr Suleman Sheikh, Dr Akash Ansari, Jami Chandio, Preh Amjad Memon, Waheeda Mahesar, Dr Sahar Imdad, Dr Sahar Gul, Akhtar Dargahi, Dr Talat Pasha, Dr Mohammad Yousuf Shaikh, Dr Ghazala Rehman, Ayaz Latif Palijo and Maheen Altaf also spoke.
The six sessions held on day one of the conference included a very interesting technical session on the computerisation of Shah Jo Risalo with other sessions such as one focusing on the beauty of language of Shah Latif, Surs of Shah Latif and their ragas, the cultural ethos of Sindh and the political thought of Shah.
There was also a book launch and lifetime achievement awards for poet Imdad Hussaini and educationist Sadiqa Salahuddin. Fahim Allan Faqir, the talented son of the late folk singer Allan Faqir, also entertained the audience with some beautiful waee of Shah Latif.
The first day ended with a musical programme titled ‘Mystic Melodies’ with more music and dance.