Nazrul Islam’s poetry and humanism lauded
KARACHI: Speakers shed light on Qazi Nazrul Islam`s tumultuous life and multi-genre work at a seminar on Saturday.
Titled `Qazi Nazrul Islam`s contribution to human rights and Bengali language`, the event was organised by the department of Bengali, University of Karachi, in the KU`s arts auditorium. Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh Ruhul Alam Siddique was the chief guest.
In his presidential address, KU Vice Chancellor Dr Pirzada Qasim said Nazrul Islam was a poet and intellectual of great potential, which was why he was not only recognised in Bangladesh but all over the world. As long as there was injustice, inequality and mistrust in the world, Nazrul Islam`s work would remain relevant. He said he was a versatile writer and activist, and would never be forgotten because such systems as imperialism, socialism and communism would lose their meaning if they didn`t have humanism in them.
Ruhul Alam Siddique said Nazrul Islam was Bangladesh`s national poet and a great source of inspiration for the people of his country. He was a multifaceted creative individual who rebelled against injustice. He was a mass-oriented person who inspired workers to fight against oppressive forces. His fiery writings roused anger against the British, as a result of which he was put into jail. He was a secular man, a passionate advocate for religious harmony, and kept promoting inter-faith harmony, particularly between Hindus and Muslims.
He said Nazrul Islam repudiated hatred and fanaticism in the name of religion – the need of our time. It`s heartening that researchers all over the world were attracted to his work, he said.
Prof Dr Humayun informed the students and scholars attending the seminar about Nazrul Islam`s life trajectory in detail.
He said the poet was born in 1899 in West Bengal (now in India) and died in 1976 in Dhaka. His parents had nicknamed him Dukhumian (sad person) because before him some of their children hadn`t survived. His parents prayed that God spare Nazrul, which He did but ordained a dukhi life for him.
Nazrul Islam was only nine when he lost his father and at 10 started supporting his family. His wife suffered from paralysis at a young age, and Nazrul himself lost his voice and memory when he was 43. For the rest of the 34 years he lived in silence, almost in a comatose state. It was between 1919 and 1942 that he was active as a creative person and performed miracles. He emerged on the literary scene at a stage when writers like B. Chaudhry, Saratchandra Chttopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore were ruling the literary world, and Nazrul created a place for himself among them. He had no formal education and was a God-gifted genius. He was a poet, an actor, a film director, music composer, feminist, humanist and a champion for the cause of the downtrodden. He was a freedom-loving person who wrote many poems seeking to overthrow the British, which resulted in him being imprisoned.
He was against all oppressive forces. His poem Vidrohi (rebel) was a masterpiece. He was also a humanist and a secular man, who married a Hindu woman and never insisted his wife change her religion. He criticised the Khilafat Movement when it took an extremist turn. He acted in Indian movies and wrote more than 4,000 songs. He freed the Bengali language from Sanskrit and introduced Persian and Urdu words into it. It was when he was in Karachi that he learnt Urdu and Persian, he said.
Dr Tanveer Khalid said Nazrul Islam spearheaded a cultural renaissance in Muslim Bengal and his poems expressed a revolt against oppression. She said his fame is unparalleled in Bengali history.
Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed pointed out that at a time when Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Asrarul Haq Majaz`s centenary and Tagore`s 150 years were being celebrated, remembering Qazi Nazrul Islam suggested that poets had returned to support us in times of crises.
He said Nazrul Islam was a prolific writer (24 books of poetry, 4,000 songs, three short story books, three novels and 29 plays to his credit) who achieved great feats in the span of a little over two decades of active creative life, after which a neurological illness prevented him from indulging in creative work. He said his work couldn`t be understood without understanding Bengal.
Prof Dr Shaikh Mutahir Ahmed talked about the humanism that the poet preached in his work, and argued that he was a contemporary of Iqbal and Tagore but was different from them because of his humanism.
Dr Zafar Iqbal highlighted the poet`s contribution to the realm of music which subsequently aided him in his poetry writing.
Pro Vice-Chancellor Nasiruddin Khan said Nazrul Islam raised the issue of human rights when nobody else did.
Head of Department of Bengali Dr Abu Tayyab Khan delivered the welcome address and vote of thanks.