The Department of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts, School of Economics and Social Sciences, Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi organized a session titled ‘Muslim Devotional Poetry of South Asia’, on the main campus.

Paying tribute to the holy month of Ramzan, the event featured recitation of Naats written in Urdu, Persian, Sindhi, and Punjabi. The IBA faculty and students recited devotional verses of renowned Sindhi poet Maulvi Ahmad Mallah and famous Urdu and Persian poets including Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

The highlight of the event was a special guest appearance by naat-khwaan Zara Madani, who is well-known for her regular singing appearances in Coke Studio Pakistan and the film ‘Khuda Ke Liye’. The audience was moved to hear Ms. Madani’s qirat of Surah Rahman and appreciated her hauntingly beautiful original compositions and recitation of the famous Urdu devotional verses, ‘Lauh Bhi Tu Qalam Bhi Tu’ and ‘Taazim Se Leta Hai Khuda Naam-i Muhammad’ by Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Khwaja Muhammad Akbar Warsi respectively, and Punjabi verses ‘Main Lajpaalaan De Lar Lagiyaan’ by Abd us-Sattar Niyazi.

Some other Urdu poets whose naatiyah verses were recited at the event include ‘Nushur’ Wahidi, Kunwar Mahendra Singh Bedi ‘Sahar’, and Najmunnisa Munawwar Ali Bukhari ‘Najm’. IBA students Hamraj Singh, Muhammad Ahmad, and Syed Ghazi Haider Zaidi also recited naats in Sindhi, Arabic, Persian, Braj Bhasha, and Urdu.

Keeping with the spirit of honoring original contributions to the field of devotional poetry in praise of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Lecturer SESS, IBA and poet, Syed Muhammad Baqar Mehdi Rizvi, who teaches Urdu Literature and Psychology, presented examples of his own naatiyah shaairi. His work was acclaimed by the audience, as well as by Ms. Madani, who then took the stage and expressed appreciation for Mr. Rizvi and his fine contributions to the field of Urdu poetry as a young poet in Karachi. Adding to the creative spirit of the evening, Lecturer SESS, IBA and literary translator, Ms. Zahra Sabri, who had organized the event, presented her own English translation and recital of Ghalib’s famous Persian naat ‘Haq Jalwah-gar zi Tarz-i Bayan-i Muhammad Ast’ and commented on how the devotional poetry of literary giants like Ghalib and Mir is often overlooked by enthusiasts who tend to be familiar only with their mainstream ghazals.

Sabri, who teaches Indo-Islamic History and Urdu Literature at IBA, also discussed the importance of Muslim women poets in the domain of South Asian devotional poetry. She spoke about how the long-standing tradition of women’s milads inside private homes has historically offered a training ground for the recital and appreciation of devotional poetry, and how naats and hamds penned and composed by women in such settings form important material for literary research, forming some of the earliest examples of women’s contribution to the field of Urdu literature.

The literary session honored the spirit of the holy month and concluded with an iftar for the attendees.

UNESCO celebrates the 21st of March as the World Poetry day to promote poetry across the world.

Poetry is perhaps the most beautiful expression of one’s feelings, emotions and intent. It also is a way to reflect systemic undercurrents at the societal level and has been used to convey messages in appealing words that flow as smooth as a gentle breeze.

Allama Muhammad Iqbal was a poet, philosopher, scholar, knight, politician and an authority on Islam all rolled into one single mortal being. His work inspired not only the birth of Pakistan, but also brought Muslims of his days out of ignorance, providing them with the confidence and guidance they needed to realise their true potential. To this day, Iqbal’s poetry and his extensive work remains popular among Muslims around the world. But unfortunately, his message of Muslim brotherhood, self-confidence, knowledge and continuous progress has been forgotten by people of the land Iqbal first dreamt to establish. On Iqbal’s 141’s birth anniversary, we look at a few of the simplest verses from Iqbal’s poetry to decode some lessons that our nation needs to learn more than ever before.