The Peak of Eloquence
By Qasim A. Moini


Sindh has a long history of scholarship, particularly in the post-Islamic period. Perhaps another addition to this ancient land’s literary achievements is the recent launch of Divan Al-Imam Al-Sajjad Zain al-Aabidin Ali Bin al-Hussain at the Khana-i-Farhang, the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Karachi.

The Divan, or collection of poetic verses, is attributed to Ali Ibn Al-Hussain (AS), the fourth Imam and the great-grandson of the Blessed Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). It has been compiled and published by Zulfikar Ali Kadri of the Qadri Qalam Qabeelo; Mr Kadri, a former accountant-general of Sindh, belongs to a literary and spiritual family of Larkana and ever since retiring from the civil service, he has devoted himself to literary pursuits.

A number of religious scholars and intellectuals have highlighted the significance of the work in the light of history and tradition. Apart from Mr Kadri, they include scholars Hojjatoleslam Syed Tilmiz Husnain Rizvi (who is one of the translators of the work), Allama Mohammad Asghar Dars, Dr Mohammad Hassan Rizvi, Hojjatoleslam Syed Shahenshah Hussain Naqvi, Professor Dr Faizeh Zahra Mirza of the University of Karachi’s Persian Department, Iranian Consul-General in Karachi Mohammad Masood Zamani and Seyed Hossain Taghizadeh, Director-General of the Khana-i-Farhang.

One of the reasons this Divan is significant is because it is arguably the first time that the original Arabic verses of the Imam have been translated into Urdu, Sindhi and English (along with the Persian found in the original manuscript). Other than Allama Tilmiz Rizvi, former Sindh education minister Prof Anita Ghulam Ali and former executive district officer education Aijaz Ali Baig Mirza have contributed to the translation. The Divan contains 145 couplets, with an additional 12 couplets attributed to Imam Sajjad (AS).

According to the preface of the Divan, it was originally compiled by renowned scholar Allama Shaikh Mohammad Bin Hassan Hurr Al-Amili in 1104 AH. The manuscript, on which the current publication is based, was preserved in Mr Kadri’s ancestral library which is attached to the dargah of his ancestor Faqir Mian Mohammad Saleh Kadri in Larkana. The manuscript was authenticated by Ayatollah Al-Jazairi of Jamkaran, Iran.

Prof Faizeh Mirza, who has a doctorate from Tehran University and is a descendent of the celebrated scholar of Sindh, Shams-ul-Ulama Mirza Qaleech Baig, has said that the Arabs always had great pride in their literary prowess, and that poetry was greatly encouraged during the pre-Islamic period of jahiliya.

She states that over the centuries, several gnostics and divines had used the vehicle of poetry to express highly sublime ideas. She specifically mentions Shaikh Sa’adi, and adds that Allama Mohammad Iqbal used poetry to discuss subjects as dry as philosophy.

The scholar says that the Banu Hashim — the Holy Prophet’s clan — were gifted poets, expressly mentioning his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib (AS), who had recited couplets in honor of the Blessed Prophet. Prof Mirza claims this tradition continued in Hazrat Abu Talib’s son and the Holy Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, Imam Ali (AS). She notes that poetry had also been attributed to Imam Hussain (AS).

According to Prof Mirza the translation is sublime and she observes that the verses attributed to the Imam taught lessons of ethics, awareness of the Almighty and discussed the ‘fleeting nature of the world’.

Talking to Books & Authors, Mr Kadri explained the inspiration for publishing the Divan: ‘The noble qualities of human nature like love, respect, sincerity, loyalty and kindness are slipping away from the entire human structure. (People are being) swayed by (the desire for) power and greed. But the questions that remained unanswered were found at last from the Divan Imam Sajjad (AS)’.

He urged readers to point out any discrepancies in the work and asked scholars to conduct more research on the Divan. ‘The seeds of hate are being sown. But we have gathered to talk about love and brotherhood. The Imam’s message is universal’. – Courtesy Dawn


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.