40 th Anniversary of the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC Mushaira
ByDr Syed Amir and Dr Zafar Iqbal
The tradition of Mushairas, organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC (AAA), was started in 1975 initially with local poets from North America. The first international mushaira was held in 1982 with participation of poets from India and Pakistan. It has now evolved into annual literary festivals eagerly awaited by members of the South Asian community of Metropolitan Washington area.
During the last 40 years, well-known poets from the Subcontinent and Europe have participated in AAA mushairas. They included: Ahmad Faraz, Akhtar Shumar, Ali Sardar Jafri, Amjad Islam Amjad, Anwar Masood, Ashok Narain, Azhar Inayeti, Bano Arshad, Basheer Badar, Dilawar Figaar, Fahmida Riyaz, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Gulzar Dehelvi, Habib Hashmi, Habib Jaalib, Hasan Kamaal, Himayat Ali Shaer, Ifthikhar Arif, Inamulhuq Javaid, Jameeluddin Aali, Javaid Akhtar, Jazib Qureishi, Kaifi Azmi, Kaleem Ajiz, Khamkhwah Hyderabadi, Khumar Barabankwi, Khushbeir Singh Shaad, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Makhmoor Saeedi, Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad, Meraj Faizabadi, Mohsin Ehsan, Nawaz Deobandi, Nazeer Baqri, Nida Fazli, Nikhat Iftikar, Parveen Shakir, Peerzada Qasim, Rahat Indori, Rahi Masson Raza, Rasheeda Ayan, Rehana Roohi, Sadaf Mirza, Sadaf Mirza, Saghar Khayyami, Saleem Kausar, Shaher Yaar, Shanul Haque Haqqi, Shiv Kumar Nizam, Tahir Faraz, Tariq Sabzwari, Wali Aasi, Waseem Bareilvi, Wasi Shah, Zafar Gorakhpuri, Zahid Fakhri, Zahida Zaidi, and Zubair Rizvi.
In order to provide more time to poets coming from abraod, the number of poets invited from North America is kept small. A few of them who have participated in AAA mushairas are: A. Abdullah, AbdurRahman Siddiqui, Abidullah Ghazi, Ali Meenai, Ashfaq Hussain, Aziz Qureshi, Baqar Zaidi, Haneef Akhgar, Humaira Rahman, Ishrat Afrin, Khalid Irfan, Mona Shahab, MuniburRahman, Naseem Syed, Nasreen Syed, Nayyar Jahan, Raees Warsi, Razi Raziuddin, Sabiha Saba, Salman Akhtar, Salman Farooqui, Satyapal Anand, Shahida Kazmi, Shahla Naqvi, Shoeb Kidwai, and Zakia Ghazal.
This year’s Mushaira held on September 27, 2014, at the Universities of Shady Grove was a landmark event as it celebrated the AAA’s founding four decades earlier. Dr Abdullah, a senior Aligarian and a prominent literary figure in the area, coordinated the event. He and a team of dedicated volunteers invested many hours and much effort in organizing the event, inviting the poets, facilitating their travel and lodging arrangements. The Association was fortunate in that several popular and renowned poets from India and Pakistan, besides some well-known poets from North America, agreed to participate in this 40 th year celebration of mushaira tradition in Washington.
Guest poets who travelled from overseas to participate in this year’s mushaira were: Imdad Hussaini, Naseer Turabi, and Noreen Talat Arooba from Pakistan. Iqbal Ashhar, Manzar Bhopali, Popular Meruthi, and Rashmi Sanan came from India. Host poets were Aziz Qureshi, Razi Raziuddin, Sabiha Saba, and Shahzaad Rizvi. Mr Javed Akhtar had accepted the invitation, and his participation was eagerly awaited. Unfortunately, he had to undergo major surgery and was not permitted to continue his travel by his doctors in London. Professor Gopichand Narang, the venerable and illustrious Urdu writer, scholar and literary critique presided over the Mushaira.
The proceedings opened by a recitation of the Aligarh Tarana by a group mostly comprising Aligarh Muslim University alumni, led by Mr Masood Farshori, current secretary of the AAA. Dr Fazal Khan, current president of the AAA, in his prepared remarks welcomed the guests and chronicled the progress of the Assocaition over four decades. He stressed that “for a long time, the AAA has been dedicated to achieving two objectives: (a) preservation of our cultural, literary and artistic heritage in our new homeland, and (b) extension of help to disadvantaged students at AMU who needed it to pursue their education. I am pleased to report that we continue to make impressive progress to achieve these goals,” he added.
Dr Abdullah in his introductory remarks recounted the services of Professor Narang to Urdu language, enrichment of its literature and promotion of scholarly research and learning in India. He also recited the long list of literary and national awards and honors conferred upon Professor Narang in India and abroad. Professor Narang in his short presidential address, delivered in his colorful captivating style, debunked the false notion that Urdu was the language of Muslims only. He argued that it was born and brought up in India, and exquisitely showcases the joint culture and shared values of Muslims and Hindus developed over centuries. In particular, Mushairas and Qawallis were unknown outside the subcontinent.
It was one of the best mushairas organized in Washington area attended by a captive audience, said veteran poets Naseer Turabi, Manzar Bhopali, and Popular Meruthi. Similar views were expressed by a number of people who attended this event. Congratulatory messages came from Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu, DCM, Embassy of India, Hon. N. K. Mishra, Minister (Pers. & Community Affairs), Embassy of India, Hon. Mr. Mohammad Ziauddin, Ambassador of Bangladesh, and Mr Nadeem Hotiana, Press Attaché', Embassy of Pakistan. They could not attend the event as they had to be at a United Nations Meeting in New York.
As per mushaira tradition, in the beginning of mushaira host-poets Aziz Qureshi, Razi Raziuddin, Sabiha Saba, and Shahzaad Rizvi recited their kalaam.
Samples of poetry recited at the mushaira by guest poets are as follows:
Bhala meri shanakht ko kaun mane gaa Hamari aadhi qavahi to muatbar bhi nahiN
Khud se jo baat chhupai shaher meIn kaise phail gai Yaa deenvareN bol paRiN ya logon ka andaza hai
Nreen Talat Arooba
Tum apne dil meiN koi ranjish na paal rakhna ChhoTi si zindagi hai phir kiya malaal rakhna
Ajnabi ban ke jeene ka hunar seekh lena Apni pahchaan badalte rahe tanha tanha
MeiN hooN jis haal meiN Aey mere sanam rahne de Tegh mut de, mere hathoN me qalam rahne de
MaiN to shayer hoon Mera dil hain Bahut hi nazuk MaiN paTakhe se hi mur jaooN gaa bum rahen de
Bikhero Zulf to badal bhi chha hi jae gaa Tum aao to sahi savan bhi aa hi hae gaa
Kitni bhari paR gaee ujle din par raat ko Pooche huns se, kaa hai tumhari jaat
Husn duniya ki har eik shai mein bahut hai lekin Koee aisa nahiN jo uski ada tak pahonche
Tumhare vaade ka qad bhi tumhare jaisa hai Kabhi jo naap ke dekho to kam nikalta hai
Na jaane kitne chiraghoN ko mil gaee shuhrat Eik aftaab ke be-waqt Doob jane se
Urdu hai mera naam main Khusrau ki paheli Main Meer ki humraaz hooN Ghalib ki saheli
RaahoN k eek raah who mere ghar ki raah Thahre kisi jagah wo tabiyat nahiN rahi
Yeh dil hai ya koi afsos ki surahi hai Yeh chashm o lub haiN ki hasrat bhari hai piyaloN mein