AAANE’s Befitting Tribute to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan on His 199th Anniversary
By Tahir Ali
Photos courtesy Dr Syed Masarrat Ali and Dr Sadia Chagtai 

Framingham:   "Maut se Bachneki ektarkeebhai  -  DoosroNkeZehunmeiNZindaraho" -    Such was the advice the renowned poet Iqbal Ashhar of Delhi had offered to hundreds of Urdu lovers who had  gathered to listen to international and local poets on the occasion of the 199th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.  

Keeping up with its tradition the Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE) this year invited international and local poets:  NaseerTurabi (Pakistan), Iqbal Ashhar (India), ShakeelAzmi (India) and HaiderHusnain Jaleesi (Pakistan). The local poets included: DrSaleemKhanani, Dr Sana Qureshi, Muneebur Rahman, GauharAzmi, Aejaz Bhatt and Iqbal Danish. 


"All of us who graduated from Aligarh Muslim University are testimony to the vision of Sir Syed," said AAANE's President Dr Noman Siddiqi in his welcome speech. And  "now in turn we should advance his agenda."  Noman thanked his team and volunteers and took cognizant of the fact that an event of this magnitude could only be held with great teamwork. He further added, "AAANE has and continues to promote the cause of education within local and international venues."

Iqbal Ashhar hailing from Delhi, India, presided over the Mushaira admirably.   Ashhar in his own flowery language complimented Dr Noman Siddiqi and his team for embellishing the “event with a beautiful bouquet of poets." He kept the audience smiling and laughing with amusing anecdotes and hilarious remarks as he introduced the poets one after another.  DrSaleemKhanani, an oncologist by profession, recited his poetry thus:  

Roshan hamarijudda thee janab-e-MajnooN se

  Kissi se ishqkiyakuch se dostikar lee

Ab kejaoN Ga Jo oossheharmeinMajnubankar 

  Kis se phooNChooN Ga vo Laila bhiyaheeNrahti thee


When DrKhananifinished  the last couplet, Ashhar told the audience, "Make sure that Khanani Sahib does not get a visa to visit Pakistan, anymore." 

GauharAzmi and Sana Qureshi started off the Mushaira with "Hamd-O-Naat" and when they were done Ashhar was quick to respond, "Now let's talk about a different Mehboob."

Iqbal Danish got ahead of his namesake as he looked at his watch and said he still had 4 minutes and 56 seconds remaining. His poem spotlighted the plight of children of Iraq – he referred to the children as "Bomb ketukron se Khelne wale". Danish drew a rather grim picture of the aftermath of the Iraqi war where not only many innocent lives were destroyed but the infrastructure suffered as well. 


  Maazikaaaj ho gyakyahaaldekhna

Sab kuchchalagyahaizamanekesaath

 Danish na jai haat se, Iqbal dekhna”  

Haider Hussain Jaleesi and I may be a decade apart but we both lived at a stone’s throw of each other on Tariq Road in Karachi and went to the same school - Habib Pubic  - as he revealed to me at the Mushaira event; he went on to elaborate that his passion for poetry goes back to a Mushaira that he attended and presented a couplet when he was only eight years old. "Under the Sidarat of Qamar Jalalvi," Haider said proudly. HaiderJaleesi is known for his humorous poetry and today he was no different. He had the audience laughing as he eloquently shared some of his poetry:


 Urdu durust ho gaee Begum kopaalke 

 MuuNdohkephailhi  baar wo jab ayeesaamne



"KuchdostoN ne MujhsekahaShaadikarlophir


Haamibhari to pit gayye Mister Kamal se



"Zabaan se unki main Inkar sunkarshaadhotahooN 

 Keh Urdu meinNahin English mein wo  In Car  khahetihai"


Iqbal Ashhar, enthralled the audience with his melodious voice as well as fine poetry. He pointed out that it takes a long while before Shayeri (poetry) takes its form and place in the adabi (literary) world. He managed to articulate this nicely in one line: "ItniAasani Se MiltiNahin Fun Ki Daulat     -  Dahl Gaee Umar ToSheroanPeJawaniAaee.

Iqbal Ashhar who is labeled by his fans: "Kush GuluShayer"  - clearly lived up to his reputation when he recited "Urdu is my Name" in tarrunum .


Urdu haimeranaam main Khusrokipaheli
Main meerkihumraazhuGhalibkisaheli

Ghalib ne bulandikasafarmujhkoseekhaya
Hali ne muravvatkasabakyaaddilaya
Iqbaal ne aaina_e_haqmujhkodikhaya
Momeen ne sajayee mere khwabokihaveli


After his presentation Iqbal Ashhar resumed his Sidarat  role  and introduced ShakeelAzmi, who was born in Aramgarh in UP, India. He is married and his six children keep him pretty occupied, but he still manages to steal a few hours to satisfy his thirst for poetry.  When he is not writing poetry he is either writing a film-script or lyrics for Bollywood songs. 

A few notable couplets:


kitnāmushkilhaibaḌe ho kebaḌerahnābhī


baat se baatkīgahrā.īchalījaatīhai

jhuuT aa jaa.e to sachchā.īchalījaatīhai


Shakeel has offered some good advice in his poetry, as can be observed from the few couplets:




maqaamjiskafarishtoN se bhiziyadatha



NaseerTurabi , the last poet to present his kalam, was invited to the stage with utmost respect. Turabi was born in  Hyderabad  Deccan but came to Pakistan after  independence . He went to the University of Karachi  in 1968, but began writing poetry in 1962.  His Ghazal "WohHamsafarTha" was written on the separation of  East Pakistan . NaseerTurabi praised the audience and the AAANE team and remarked that after seeing the enthusiasm and interest of the audience he was sure that the work of  Ghazal  will keep on flourishing. He read out a few couplets from some of his  ghazals  and the audience appeared visibly immersed in his kalam.

"Vo shaqajiskeliyesherkaherahahooNNaseer  -  Ghazal sunaaehuaeuskoekzamanahua"

"Banka choNksajaatasar-e-rah Naseer  -  Kisi aawaz this ye kiskobulatithi ye"

Woh  bewafahai to kya mat bura  Kahoousko

Jo hua so huakhushrakhekhudausko

Nazarnaaaye to uskitalaashmeinrehna 

Kahin mille to pakarkeussedekhna


It was past midnight and the hall custodians were waiting to wrap up the evening, but the audience desired the proceedings to continue. 

The richness of the art and poetry presented that memorable day resonated well with what the Massachusetts Governor Charles Baker and Lt. Governor KarynPolito had to say: "The annual Mushaira continues to showcase the organization's dedication to education and the arts. Poetry in particular, with its personal nature and emotional power, is the perfect medium for sharing ideas that establish common ground and resonate within us." 

Kudos to AAANE team of Massachusetts. You  did it again!



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