On Iqbal’s Stray Reflections, PEF and PANA

Positive work going on in the Capital,  April 2018.

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Somehow, my weekends are so interesting. Getting invited to several events, I choose the ones which are constructive and relaxing too. Each of the events I’m sharing here, deserve separate blogs, yet I’m afraid they may get over-run by upcoming events.

So, let’s go over these briefly:

Allama Iqbal’s death anniversary on April 21st. 2018:

It was a function arranged at The Hive in Blue Area. The Hive is a place for small events.  You know I love young people, so I was happy at least they had done something on such an important day.

As I parked my car, I saw a young man hurrying towards the stairs of the building. So, I followed, and found the place, with his help.  Then, he said, ‘You have taught me in school!’ I smiled at the dashing young man. I love to see my students all grown up! So, it turned out I had taught him history in ICAS probably in grade seven or eight, for a few months in 2004. So, I asked him to sit with me in the front row.  We decided to remain connected. So,  he sent me a friend’s request on Facebook, while we waited for the program to begin,  (we saw we have 27 common friends!) Hisham Muzaffar is doing his M.Phil at PIDE (Pakistan Institute of Developmental Economics,) inDevelopmental Economics. Khurram Ilahi the speaker of the day on Iqbal, has taught Hisham in PIDE.

Khurram’s lecture was on Stray Reflections, a book containing Allama Iqbal’s personal notes.  The talk went from Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) to Friedrich Nietzsche (1844—1900) who were great philosophers of our times, and especially of Iqbal’s. Emphasis was laid on Iqbal’s study of different theories, philosophers and poets of his times, and earlier. There was a lot emphasised about the importance of studying Philosophy in one’s life. How devoid of meaning is our lives when we do not try to understand why we are here in the first place! Here is a link to this book published by Allama Iqbal Academy in Lahore.

http://www.allamaiqbal.com/poet/prose/english/stray.pdf

Of course the mention of other books by Iqbal specially the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, (which my 26 year old friend Minahil finds  ‘…a life changing book!’)

So, it was two hours of fascinating talk by this young man, of around thirty five years, Khurram Ilahi. I wondered at his vocabulary in Persian language when he sprouted out Rumi’s original verses, then Urdu, when he quoted from Iqbals’ Urdu poetry. Then his English, as he spoke of Iqbal’s thoughts.

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It was truly a pleasure to be there, and witness this wonderful program. It was organized by the youth to commemorate the thoughts and philosophies of the man whose poetry actually brought about the existence of our country! Of course I ended up gifting the speaker and Hisham with copies of my publication of Iqbal’s book, Tulip of Sinai. After all, it is for persons like them that I’ve made this effort. (Needless to say, they were thrilled.) Who deserves it more than them?

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Anyhow, I barely had enough time to get back home, to pick up my two friends, Munazza and Ayesha who were to join me for the PEF function at Marriot – a five star hotel in Islamabad, later the same evening.

Zia Mohyeddin at the PEF Fundraiser:

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It was a fundraising dinner having recitations by Zia Mohyeddin , the actor who had come from Karachi for it. His presence made the occasion more authentic and the work done by Hafiz Haq of PEF came to light through a presentation.

Zia Mohyeddin was the one who drew the crowds. The man who acted in the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia (1962),  starred along with legends like Peter O ’Tool and Omer Sharif. (I believe he acted as one of his loyal slaves.)

I’ve seen Zia Mohyeddin in several British television programs also. He is one of the few persons in Pakistan whose English is as impeccable as his Urdu. He has worked in Shakespearean plays in England. He is with NAPA in Karachi now. – The right man for the right job.

Here is the recitation of Khansama which he did on the event. I’ve taken this from Youtube, as I found it would be better for you here:

Here is a piece from his blockbuster program which was a trend setter in early 1970s, in Pakistan Television. Literally, the whole country would watch his shows:

Zia Mohyeddin has brought to life Urdu and English Literature which is disappearing fast due to the onslaught of new diversions for us all.

So, humbly I took a copy of my book to him,

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Here I am with Zia Mohyeddin the legendary figure.

(later, I was told he left it at his table, telling the management that he doesn’t accept gifts.) I wish he had told me, (I respect his wishes. As a teacher, I too avoided accepting gifts.) However, I wanted to gift one book to Adeel Hashmi whom I have great regard for, and who would I’m sure have appreciated it too! – He was the only one in the hall who mentioned the fact that it was the death anniversary of Allama Iqbal that day too. Therefore, it was an appropriate day for this event. I’ve seen his comedy acting. Like his dad, Shoaib Hashmi there is a serious note to their work. The family is a legendary family of Lahore.

 

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Here I am with Adeel Hashmi the host for the program.

At the PEF function Hafiz Haq touched everyone’s hearts when he said, that the idea came to him when he was abroad. Living in the comfort of Western lifestyle, he realized that he was enjoying that lifestyle due to the education he had received in Pakistan.  He wondered how would the poor children manage without there being any institution to give them a free professional education in universities and colleges? Who would take care of them, after they left the innumerable free schools which only take a student till grade five, ten, or at the most twelve. Without a good professional education, an educated person cannot find means of livelihood. So, he asked his golf friends, and they loved the idea of providing for such children. That is when they all got together to form the PEF. Today, this is the situation:

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A few students out of the seventy five who have graduated in the last few years, came along to share their stories. It was an evening which was touching and very inspiring.

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It was great meeting my new friend Neeli.

Pledge cards were laid out on every table

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Here I am with my friends Saima and Quratulain. The later is the volunteer from Islamabad who helped bring about this evening with her enthusiasm along with many others.

which were to be filled, and I too was so touched that in spite of the fact that I’m doing some humble efforts in this regard. I felt compelled to pledge some amount on a monthly basis.

Hafiz Haq announced that he would donate Rs.10,00,000/-  ($ 10,000) this evening from his family’s side alone. If you want to join him, please do so through their website:

www.thepef.com

PANA meeting on Sunday the 22nd of April, 2018:
31166827_781421442063520_2714513777402839040_n Next morning was the Pakistan and Norwegian Association meeting arranged by Atle Hetler, a Norwegian settled in Islamabad. He is the protagonist of this event on a regular basis. Invariably one is treated with a mixed group of  International and local personalities. This time a Belgian writer Annick Jaqueline Goethals was to speak about her two fiction books. Also, there were two Japanese gentlemen Hideaki Nakajima and Masamitsu Kajinami from JEN, and an Englishwoman named Lynly Ruth who has lived in Pakistan for fifty years. There were Pakistani families who have lived in Norway. I was the only one who is locally brewed, among a few others. Atle had asked me to speak about Pakistani English Literature, I had chosen to speak on Mohsin Hamid and Bapsi Sidhwa.

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The conversation as usual was interesting, till it became really hot, when Annick shared stories from her life with everyone. That triggered an onslaught of interesting discussion on experiences of women with men. Lynly Ruth shared her experience of being married to a Pakistani for fifty years. Then what happened when her husband passed away recently. I couldn’t resist either, and jumped in. I put aside my hurriedly prepared coverage of English Literature in Pakistan and dove deep into the topic of ‘life of widows’ in Pakistan. One glaring common feature became evident when the dying person’s bank account is frozen for all. (No, I don’t blame the bank for this one!) However, it expressed the dilemma of homemakers at that point. – Where they are expected to manage everything in spite of it all. The Western women have the hope of getting at least half of all that belongs to the husband –  or even  all. Here, in Pakistan one sees the multidimensional dilemma of the Pakistani widow who has to fight for her 1/8th share, while the men folk who are greedily after the assets, feel they have nothing to do regarding provision for the widow, due to which fact they will get this share.  (The Islamic concept of taking care of food, clothing and shelter of women, is disregarded completely by them.) So, I realized I was getting carried away, but my audience seemed fine with it all.

Dr. Ghazala Anwar an elegantly dressed Pakistani, said:

 ‘There are men in this society who have found ways of protecting their women by putting the house and property in the names of their loved ones. Also to have joint accounts and that saves you from all hassle.’ She added that this is what her father did, and her mother had no problems when he passed away.  She is a lecturer at Berkley -yes, that one in CA- and has taken a break now to look after her mother these days.  

On 23 April is the World Book Day:

During the PANA meeting Atle had already announced that he had invited the writer to speak for this reason. Besides the fact that it is a literary group which gives space to books and writers and artists. There is a lot going on about books being on their last legs. But if any of you have ever attended the LLF at Lahore or the NBF in Islamabad, you’d know that book lovers have not got less. Not in Pakistan, for now. Also, we need to realize that readers are there, it is just the source or medium is changing with the laptop, kindle, smart phone and what not. Now, you can get the same information and books online as well. So, we have nothing to worry about. The book’s shape maybe changing in some ways. However, the writing of books is here to stay. It began with writings on cave walls, then on leather parchments, to stones. Then on rolls of paper, and then on books for a few centuries, knowledge and sources of knowledge shall keep changing mediums. However the authors and writers will continue to write.

It is a beautiful fact that the first day of my work on my next book fell on the World Book Day. Here is a glimpse of the Printer Qasim and Saqib with whom I work to bring on the upcoming book. It is the complete version of Payam-e-Mashriq in English called: Message from the East.

Here is something that Abbas Husain has to say about world book day:

 

My wonderful and brave reader, who has been reading till here! You are great persons in my life. Only due to you all, my website is about to touch the 40,000 hits mark and I hope more of you will follow me too. I’ve already got 89 followers. I’d love your comments on my website so I can tailor it to your requirements.

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This is my favorite photograph taken by Nataliya Khan, for World Book Day.

Stay blessed! 

 

 

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