A faculty member of IIT Kanpur complained that the poem recited by students in solidarity with Jamia Millia Islamia, provoked anti-Hindu sentiments. The poem in question is Hum Dekhenge by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the alleged ‘anti-Hindu’ verse goes like:
“Jab arz-e-khuda (Earth of God) ke kaabe se,
Sab but (idols) uthayaae jaenge,
Sab taaj ucchale jaenge,
Sab takht giraye jayenge,
Bas naam rahega allah ka,
Yeh lazim hai ki hum bhi dekhenge.”
“When, from the seat of the Almighty
every pedestal will lie displaced;
Then, the dispossessed we; we,
who kept the faith will be installed
to our inalienable legacy.
Every crown will be flung.
Each throne brought down.
Only His name will remain.
Inevitably, we shall also see the day
that was promised to us.”
Faiz wrote this poem in 1979. Iqbal Bano, the legendary Pakistani singer made it immortal in 1986 with her rendition – after two years of Faiz’s death. This was written in Pakistan during the military rule of Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq, who disposed Zulfikar-Ali-Bhutto and announced himself as the President of Pakistan in 1978.
During Zia’s rule, laws were made against adultery, fornication and blasphemy. Also, punishments by whipping, amputation and stoning to death were introduced. Many blame Zia-ul-Haq for the Islamisation of Pakistan and pushing the country to extremism.
Faiz was a communist and his poems signify his hate towards authoritarian rule. His poems were an attack on such leaders and their ways.
In the above couplet, he talks about the time when fake idols will be destroyed and in the void of symbolism, only god (the righteous) will remain.
He understood how rulers use symbols to brazenly boast about their kingdoms. Hitler used the swastika to gather support for his callous crusade. The people supporting his ideology carried out massacre unabashedly and Hitler held this together by giving power to this symbol; disrespect to the swastika would imply disrespect to the nation.
The relevance of symbols can be seen during the reign of Muammar al-Gaddafi too. He built many statues of himself around Libya. After killing him brutally, the forces decapitated his statues and stood above it, which according to them signified the end of Gaddafi’s atrocities.
The Indian Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, himself, did not believe in idolatry. He felt symbols could be used to destroy peace and was aware of its abuse by many, over the course of history. He held humanity above nationalism and despised extreme nationalism, even during the war of Independence of India.
Tyrants thrive on symbols and idols; its followers celebrate it and the victims suffer under it.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz was termed a ‘criminal’ many times for his revolutionary writings. A poem which was written against the authority as a right to express is being termed as ‘anti-Hindu.’
The situation clearly explains that religion is being manifested as a symbol to us. This is a failure of our education system which cannot educate the most educated about revolutionary writers.
Faiz was a criminal then and remains to be one, interestingly, because of the failure of the authorities.