12 January 1931 - 25 August 2008
Ahmad Faraz (Urdu: احمد فراز) born Syed Ahmad Shah (Urdu: سید احمد شاہ) on January 12, 1931 in Kohat, was a Pakistani Urdu poet. He was considered one of the great modern Urdu poets of the last century. Faraz is his pseudonym 'takhalus'. Faraz died in Islamabad on August 25, 2008.
Faraz has been compared with Faiz Ahmad Faiz, holds a unique position as one of the best poets of current times, with a fine but simple style of writing. Even common people can easily understand his poetry. Ethnically a Hindkowan, Ahmed Faraz studied Persian and Urdu at the Peshawar University. He later became lecturer at the Peshawar University. He was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz, Sitara-i-Imtiaz and after his death Hilal-e-Pakistan by the government.
Faraz was born in Kohat, Pakistan to Syed Muhammad Shah Barq. His brother is Syed Masood Kausar. In an interview with Rediff he recalls how his father, once bought clothes for him on Eid. He didn't like the clothes meant for him, but preferred the ones meant for his elder brother. This lead him to write his first couplet:
:سب کے واسطے لائے ہیں کپڑے سیل سے
:لائے ہیں میرے لیے قیدی کا کمبل جیل سے
Sab kay waste laye hein kaprye sale se
Laye hein mere liye qaidi ka kambal jail se
(He brought clothes for everybody from the sale)
(For me he brought a blanket from jail)
His parents asked him once to learn mathematics from a class fellow during the summer vacation. But he was weak in mathematics and geography, he didn't remember maps and roads.
He was from a respectable family of Syed, descendents of ''Haji Bahadar" a famous saint of Kohat, he moved to Peshawar with entire family. Studied in famous Edwards College, Peshawar and then did his Masters in Urdu and Persian from Peshawar University.
During his time in college, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ali Sardar Jafri were the best progressive poets, who impressed him and became his role models.
Literary and Political life
Outspoken about politics, he went into self-imposed exile during the Zia-ul-Haq era after he was arrested for reciting certain poems at a Mushaira criticizing the military rule. He stayed for 6 years in Britain, Canada and Europe before returning to Pakistan, where he was initially appointed Chairman Academy of Letters and later chairperson of the Islamabad-based National Book Foundation for several years. He has been awarded with numerous national and international awards.
He was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2004, in recognition of his literary achievements. He returned the award in 2006 after becoming disenchanted with the government and its policies.
"My conscious will not forgive me if I remained a silent spectator of the sad happenings around us. The least I can do is to let the dictatorship know where it stands in the eyes of the concerned citizens whose fundamental rights have been usurped. I am doing this by returning the Hilal-e-Imtiaz (civil) forthwith and refuse to associate myself in any way with the regime..." a statement issued by the poet.
About his current writings he says: "I now only write when I am forced to from the inside." Maintaining a tradition established by his mentor, the revolutionary Faiz Ahmad Faiz, he wrote some of his best poetry during those days in exile. Famous amongst poetry of resistance has been "Mahasara". Faraz was also mentioned by actor Shahzada Ghaffar in the Pothwari/Mirpuri telefilm "Khai Aye O".
Despite his deteriorating health, he was quite active in the Judicial Crisis, in 2007. He joined personally the lawyers to protest against the government, and also encouraged his colleagues to do the same.
Faraz died from kidney failure in a local Islamabad hospital on 25 August 2008. His funeral was held on the evening of 26th, by many admirers and government officials at H-8 Graveyard, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Samples of poetry
A sample of his poetry is:
Nazm: Khwaab martay naheen
Khwaab martay naheen
Khwaab dil hain, nah aankhen, nah saansen keh jo
Rezaa, rezaa huwe to bikhar jaayen ge
Jism kii maut se ye bhii mar jaayen ge
Dreams do not die
Dream are not heart, nor eyes nor breath
Which shattered, will scatter
Die with the death of the body