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Urdu Academy celebrates the life and work of Bahadur Shah

March 15, 2009

Urdu Academy of North California celebrated the life and work of Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughol King of India with a colorful literary-cum-musical evening. The event was held on March 15, 2009 at the Pakistan American Cultural Center (PACC), San Jose. Tashie-Joshi-Tahir-A

At the beginning of the program, Ken Sherfy presented a naat written by Bahadur Shah Zafar.

A salient feature of the four-hour program was the recitation of Zafar’s ghazals by Dr. Mathur, Meraj Sultana, Ken Sherfy, Pervez Baig, Mohammad Asghar Abu Baker and Abdus Sattar Ghazali and Sanjay Sethi.

Abdul Razzak Adenwala and Mohammad Saleem amused the audience with the singing of Zafar’s popular ghazals.

Arshad Rashid and Tashie Zaheer presented special maqalas on the life and work of the great poet. Ending his maqala with a poetic note, Arshad Rashid pointed out that in his political life Bahadur Shah Zafar was unsuccessful but in poetry he was zafar (meaning successful.) He was alluding to the end of the Mughal rule in India which happened with the deposition of Zafar.

Ken Sherfy spoke on the controversy over two ghazals of Bahadur Shah Zafar:

Lagta Nahee Hai Dil Mera Ujre Dayar Mein

Mein Kisi Ki Aankh Ka Noor Houn Na Kisi Ke Dil Ka Sorur Houn

(Picture shows from left: Tashie Zaheer,
Prem Joshi and Dr. Tahir Mahmood)

Sherfy refuted claims by a Lahore scholar Imran Khan and his internet supporters that Zafar is not the author of these two ghazals. In his research to refute the claims, Mr. Sherfy quoted the William Dalrymple, author of the Last Mughal and Mohammad Tahir Farooqi, a scholar of Urdu.

Sherfy pointed out that controversy about these two ghazals emanates from the fact that they are not included in the four published diwans of Zafar. Howerver, his fifth diwan, which was ready for publication, was destroyed during the 1857 revolt. There is also no written record of Zafar’s poetry after 1857. Prof. Farooqi says that according to some traditions, Zafar’s poetry was sent from Rangoon (where Zafar was imprisoned by British) to Delhi but was lost during transmission and it is possible that this work is preserved somewhere. Zafar Caligraphy

Besides Shery’s thought provoking research, Dr. Tahir Mahmood’s  graphic presentation of the life of Bahadur Shah Zafar was very informative. His research highlighted many interesting facts about the life of the last Mughal King which were not well known to people.

The second part of the literary evening was very colorful as three singers presented popular  ghazals of Zafar. Dr. Anshuman Chandra gave a beautiful rendition on guitar. Dr. Chandra has PhD in electronics but has keen interest in music. He tries to compose tunes by mixing eastern and western music.

Prem Joshi also amused the audience with the singing of popular Zafar’s ghazals. Prem Joshi, a retired Engineer, is from Allahabad in India. Since his retirement he is a student of Ustad Surrinder Singh Mann and enjoys singing ghazals, bhajans, naats and old film music.

At the end, the ghazal maestro, Kuldip Singh presented a selection of Zafar’s ghazals and drew wide applause from the captivated audience.

The March 15 monthly event of the Urdu Academy was well attended. The hall was full to the capacity as people from far and near came to pay tribute to Zafar. Qaiser Daud, author of the most popular poems on Bush and Obama, traveled from San Ramon, CA to attended the event. His poem - A complaint of the Muslims from America - was recited at the February event by Dr. Karim M. Hussain. (By Abdus Sattar Ghazali)

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