In Memoriam: Taufiq Rafat (1927-1998)

Taufiq Rafat was a pioneer, one of the ‘fathers’ of English poetry in Pakistan. He legitimized the writing of this unique and productive genre at a time when it was much reviled by a so-called ‘literary intelligentsia’ paying lip-service to Urdu literature and toeing the official line which proclaimed that all ‘good and loyal Pakistanis’ must, perforce, think and act and speak and write only in Urdu. Rather typical of our rulers’ Orwellian mindset/s.

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Annemarie Schimmel

With the passing away of Professor Annemarie Schimmel (1922-2003) a vital ‘link’ has indeed been severed between the West and its Islamic ‘Other’, as so aptly pointed out by in his memorial article by Dr. Tariq Rahman (The News, Feb. 7th 2003)—or between Muslim civilization and its sane assessment in present Western conditions.

In any case, a number of articles, tributes, reports and ‘references’ etc, have been appearing quite regularly in our newspapers following Professor Schimmel’s demise, analyzing her life and work from all sorts of perspectives—her ‘pioneering’ studies of Mevlana Rumi, Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast and other Islamic mystics; her work on Iqbal; her history of classical Urdu poetry; various dimensions of Islamic worship; of the languages and culture of Pakistan and elsewhere—the sheer scope, versatility and depth of her ‘genius’ as a scholar and researcher and bridge between East and West, and so-on. It is a pity that no one has said or written anything about Annemarie Schimmel, the Sufi.

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The Romantic Road to Heidelberg

As we passed through the Schwarzwald (Black Forest) it seemed as if centuries had rolled away. The countryside was enchanted with lush undergrowth rising to meet the dark, whispering pines.

 

A little further, we found ourselves in a silent glade where a stream bubbled out of the ground and meandered its shining course through the foliage. A half-timbered watermill dozed in the sunlight. Little brown-and-white ducks bobbed in the water. “Any minute now:, I thought, “The Wicked Witch will step out of her secret abode”, half expecting to see her come out of a woodland cottage, or to see all manners of demons and trolls and ogres lurking behind the trees, or to see a knight to canter up on his white charger, his pennants resplendent in these lost shades.

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A Model for the Nation: The Early Victorian Era and the Marital Life of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1840-1861.

Today, the term ‘Victorian’ has come to mean all things conventional and restrained, heavy with solemnity, even hypocritical and self-consciously materialistic at times. The ‘lead’ for such social attitudes supposedly emanated from the example of Queen Victoria (r: 1837-1901) and her family.

 

When the young Victoria married her distant cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a small German principality (See Appendix), she married for love (1). To the 20-year old Queen, Albert was an incredibly handsome, dashing and charming beau, rather “incomparable”, for whom she felt a deep physical and emotional attraction, which she expressed quite frankly in some of her family letters (2). Her standards of marital idealism and of male beauty were very high indeed but Albert “fulfilled” all her “hopes” and charmed her to distraction with, “his beautiful blue eyes, an exquisite nose & such a pretty mouth with delicate mustachios & slight, but very slight whiskers” (3).

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Sufi Poetry of Hazrat Syed Meher Ali Shah

Omer Tarin  (Muse India, Delhi, India, No 73, 2017)

The Sufi poetry of Hazrat Syed Meher Ali Shah, Chishti-Nizami, the Saint of Golra: A brief overview

Pakistan is the land of the Indus River, ‘Sindhu’ or ‘Abasyin’, and as this great river flows from North to South, down to the sea, it runs the length of this entire country. The Indus has seen the growth of many ancient civilizations along its banks and those of its main tributary rivers- the Indus Valley civilization, the Gandhara civilization, and so on—and the land, the long basin or valley of the Indus, has long remained one of the world’s major spiritual-mystical centers (Quraeshi, The Introduction, pp 21-22, 27 and 29). It has nurtured the ancient Hindu Vedantic practice, the Greater Path of Buddhism and Sufi Islam.

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