, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
Chaucer, a 14th century English poet, was once beaten up mercilessly by his matter-of- fact father. Reason? Chaucer’s weakness for poetry; his habit of versifying on each and every thing. The dressing down was so severe that the boy started weeping bitterly. Do you know what were the words on his lips?
Papa Papa, mercy take, / Verses shall I never make!
Intizar Naeem too, in the light of his 225-page compendium called Shart-e-Wafa, is a born-poet. Not to versify is beyond his grain. Ban on “poetising” would be a punishment for him. He is one of those writers, exception apart, who can write prose with equal ease.
This fact assumes added significance when the person concerned is found affiliated with a universal movement called Islam. Naeem is Assistant Secretary Jamaat-e-Islami Hind.
What completes the circle is the fact that he is not a mere activist-on-paper. In accordance with the Qur’anic injunction Udkuloo Fissilmi Kaffah (O ye who believe) enter into Islam wholly! Dedication is his weakness. Sincerity is his strongest point. Commitment is his distinctive mark. Naeem belongs to the category of Muslims whose credo is total submission to Allah and allegiance to His Prophet (peace be to him).
In this ideological scheme of things, poetry or any medium is nothing in it self. It is just a tool to fulfil the objective. This is what distinguishes the Islamic poets from non-Islamic ones.
Primarily, the poetry of Naeem is value-based or principle oriented. It is neither for entertainment of Tom, Dick and Harry, nor is it an invitation to breast-beat against the deprivations. Naeem’s source of inspiration is neither “her” dishevelled tresses nor her gazal-like eyes, nor her gait nor her way of smiling.
Naeem is a serious, sober, thinking poet, who wants to change the world, its standards, its criterion, its likes and dislikes and dos and donts. He does not touch dirt anywhere. There is certain grandeur, certain loftiness in Naeem’s poetry.
Become a banner-holder of light, / Remain prepared if the torch goes out.
Can this simple but grave couplet not be put side by side with any high-profile poet of any other school of poetry?
Beware of the wall, / It hears little but makes other hear much more.
What is remarkable is in his zeal for showing the light to others. He refuses to be a cheap propagandist, as we saw in the case of some Progressives:
See the illumination of the city of the sincere, / The lamps of heads are burning on the gallows.
Each and every body appears to be suffering from an inexplicable fear,
When the heart beats within the chest, it sounds like an accident.
In his ideological poetry, Naeem does not forget the uniane diction of ghazal.
Do not refer to deprivations frequently, / Pessimism is alright. But do not turn your heart mad!
If you want to see Mission or Ideology live, on the march, read:
The people are roaming on the streets, / Keeping their hearts on their palms;
Nobody knows what a crazy fellow / thrusted down their throats.
If you want to understand what is, and what is not Intizar Naeem, read:
O morning of tomorrow, if you want to know my price / Remember, my ties go back to the past
Do not lock in the butcher-house after my murder, / More people will come with their heads on their palms
Punishment for love got complete after me / The prisons remained shut after me.
There are neither tears in my eyes nor protest on my lips / Who would understand my story!?
In the light of his poetry, Naeem is a crusader, missionary and revolutionary. He is not to be taken lightly. His insight hints at what he aims at. Just one line:
“The blood of the heart has not so far dropped on the gallows.”
A glimpse of his depth:
The mansion was new, grand and attractive,
But when it came crashing down, it had no foundation.