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Abdullah Ustad: The romantic naat writer:


Abdullah Ustad: The romantic naat writer:

Dr. Sher Zaman Taizi

            Nothing around my fair and delicate wrists, I have,
            Come to our street, O the bangles-seller auntie!
            This was a song related to the proverbial romantic life of the gypsies.  The women of the gypsy community go around with big baskets, full of fragile merchandise, on their heads to sell the musical toys, coloured paper fans and other such cheap things in the streets. The male folk keep monkeys, bears, dogs, goats, and snakes to charm the viewers in busy bazaars and earn their livelihood. But the most attractive and lucrative business of this community is the sale of bangles. The young damsels confined within the four walls of the homes are their eager customers. This bargaining is not restricted to business talk only but normally drifts to metaphorical erotic tete a tete also which pleases the fair sex.
            This song earned so much popularity that even the illiterate women memorized it in total, and it was made a regular feature of the musical soiree within the homes on the occasions of social festivities to sing it in chorus with the solo music of tambourine and clapping. A jester once made a joke of it in the public that "this song has been memorized even by the chickens!"
            This highly romantic, but not erotic, song had been written by the man who is known best for composition of the naat and was called Labeed-i-Sarhad. His name was Abdullah. The common man called him Abdullah ustad, the poets called him Raees-ush-Shuara and Moajjidul Auzan (the innovator of the metres and rhythms) also, whereas Amanul Mulk Noor of Kaka Sahib called him the Jamal-ud-Din Afghani of the Khattak region. Because, he had many attractive qualities. He was a good musician also. The instrument of his choice was mangay (water pitcher) which he played himself.
            Abdullah Ustad was basically a poet of the naat, having composed some excellent and popular naats in Pashto. Not only this, he used to chant his naats in his metallic voice and peculiar tone to enrapture the faithful for hours. In Pashto literature he was considered as the best of the few naat writers, and the best of the few naat chanters.
            The naat is that form of the poetry through which the person, life, speech and deed, and the supernal virtues of the Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), are described and praised. This art demands talents, aptitude, dedication and knowledge. Most of the naat writers substantiate their works with the burden of Arabic adjectives for two specific reasons: [a] sentimental attachment with the religion, [b] lack of proper adjectives in other languages. Therefore, the naat is normally stuffed with so many foreign words and phrases that it sounds quite strange and incomprehensible to the common man. This pedantic trend has given a serious setback to the art of naat writing.
            Abdullah Ustad revolutionized this trend masterly. He also studded his naats with such Arabic and Persian adjectives, but not so clumsily. His naats have the very distinction of Pashto characteristics and nature, and can, thus, be digested easily by a Pukhtun mind. The second quality of the naat is `the rhythm'. It is not read in plain but chanted in melody and that is, too, without the music. Therefore, composing of the naat and chanting of the naat are two different skills. The naat-khwans form a different group of the artistes. Abdullah Ustad was master of both the skills. He chanted his naats in a distinctive tone and style which are imitated by a number of his pupils, including his son Khurshid - a famous naat-khwan of the time. He has composed naats in Persian and Arabic also.
            Abdullah was born on January 12, 1901, in Nowshera Kalan, and died on October 7, 1981, and laid to rest in his ancestral grave yard in the foot of Tarakai hill. His father Sibghatullah was a known religious scholar. He gave Abdullah the elementary religious education at home, and, thus, he grew in a religious family and atmosphere.
            Abdullah had visited Afghanistan, Tirah, Bannu, Mardan and Swat to acquire knowledge from famous scholars. Then he travelled to Aligarh, Bombay, Kathiawar, Agra and Deoband also and, at last, received his final certificate from Mufti Kifayatullah before his return to home in 1930. In Delhi, he got the opportunity of attending mushairas, and then taking part in them to display his talents. In such a grand mushaira, he received an award from Hakim Ajmal Khan.
            Abdullah Ustad had inborn talent of arts and had started composing poetry at the age of seven. His arduous and extensive travels and education exploited his talents to the maximum.
            Maulana Abdullah had revealed that he had been blessed with the talent of poetry by Hazrat Rahman Baba in a dream. That revelation can not be challenged due to psychological attachment of the Maulana with the great Sufi poet, and his own dormant talents. Abdullah Ustad entertained sincere regard for Hazrat Rahman Baba and considered him his teacher. He was also impressed by the Arabic poet Labeed and mentioned his name in his poetry. That is why, his admirers called him Labeed-i-Sarhad, also.
            (Labeed, son of Rabee'ah,  was one of the seven Arab poets of the pre-Islamic period, whose odes (qasidahs) were suspended in the Ka’ba, the Holy Sanctuary at Mecca, as mark of their literary merit. He was the youngest of them, and had the good fortune of accepting Islam, and dying a Muslim. (Kamil, Dost Muhammad Khan; On a foreign approach to Khushhal; p.141)
            Maulana Abdullah is one of the best naat writers and chanters of the century. Otherwise, he was an honest admirer of the poetry in general and composed charbetas and other forms of folk songs also. He enjoyed the company of the poets. His inspiration and aspiration proved fruitful and a good number of poets have grown in Nowshera. While on his death bed, Abdullah Ustad convened a meeting of the poets and writers and prevailed upon them to forge unity. They agreed to form an association in the name of Da Raees Markazi Awami Pashto Adabi Jargah, Nowshera, after his title (Raees-ush-Shu'araa). The first meeting of the Jargah was presided over by Abdullah Ustad from his death bed.
             Maulana Abdullah has got published more than 15 books of his poetry whereas the manuscripts that he has left could make another three dozen books. His published works include Zarrat-i-Khurshid, Mo'jiz, Ejaz, Hawi, Rawamiz and Raqs-i-Qalam. Divan (collection) of his poetry is also being prepared for publication.
            This religious personality and one of the leading naat-khwans, too, could not skip the endemic apathy of the Pakhtun elders towards their language. In a couplet, he has given a subtle indication to this malady:
            Were Abdullah born in the ancient times,
            The kings would keep him in their company! (Tr.SZT)

1 comments:

a.rahman labied said...

mashaa aalah
can you uplood naat of moulan Abdullah labeed ustaz

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