A translation of Wasif Ali Wasif’s "ALFAZ"
By: Abbas Ali
“Every perception comes dressed to impress. This attire is made up of Words. The One who bestowed the perception also awarded the Words. Human beings have a distinction based on Words. Human beings are superior to other beings because of their ability to speak. Humans have been bestowed with the wealth of expression, and expression is the name of the proper order of Words. The beauty of word order is its excellent quality. The style of expression undoubtedly belongs to the speaker, but in reality, this quality is concealed in Words. The selection of suitable Words makes the speaker a man of panache. The sculptor’s skill is to carve out the image hidden in the rock. This skill is an arduous task and not the cup of tea for every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
Similarly, knowledge of relations between Words and themes and the connection of the topics with the themes makes a man a writer. Without Words, the beauty of perception is merely an observation, just like the dream of a dumb person. And perception without Words is like a dictionary; it is a heap of bricks destined to remain without being converted into a building. In the world, the real power belongs to Words. The beginning of this universe commenced with a single word—a holy word—a command of the Commander-in-chief. There is a complete universe, a complete system, and a complete story hidden in the word “Kun.” This word was the word of command that every item in the universe is still following sincerely. It was the strange miracle of this word that existence took birth out of non-existence. The journey of existence commenced with “KUN,” and this word’s effect from existence to non-existence. At every step of life, the power of Words is manifest. The whip of Words is required to awaken the nations from slumber. The awesomeness of national and ethnic poets is based on Words.
Words create movement in the blood, servitude is converted into a choice, and human practices get refined. The microscopic study of the Words used in a society throws light on the ethical standards of that society. Developed societies make use of different types of Words. Some Words kindle the lamps of hope, and some other Words spread the darkness of despair. A particular order of Words can turn a man into a camel driver. Our national songs motivate our sentiments towards a specific path. The act of standing steadfast and seeing an enemy eyeball to eyeball is also possible only with the help of Words.
Love is a sentiment, a desire to seek the proximity of someone. Love can be silent, but Words add a unique charm and colorfulness to love. Loving someone is a normal phenomenon. However, a poetic stanza wrapped in the effects of love is a fantastic spectacle. Love would not have been as lovable as made with the colorful brush of Words. Our relationships, desires, and hatreds are eternal because we have written them down. Having called someone a friend, we bear his seemingly-loyal betrayal. Even if the sentiment of friendship gets hurt many times, however, we keep on respecting the word “friendship.” Our relationships are strengthened by the Words we use. We keep our relations established because we have named them as such. Having said something implies its establishment.
Once a person recites Kalima, he remains a Muslim throughout his life. Even if he does not understand the real meaning of Islam, he remains a Muslim. The recitation of Kalima places the stamp of affirmation. Words are the essence of the Quran. Allah’s Holy Words are addressed to his servants, the message brought by Gabriel (AS) through the Prophet (PBUH) for humanity. The sequence and order of these Words are so permanent that Allah himself has taken responsibility for their safekeeping. There isn’t a single dot that can be altered. If Words are from Allah, they are Quran; if Words are from the Prophet (PBUH), they are Hadith; the Words of Buzargaan-i-Din are Mulfoozat; the Words of wise men are sayings. The Words spoken by a pious tongue are considered more pious and have the desired effect.
We live in a world of Words, under the siege of Words, and Words are our character. Words are our milieu, and at times, Words are our finale. Through the route of our ears, Words affect our hearts. After involving our hearts, they command our limbs to act, and thus our character gets molded. No expenditure is incurred on good Words, but a lot can be achieved with the help of good Words. Words keep on making a person: favorite or hated. Words make the environment fragrant, like a fragrance.
Every society and every group uses different sequences, orders, or Words. You can identify a person’s profession by paying attention to his Words and conversations. A person working in a market uses the languages related to the market. Those who belong to Dar-ul-Aloom use a different language. The language of scholars is different. The language of the physicians is different.
Similarly, the language of the ignorant is different. The language used in the academic environment is different. Drama, prose, and poetry have other languages. In the world of poetry, the order of Words goes on, opening distant vistas of meaning. Casting a spell of magic upon the audience is the miracle of poetry. The Words coming from the heart enter the hearts of the audience in such a way that the listener cries out, “I understand as is; this is in my heart.” The melody of the speaker creates a song in Words. Words sung in a painful voice create an unusual atmosphere in the gathering. The meaning of the Words fades into the background, while the singer’s melody uplifts the hearts.
Once, Azeem Prem Ragi narrated an event at his private gathering. He said that he sang too much during the night in a meeting. The conference was on for a long time. The audience was enthralled. A lot of money was gifted to him, but the authentic charm was missing. He was perturbed in his heart of hearts. The night had grown very deep. He remembered his guru, lit the lamp of his heart, composed some Words, and started singing. The Words were:
Let you go, my darling.
A Darling meets a Darling, let you go away, my beloved
After a while, the heart’s lamp-lit all the lamps of the hearts. The gathering had strange, hypnotic surroundings. The environment of ecstasy, fascination, and enthrallment prevailed in the meeting. Once the singer’s pain awoke, the audience’s pain also awoke. Therefore, the magic in Words lies in the true sentiments of the speaker. The tone of the speaker also affects the beauty of the Words. They lose their sweetness if the pleasant Words are uttered harshly.
Molana Rumi (RA) narrates a story. Once upon a time in the desert, two caravans camped in the vicinity of each other; one group comprised Muslims, and the other was of Jews. At the Fajr time, the Muslims, after calling Azzan, offered the Namaaz. In the meantime, a man from the Jewish camp came with a large plate filled with gifts, entered the Muslim camp, and desired to meet the Ameer. At the meeting, the incoming person said, “Our leader has sent this humble gift for your majesty.” The Muslim Ameer said, “What is the purpose of this gift?” The incoming person said, “Sir, today a long-pending issue with our leader got solved because of your caravan. One of the daughters of our leader had accepted Islam, and she was not ready to leave Islam at any cost. Our leader tried his best to convince her, but all in vain. Finally, when today your Muzzin offered Azzan, it was in such a harsh voice that the daughter of our leader left Islam and resumed her previous religion. “The result is that the Muzzin and the preacher need to have a sweet voice. We should propagate a good message in an excellent style to serve the purpose. It is not difficult to guess how urgently the custom of Azzan needs the soulfulness of Bilal (RA).
Regional Words mirror the regional culture and civilization. The vocabulary used by a person tells us about the origin and profession of a person. The similes and metaphors Words also identify the regions and the epoch. People from deserts use different Words than people from the mountains, and people from the plains use other languages. Nevertheless, the esteem of the Words is based on the tone and style of the speaker. If the pious Words do not reach the righteous tongue, they lose their power to inspire and influence. Allah says that if this Quran had been revealed on the mountains, the mountains would have trembled at Allah’s grandeur. Nowadays, we observe that the Quran is being recited while the listener remains effectless and uninfluenced. True Words require a more authentic tongue. As a nation, we have abandoned pondering these Words. We have been drowning in the flood of directionless Words. Every day, thousands of Words are published in newspapers. Columns after columns are posted. However, the sweet Words have come to an end. Such Words are rarely heard nowadays.
Heart-breaking Words are prevailing all around us. Where is the balm for the injuries? Where have Words that would be converted into miracles disappeared? Have the Words that would bring people closer gotten lost? The effect of a sweet tongue is also known as Gunj-i-Shakar (RA). Nowadays, I don’t understand why people have no time and no Words to express their thanks. People neither feel sorry for their mistakes nor have the courage to accept them. If we listen to the Words used in the political rally and ponder over them, we will realize where we started our journey and reached.
Sour Words are destroying the fabric of society. We need to rejuvenate sweet Words. If we adopt the principle of “live and let live,” the tone and style of our speech will undergo a sea change. People should be satisfied with their lives. Listening to the sweet Words makes our tongue sweet, and our sweetness gets sweetness. With the decrease in respect for human beings, the reverence for Words has also declined. Not a bit of care is taken while using Words, which results in injuries to every heart and sorrow to all humans. Our tongue is sharper than the blade of a sword.
At times, the Words of the truth are so sour that we seek Allah’s refuge. Should we call someone “one-eyed” if their eyes aren’t working? Although it is the truth, it will show your mannerlessness. The non-precautionary expression of the truth can also cause embarrassment.
Once upon a time, a king called a palmist and astrologer and asked him about his future life. Calculating according to his knowledge, the astrologer informed the king, “My Lord, your relatives will die in front of you.” Hearing this bad news, the king became irritated and enraged at the astrologer, and he had the astrologer arrested. The king announced that some other astrologer might calculate his future across the kingdom. “My Lord, you have a very long life, and you have a longer life than your beloved ones,” a man said after preparing the astrological table and calculating. The king was happy and said, “Let you ask for whatever you want.” The astrologer said, “My lord! Kindly release my teacher. “The king asked for an explanation, and the astrologer said, “The imprisoned astrologer is my teacher. He too predicted the same future as I did, but he did not take the necessary precaution in the use of Words.” If you live a long life or your relative dies before you are the same thing. But the expression is different. “And this is the crucial thing: how do we use Words?
Words, like humans, have families. Eulogy’s Words are different from the Words of elegy; criticism is other than the Words of appreciation. A war poem is different than a romantic poem. A Gazal has different Words than a Mousavi. Is it not necessary to know which Words are used for nobility? Being bad-tempered is less dangerous than being mannerless because a mannerless person is also the culprit of the misuse of Words.
Using good Words is a divine blessing. Only some people are blessed with this blessing. It is a great thing to make the environment pleasant with Words. No issue is solved only by swallowing or vomiting the Words. Let’s brighten the atmosphere with Words. Let us make people’s hearts joyful with our Words. Let us motivate people to join the great cause of nation-building with the help of Words. Words are the reality; Words are an entrustment, Words are wealth, and Words are powerful. Let us not waste them, and let us not make them useless.”
Wasif Ali Wasif’s Haraf HarafHaqeekat (pg.9-15)
The translator is a Sr. Lecturer in Economics
Kashmir Images is an English language daily newspaper published from Srinagar (J&K), India. The newspaper is one of the largest circulated English dailies of Kashmir and its hard copies reach every nook and corner of Kashmir Valley besides Jammu and Ladakh region.