Aug 16, 2014

Bedil: Humbleness, a Path to Harmony

به هزار کوچه دویده ام، به تسلی نرسیده ام
ز قد خمیده شنیده ام، که چو حلقه شد به دری رسد

Ba hazār kūcha dawīdam, ba tasallī narasidam
Zī qad khamida shinīda-am, kī chū halqa shud ba darī rasad

Running into thousand of streets, brought me no tranquility
I heard from an elder that the one, who turns to a ring, reaches the door.
                                                                                  Translated by Nasim Fekrat

In this poem, Bedil, demonstrates the ultimate humbleness that one should possess if undertaking a journey to reach harmony. He says that he ran through thousands of streets, spent nights and days, and endeavored pain to reward myself with tranquility, and peace. For Bedil, the word ‘tranquility’ is an allusion to the achievement of the reality of the existence; also, it is an insinuation to his beloved one, whoever might be; and finally, ‘tranquility’ is an allusion to his God. Bedil says that life has a meaning, and that meaning is not easily attainable. The significance of the first line’s meaning manifests itself in the second line.

Bedil says I perceived from an old man that the path to harmony is to become a door’s ring. This multifaceted line, at first glance might drive the reader into complete perplexity and wonder. However, it is no wonder when the readers find themselves confused, Bedil has unique style and he has used the most complex and implicitly difficult meanings to extract his imagination of humbleness.

So, to put it an understandably meaningful way, Bedil says that I spent all my life to reach harmony, but I was failed. Then he says: “An old man told me that in order to achieve the state of harmony and tranquil, one should be humble enough.” The word ‘ring’ has a special and an implicit meaning here. Bedil uses ‘ring’ to symbolize the old-age and the U-bend of life. Symbolically and humbly, Bedil pictures himself as a door ring at the gate that he might refer it to God. In another way, Bedil uses ‘ring’ to symbolize bowing; the gesture of humbleness, and obedience to God. Finally, being a ‘ring’ at door that implicitly pictures humbleness is a supreme virtue.

So, what is Bedil’s wisdom for us?
Modesty is the core of success and a path to harmony. Be modest in your clothing, in your talking; do not show off your knowledge and your wealth to others. Demonstrate humbleness and kindness to others, life is short, and at the time you realize you have ran thousands of streets and still running to find harmony, but you cannot, pause and ponder how modest and humble you were.

Aug 9, 2014

The Path of Humbleness Leads to Perfection

"Bedil, way to honor lies in humbleness
This path, led the new moon to its perfection"

بيدل دليل مقصد عزت تواضع است
زين جاده، ماه نو به جهان كمال رفت

Bedil, dalil-e maqsad-e ezat tawāz‘a ast
zin jādeh, māhi naw ba jahān-e kamāl raft
                                                                                                                                                     Translated by Nasim Fekrat

I chose this verse because to remind myself of a humble person that I have met recently in a coffee shop. He was a short man with white beard, probably in his 60s. I can’t remember what sparked a conversation with him but a brief chat with him was worth million moments that I routinely spend in vain.

He was leafing through pages of a new book that he just opened it from its mailing envelope. I asked him the title of the book, he lift up his demure face and told me: “I’m embarrassed to show you the title of the book.”

The book contained a series of scholarly articles inspired by his work and it was published to honor him and his academic research in the field.
For the past few days I have been thinking about him and his humbleness. Today, I came across one of Bedil's poems that says the path to perfection is humbleness, what the old man has been following.

PS: Every Saturday, I plan to translate a poem of Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, one of the greatest 17th century’s Persian mystic poets.

Aug 7, 2014

The Audacity of Karzai's Crony

Karim Khalili, the second Vice President of Afghanistan and Karzai’s crony has the audacity to call on UN to verify the authenticity of the audiotape that Abdullah Abdullah’s team has claimed he was involved in electoral fraud. For the past 13 years, Khalili has done nothing to his oppressed minority and long persecuted ethnic group “Hazara,” rather than acting as a subservient to Karzai and delivering Hazara votes to him.

To my dismay, I discovered that Afghan officials from top to bottom have no moral obligation towards people and their votes. The audiotape is a clear evidence of Khalili’s involvement in the electoral fraud. In the audiotape, from his disgruntled tone of voice and his embarrassment of the result of the first round election, the phrases that he uses, and from his utterance, it is crystal clear that the voice belongs to him. An individual who feels morally obligated and responsible towards his action, must have certain capacity; unfortunately, Afghan officials lack this basic humane act.

Mar 20, 2014

It's a New Year in Afghanistan

Happy New Year and Happy Nowruz. In 2010, I wrote an article for CNN explaining how Nowruz is celebrated throughout Afghanistan.
Also, what a happy coincidence that - probably for the first time in the history - Nowruz concurring with two other important, and exciting days: The International Day of Happiness and Spring Equinox.

Here's an excerpt of the article on CNN:
One of most famous of Nowruz traditions among Afghans is to forget and forgive mistakes of one another and start the New Year with new hopes and new goals. During the first three days of the year, families and relatives meet and visit each other’s houses. These are parts of Afghan traditions that date back centuries. For further reading please go the main article.

Mar 19, 2014

A Melody of Hope with Rabab and Nowruz 1993

I published this on my photoblog, and today, I thought, why shouldn't I post it here as well. Well, this headless person who plays this piece of music on Rabab is me. I improvised this melody while I was procrastinating with my homework. I recorded it last year when I was in college and presented it to a friend. I’m a beginner and pardon me for any mistake if you noticed.

Rabab is one of the most respected instruments in Afghanistan and in fact, it was originated in Herat, western Afghanistan, and then spread throughout Indian subcontinent. Those who are familiar with the history of the Mongol Invasion of India, especially, with the Delhi Sultanate in 1200, and the spread of Islamic mysticism through Afghan Sufis, they can understand the influence of this mystic instrument on Indian music as well.

Rabab - though slightly different in shape - is widely used in Indian classical music today, which has also an immense influence on Afghan classical music. It is also a popular instrument in Central Asian countries, namely in Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, though, with different forms, and with a few extra strings.

Rabab is an Arabic word "رباب" rābāb, which is a feminine name, and presumably the name of a peerless beautiful girl who probably lived in Levant. According to the myths, someone who fell in love with Rabab, made an instrument in her name to lament his affliction, and pain through the sounds of a magical, and mystical instrument "Rabab."

Today, Rabab is pronounced differently. For instance, in Pakistan, and India, people pronounce it Robab, Rabob and Rubab. An astute reader of this text should remember that though these names have almost similar sounds, the correct way to pronounce it is “Rābāb” otherwise, it means something else.

Final note:
Happy Nowruz, Happy New Year to all of you! I wish you a prosperous year, filled with health and creativity!

Mar 18, 2014

Rumi Loved Rabab


Rumi loved music so much. In his poetry, he often marries music with words and vice versa. One of the most famous music instruments that he repeatedly mentions in his poetry is "flute." Flute was the most handy, and attainable instrument in his time. No matter, it was played by a goatherd in the desert, or, by a lad in the court, it sounded the same to a mystic, like Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. For he has heard it, breathed it, and felt the sorrowful feelings of a lover, to the point that in one of his ballads, he says:
                "We have fallen into the place
                  where everything is music."
                                                                Translated by Coleman Barks

Among other musical instruments, Rabab was one of them that Rumi loved it so much. Rabab was one of the main instruments that was played in Khanqah (the Sufi lodges). Up to the present time, Rabab remains an influential instrument in Khanqahs, and other Sufi gatherings in Afghanistan.

He probably liked Rabab because of its rhythmic sounds. Rabab produced the sound of ecstasy, when its sounds reach the ceiling, it echoed throughout the lodge, and a melody of ecstasy reverberated through the souls of Sufis. Then, they were not in themselves, they were floating over the sounds of Rabab, and went beyond what they called the mystical ecstasy.
Rumi, in his words talks about the influence of sounds of Rabab, as follows:

                  "Do you know what the voice of the rabab is saying?
                  Come follow in my steps and find the way;
                  Since through error you’ll discover what’s right,
                  Since through questions you’ll end up with answers."
                                                       Source of translation is unknown, but I got it from here