The most celebrated and loved of SINDHI poets,Shah Abdul Latif Latif(born in 1101 A.H-1989/1690 A.D in a village of Hyderabad District-Pakistan)ranks among the select band of the world's great poets who are honoured and cherished as the national poets par excellence of the language in which they wrote or composed--S.Q Fatimi writes"Sorely seems to suggest that like Kant and Hegel the Shah lived in his contemplative ivory tower.But that is palpably wrong. for the shah was constantly on the move and he moved among the masses,and sang of the masses, and for the masses.And for that,matter,let us not forget, even Kant and Hegel were the precursors of the revolutionary thought of Karl Marx. When Asif Ali Zardari was released in the Mashraf Government, he has mentioned with great concern that he has been deprived from (due to imprisonment)to teach his children the poetry and thoughts/teachings of Shah Latif..This historically important statement to pay homage to this revered poet,is worth mentioning to note here.It is derived from these words delivered from Mr.Zardari now the President of the Pakistan,that the poetry, work, construction and teachings therein are very important and valuable for us.The children are now named perhaps following the tile of his"Sur Bilawal". BUT DURING THE LIFE OF THIS GREAT SAINT,IN THE PAST....
It was time of anarchy ,the Sufi poet lauded his voice,when the Pyrrhic victories of the Aurangzeb(r-1658-1707) has gone into"nothing". The vast , well-established social and fiscal web has been broken into pieces. After the assassination of Nadir Shah Afshar the new unlike set up was being made. Fatimi and historians write"The Sind had become a chattel,. changing hands among the alien parvenus.The local elite consisted of the pirs and the mirs who had entered into an unholy alliance against the peasants,herdsmen,fishermen,tr
aders,and labourers of the land. The local elite found, in the popular appeal of Shah's poetry, a challenge to their own authority. The ruling Kalhoro,who claimed both the temporal and spiritual overlordship,made a number of sneaking attempts at the assassination of the innocent Sayyid Sufi Poet. Other holy houses of Sind including his own Mut'allawis were not far behind in conspiring against him.
All his life he himself fought and urged his followers to fight against hatred with love;against self-aggrandizement and lust with benevolence and grace; against violence with peace;against religious fanaticism with the Qur'anic dictum (no compulsion in religion--2:256)and(for you your religion and for me mine-109:6);against parochialism with the Sufi message of pluralism of (unity in diversity).On the positive and comprehensive side,for that throbbing and pulsating nationalism that is over arched by universal ism(Islamic Studies IRI). It is necessity of the time that we have to follow these teachings for our survival.
Shah the Economist of His Time
It is an accepted truth that the poet has the sufficient geographical knowledge. Interestingly ,Schimmel(d2003) called his Sur Sarirag(III,11)"the first geographical poem in Sindh".About his knowledge and interest ,Advani,writes"In Sur Sri Rag and Sur Samoondi,Shah refers to the commercial enterprise of Sindhi merchants, the commodities in which they dealt,the places with which they had commercial ties, the sea routs they followed in their ventures,the seasons during which they traveled and the various type of boats and vessels then utilized for commercial purposes. In several "Surs" he makes a mention of some of the important ports and also of the stations where taxes were charged. We also get from some Sure" an idea of some of the land routes and the wares exchanged between Sind and other countries" The sufi poet also tells us the hazards in these trades. It is derived from his poetry that "The perils of the Arabian Sea were no less serious than the hazards involved in commercial enterprises undertaken to far-flung harbors.he says.----The boat of the frail ones is entrusted to Thy care,,O Lord mayest Thou lead it safely to Porebandar...The Muslim scholars were aware from the risk involved in such a trade. Ibn Abidin(d1836)and his successors had witten on Sookara-Security(Insurance) .
Not only the ocean was tempestuous in itself--the'tempests blowing over it added to its wrath and fury.It was lure of pearls that inspired Sind merchants to sail for far-off places like Aden and breast all manner of dangers with courage of the heart and faith in God.The luster of gold attracted then to Ceylon and further far-flung realms.This great poet had given his prophetic warning and foresight about the effects and dangers from the East India company(it will be discussed).
In several"Sures" ,Shah has thrown light on the wealth of Sindh, luxurious life of its aristocratic families and munificence of its rulers. The way in which royal ladies adorned their persons and the way in which rulers lavishly lived and patronized humble men is amply illustrated in these"Sure"He says e.g---As roses,so their garments--Their ringlets were dipped in oil of Jasmine--..The ears of the Lovely One were decked with silver and gold.--The golden damsels played freely with silver.
In Sur Kamod-,Parbhati and Sur Bilawal", we have evidence(may be in an exaggerated from)of the enormity of the munificence and patronage of Sing monarchs.The Sufi poet had used the word farangi/firangi(Frank) which epitomizes all the bitterness that the easterners felt towards their western colonizers.
(Ref.Shah Latif by K.B.ADvani-Islamic Studies IR& others).Part-2 of it is regarding, Shah and East India Company.
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