Translation: Hum daikhain gay

Posted on June 24, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Books, Pakistanis Abroad, People, Poetry, Urdu
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Adil Najam

The very first blogpost on ATP was the video tribute to Pakistan I had made using Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s classic poem ‘hum daikhain gay...’ This was not just blatant self-projection — although it was that too. It was an expression of my hopes and concerns, an acknowledgement of my gratitude to Faiz’s poetry, and in many ways a ‘statement of purpose’ for this blog.

A number of people have asked me to post an English translation of the poem ‘hum daikhain gay...’ There are, of course, many available translations of this classic work. But I wanted to share a new one with you. This is by Maniza Naqvi and I find this particularly powerful because it is simple and true to the original words and yet is able to also convey the intensity of poem’s intent. Translating poetry is never easy. Here is a good example of how it should be done.

We shall see/certainly we, too, will see/
that day that has been promised us

When these high mountains
Of tyranny and oppression/ turn to fluff
And evaporate

And we oppressed
Beneath our feet will have
this earth shiver, shake and beat
And heads of rulers will be struck
With crackling lightening and
thunders roar.

When from this God’s earth’s (Kaa’ba)
All falseness (icons) will be removed
Then we, of clean hearts–condemned by zealots those keepers of faith,
We, will be invited to that altar to sit and Govern–
When crowns will be thrown off–and over turned will be thrones

We shall see/certainly we, too, will see
that day that has been promised us

Then God’s name will remain (Allah will remain)
Who is invisible and visible too
Who is the seer and and is seen
Then will rise one cheer———I am God!
Who I am too
And so are you
Then the masses (Khalq e Kuda) people of God will rule.
Who I am too
and so are you
Then will rise one cheer———I am God!
Who I am too
And so are you

(Translation by Maniza Naqvi)

You will find much written on Maniza on the web–for example, here, here and here. She works at the World Bank, lives in Washington, DC, and is an active intellectual whose works include (apart from others) Mass Transit (a novel based in Karachi about the emotional consequences of mass migration and “an immigrant population which never really assimilates”) and On Air (another novel where the plot unfolds over a six-hour period in which the main character, Naz, tells stories to listeners and callers over the radio on a late night talk show slot that she has been offered to fill for just one night).

In reviewing ‘On Air’, Asif Farrukhi, writes:

Post-nuclear Pakistan is a medley of voices–the enigmatic female host of a phone-in talk show discovers as opinions abound, pizza, hijab, recipes which are a part of culture and not sectarianism, come together in a compelling narrative… A welcome addition to the stunted list of Pakistan’s writers in English, Maniza Naqvi is a name to look out for.

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25 responses to “Translation: Hum daikhain gay”

  1. G.A. says:

    Here we go again….Now this post will also be reduced to another futile debate about Allah and Islam :(

  2. Ibrahim says:

    all comments support the poet and the poetry. what did people think? that there won’t be a dissenting opinion on this? i’ll oblige!

    if i don’t know any better, i would say that the nazm is borderline blasphemous towards the end {last five/six misray (sentences)}…when the entity and attributes of Allah should be extremely clear Faiz makes a hodgepodge of them…remember, Faiz was a leftist/communist and it comes out in his poetry…no wonder so many people hated and still hate him and rightly so…sepoy, your mother wasn’t too off base when she told you not read people like Faiz, Manto, Faraz, etc.!!

    I give you one example…he says “jo manzar bhi hay aur nazir bhi” {God is seer and is seen as translated by Maniza}. Really?? God is seen? Who has seen Allah on this earth? Prophet Musa wasn’t able to see Allah when he asked for it at Jabl-e-Toor. Someone might argue that what Faiz is saying is that God is seen through His creation, bounty, this world, etc, etc; meaning, he’s using figurative speech. But, in such important matter figurative speech shouldn’t be used, rather it should be clear. I think figurative speech is an excuse that Faiz himself might have used and his defenders might use today. And, i’m sure his many other writings have similar tone, and that’s why people call him “godless”.

    “Utthay ga tal-Haq ka nara…jo main bhi hoon aur tum bhi ho” [Maniza translates it as:
    Then will rise one cheerâ€

  3. Hammad says:

    This poem has become an emblem of Faiz’s work. It is probably not his best poem but it is one that pulls the strings of our heart bc it is so apt for todays conditions.

  4. Nasir says:

    I woudl request you to include more on poetry and translations. Also, when possible please also incldue in roman english. Thank you.

  5. Matador says:

    It is said that poetry cannot be translated. In fact its translation is a new creation in itself. Faiz is not easy to be translated due to his difficult diction.Nevertheless it was a good effort. I have attempted at translating the selected poems/ghazals of Sahir Ludhianvi, Faiz and Perveen Shakir which I intend to get published in due course of time. I would like to post a couple of these to get the feel and the feed back.

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