Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Poetry’

First published in Islamabad Dateline

Mystifying is the turn of time, indeed. Refuted by clerics of his time, the same Bulleh Shah who was refused burial in his community graveyard is quoted by contemporary mullahs and holds worldwide reverence today.

Same can be said for all mystic poets who lived to challenge the rigid interpretation of religion prevailing in their times.

One wonders if he would have been charged for blasphemy and assassinated like Taseer or Bhatti if Bulleh were to say ‘whatever is in the heart’  in our society at present — mou’n aye baat na rehndi aye.

His words elevated his stature after death and today only few dare to challenge the great Bulleh Shah as he lays peacefully in his grave in Kasur. Elite of the city pay handsomely to be buried near the man they had once snubbed.

Bulleh Shah’s poetry is mainly colored with the philosophy of re-union with the beloved — God. He believes in serving humanity and loving beyond regions and religions, something that he does not separate from worship of God.

We can relate to him as he was a product of our society. His overwhelming audacity and almost arrogant critique of the religious orthodoxy strikes upfront. His poetry is filled with direct attacks on mullahs:

Mullah and the torch-bearer, both from the same flock
Trying to give light to others; themselves in the dark

Bulleh Shah was a humanist. He provided solutions to sociological, political, cultural and religious problems of the world around him.His words preach religious tolerance and teach the art of agreeing to disagree peacefully — something that is the need of the hour in our times as well. He embarked on the mystical journey to search God whilst describing the turmoil his homeland, Punjab, was passing through.

His poetry highlights mystical spiritual journey through four stages of Sufism — Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union).

He starts from the rules defined by Islam, and eventually ends up where he accepts the existence of God, everywhere, with no bias between different religions, finally experiencing union with God.

Pointing at someone else’s faith would only unveil how weak one’s faith is. Picking up guns, instead of pens to enforce your way of thinking would never have an effect that the likes of Bulleh Shah had, through their soul-searching and heart-melting poetry.

O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)

Unfortunately, we have not provided high accolade to this great mystic poet in our educational curriculum. He is known to the youth only through artists like Abida Parveen, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Saeen Zahoor, Junoon and Noori.

And if questioned, how Bulleh changed me? Almost every time I hear Abida Parveen giving voice to his words I can imagine him singing and dancing to please the beloved, losing his caste, because love never had a caste or sect. I find myself dancing with him, at times. I find myself criticizing the authority our society has given to clergy.

In Pakistani society, hatred and differences are usually magnified and celebrating diversity is the need of the hour. Bulleh’s message if properly infused can fight extremism and inspire about a positive change which is much needed in these troubling times.

Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace!

When inquired with Raza Rumi, an intellectual and writer based in Lahore, about his views on the importance relaying the message that Bulleh Shah gave, he replied, “Bulleh’s poetry reflects his rejection of the orthodox hold of mullahs over Islam, the nexus between the clergy and the rulers and all the trappings of formal religion that created a gulf between man and his Creator. His message is clear and pertinent for the current crisis in Pakistan where the clergy has occupied public space and is nurturing a culture of intolerance.”

Bulleh’s poetry and its innate message can be a rallying point for a progressive Pakistan where humanism can prevail. In the current dark times, we have to reclaim Bulleh Shah and introduce the rich, plural heritage of Pakistan to the youth and younger generations.

Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down every thing in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there

The world is becoming polarized, with hatred being fed to masses everyday, on religious and ethnic grounds. Instead of burning it down, we have to repair the damage done — stitch by stitch and any such voice which attempts to build these ideals should be glorified if we dream to make this world a better place for coming generations. One such voice is that of Bulleh Shah.

How true were his words about his own physical death:

Bulleh Shah asaa’n marna naahi; gor pya koi hor!  [Bulleh Shah! I will not die; someone else lays in the grave]

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


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Like a freedom fighter fights for his land,
He held a pen in the palm of his hand.
Who would describe the love in his eyes?
Or the words he writ ; the tears that he cried.

His words justified not the eternal feel
The ecstacy left his utterance sealed
His soul flew high and his body dead
Drenched in madness he at once said:
‘This body you see is not really me.
It is just the shell of what used to be.
Pain has left and my mind is clear,
Best you can do is wipe my tears.
The joy I feel is impossible to tell.
Come. Come. dive in the well”

As ghoosebumps sprung I could clearly see,
That at last, my friend, he was finally free.
Like a freedom fighter fights for his land,
He held a pen in the palm of his hand.
For years I’ve prayed this would be my lot,
And now everywhere there is a face of God.

–  Everywhere you turn is the Face of God.”  – Quran (2:115)

– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi – A Wanderer – A Mad-man!


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What is this?

Between You and me,
Between the drop and sea,
Between soul and clay,
Between the ‘if’ and ‘may’;
That binds our existence

What do you feel?

Between love and hate,
Between destiny and fate,
Between anger and greed,
Between color and creed;
That makes you biased.

What do you think?

Between zikr and sin,
Between ‘I’ and him,
Between the face and veil,
Between bars and jail;
That doesn’t let you fly.

How can they?

Between Sufis and Mullahs,
Between skirts and burqas
Between pens and guns,
Between whores and nuns;
Make you free.

What is the difference?

Between Islamabad and swat ,
Between alcohol and ab-e-hayat,
Between rain and flood,
Between milk and blood;
When you are blind.

You have to feel what lies!

Between your heart and mind
Between the bond and bind
Between the soul and search
Between mosque and church;
If you seek liberty.

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
A wanderer

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When the world was only “I”
Every bond was hard to bind;
But when I left myself
A stranger was hard to find
In every rose I saw a thorn
But when reality uncovered;
The rose grew from concrete
And true beauty discovered
Life didn’t have a meaning
And the soul had ceased to dance;
But then unity surpassed duality
And every hurdle became a chance
Day and night I used to moan
Like a child for mothers breast
But the body stopped to moan
When the soul found its quest
When Israel comes to visit
And money won’t buy breath
Every moment will find escape
But Zaidi shall crave for death
– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi
A mad man. A wanderer

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She had to feed her kids at home
She could not move in streets alone
Oh’ not in fear of US drones
Her pride was robbed by her own!

The land of pure, she was not sure!

His fathers dreamt of such a land
A place they’d refer to as home
But in his sons, the poor land
Yearns for souls it calls its own!

The land of pure, he was not sure!

Dead people walking in the malls
Loveless streets and hateful halls
Some call me crazy, for some I am blind
But I cannot see the love they find

The land of pure, I am not sure!

Blame the boots drunk in gains
Or feudal lords with no shame
Books of history still preserve
Nations get leaders they deserve

The land of pure, we are not sure!

Behind our weak and selfish stand
Inside our numb and faithless hides
We watched them play with our land
We watched them rape our countrys pride!

The land of pure, we are not sure!

Everything is wrong, the common song
But did you care to stand along
By your words, then why complain?
And point at others, when you are to blame!

The land of pure, you are not sure!

Can you feel this spark inside
As I lay my pen to rest
Lets vow to fight with reverent pride
And put our last hope to test!

The land of pure, LETS BE SURE!

If you consider yourself as dead
Donot get out of your cozy bed
And if you dream for change like me
Lets live the change we wish to see!

The land of pure, LETS BE SURE!

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi || A mad man, a wanderer.

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I am from those, who write “Insight”
Now Im’ blind, I have lost my sight
But to find where my beloved lies
I, my friends, need no eyes

I am from those, who choose to yearn
Dont bring water, I chose to burn
Beyond this pain is eternal pleasure
Beyond your ego, is the hidden treasure

I am from those, who choose the rift
harder the struggle, precious the gift
The Devil planned, and all was odd
Are thee drained, when prize is God?

I am from those, who are beyond the WHY
“What is this life, and who am I”
For how can you question your own fate
then blaim time, when its never too late!

I am from those, who complain not
Nor do I say, what could have been
When the only thing that concerns alot
Is what has been, and what i’ve seen!

I am from those, for whom houris dont matter
I live in a world, where dreams dont shatter
Because with every dream, hope is gifted
Hope gives me wings, and I feel lifted!

I am from those, who get stirred
when music is played, and melody’s heard
And tears like a river, begin to flow
Do not presume they spring from woe!

I am from those, who peep behind
The agony of life, The veil, The signs
What mind couldnt grasp, now heart unwinds
What seemed like points, now draw a line!

I am from those, who are meant to whine
Like a lover for his beloved is meant to pine
Like a drunkard never gets enough of wine
And this” never enough”, is called divine!

I am from those, who crave to die
Life is a blessing, But I would not lie
They say a flower is plucked in prime
Uproot my existence, O’ Beloved, IT IS TIME!

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


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Thy scintillating beauty
leaves me aloft;

In union with thee
I exist not;

Reality fades, real blocked
like an adrenaline shot
the world I forgot;

like the potters wondrous hands
never caressed the skin of my thought;

When I saw the pot
My sanity lost;

Like this utterance were senseless
If you had felt the ‘ DOT

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

Inspired by the philosophy of ‘dot’ in Sufism as my master Bulleh Shah says:

Pharh Nukta Chourh Hisabaan Nu
Chadd Dozakh Gor Azaabaan Nu
Kar Bund Kufar Diyaan Baabaan Nu
Ker Saaf Dile Diyan Khuwabaan Nu
Gal Aise Ghar Vich Dhukdi Eh
Ik Nukte Vich Gahl Mukdi Eh

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To Rose, her fragnance and the faith she instilled in me.

“Rose” was a very special person in my life, the short span of time we interacted, we felt each other. All Y’all talk bullshit all day, but with rose “God” was the topic. At nights we didn’t sleep and meditated. Were we being stupid that we couldn’t keep the chain in-tact? I wouldn’t say YES. Because every bond that was bound, had to break by her soul!

It is really funny, how things evolved between her and me, I think she was acting and pretending to run away, but I could see what she was doing, and that is precisely why I didn’t chase her around. She wanted to point at the stars and let me find my own way, but being a guide is not easy at times, specially when your student knows more that you think he does.

This is not a poem, these are supposed to be lyrics, un-edited and raw. I couldn’t find a paper so I wrote it down on my closet. And every day when my sight caresses them, I remember of the nights, the spring and intricate breaths.

I walked down the road,
All alone by my self
I though of my goal,
My life & the test
Of the light, the pearls
And the intricate breaths
The path, my sacrifice
And the bumpy foot-steps

Absorbed in the thoughts,
I saw the world melts
In a silent castle
Where time and eternity weds

I can tell you what I know,
Not what I felt
‘cuz it came like a storm
And like a straw I fled,
To the valley of illusion
Where no thoughts can rest
And behind that semblance
My higher self dwelt

They say tears are warm.
But tonight my tears are cold
It’s like now, I am silent
But the story unfolds
Of my travel that night
When travel was a must
And I traveled through the seas
On my ship of trust

Oh’ listen you who sleep
Wake up and just listen,
To the melody of my purity
And see the light in which I glisten
If you don’t like my voice,
Listen to your self
Your body belongs to earth
It is just a shelf
That protects something greater
Shun its worldly spree
And Look inside yourself
So that your soul be free

In the mosque, when you kneel
He might not appear
Because what you seek lies inside
If you could just FEEL!

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

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My friend inquires, what is love?
What is flight, ask the dove?
Oh Birds can’t speak, forget this stunt
Just ask the hunter, what is hunt?
Ask me, a poet, what is rhyme?
Ask a clock, if you can, what is time?
Ask dew on grass, why it shines?
Or ask a toy less kid, why he whines?
And those who say, love is a crime
Tell them to pluck a flower in prime!
Ask then ask my Lord, why this cosmos was made
And I swear to God, Love will unveil *

Many kingdoms vanished
Many treasures doomed
But the world cherished
Homers words, not his tomb *
So, my gift for you, won’t with time
Vanish or fade, these words are MINE!

Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi


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The wish, the want, the lust for sin;

The fire, the fuel, the spark with-in;

My body, my heart, my soul and Him;

Who lives inside me and takes me in;

Intoxicates me to the point where-in;

I stop to write, and He begins…

– Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi

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