Sunday, October 3, 2010

What is History?

Yesterday, there was the first workshop of the five workshops series "What is Pakistan?" which will be held in the month of October 2010 presented by SOIS, and the focus was on the "History".

We all have different views about history. How we look it, what do we feel about it, what is actually the role of the history in our life, etc.

Let's see how Iqbal, Waheed Murad, Goethe and Ibne-Safi look the History and what relationship of History can we found with our lives through their legendary works.

At the beginning of the session, we discussed that What is History for different ideologies and during this Sir Khurram mentioned that many people have considered history as "The story of the Soul", after which we had a brain-storming session in which participants discussed about the current problems of Pakistan. There were many but finally it was decided with consensus that there is only one problem that is related to history and that is "Identity Crisis".

In the next part of the session, I had to present a poem by Tasleem Faazli which was from the movie "Hero" and the song was picturized on Waheed Murad and Babrah Shareef with the lyrics

Mil gaye tum to ik yehi ghum hai (After finding you there is only one grief)

Pyar ziada hai zindagi kum hai (Love is more and life is less)

There were two things that were discussed in the session about the song. First, either it was a happy one or a sad one? because it has both type of emotions and words in it. Then how the song defines the relationship between hero and heroin? Participants discussed both of the questions with great interest.

When I had watched the song before the session, I felt that the relationship was something like body and soul because both of them can not live together forever but then I was not able to find the connection of it with history. But when sir Khurram told earlier in the session that history is also called as the story of the soul my confusion was solved. History is something that is related to our soul, and our soul is not bound within any dimensions so History therefore remains unaffected with the circumstances and shapes itself independently of other parameters.

Then Sir quoted a quotation from Goethe, "One who can not draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth".

After that a poem of Iqbal from "Baal-e-Jibreel" was quoted.

Since, through these workshops we are trying to discover the realities of Pakistan, therefore we also discussed the history of Pakistan through seven stages. I am just copying the detail of these stages from the work of Sir Khurram “Roshni ki Talash (2010)” because I can never describe it in my own words.

1. (1887-1906) Seek consensus: Our present journey started on December 27, 1886, when Muslim representatives from all over the sub-continent gathered at Aligarh and agreed to take all collective decisions with “consensus.” Mohammedan Educational Conference took this message to the masses and twenty years later a remarkable “consensus” was achieved when the community rose above sectarianism to form a common political party.

2. (1907-1926) Think long-term: All-India Muslim League, formed by consensus of the community, demanded separate electorates which were achieved twenty years later when the masses participated in general elections with great enthusiasm, casting votes according to separate electorates.

3. (1927-1946) Rise above yourself: Results of Election 1926 displayed unrestrained egoism: no single political party had been able to gain significance among Muslims. Iqbal showed that ego can only be perfected by achieving “a real collective ego”, and that requires selflessness. The biggest display of selflessness in recorded history was seen twenty years later when millions of Muslims from minority provinces voted for the creation of a country they were not destined to live in.

4. (1947-1966) Respect the law: The birth of Pakistan meant that revolutions can be brought without breaking the law. The masses remained true to this message throughout the next twenty years, while various systems of government got tried out.

5. (1967-1986) Unite organically: Results of Election 1970 called upon the nation to urgently discover a deeper source of Unity, since no political party had gained significance in both wings of the country. Leaders failed and the country broke into two but “Unity” remained a dominant ideal in one form or another throughout the next twenty years.

6. (1987-2006) Learn through experience: Before the “Unity” dreamed by some visionaries could become a reality, the nation had to undergo a stage where it could act and feel as if it was other than itself.

7. (2007-2026) Accept: The Lawyers’ Movement of 2007 was unique because the masses led their “leaders” rather than the other way round, and achieved stated goals without using violence. Can the same spirit be displaced while coping with other crises that seem to be awaiting us? The future of the people of Pakistan may well depend on that.

After tea, Sir Ahmed Safi read a part of Masnavi from Asrar-o-Rumuz that was related to history and the main idea was that One who remains aware and attached to his history only can survive with his present and future. And then he read an abstract from a novel of Ibne-safi which had quite the same message.


  1. I just can imagine from my last visit to SOIS that this session must have been memorable one. What I have learned from your post transpires that it was just superb. The lovely song of HERO, the discussion about historical perspective of soul and the beautiful and touching poem of Iqbal are fabulous highlights of this event. The way it is presented as a post is itself commendable and highly praiseworthy. Thanks Urooj.

  2. "One who can not draw on three thousand years is living hand to mouth". What a concise and sweeping reason to understand history and our place within it -especially as presented here with the liveliness of consensus and topical literature interwoven. I'm beyond envy not to be there and now experience "being there" - thanx in large part to your descriptions, Urooj.

  3. Sir Akhtar, thank you for this appreciation. I have made some editing in the post, please check it again when you get time.

    I was expecting you this week too and I hope you will be joining us in the next workshop.

  4. Connie thank you and you are always welcome. Please read it again if possible with few changes and comment if you find something interesting and to be discussed.

  5. Now it’s even better with prognostic and historical seven stages envisaged by Khurram Sahib and post now looks simply fabulous.

  6. Thanx Urooj...I see no need to make changes...

    I'd love a translation of that poem if possible...don't worry about do so well with your own work as in your novel...

    I sure do want to come back to read the list you have given us so thoughtfully which I have yet to peruse and reflect much that misses the eyes, hearts and minds of those who merely read the daily news!

    Yes - yet for now I'll mention that I love this NEW (for me) concept that:

    History is something that is related to our soul, and our soul is not bound within any dimensions so History therefore remains unaffected with the circumstances and shapes itself independently of other parameters.

    And then, of course, the expansive/concise Goethe quote as mentioned...

    These understandings may also relate to Faraz' latest post in some ways?

    I'm VERY behind on RR READING & commenting and this one is particularly RICH so...hope you don't mind keeping this conversation going a bit longer?

  7. Connie, thanks for reading the post one more time. You can read as per your convenience, I will be having no problem at all, whenever you will comment, It will be an honor for me.