Books Reviews

Eagle’s Eye: Life and Works of Farrukh Ahmed: A Cristal Analysis about a humanitarian poet

By: Mohammad Jashim Uddin

eagle's eye
Farrukh Ahmad is one of the most powerful poets of Bangla literature, and known as the Muslim Renaissance poet. He is also considered a humanitarian poet in Bangla like Kazi Nazrul Islam, national poet of Bangladesh. Farrukh was a keen observer of social settings and he devotedly worked to influence the countrymen’s psyche with his ideas. His thoughts, whether about literature or culture or society or reform, are all literature-centered. He was committed to using poetry as a tool to spread his vision of life and for the revival of cultural values, ethics and morality, which he so cherished, to salvage the misguided humanity from the spell of materialism and disgrace. He had a clear concept about the social role of literature. He was a vigilant sailor in the rough sea of life’s struggle. The avid readers of Bangla literature is celebrating hundred years birth anniversary of poet Farrukh Ahmed. He was born on 10th June, 1918 and died on 19 October, 1974. As a great follower of poet Farrukh Ahmed, Shah Abdul Halim, a writer, researcher, and a regular contributor to Bangladesh newspapers, has written the book to make the poet immortal.

The book was first published in August, 2017. Open Press is its publisher and Zia Shams designed the cover. It costs three hundred taka and consists of 96 pages. Al Mahmud, a legendary poet and writer of Sonali Kabin, wrote the forward of the book. In ‘Forward’, he opines that the book “has discussed how Farrukh gave a new life to the puthi literature; used Arabic-Persian words in the most fascinating manner and used metaphors successfully. The book has also discussed the poet’s love for the oppressed humanity and how the hollowness of materialism and mechanical civilization are highlighted in his poetic works and translations.” Farrukh used the stories of the puthi literature for creating a new and modern Bengali literature and used such Arabic and Persian words as are suitable for the literary work. By doing that he enriched Bengali literature. The lost treasures of the puthi literature come alive, through his writings, with the radiance of gems and pearls. Indeed, the poet is successful in providing that it is possible to articulate modern literature based on puthi. Regarding this, Profesor Abdul Mannan Sayeed opines that Farrukh Ahmed reclaimed unfamiliar words and used those in the poems in a new and figurative style like a skillful artist. He revived the dead pieces of writings from history and popular tales and gave them a new life and established them in literature.

Excluding references section the book has two chapters: ‘Preface’ and ‘Eagle’s Eye; Life and Work of Farrukh Ahmed’. In ‘Preface’, the author explained why he hasfelt to write the book right now and how he has collected the authentic sources to complete his book. Finally, he acknowledged to Mahbubul Haq, M M Rahman, Sayed Muhammad Wahiduzzaman, Dr. Khandaker Rashedul Haque, Professor Matiur Rahman, and some others as for their cooperation he has completed his writing.

The main chapter has chronological development and some sub-chapters. First, he describes Farrukh’s personal life and his contribution to the Bangla literature. Second, specialty of Farrukh’s poems, their structure, feature and theme are discussed. Third, he compiles some literary comments on Farrukh Ahmed’s writings so that the readers can feel the strengths of Farrukh’s poems. Finally, he shows his reaction against some misconducts which are shown by some renowned faces like Professor Abdullah Abu Sayeed being biased.

The author remarks Farrukh Ahmed as ‘ever smiling’, ‘firm and resolute’, ‘steadfast and unyielding on principle issues’, ‘indifferent to both fame and infamy’, ‘a true defender of faith’, ‘a mujaheed’, ‘an inimitable literary genius’, ‘a master of metaphors’, ‘ and so on. There was vanity and no pride in his character, nothing artificial, no pretention. For example, when he was offered to receive the highest literary (Sitara-i-Imtiaz) award from Pakistan government, he denied it because he thought after receiving the prize the government might force him to work in favour of them. But we know he shows his affectionate for Bangla in 1952. He composed a good number of poems in support of Bengali as a state language. ‘He writes: my country’s language is sweeter than honey- madhur cheye madhur je bhai amar desher bsasha.’ He has also written an article titled ‘Pakistan: Rashtrobasha O shahitya’. It shows his deep commitment for Bengali language.
Analyzing Farrukh Ahmed’s character the author says that ‘he would break but not bend’. ‘Farrukh also believed that man may be defeated but there is no decline of the soul.’ He contributes to such areas of Bengali literature as epic, lyrical poetry, sonnet, song, poetic drama, satirical-poem, satirical-drama, short stories, novel, and juvenile literature, children literature and translated poetry. He has written more than one thousand sonnets in Bangla and few satirical-sonnets which are new in world literature. His contribution for children is remarkable for several reasons. ‘Pakhir Basha’ and ‘Harrofer Chara’ are two most readable books in Bangla. ‘Natun Lekha’, ‘Chhorar Ashor’, ‘Chiriakhana’, ‘Fuler Jalsha’, ‘Kichcha Khahini’, ‘Aloklota’ ‘Harof Nia Lekha’, ‘Phakhir Chara’ and ‘Hijibiji’ are his most wonderful writings for children.

Farrukh Ahmed’s works have ‘the vastness of the sky, the depth of the ocean and the height of the mountain’. In fact, he is magical in presentation, spontaneous and artistic and more modern than his compatriots. The poet has created a literary domain of his own, where he portrayed traditional culture and heritage with an extraordinary literary beauty and splendor. ‘He was able to show an amazing originality, a distinct and rare talent in the literary realm’. His literary journey is ‘artistic, romantic and bright in imagination’, and also ‘inspiring in hope’. Moreover, the artistic use of words and the befitting presentation of the subject matter made him an eminent modern poet of the forties. One of the laudable traits of the literary works of Farrukh is that he avoids presenting subjects directly; rather, he uses pictograms and characters that make his poetry moving, emotional and sensitive.

The poet created distinctly modern Bengali poetry by seamlessly blending together traditional words with an innovative form of expression. His creative and novelty are distinct in the ecstasy, language and forms of the poems; more so in the imagination and expression of emotion.

Farrukh does not believe in ‘art for art’s sake’. His works reflect delight, joy and happiness, sorrow, grief, rain and agony. He is the pioneer who has made the principles and teachings of Islam the subject matter of literature. Then the author explains why Farrukh uses religious aspects in his poems. According to the author, ‘The poet considered Islam as the religion of humanity of the upcoming days. He highlights these teachings in his literature.’ For example, ‘Hatem Taiee’ is a non-Muslim character but is used in Farrukh’s poem because Hatem Taiee’s activities resemble the verse 70:24-25 of the Holy Qur’an i.e. Farrukh’s intention is awake the readers to be human kind and unselfish. In addition, we see Rabindranath Tagore also uses religious connotation in his poem ‘Gitanjoli’, for which he was awarded Nobel Prize. Farrukh believes that the Muslims must find inspirations for literary works from their culture, tradition and heritage as the Hindu writers have been inspired by their religious books and tale- Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Analyzing another poem ‘Tarkik O Dharmik’, he suggests that the society needs reformation as many customs and usages are existing in the society for a long time in the name of religion- ‘dharma namey chalu achhey dirha din jata lokachar-je kono karoney hok- antarborti dharmio sansker’. Critically analyzing some other poems of Farrukh Ahmed, the author claims that ‘it would be wrong to say that Farrukh does not create poetry only for the Muslim community. He is not a poet of any particular group or community. He was beyond all narrowness. He is the poet of all people.’

Sometimes some critics accuse Farrukh for his subject matter. According to them, he is not ‘indigenous’ but a ‘rootless poet’. The author denies the accusation and says that ‘Mathura and Vindaban are not within the territory of Bangladesh’. But we are not considering them as rootless. Even Jibanananda Das portrayed picture of Egypt and Babylon in a romantic manner in his poem but we do not call a communal writer. Rather mixture of languages enhances the beauty of poetry.

Farruk Ahmed shows his reaction against colonial power and local oppressors in ‘Lash’, Chahram Sawaler Jabab’, “Panjeri’, ‘Habeda Morur Kahini’,’Dahuk’, ‘1974’, and so on. The poet blames the mechanical civilization, a lifeless artificial civilization, for all worldly ills. He, thus, adds a new dimension to the poetical work. He blames the leadership which plunders the Earth for domination, the slaves of materialistic and barbaric civilization for building the pleasure-houses by snatching the legitimate rights of the hungry mouths, and for misuse of women, children and toiling masses. He has nineteen poems on famine.

In the final section of the chapter, he shows reaction against the comment of Prof. Abdullah Abu Sayeed as he claims Farrukh Ahmed is ‘a poet but a small poet’. Against Abdullah Abu Syeed, he uses Sayed Manzoorul Islam remarks about Farrukh Ahmed. Mr. Islam points out “it is foolish to measure Farrukh from a narrow angle and with shallow limits, as his creations are stupendous and flawless.” Then he uses remarks of Prof Anisuzamman, Prof. Zillur Rahman Shiddiqui, Mahfuz Ullah, Shabuddin Ahmed and so on about the power and beauty of Farrukh Ahmed’s works.

Finally, he does not forget to mention ta Farrukh Ahmed was influenced by Muhammad Iqbal and Farrukh’s songs. According to him, ‘Both Nazrul and Tagore are popular among the people because of their songs. In order to make Farrukh popular among the people, we have to recover all his composed music from the archive of the Radio Bangladesh and the same time, compose music for the rest of the songs.”

He concludes his writings with following words, “O Allah accept all good deeds of Farrukh, forgive his shortcomings and bestow on him jannat al ferdous. Amin. Our belief is that he will remain alive in our literary dominate and will survive with his characteristic self-righteousness defying all criticisms of the pessimists and will shine with radiance forever.”
The book contains some bold and valuable attempts to discover Farrukh’s talent. It will also help the researchers to identify a new dimension of Bangla literature. The lucid and straight language of the book will attract the readers more to know Farrukh Ahmed. So it can be hope the Muslim Renaissance poet, Farrukh Ahmed will be known much in future because of the book.


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