ALI HAIDAR (A.D. 1690-1785) the Sufi poet, was born at Kazia in the Multan district, in the year A.H. 1101 (A.D. 1690).1 He passed, says the tradition, the greater part of his life in the village of his birth, where he died in A.D.1199 or the year 1785 of the Christian era, at the advanced age of ninety-five years.
A few years ago, Haidar was practical1y unknown to the public as a poet. Wandering faqirs sometimes sang fragments of his mystical verse in the streets, but no attention was paid to it, as people are not accustomed to pay heed to what the faqirs sing or recite. In 1898, Malik Fazal Din of Lahore was so greatly impressed on hearing a poem of ‘Ali Haidar that he decided to oollect all the poetry that ‘Ali Haidar had written and publish it for the benefit of the public. He acted on his decision, and with much labour succeeded in collecting most of the poems from the kavvalis, and also from a descendant of the poet named Hazrat Faqir Ghulam Mira of Kazia who furnished him with a copy of the original manu scri pt3 This collection the Malik named Mukammal Majmu’a Abyat ‘Ali Haidar, and published it soon after it was ready. 4
The descendants of ‘Ali Haidar could not furnish much information on the life and Literary career of the poet. Perhaps they themselves did not know more about their illustrious ancestor.5 In the absence of his life history, we should have turned to his poetry for information, but unfortunately that too has proved of little help. Incidentally ‘Ali Haidar says that he was not a saiyid, which his descendants proclaim him to be, and also gives the name of his pir murshid. Haidar states:
Mim mai kutta ban al rasul najib da pahru ha ghar bar utte
uppar aggo oh andheri mai hondia ais darbar utte
nam tarik da bhi khadim sahiba di pucckar utte
par aihle ulum di izat rakhan vazib hai sansar utte. 6
Mim: I am a dog of the al of the exalted Prophet and keep watch on their house; I pass as a storm 7 over and above this court .8I am a slave even of their name and also of the kindness of these gentleman (i.e. saiyids), but it is right to maintain the honor of the learned in the world.
Had ‘Ali Haidar been a saiyid he would not have called himself a dog of the saiyids door, but would have claimed a place of equal honor. The above, therefore, removes all doubt and establishes the fact that Haidar was an Indian and not one of the foreign saiyids.
From the above quotation we can also conclude that he was troubled by the saiyids for his attentions to the learned. Who could these learned people be except some liberal mystics of whom the saiyids often disapproved? Haidar seems to have been afraid of the saiyids, and that is why he lowered himself before them; but at the same time he maintained in an apologetic manner his own conviction that to respect the learned befitted a man.
Our poet was a confessed Sufi and a faithful follower of Shah Mohiy-ud-din, as:
Qaf kya gam khauf asa nu je shah muhaiuddin asadara ai
Shah abdul qadir jila da je lutf amin asadara ai. 9
Qaf: what sorrow and fear have we,10 if Shah Muhly-ud.dinis ours and if Shah Abdul Qadir of Jilan is guardian of our pleasure?
Ali Haidar kya parvah kise di je Shah Muhaiuddin asadara ai 11
‘Ali Haidar, what do we care for any other if Shah Muhiy-ud-din is ours?
Muhiy-du-din or Abdul Qadir Jilani, who, as we know, was born in Jilan in the year A.H. 471 (A.D. 1078) 12 was famous for his learning. He was the founder of the Qadiri order of Sufi 13 and has always had innumerable followers all over the Panjab.Haidar, as is clear from the above, was a Qidiri, but who his pir was we do not know.
The style of Ali Haidar is very ornamental. No mystic Panjabi poet, with the exception of Bullhe Shah and Hashim, has surpassed Haidar in poetic flow and fecundity of vocabulary. His verse, being ornate, abounds in alankaras, notably in vrityanuprasa,14 as:
Shin sharab de mast raihan, ki main taide matt valare ni,
Surkh sufaid siyah do banalare baj kajjal aive kalare ni. 15
Here shin, sharab, safaid, and ni at the end of each line form a graceful vrityanuprasa.
Haidar has shown his command of samak 16in his Qissa Hir va Rajha.Each short poem is full of foreign phrases and words, but they are so well welded into his poetry that they do not give the reader the impression of being foreign. Here is an example:
Jan baca ke bajho cake, rakhi kyu kar hoi ma
Ya rag masiva al mahbub reha gair na koi ma
Dil vicc akhhe vekkh tamasha hai je utthe dhoi ma
Man ho maqnatis haidar, use di khicc rakhioi ma. 17
In the above poem ya rag masiva al mahbub and man homaqnatis, two Arabic sayings, 18 are put in as if they were in Panjabi.
Speaking of the style of Haidar, a living poet 19 in both Urdu and Panjabi once said: ‘His style resembles that of Habib Qaani so far as the arrangement of words and beauty of language is concerned, but for his de scri ptions and expressions he resembles Hafiz.’ 20
Ali Haidar’s style no doubt charms his reader by its grace and beauty. He also excelled in subtle poetic conceit. We give below a specimen in which, desirous of showing the superiority of his own religion over the faith of the Hindus, he very tactfully makes Hir speak for himself.
Alif eh baman 21 bhaire bhatth paye kura rah bataunde ne
So phitte muh ohna kafara da sabh kuro kur kamaudi ne
Cucak de ghar kheria de aih nitt vicare aude ne
Netarsunetarnetar’ sunni de gin gin Gandhi pande ne
Mai gun mare ohna de sir mala turt puande ne
Nal dumbal channi la phuare mapyo calande ne
Kih sharm haya ohna kafara nu jo khair duare mannande ne
Narak dib hah maidi nahi ahi eh apane hatthi laude ne
Akkhi dekh tijjan nahi eh kafar aini haude ne
Je murde nu dukkh sukkh nahi kyu haddia ganga paude ne
Eh janju gal ne janj kheria di mai haidar mul na bhaude ne. 22
Alif: these bad Brahmans are in the oven (i.e. fire) for they tell the false path (i.e. Hinduism), therefore shame on those heathens 23 who all follow the false. Into the house of cucak and the kheras23these wretches (Brahmans) always come. Saying netarsunetarnetar 24and calculating, they tie the knot. 25 When I marred their qualities (i.e. when I refused to obey them by loving Rajha) then they ordered the garland (i.e. of marriage with Saida.) to be put on my head. Putting a cup to the abscess, the parents start the stream 26 (i.e. obeying the orderof the Brahmans parents bleed my heart by giving my me in marriage to Saida). What modesty and shame have these heathens, who in the temple beg for safety ? This is not the fireof my hell (Muhammadan hell), they have lit it themselves. 27 Seeing this (fire) they are not convinced but keep on boasting(i.e. they still praise their religion). If a corpse experiences no pain or pleasure then why do they put the bones into the Ganges? This sacred thread round the neck in like the marriage procession of the kheras; Haidar, I do not like it at all.
Haidar paints well his disgust of the worldly possessions which we have to leave after death. He calls them false and states that the only true possession is God with his prophet and his friends.
Kura ghora kura jora kuru shau asvar
Kure bashe kure shikare kure mir shikar
Kure hathi kure lashkar kure fauj katar
Kure suhe kure salu, kure shone yar
Kure jore kure bere kure har shangar
Kure kotthe kure manmit kur eh sansar
Haidar akkhe sabh kujh kura sacca hikk kartar
Duja nabi Muhammad sacca sacce us de yar 28
False is the horse, false is the costume and false is the king rider; false are the hawks, 29 false the falcon and false is the leader of the hunt; false the elephant., false the battalions and false are the armies with swords; false the red, 30 and false the salus31and false the beautiful friends ; 32 false these uniforms, false the boats and false are the toilets; false the houses, false the pleasures and false is this world. Haidar says all is false, kartar’ 33 alone is true; the second true one is the Prophet Muhammad, and true are his friends.
Hidar’s faith in God is well described in this:
Alif etthe otthe otthe asa as taidi ate asara taidare zor dai Mahi sabh havalre taidare ne asa khauf na khandare cor dai Tui jan saval javab sabho sanu haul na aukhari gor dai Ali haidar nu sikk taidari ai taidai bajh na sayal hor dai.34
Aisf: both here and there you are my hope and your power is my support; all buffaloes35 are in your charge, so I am not afraid of any wretched thief; 36 you know all prayers and
their answers (so) I have no fear of the difficult grave; ‘Ali Haidar feels your want, save you he does not seek another.
It will be interesting to give here one of the few poems in which Haidar reproaches his countrymen, the king and the foreign element, then so prominent at the Imperial Court of Delhi, for having allowed the Persians to come into the country and for submitting to their lust for riches : 36
Be bhi zaihar nahi jo kha maran kujh sharam na hinustania nu
Kya haya ehna rajia nu kujh lajj nahi turania nu
Bhaire bhar bhar devan khajane farsia khurasania nu
Vicc chaunia de vicc pani takk badhoje lahu na vedea pania nu. 37
Be: there is no poison which they (Indians) should eat and (consequently) die, the Indians have no shame; what shame have these kings, what shame have these Turanis? 38 The
wretches fill up and give treasuries to the Persians and the
Khurasanis; 39 in the cantonments they (i.e. the Persian) have reserved water for themselves, the only water we (Indians) see is blood.
It is evident from this and other such poems that to Haidar his country’s distress was unbearable, and he cursedfreely the rulers and those in power.
Haidar alone of the Panjabi Sufi poets played with words. It is on account of this that his thought is weak and often the same idea is differently described. Physical love was his ideal for spiritual love, and he therefore laid great stress on the use of words which naturally imparted a sort of brilliancy to his language. Here is a specimen to illustrate his mastery over words:
Shin shaker ranji yar di mainu talkh kita sabh shir shaker
Ganj shaker di shaker vanda je kare rabb shir shaker
Rajha khir te hir shaker rabb pher kare jhabb shir shaker
Jo labbiai lab lab to hazir piyo payala shir shaker
Haidar gussa pive ta akkhe piau mittha lab shir shaker. 40
Shin:the anger of my friend is bitter to me; it has made our friendship bitter. 41 I will distribute the sugar of Ganj Shakar 42 provided God arranges peace; Rajha is rice and
Hir is sugar. May God soon bring about their union; what we search is present on each lip (i.e. the name of God), drink that cup of friendship; Haidar, if he controls his anger, will
say. Drink friendship with the sweet sugar of lips.
Haidar, we believe, was a very good musician. Each line of his verse is full of rhythm and is so beautifully com- posed that his reader is tempted to sing rather than read or
recite it. One specimen will suffice:
Te tariya lariya taidia ni, mainu lariya kariya mariya ni
Hir jahia sai golia gholia ni, sadake kittia taitho varia ni
Caupar mar taron na pase, pase ditia haddia saria ni
Haidar kaun khalaria taitho, asi jitia bajia haria ni. 43
At the end of each poem of his siharfis, Haidar wrote a sort of rahau to indicate the musical refrain. Here is this chorus:
Anban inbin unbun thi, ikk samajh asadariramaz mia. 44
Haider used Multani, which is a sweet dialect of Panjabi, and became more so when the poet played with it. The few poems which have come down to us from the Hir,’ of Haidar show that he was an Arabic scholar and a com-petent Haafi. Had it been complete it would be a document to prove how the Sufi understood the Qur’an and the hadis.
Their interpretations are different, as Haidar’s Hir differs from those of other Mussulmans. Still what is left of the Hir is very interesting and pleasing. Before we close this account we will let Haidar speak briefly for himself.
khe khalak khuda di ilam parhdi sanu ikka mutalia yard a ai
Jihne khol ke ishk kitab ditthi sige saraf de sabh visar da ai
Jinhe yar de nam da sabak parhya etthe jae na sabar karar da ai
Haidar mulla nu fikar namaz da ai ehna ashka talab didar da ai. 45
khe: the creatures of God study knowledge, but we have onlythe Study of the Beloved; he who has opened and looked in the book of love is ready to spend all; he who has read the lesson of the beloved’s name should not come here, isonly peace and contentment; Haidar, the priest has to think of prayers, but these lovers desire only the manifestation (of the Beloved)
Be, be di teg na dass mulla oh alif sidha kham ghat aya
Oha yar kalokari rat vala hun bhes vata ke vat aya
Sohna mim di cadar paihn ke ji keha julfa de ghungat ghat aya
Ali haidar oha yar paiyara hun ahmad ban ke vat aya. 46
Be: O priest do not show me the curved sword of be47because this is the straight alif 48that has come back bent; the friendOf last night changing his garb has come again; the handsome friend wearing the shawl of mim 49and veiled in his locks has returned; ‘Ali Haidar, that friend beloved now has comeagaias Ahmad 50
Lam lok nasihata de thakke shone yar to mukkh na morsa mai
Tore maure peure kadd choran jani yar piche ghar chorsa mai
mai ta bele vassa hardam mahi vale matti dedea ni khuhe borsa mai
Ali haidar ne akkhia laiya kite kaul nu mui na torsa mai. 51
Lam: the people are tired giving me good counsels, but I will not turn my face from the handsome friend; if mother and father turn me out, for my beloved I will leave the house;
I will ever live in the jangal of my beloved, 52 and will throw into a well those who give me good advice.’ 53 Ali Haider, our eyes have met 54 and I will never break my word.