Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak

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Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak, Professor Raj Wali Shah Khattak
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)

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Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak

Professor Raj Wali Shah Khattak

Pashtoon Contemporary of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

The mighty Indus is called' Abasin' in Pashto, which means the father of rivers. It is also so called because the various tributaries of the frontier province join it, and perhaps due to this very reason the Indus becomes 'Abaseen' (The father of rivers), that it engulfs the various other rivers on its long voyage of the NWFP. The various tributaries of the Indus keep carrying along their local romances, folklore and culture to the banks of Abaseen, in order to contribute towards the cultures existing on its right plank. No river, mountain, desert or arid plain has been described so much in Pashto folklore as Abaseen has been. Abaseen has become a symbol of the Pashtoon love, which embraces tragedy as well as romance. Abaseen and Pashtoon life and culture have a very strong mutual bond. The great Gandhara culture took its birth on its bank and achieved glory. The Aryans started agriculture on its shores. Similarly the confluence of the Kabul River with Abaseen takes place at Atock, and the description of Attock without that of Khattaks is regarded to be incomplete. On the right bank of Attock at the confluence or Kabul and Indus the Khattak Abad tribe is situated. One of the valleys among the Khattaks is called Wadi-e-Neelab (or the Neelab Valley), which was probably named by the Mughal historians. Due to an unfortunate incident, the Pashtoon Khattaks could not continue their onward journey on the banks of river Indus but even then they achieved the pinacle of glory in history. The Khattak tribe became part of a golden era of history with their glorious contributions right from Khost to the mountains of shawal and up to the banks of Indus. Their history has been keeping a mind-boggling mystery about a civilization besides scribbling a romance.

The great Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak has beautifully portrayed his love and deep-rooted attachment for Abaseen in his verses. Even during his revolt against the Mughal King Aurangzeb, when he took refuge in the hills of Chirat, he would feel contented to see the majestic Indus flowing, from up there. As he says in one of his verses, "I am fully contented and grateful to my Lord for blessing me with the opportunity to see Abaseen from my village Meer Kalan", Merr Kalan is a village in the hills of Chirat, where the khan was lodging, and from where he could see Abaseen, which fulfilled his emotional attachment with the river.

Abaseen or Indus is historically important as from North West to South East, in its long voyage, it gave birth to various beautiful civilizations. From those civilizations celebrated names in Islamic thought came up on the horizon in the 17th century, which on the one hand included the great Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai, whose poetry seems to have been composed in harmony to the music of the rippling water of Indus, while on the other hand Khattak, Rehman Baba and Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak. It is a strange coincidence that whatever philosophy was in vogue during this century seems to be a reverberation of the mystic poetry of Peshawar valley. If Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai has engendered life into the barren deserts of Sindh with his songs, the romantic and mystic poetry of Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak has given tremendous sustenance to the Pashtoons' civilization. During this century the poets and mystics of Pashto and Sindhi touched the Zenith of fame. It seems as if Abaseen has closely interlinked the spiritual affmity between Sindh and Frontier, as Allama Iqbal said, "Nature's objectives are looked after either by an inhabitant of the desert or a mountain". The Identity of thought of Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak and Shah Latif Bhitai is a revealation of the spiritual link between a man of the desert and a man of the moutain. However due to paucity of time, instead of making a comparison between the two I shall restrict myself to Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak.

Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak was the son of the great Khushal Khan Khattak. In the days of his youth he played a great role in his father's movement. He was born in the later half of 17th century at Akora Khattak, district Nowshera. He was educated by Khushal Khan Khattak himself. He also profited from his mystic uncle Faqir Jamil Baig in mysticism. Apart from this, the parton peer (saint) of this family was Hazrat Kaka Sahib Reham Kar. As his disciple, Khushal Khan Khattak learnt the pros and cons of mysticsm. In the poetry of Khushal Khan some mild influence of Kaka Sahib could be descerned. In the mystic thoughts of Abdul Qadir, the influence of Khushal Khan seems predominant.

In his youth Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak fought along-side his father Khushal in various battles. Khushal Khan was so inspired by his son's bravery that he had to mention it in poetry and prose, in many of his works. To participate in these battles was a requirement of the Pashto honour and prestige and was a family tradition too. As long as Khushal Khan K4attak was alive, Abdul Qadir fought alongside him. After his father's death, Abdul Qadir turned towards practical philosophy and remained busy in writing. He wrote in Pashto because it was his mother tongue and he remained associated with it because of his association with the Pashto literary movement whose pioneer happened to be Khushal Khan Khattak. He also possessed great command over Persian and Arabic. His Pashto translations of Maulana Hali's "Yousuf Zulaikha" and Saadi Sherazi's "Gulistan" are regarded as the best of their kind and clearly reveal his expertise of Arabgic and Persian languages. However, even then he preferred to write in Pashto because he preferred his Pashtoon identity to everything else.

Abdul Qadir Khan, the critics of Pashto literature say that he was a great scholar, artist and poet of his age but unlickely he was born in between two stars of Pasht literature i.e Khushal Khan Khattak and Rehman Baba and that is why his fame was eclipsed by the other two giants. Therefore, he could not get due recognition which he throughly deserved. Another opinion about his poetry is that Abdul Qadir is a metaphysical and passionate poet and only intellectuals could fully understand and benifit from his poetry. That is why he was so popular among intellectuals. Still, however, he could not get the same popularity among people as was attained by Rehman Baba and Khushal Baba.

If the collection of Abdul Qadir is studied critically one would fmd him a great philosophical poet. His scholastic thought coupled with a romantic bent of mind make him great poet. Technically, he is a poet with his own distinctive style. In scholastic thought it is very diffecult to infuse a new meaning into words and thought according to the strict discipline of a subject but Abdul Qadir has invented novel ideas and idiomes which have no comparison in Pashto literature. He says, "Whether it is voice or vision both are the food of the spirit. But those indulging in sensuous pleasures should have no concern with it". About the dance of mystics he says, "It is God's decree to spend wealt4 and cast away this world, which is beautifully portrayed by a Soofi (mystic's) dance. When a mystic throws out his hands in an ecstatic dance he symbolically means to be throwing the world away. This mystical knowledge Abdul Qadir had inherited from his great father. Apart from this, the quality of living and thinking like a mendicant (saintly person or Darwaish) could also be the result of the company of his beggarly uncle, Faqir, Jamil Khan, who had cast away his Nawabdom and Khandom for a simple life of a mendicant or Darwaish.

About the one-ness of God or the Ultimate Reality he says, "My beloved appears before me in a mirror sometimes in white celestial colours and sometimes in mysterious dark. Sometimes my beloved entangles my heart in her silken tresses and sometimes she appears in the form of a light blinking in her eyes, on her forehead and her cheeks, attroacting a moth who is madly in love with the light; and sometimes she appears to nightingales in a dogflower (Gule- Nasreen).

The poet exhorts himself to see a glimpse of his beloved in all forms and things as long as there is no douht in his devotion and is sincere to her. According to Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak "Beauty is the manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. In this materialistic world whatever beauty could be seen in whatever form is but the reflection of that Ultimate Truth".

Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak considers physical reality to be a reflection of the Absolute Reality. He says those who see a difference between the two are mistaken. But those who have the piercing sight of seeing beneath the surface of things can see Absolute Reality in various physical forms. He says about Absolute Reality.

"Beauty could be seen in all forms, by those whose hearts have been illumined by love."

AQKK believes in the saying, "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder." He says that only those can appreciate beauty who has got some aesthetic senseand the vision of a mystic. He believes that orderliness or physical features do not make a thing beautiful. It is the overall effect on you that makes it beautiful. "Those who have the eyes to see and the heart to feel can appreciate beauty even in virtual disorder". As Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak puts it: -

Beauty is a feeling
Engendered by a thing
Not necessararily orderly
Proportionate and eye catching".

Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak says real aesthetic experience is very difficult to put into befitting words. Aesthetic experience is a feeling, which cannot be fully expressed. That is why he says to his beloved: -

"As it is impossible to take an antidote out of a snake's mouth, similarly it is my unexpressed poetic feeling which is entangled in your silken tresses, writhing in agony to fmd expression in befitting words".

Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak exercised strict ascetic discipline and self-control repudiating all forms of sensual pleasures all his life. As he once said,

"Jesus Christ broke the bondage of physical-self he flew up to heavens on the wings of abstinence and piety."

Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak had repudiated this world because he believed it was a hurdle in the way of his goals. In this connection he says: -

"When UltimateTruth becons,
This world starts looking a mirage.
My own sensual desire
started to block my ways
to achieving my real objective
that of reaching the Ultimate Truth.
that was why I abandoned
my own sensuous desire".

About the one-ness of God or the Ultimate Truth he says, "As long as a drop lives by 'itself, all alone, conceited by a sense of selfhood, it has no significance and is self- deluding; but when it becomes one with an ocean it reaches its real destination and achieves fulfillment. It is indeed very regretful to say that AQKK's poetry and philosophy, which is a precious collection, was not accorded its deserved recognition by people. Suffice it to say in his own words: -

"If those stricken by the barren autumn say that there is no refreshing dawn, they should ask the reality from the newly-blossomed flower. How can the visionaries believe the blind saying that there is no light?"


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Abdul Qadir Khan Khattak, Professor Raj Wali Shah Khattak
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (http://www.khyber.org)