Category Archives: Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Letters of Love – Faiz Ahmed Faiz


I am sorry I was not able to write last week. We were all rather busy as Manzoor Qadir was here and lots of things had to be gone into. It was nice to see him even though we could hardly exchange a word beyond legal discussion of the case. I could not even send my greetings to our friend Asghari and you can do it for me.

Original Letter dated May 23, 1952. Faiz wrote from Hyderabad Jail to his wife Alys.

I am very much behind in my correspondence with you because I have had three letters from you but that leaves me feeling richer and happier although a trifle ashamed. I shall try to make myself even if I can. One reason for not writing, strange as it may seem, is the intense nostalgia that the present here inspires for things that one holds and has held dear. These nostalgic day dreams are so tender and pleasant and warm that one does not feel like disturbing their flow. You will say that this is my typically mean way of justifying laziness and self-indulgence and I know that you are right. I think I have written before that prison life does accentuate petty selfishness. I have never understood that psychology of purdah women as well as I do now. It is the normal psychology of a prisoner.

I understand the pettinesses, the preoccupation with small grievances that seem to occupy the whole universe, the oblivion to larger impersonal issues, the selfishness and the self-pity, the spitefulness and the temper, the silliness and the servility, spells of paralysis and feverish activity – all this is the usual concomitant of suppressed and confined living and not very easy for free people to understand.

Life has its surprises, however, even here. The other evening I switched on the Radio to listen to some Indian music from Delhi (what our own Radio calls music is no more than a collection of amateur screechings because real talent like Rafiq, Pukhraj, and Anwar etc: seems to be banned) and do you know what I got? You can never guess. Yehudi Menuhin, perhaps the greatest violinist of all times, playing Bach and Pagannini in the auditorium of the Indian Film Festival. It made me angry and jealous and sad when I thought about it later. This country is now nearly five years old and in five years we have not given the people one real exhibition of anything of beauty, of culture, of ennobling pleasure. And yet there has been no dearth of ‘tamashas’. But all that we can think of is to collect some silly old grey-beards from all over the world, make them talk a lot of bilge that no one cares a damn farthing about, give a few people an opportunity for lots of eating and lots of shouting and then forget all about it. India may be a bigger country but culture is not a matter of size but of the ways of living and thinking, and why should the people of this country not be given a chance at least to look at culture even if they can’t live in it. Anyway it will all come some day perhaps and perhaps I shouldn’t be talking about it.

“This country is now nearly five years old and in five years we have not given the people one real exhibition of anything of beauty, of culture, of ennobling pleasure”

I was talking about surprises. Last week one of the youngsters with us whom we have been teasing for eating sweets in secret received ‘gajar ka halwa’ from his village which he had ordered in pique. Do you know how much it was – literally a cartload, 3 big canisters of about 20 seers each. Over a maund of ‘halwa’! Just think of it! And it must have taken many more maunds of carrots and sugar and ghee to make, for it is very condensed. We have been trying to imagine the scene of preparations in the village, wagons of carrots undulating, cauldrons of ghee, mountains of wood and the whole countryside astir! It will probably go down in history as a legend, perhaps songs and stories will be written about it, for never in the history of mankind has 1.5 maunds of ‘gajar ka halwa’ been made in one go and for no more than 15 people! So we eat in morning, noon and night.

It is again cloudy and windswept and cool. I hope it holds until you come because it is really pleasant, but for the regrets. But it is silly to regret what was and might have been. What was and might have been, might have been better or it might have been worse but it can be no different now by wishing. What is and will be can be different and better, depending on ourselves, and we shall make it so. Everything else being the same my astrologer and the old woman (who is she?) should not be far out. So let us wait for a few days more.

The view from jail


“I think I have written before that prison life does accentuate petty selfishness”

I am glad of the friendliness of my geisha girls (your accounts of them were a source of constant amusement here and I swagger about it a lot. The chaps here think you must be a hell of a guy to stand all this nonsense and not mind. I don’t put them wise because that will make both of us go down in their estimation a lot) and it is also good to find that there are at least one or two people like ‘the smile’ – besides one’s wife and children – to whom one’s presence or absence matters a little. It is surprising to find how few friends one really has but even one or two is a great wealth in times like the present. I am talking of purely personal friends, for of friends in general the whole world is full.

Janjua’s child is o.k. now. She had bronchial pneumonia but is quite recovered and the family has gone to Karachi for a few days. He has asked me to thank you for the enquiry which he will convey to his wife.

“It is surprising to find how few friends one really has but even one or two is a great wealth in times like the present”

I have got the missing P.T. The audience here has a criticism of the children’s page in the last two issues: too much of the Commonwealth and too little of the rest of the world. I know the reason, of course – availability of material but I am forwarding the opinion to show you that people are interested in your doings. So you have met Mrs. FDR. I think the remark you quoted is a compliment to her, not to you. She certainly never managed to earn her living in a foreign land and her writing, from what I see of it in the Dawn, does not come within a hundred miles of yours. (I don’t think I intend letting you return to the dish washing now. I propose being ‘Mrs Sheikh Ahmed’s’ husband sort of thing for a change. I felt rather upset by the news of her return, by the way. If I have to see her in Lahore again it will take away half the pleasure of being back home).

So old Hashmi is going to the States. It is a pity I am in the jug or I could have given him some nice introductions. Incidentally Zelma Brandt is the nice old America woman who came to Lahore 3 or 4 years ago and I took her round the town. I think you met her because I brought her home for lunch. Please do write to her returning the ‘love’ and tell her I wouldn’t mind hearing from her if she cares to write. I hope your fears about old Steve are ill-founded. In fact this is precisely why I want to write to him – to see if he is still there. I thought of him because I was very upset to hear of the death, first of old Dickinson and then young Latif – such pleasant, good and loveable persons both of them.

Apart from the books I mentioned, if you can borrow I. A. Richards (any of his three books Principles of Criticism, Practical Criticism or Meaning of Meaning) and any book on Indian history, please being them along too. Otherwise it doesn’t matter. Re table-cloths, I meant ordinary small teapot covers. I don’t think there is anything else that I want except you and the pigeons. And I am now waiting for you happily and content.

I am glad Apa had the goodness not to mention your illness and you did not write about it until after. But my heart tells me now when something is wrong and I have begun to worry as much as you used to. Only I always pin my faith on the light beyond the dark. I know it is there and it will come and so one must wait, however hard the waiting.

My love and kiss and fondest thoughts



P.S. Regarding poem asked…’ Can’t you give them my love poem unless it has been disposed of? I haven’t seen it anywhere yet. I think here is…’ ghazal in my manuscript with you which is unpublished. It begins yad ke jab zakhm bharnay lagay. I shall also try to send …’ something in my next letter. Faiz.

Sources –

Two Lovers – Faiz’s letters from jail. By Salima Hashmi and Kyla Pasha.


Documentary on ‘Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ by Dawn News Pakistan – ‘Faiz Kay 100 Saal’


Recently while watching some videos on You Tube, I happened to watch a documentary on   Faiz Ahmed Faiz by Dawn News titled ‘Faiz Kay 100 Saal’. In the recent past, I also read several articles by Dawn which were informative and helped me know more about Faiz Saheb.

This documentary is divided in 5 parts – What I like about the documentary is that, Dawn has called companions of Faiz Ahmed Faiz to talk about their relationship with Faiz Saheb and also highlight his character as a person and poetic purpose and have also kept the language simple without adding any unessacary content. The best part of the documantary is that Dawn has also added videos of Faiz Saheb reciting his famous poems.

Part 1 – 


Part 2 –


Part 3 –


Part 4 – 


Part 5 –


Hope you enjoyed the Documentary as I did. Kudos to Dawn News for this !

I’ll post another blog with the articles published by Dawn News on Faiz Ahmed Faiz

You can find Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Poetry on Twitter – @FaizPoetry

Thank you,

Ali Muhammad Ali – @AliPoetry

Sources – Dawn News Pakistan, Youtube Channel of Dawn News Pakistan


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Read about :

Mirza Ghalib

Allama Iqbal




A timeline of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s life.


Here is a timeline of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s life.  This timeline is an account of the poet, journalist, professor and a poet who stretched the boundaries of Urdu Poetry.

1911 ~ Faiz Ahmed was born on February 13th in Kala Qadir, Sialkot, Punjab. Faiz’s mother was Sultan Fatima and father, Chaudhry Sultan Muhammed Khan, was an educated person who wrote the biography of Amir Abdul Rehman, the ruler of Afghanistan.

1915 ~ Faiz started memorizing the Holy Quran at the age of four.

1916 ~ Faiz started his formal education in the famous school of Moulvi Ibrahim Sialkoti, and learned Urdu, Persian and Arabic.

1921~ Faiz was admitted to the Scot Mission High School in class IV.

1927 ~ Passed his Matriculation Examination in the 1st Division from Murray College, Sialkot and during this period learnt Persian and Arabic from Allama Iqbal’s teacher, Shamsul Ullama Moulvi Syed Meer Hasan and Professor Yousuf Saleem Chishti, who tought Urdu.

1929 ~ Start writing poetry in Urdu language.

1931 ~ Faiz’s father died.  Passed his B.A. (Honours) in Arabic from the Government College, Lahore.

1932 ~ Passed M.A. in English from the Government College, Lahore.

1934 ~ Passed his M.A. in Arabic in the 1st Division, from Oriental College, Lahore.

1935 ~ Appointed lecturer English at M. A. O. College, Amritsar and then at Hailey College of Commerce, Lahore.

1936 ~ Faiz started a branch of Progressive Writers’ Movement in Punjab.

1938 ~ Alys George went to India and met and fell in love with Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

1941 ~In October Faiz married Alys and the ceremony was performed by Sheikh Abdullah, the Lion of Kashmir. Those who attended the ceremony included Dr MD Taseer.

1942 ~ Under the instruction from the Communist Party of India joined the British Army as Captain and worked in the department of Public Relations in Delhi.

1943 ~ Was promoted to the rank of Major. First collection of verses Naqsh-e-Faryadi (Sorrowfull Pattern) was published.

1944 ~ Was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

1947 ~ Resigned from The British Army and returned to Lahore.

On Febraury 4, the newspaper: Pakistan Times began regular publication with eight pages. The Quaid-i-Azam’s name appeared under the masthead as founder , while the printline bore the names of Mian Iftikharuddin as publisher and printer and Faiz Ahmed Faiz as acting editor. Faiz also headed the editorial board of its sister publications, the Urdu daily Imroze and the literary and political weekly Lail-o-Nahar. Faiz was then only 37 years old. As the editor of the Pakistan Times, the English-language left-leaning newspaper from Lahore, he wrote on an array of issues from 1947 until his arrest in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951. All these publications part of the Progressive Papers Limited.

August 14, British India was divided into India and Pakistan.

Became editor of monthly magazine: ‘Adb-e-Latif’ and remained in this capacity till 1958.

Became active in the newly formed Pakistan Trade Union Federation (PTUF). The PTUF was affiliated with the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), and he worked closely with other stalwarts like CR Aslam.

1948 ~ Became the Office Secretary of the Railway Workers Union which was established by Mirza Ibrahim.  Daily Imroze was launched in the year. Maulana Charagh Hassan Hasrat and Faiz Ahmed Faiz were its editors.

1950 ~ Faiz became a member of the World Peace Council.

1951 ~ In March 9th, arrested for seditious activities under Safety Act and charged in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case, and having borne the hardships of imprisonment for four years and one month in the jails of Sargodha, Montgomery (now Sahiwal), Hyderabad and Karachi, was released on April 2nd, 1955. Others arrested with him included Syed Sajjad Zaheer (General secretary of Communist Party of Pakistan) and about a dozen officers (ranking from major general to captain) and three civilians met at General Akbar Khan’s house.

1953 ~ While in prison, the Communist Part of Pakistan was banned. The year Dast-i Saba (Wind’s Palm) was published, Faiz Ahmed Faiz had been in jail for almost two years. He would remain in jail for another two.

1954 ~ Progressive Writers Association was also banned by the Pakistani government as a subversive organisation.

1955 ~ People’s Publishing House published Victor Kiernan’s first translations of a selection from Faiz. The book,Poems by Faiz, had the Urdu text, prepared by Kiernan’s closest collaborator, Nazir Ahmed, the well-known teacher in Lahore. It also had the Urdu transliterated into English, and then two translations, one literal and the other with flourishes.

After his release from prison, Faiz moved to London for a year.

1956 ~ Attended the first Conference of Asian Writers in Delhi.  Zindan nama, the third collection of verses published.

1958 ~ Attended the Asian and African Writers Conference in Tashkent.

1959 ~ Appointed as Secretary, Pakistan Arts Council and worked in that capacity till 1962. Jago Hua Savera (Day Shall Dawn), a film directed by A.J. Kardar and script and lyrics penned by Faiz Ahmed Faiz released.

1962 ~ Faiz was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize, the Soviet Union equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Despite the warnings of the pro-American military government not to accept the award, Faiz proceeded to Moscow to receive the award. Faiz was the first Asian poet, others awarded with Lenin Peace Award included WEB Du Bois, Fidel Castro, Pablo Picasso, Bertold Brecht, Pablo Neruda, Mahmoud Darwish, Salvador Allende, Kwame Nkrumah and Angela Davis. In accepting the Lenin Prize, Faiz said: “Every foundation you see is defective, except the foundation of love, which is faultless.” It takes moral courage to love even when you see the ugly face of tyranny, and have felt its heavy hand on your …

Meezan (Scales), a collection of critical articles on literature published.

1963 ~ Fourth collection of verse: A Hand Pressed Under a Stone was published

1964 ~ Returned from London and settled down in Karachi and was appointed as Principal, Abdullah Haroon College, Karachi.

1965 ~ In the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, he worked in an honorary capacity in the Department of Information. Harf harf was published. Dast-e tah-e sang was published.

1971 ~ Crosses on My Windows published. Poems by Faiz, translated by V.G. Kiernan was published.

1972 ~ Became chairman of the Arts Council of Pakistan.

1973 ~ Attended the Asian and African Writers conference in Alma-ta.

1974 ~ Faiz visited Bangladesh, as part of an official delegation as an advisor on culture. This visit prompted him to write ‘Hum ke thehre ajnabi’ (We who have been rendered strangers).

1975 ~ Faiz awarded the Afro-Asian Literary prize. Rat di rat was published

1977 ~ General Zia-ul-Haq came to power in a military coup. And imposed martial law. He unleashed reactionary and fascistic terror in the name of Nizam-e-Mustafa (Islamic system). The lives of many progressive individual unbearable in Pakistan.

1978 ~ In February went into self-imposed exile for a period of five years. Faiz went to war-torn Beirut and worked with Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) as the editor of Lotus, the magazine of the Afro-Asian Writer’s Association. Sham-e shahri-yaran, was published.

1979 ~ Faiz penned one of his most famous poems: Dua (Prayer) directly challenging Zia’s military regime.

1980 ~ Mere Dil, Mere Musaafir (My Heart, My Wanderer) was published. Faiz dedicated his book to the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

1982 ~ Left Beirut after Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Faiz came back to Lahore, Pakistan.

1984 ~ Nuskha-Hai-Wafa, was published.

Faiz died in Lahore on 20th November.


Mirza Ghalib’s Timeline. 

A timeline of Allama Iqbal’s life. 

Read about :

Mirza Ghalib

Allama Iqbal


Source :