Pashto Media - Pashto Literature and Poetry

Pashto Literature and Poetry

Pashto is not only the name of a language, but it comprises all traditions, norms and values of the Pashtun people. The history of Pashto language comprises thousands of years. It is widely believed among the Pashtuns that the earliest written Pashto poems were written in the 8th century CE by Amir Kror Suri of Ghor, Afghanistan. Amir Kror was the son of Amir Polad and they belonged to the Suri Pashtun tribe. Since paper was not much in use in the Pashtun territory, Poets usually performed poetry verbally and its fans memorized the work. Another reason may be that most Pashtuns were nomads and warriors, thus lack writing skills. Due to these and other reasons, Pashto remained as a verbal language only. The poems by Amir Kror Suri were discovered and saved in Pata Khazana, a work compiled by Shah Hussain Hotaki and last edited by professor Abdul Hai Habibi from Kandahar. Abu Muhammad Hashim Sarwani was another poet of that period. He was born around the Helmand Province in the 9th century. He was the student of Ullema of Basat. It is also said that he was the student of popular Arabic writer, Ibn-e-Khalid. Hashim Sarwani translated some Arabic poems in Pashto, and his work also came under light through the book, Pata Khazana. He also wrote a book, SaloVagma, meaning ‘deserted breeze’ on the eloquence of Arabic verses. After Abu Muhammad Hashim Sarwani, Sheikh Razi is another poet whose work is saved in the book, Pata Khazana. He belonged to the Lodi tribe of Pashtuns. Similarly, there are many other poets in the first phase of Pashto poetry (i.e. Amir Nasir Lodhi, Beat Neeka, Ismail Ster Bani (son of Beat Neeka), Kharshaboon (cousin of Ismail Ster Bani), Sheikh Asad Soori and others).

غازی ارسلاخان اتمانخيل دلورالای دباچاخان لاروی وواودلارډسفورډانګليس سره يی شکر په شکر کښي ورکړيوو

Intellectual, scholars and critics divide Pashto literature into two parts, i.e. poetry and prose. Poetic literature like Amir Crore Nazam and Sheikh Mati Munajat were all in poetic form. Prose found its place in Pashto literature very late. The reason is that poetry is a far common and effective genre for translating and expressing one’s feeling into it and conveying the same to others. However prose vis-à-vis poetry appeals to a very selective mind and heart. Now the question arises as to when prose writing came into vogue in Pashto literature. There are various profound claims and arguments regarding the origin of prose in Pashto literature like it having been originated as back as 223 Hijri in the form of translation of Arabic verses in book titled ‘SaloVagma’ (Deserted Breeze). Since the book is not vogue and the idea is based on mere assumption, it cannot be taken as authentic. Similarly, another book Tazkiratul Aulia, written by Suleman Makoo in 612 Hijri, is said to be the first recognized book in Pashto. The book contains descriptions of major Aulia, like Shiekh Malkair (R.A), Shiekh Ismial (R.A) and Sheikh Bakhtiar (R.A). The complete book is not in existence but a part of it is available. However, the oldest complete prose book in Pashto that is still in existence today is Khairul Bayan. After that we come across Akhund Darvez’s book title Makhzanul Islam and various other books written in the 9th and 10th centuries by Babu Jan, Mlamast Zamand, Allah Yar, and Akhun Qasim. But all these books were in prose-verse as they contained difficult words and rhetorical expressions and poetic rhythms as well. After that comes the era of the great Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak, who along with his family has made a remarkable contribution to Pashto prose writing. His sons, one of his daughters, Haleema Khatak and his grandchildren (Khushaal Khan Khatak’s) contributed to Pashto prose in an especially unique way. It was this period when prose was written in clear, short and easy to follow and comprehensible form. Then comes the period of some of the greatest prose writers Saleh Mohammad, Ghulam Mohyuddin Afghan, Zamarley, Maulvi Mir Ahmed Shah, and Abdul Rauf Qaney further contributed to the cause of Pashto prose in Afghanistan. To conclude, Pashto expressions far more exceeds prose collections in Pashto literature as prose needs special attention on the part of intellectuals and critics and as this very form of expression is less developed in prose vis-à-vis poetry.

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