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Faiz Centenary Tribute

23rd October 2011

The President of the IMF, Shamsuddin Agha organised an elaborate event at the Federation to pay tribute to Faiz on the occasion of his centenary. The event was well attended by members and some very high profile guests. The Deputy Speaker of the Indian Parliament – the Raj Sabha Mr Khan, specially delayed his flight back to India by one day so he could take part in this event.

The event was compeered by the very mellow mannered Shahid Ali Syed, whose main strong point is that he is brief and to the point. The programme included speeches about Faiz, recital of his poetry and finally a live musical tribute whereby Seema Lodhi presented a selection of Faiz's ghazals in her melodious voice. She was joined by the IMF's own Adil Siddiqui who also displayed his reverence for Faiz in his singing.

Zikr uss parivash ka aur phir bayan apna – is the only way I can describe the reminiscent talks about Faiz by two of my favourite Speakers – Raza Ali Abidi and Asaf Jilani. Both of them managed to introduce us to aspects of Faiz's life that were hitherto unknown to me at least. For example Faiz's father started his work career as a Quli and ended up being Afghanistan's Ambassador to the UK!!

It must also be mentioned that Saba Shaikh, daughter of the very popular barrister and Counsellor Shuja Shaikh did a fantastic job of decorating the stage. Dr Syed Masroor, in addition to remembering with great fondness how Faiz gifted him a ten rupee note, which was framed and shown off to all friends and family by his father, also supported the event financially. Mr Sarwar of the Nation was put on the spot and invited on stage to say a few words. Being an articulate and sincere man, he was able to express his fondness for Faiz without great difficulty.

The most striking thing about this event was that it was organised by a group who have been founded on their religious values. The fact of their pride in their religion, their beards and Hijaabs, the constant breaks so people could say their prayers did not prevent them from paying their respects to the legendary Faiz, who has often been associated with Marxism and Socialism.

Not only that, his marriage to an English woman called Elys and it's worth noting that Faiz never gave Elys a different name just to legitimise her existence within his own community and make her more acceptable, did not result in any bias towards him by the IMF. In fact Shamsuddin proudly declared that Faiz's Sasuraal is in the area. Faiz loved and accepted Elys as she was and she remained devoted to him throughout his life and even after his death, she has continued to live in his beloved Pakistan.

This clearly goes to show that the IMF is a shining example of Muslims who embrace the values of multi-cultural Britain and respect and celebrate figures of history who may not even fit into their criteria of the perfect Muslim. The tolerance and pluralism of the IMF was made even more evident by the two special guests, Ms Sangeeta Bahadur (a Hindu) and Mr S.S Sidhu (a Sikh) who expressed their respect and admiration of Faiz again proving that Faiz was a poet for all the people of the entire sub-continent.

My experience of the IMF has always been that right from the President Shamsuddin to the Executive Committee to the ordinary members – they are all friendly, warm, generous and hospitable. Most notably Irfan Mustafa, Shamsuddins own daughter Huma, Shamsuddin's stunning and talented granddaughter Qudsia as well as other members of the EC personally looked after the guests with great warmth and affection throughout the evening right up to the point of saying farewell at the end of the afternoon. The amazingly smooth and speedy manner in which the food was served at this event really goes to show that in this organisation, everyone works as part of a team.

My congratulations to Shamsuddin and his whole team for the wonderful afternoon it turned out to be!! I thoroughly enjoyed myself and left the event feeling totally fulfilled!

Article By Huma Price

Videography/Editing: A. Razaq

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