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Hum dekhenge: A Poem, A Song, and An Act of Defiance!

The recitation of the poem "Hum dekhenge" by Iqbal Bano in 1986 was not just a tribute to Faiz, but it was an act of protest against the dictatorship of Zia. The video clip from Alhamrah Hall shows the impact of the poem which became the anthem of protest; Iqbal Bano had to stop repeatedly due to the loud slogans of "Inqilab Zindabad".

"Hum dekhenge" is a revolutionary poem written by Faiz Ahmad Faiz in 1979. Its original title is "Wa yabqa wajh-o-rabbik”, a verse from the Quran which means “the face of your Lord". It later became known as Hum dekhenge "we shall bear witness". Interestingly, Faiz uses Islamic iconography and symbolism to raise voice against the Islamisation of Zia. The poem gives the example of the Islamic event of the conquest of Mecca, a victory of truth, to mobilise people against the oppression and tyranny of Zia's rule.

While Faiz wrote this poem, Iqbal Bano gave it life and made it eternal with her voice and bravery. Iqbal Bano became a star in the 1950s. She sang many ghazals and soundtracks of superhit Urdu films such as Inteqaam, Qatil, and Sarfarosh.

She sang this banned revolutionary poem in a banned public gathering wearing a dress(saree) that was also banned. It was a revolutionary act; an act against power and an act of defiance. Many recall that the "sound of cheers and clapping was so loud that the audience feared the roof of Alhambra hall would blow off." Iqbal Bano gave a clear message of revolutionary fervour and fearlessness. Her words and her voice channelled the frustration of Pakistanis against the tyranny of Zia. She was later banned from appearing on the screen and performing in live concerts.

This shows the significance of literature, arts and music. It is a way of expression and an act of protest and defiance. The revolutionary theme of this poem was also used in the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in India.

Few verses from the poem:

"Lazim hai hum bhi dekhenge,

Hum dekhenge

Wo din ke jiska waada hai,

jo louh-i-azl pe likha hai,

hum dekhenge

(We shall bear witness to the promised day written into the canvas of eternity)

Jab zulm-o-sitham ke koh-e-giran,

Rui ki tarah ud jaayenge

Hum mahkoomon ke paaon tale,

Yeh dharti dhad dhad dhadkegi

(When the gigantic hills of tyranny get blown away like cotton, the earth will shake under our (oppressed) feet)

Jab aarz-i-khuda ke kaaba se,

Sab but uthwaaye jaayenge

Hum ahl-e-safa mardood-e-haram,

Masnad pe bithaaye jaayenge

(From the house of god, all idols of falsehood will be cast out; us, the faithful, will be placed on our high thrones)

Bus naam rahega allah ka,

jo gaayab bhi hai haazir bhi

Jo manzar bhi hai naazir bhi,

uthegaa anal-haq ka naara

(Only Allah's name will remain, both the vista and the viewer, and shouts of 'I am the truth' will resonate)"

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