Fun Fact: The author of this blog is one of the performers of the music video.
In the realm of Urdu political rap, a new voice has emerged, challenging the status quo and delving into the depths of history through a gendered lens. Momin Iqbal, a socio-anthro major and a graduate of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), has embarked on a musical journey to explore the gender dynamics and power relations surrounding the Partition events of 1947 between India and Pakistan. Inspired by author Khursheed Kamal Aziz's thought-provoking book, "Murder of History," Iqbal seeks to shed light on the untold stories and silenced experiences of women during this chaotic period.
Tying Inspiration to Khursheed Kamal Aziz's "Murder of History":
Iqbal's creative expression is heavily influenced by Khursheed Kamal Aziz's seminal work, "Murder of History." Aziz's book challenges traditional historical
narratives and prompts critical reflection. Similarly, Iqbal seeks to amplify marginalized voices and shed light on the gendered aspects of history, aligning with Aziz's intent to expose hidden truths. Iqbal draws inspiration from Aziz's call to question the motives behind historical accounts and explores how gendered power relations affected the events of Partition. By incorporating a gendered lens into his lyrics, he highlights the overlooked experiences of women, aiming to rewrite history from a more inclusive perspective.
In his book, Aziz asserts a silenced gender war of men against women where he implies that women were looked upon as objects of exploitation for inflicting maximum distress on other communities and discloses that women's involvement in the war as fighters, social workers, and civilian victims of violence is often left out as it would disrupt the smooth surface of national history.
In compliance with this rationale, women represent the lower-status or subaltern population in the context of war who are socially, politically, and geographically excluded from the hierarchy of power of the imperial homeland. Curiously unscrutinized are the barbarous persecutions inflicted upon these noncombatants of war, while narratives of masculine success and liberty tend to bloom under scriptures of history.
Unveiling Gender Dynamics in Song Lyrics:
Iqbal - KK Aziz from Album "Divide & Rule"
"Kya, kyun, kon zimedaar"
The opening lines set the tone for Iqbal's exploration of the gendered power dynamics inherent in historical narratives. Questioning the role of patriarchy and its role in shaping historical narratives. It prompts us to consider how gendered power structures influence the construction and interpretation of history. By asking fundamental questions, he challenges the established narratives and encourages a critical examination of the roles and responsibilities of individuals and institutions, particularly in relation to gender.
"Sar par sawaar kursi aur maal"
Iqbal delves into the patriarchal structures and power imbalances that shaped the Partition. This line can be seen as critiquing the predominantly male-dominated positions of power, where men have historically occupied influential positions and controlled wealth. It highlights how gender and power intersect to shape historical narratives.
"Goron kay baad apnay loot kar farrar"
Examining the aftermath of colonial rule, Iqbal acknowledges the internal exploitation and marginalization that persisted during independence. Through this line, he draws attention to the experiences of women who were affected by ongoing power struggles within the newly formed nations. Women have often been subjected to various forms of violence, and this line prompts us to reflect on experiences and narratives that have been marginalized or erased from history.
"Laathi kay saamnay kiski majjal, Muhafiz kay hee basay dil main dajjal"
Instigated by their leaders, men saw the opportunity to elevate their vehemence by targeting the vulnerable in their attempt to reduce their enemies into submission through vigorous fornication. Rape was used as a tool by the masculine agents to dismantle a woman's link with her past, who saw the feminine community as their easiest prey for "cleansing of the body politic, which was allegedly made corrupt by the Hindu presence". It could be argued that in 1947 the line between ‘purify’ and ‘destroy’ became blurry in imaginings of a new nation. The mass rape of women was consequently an attempt to undo the national malaise caused by the Partition.
All of this goes on to express the women's absolute lack of 'agency' in the events of 1947; be it the dehumanizing sexual encounters from people of other religions/ethnicities or the 'impure' characterization from the people of their own vicinity. The fact that women were looked upon as objects of exploitation makes one question the element of freedom torn apart in an event signifying a newly liberated nation's 'Independence'. These experiences were an absent subject not only in public history but also remained oblivious when men's experiences were given enthusiastic praise.
Through his exploration of gender dynamics and power relations in the Partition events of 1947, Iqbal challenges the dominant narratives surrounding this historical period. Inspired by Khursheed Kamal Aziz's "Murder of History," Iqbal seeks to uncover the silenced voices and experiences of women, illuminating a new dimension in our understanding of the Partition.
As Iqbal continues his musical journey, we can anticipate a deeper exploration of gender, power, and historical narratives. By merging his passion for rap and his socio-anthro background.