Dr. Farid A. Malik |
“Lord of himself though not of lands; Having nothing yet hath it all.”
Sadeqian – one of the greatest calligraphists of the 20th century – declared himself a ‘Faqir’. That meant that for him, material wealth had no value. He never touched or counted money. Whenever he needed any worldly comfort or delicacy he would start writing ‘Surah-e-Rehman’ and directly address his creator. Lo and behold his needs were met, he remained a ‘Faqir’ till his last breadth.
Our current high profile ‘Faqirs’ have badly tarnished the image of ‘Faqiri’ which was once considered to be a very pious, noble and humble way of life.
I remember in the seventies there was an exhibition of his work at the Freemason’s Hall on the Mall. Right-wing students vandalized some of his paintings on the premise of vulgarity. He was very upset at this rough treatment and remarked that all his talent and output was for his country.
Modern “Trends” of Faqiri
Then there are ‘Faqirs’ of another kind. Our Ex-President General Pervez Musharraf had no place to live in London. The Saudi King had pity on him and decided to buy a flat for the homeless retiree. Prime Minister (PM) got into trouble for his family properties in the capital of United Kingdom. The Amir of Qatar came to his rescue (Qatari Prince to be exact). The letter has been submitted to the Supreme Court bench for consideration as a dole out for our ‘Arabpati Faqir’.
Our current high profile ‘Faqirs’ have badly tarnished the image of ‘Faqiri’ which was once considered to be a very pious, noble and humble way of life. Most ‘Faqirs’ must be very disappointed at their conduct.
A ‘Faqir’ is neither a usurper nor a thief instead he begs for his required minimum body needs, mostly food. Worldly belongings have no value for him. He survives on bare minimum but he enjoys the freedom of soul.
Iqbal advised his son never to give up ‘Faqiri’ as it protects self-esteem (Khudi). What is wrong with our leaders then – where is their ‘khudi‘? Both Iqbal and his son Javed Iqbal must be turning in their graves.
Another famous poet Saghir Siddiqui was a ‘Faqir’. He slept on the pavements around Lakshmi Chowk and survived on the bare minimum. He talked about the stealing of ‘Faqir’s’ meager earnings by the rich and the powerful. He lived and died a free man.
Winston Churchill called Gandhi a half naked ‘Faqir’. He spun his own clothes and his worldly belongings included a metal dish, an inexpensive wrist watch, and a goat. He traveled in third class with the commoners. On one of his journeys, he fell asleep and someone stole his watch. Gandhi appealed through his newspaper that he needed the watch, very soon it was returned to him, perhaps the thief repented.
Essence of Faqiri
A ‘Faqir’ is neither a usurper nor a thief instead he begs for his required minimum body needs, mostly food. Worldly belongings have no value for him. He survives on bare minimum but he enjoys the freedom of the soul. Compromise is unknown to him. No one can sway his thoughts. Sadeqain was a true ‘Faqir’.
All his works were for the people. He left no empire or estate but his legacy is everlasting. It is said that people are remembered by what they give not take. This phenomenon of taking and devouring by our ‘Faqirs’ is mind boggling and unheard of.
Both our PM and Ex-President should return what was doled out to them as alms as they do not need it. It is not ‘Faqiri’ rather it is ‘Haira Phairi’ (Fraud) and ‘Rasa Gairi’ (Influence Peddling).
A few years back I was touring the Cholistan with a retired Army officer for a Biodiesel project. Every time that we needed food he would stop by an Army unit stationed there. Fresh hot meals were readily available. He very proudly remarked that he could travel the entire length and breadth of the country without having to spend a rupee. I am sure as an Ex-Army Chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has a hefty pension and can enjoy the hospitality of the messes and units that he once commanded. What was the need to own a flat in London?
Our former Chief Justice Cornelius lived all his life in a suite at Flatties Hotel. During the plunderous regime of Ayub Khan, he was allotted a plot in the capital. He turned down the gift saying, “I am very happy with my living conditions and don’t need a plot”.
About ‘Faqirs’ it is summed up as under, “Lord of himself though not of lands; Having nothing yet hath it all”.
His partner and later Chief Justice Jawad Khawaja bought his car which was later gifted to the Supreme Court museum. According to Khawaja Sahib, one day Justice Cornelius walked into his office and offered to sell his car for a paltry sum of RS. 10,000/- to which he objected. Prompt came the reply: a sale is an agreement between two willing parties. Later on, Khawaja Sahib discovered that before handing over the car Justice Cornelius had bought new types and wanted to be reimbursed for that amount only.
Our PM claims to be a member of a flourishing business empire with multiple businesses yet he has to beg kings and princes to cover his tracks and save his ill-gotten wealth. It is an example of moral bankruptcy. This is not ‘Faqiri’ it is called ‘Badd Nasibi’ (Misfortune): when you think you have it all yet, in fact, have nothing. Only a genuine ‘Faqir’ can overcome this nothingness, the fake one has to suffer it. About ‘Faqirs’ it is summed up as under, “Lord of himself though not of lands; Having nothing yet hath it all”.
Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. This article was first published in The Nation. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.