Essay On Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai In Sindhi

"Bhittai" redirects here. For other uses, see Bhittai Colony.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (also referred to by the honorifics: Lakhino Latif, Latif Ghot, Bhittai, and Bhitt Jo Shah) (18 November 1689 – 1 January 1752) (Sindhi: شاه عبداللطيف ڀٽائي‎, Urdu: شاہ عبداللطیف بھٹائی‎) was a noted SindhiSufi scholar, mystic, saint, and poet, widely considered to be the greatest Muslim poet of the Sindhi language.[1] His collected poems were assembled in the compilation Shah Jo Risalo, which exists in numerous versions and has been translated into English, Urdu, and other languages. His work has been compared frequently to that of the Persian poet Rūmī. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an emeritus professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, described Shah Latif as a "direct emanation of Rūmī's spirituality in South Asia."[citation needed] He is also known as the poet of Sindh.[2]

Early life[edit]

Shah Abdul Latif was born to Shah Habib in the village of Hala Haveli, a few miles to the east of the present town of Bhit Shah (named after him), on November 18, 1690 CE.[citation needed] Latif was raised during the golden age of Sindhi culture. His first teacher was Akhund Noor Muhammad Bhatti[1] although he was largely self-educated. Although he received little formal education, the Risalo provides proof that he was well-versed in Arabic and Persian. The Qur'an, the Hadiths, the Masnawi of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, along with the collection of Shah Karim's poems, were his constant companions, copious references to which are made in the Shah Jo Risalo.[citation needed]

His correspondence in Persian with contemporary scholar Makhdoom Moinuddin Thattvi, as contained in the Risala-i-Owaisi, bears witness to his scholastic competence:[1]

Beloved's separation kills me friends,
At His door, many like me, their knees bend.
From far and near is heard His beauty's praise,
My Beloved's beauty is perfection itself.

— Bhittai [Sur Yaman Kalyan]

In his poems he writes about Sindh and its neighboring regions, he mentions distant cities such as Istanbul and Samarqand as well as Sindhi sailors (Samundi), their navigation techniques, voyages as far as the Malabar coast, Sri Lanka and the island of Java.[citation needed]

Clouds return and once again, it rains, Lighting's flash from all sides, and with them, Some go to Istanbul others turn to the west, Some shine bright over China and others take care of, Samarqand, some wandered to Rome, to Kabul and Kandahar, some lie on Delhi, Deccan thundering over... My beloved Allah, may you always make Sindh, a land of abundance, my beloved Allah, may you make prosperous the whole universe.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sur Sarang, Shah Jo Risalo.

Most of the information on the life of Bhittai has been collected from oral traditions. A Pakistani scholar, educationist, and a writer of plays, dramas and stories, Mirza Kalich Beg has collected details about the early life of Shah Bhittai from the dialogues that he has constantly held with some of the old folks, still living at that time, who knew these facts from their fathers and grandfathers for they had seen Shah Latif in person and had even spoken to him.

The next day I sat down, and listened to the
Story of the "Vairagis."
Their salmon-coloured clothes were covered with dust.
The lonely ones never talk to anyone about their being.
They move about unmarked amongst the common folk.

— Shah Latif Bhittai

Statue[edit]

A 16-foot-high statue of Bhitai was unveiled in front of the Bhit shah rest house on the occasion of his 274th urs. The statue was sculpted by Nadir Ali Jamali, who is associated with the fine arts department of the University of Sindh. It is planned to be permanently put up at the centre of the Karar Lake next to the Bhitai shrine. It took ten months to complete.[3]

In popular culture[edit]

Urs[edit]

The Urs commences every year from 14th Safar (2nd month of Hijra calendar) and lasts for three days. [5]

In 2017, the 274th Urs of Shah Abdul Latif began at Bhit Shah,[6][7] and Mai Dhai, Abida Parveen and many other singers and artists performed. The ceremony's opening was done by interim Governor Sindh.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Butani, D. H. 1991. The Melody and Philosophy of Shah Latif. Promilla and Co., New Delhi. ISBN 81-85002-14-2
  • Sorally, H.T. 1967. Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit: His Poetry, Life and Times. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0196360293

External links[edit]

Biographies[edit]

Poetry[edit]

Coordinates: 25°48′24.21″N68°29′28.76″E / 25.8067250°N 68.4913222°E / 25.8067250; 68.4913222

A recent statue of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, sculpted by Nadir Ali Jamali, currently placed in front of the Bhit shah rest house.
A recent painting of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Shah Abdul Latif, a great scholar, saint and spiritual poet, was born in Hala Haveli near the Khatiyan village of Hyderabad District, Sindh in 1689. His ancestral roots lay in Afghanistan. It is said that the Shah’s father, Syed Habib Shah, had migrated from Matyaru, his ancestral home in Afghanistan to Bhainpur in Sindh, in order to gain spiritual contact with Bilawal, a local pious man.

Abdul Latif received his early education from a Madrasa run by Akhund Noor M. Bhatti. He was proficient in the knowledge of Quran and the traditions. He always carried with him copies of the Quran, Masnavi Maulana Room, and Risalo of his great grand father Shah Abdul Karim of Burli. The poet excelled in the Sindhi language. He was also proficient in the Persian, Sanskrit, Saraiki, Urdu and Baluchi languages.

Shah was a missionary and believed in practical learning. It is through his journeys that he acquired the background for most of his poems. He denounced extravagance, injustice and exploitation in all forms and at all levels, and praised simplicity and hospitality. His spiritual and mystic poetry carries a message of love and universality of the human race.

In 1713, the Sufi poet married Bibi Saidha Begum. It was a love marriage. His wife died at an early age, before she could have any children. Shah never married again.

In 1742, Shah Abdul Latif decided to settle in Bhit, meaning “The Sandy Mound”. Having a great passion for music, one day he ordered the musicians to play music. They played continuously for three days. When they stopped playing from pure exhaustion, they found the poet dead. He died in 1752, and is buried in Bhit. A mausoleum was later constructed there.

Before his death, fearing that people might ignore his poetry, he destroyed all his writings by throwing them in the Kiran Lake. But at the request of one of his disciples, the sufi poet asked his servant, Mai Naimat, who had memorized most of his verses, to rewrite them. The message was duly recorded and compiled. A copy of the compilation known as “Ganj” was retained at the mausoleum. The original copy disappeared sometime in 1854. It was in 1866, 114 years after the poet’s death, that Ernest Trumpp, a German scholar who knew Sindhi as well as many other languages, compiled “Risalo”, a complete collection of Shah Abdul Latif’s poetry, along with two other Sindhi scholars.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is always remembered for his great poetry with love and reverence.

This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003

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