‘In Mourning of Ishan Hamid Khwaja’ by Ishan Zarab al-Din ‘Karimi’, , by Stéphane A. Dudoignon
Latin Transcription from the Cyrillic Edition
Kušoiam man zaboni xud ba nomi hazrati Alloh
Bigūiam qissai dilsūz zi avlodi Rasululloh
Bio ei dūst to sozam turo az sūzi dil ogoh,
Mioni axtaron bošand ešon šuʿlavar čun moh.
Dareġo az jahon raftand iakoiak jonibi uqbo.
Bigūiam nomi širinaš aio ei mardi xušraftor,
Zabon dar larza meoiad, nadoram quvvati guftor.
Buvad Ešoni Homidxoja nomi on nakūkirdor,
Bud ū az pešvoioni tariqat sohibi abror.
Dareġo ġair az jon dodan nabošad hej kasro roh.
Kašid andar haioti xeš ešon doġi farzandon,
Bišud čašmoni ū ojiz ba misli Iaʿqubi Kanʿon.
Našud paido tabibe to kunad dardi varo darmon,
Či gūiam, ki amin budaast amri Xoliqi Iazdon.
Agar mardi xiradmandī bišav az sūzi dil ogoh.
Hameša xoksoru porso bud hazrati ešon,
Hameša dar rahi xairu saxo čun Hotami davron.
Hamekard bo čunin nomu buzurgī xidmati ioron,
Namesozam ba guftan xeslati nekūi ū poion.
Bikun xidmat agar xohī šavī šoistai dargoh.
Bigūiam soli favti on nakūkirdoru nekaxtar,
Ba sana duhazoru sei milodī bikun dar bar.
Bimond se rūz to soli navu mohi navi ianvar,
Ba vaqti asr iakšanbe biraft bar olami digar.
Dareġo mečašad šahdi šahodat ham gadovu šoh.
Bišud rūzi vidoʿi on nakūkirdor čun Mahšar,
Bikardand xubii vasfaš buzurgoni zamon iaksar.
Giristand dar firoqaš jumla ioru duxtaru dodar,
Dilu jonam fidoi pairavu avlodi paiġambar.
Bikun rūzi jazo moro šafoʿat io Rasulalloh.
Bigūiam bo dili purdardu purġam [sic] alvidoʿ oxir,
Bigiriam dar firoqi muršidu ham rahnamo oxir.
Zanam fariod az javri zamoni bivafo oxir,
Biioram nomi nekūi varo dar har duʿo oxir.
Iloho rūzi Rastoxez bikun moro ba ū hamroh.
Karimī kas nadid az in jahon rasmi vafodorī,
Agar mardi xiradmandī makun hargiz dilozorī.
Agar šohī ba čangoli ajal rūze giriftorī,
Ba zeri xok pinhon mešavī bo xorivu zorī.
Namonad hej kas jovid ba ġairi hazrati Alloh.
Si j’ouvre la bouche, c’est pour Le glorifier
Et narrer du Prophète l’humaine lignée.
Viens donc l’Ami à l’humanité t’initier :
Ne la vois-tu parmi les étoiles briller ?
Las, un à un vers l’outre-tombe ils sont partis.
Je veux clamer ton nom, ô toi, homme aux mœurs pures
Mais ne trouve mes mots : m’en manque la stature.
Ishan Hamid Khwaja est sa nomenclature,
Guide de notre Voie, parangon de droiture.
Point d’issue ici-bas que de laisser la vie.
Ayant connu, vivant, de ses enfants le deuil,
Frappé comme Joseph* de la perte de l’œil,
Sans que quiconque le guérir ne puisse ou veuille :
Le Créateur, pour lui, voulait tous ces écueils.
Si tu es sage, des humains aie donc souci.
Modeste avec constance et toujours abstinent
Mais toujours généreux : le Hatam** de son temps,
Au service des siens mais jamais arrogant :
Je m’en voudrais, ici, d’amoindrir ses talents.
Fais-toi servant, pour mériter l’Hôtellerie***.
Je veux vous dire quand est mort ce fortuné :
Deux mille trois, ère chrétienne, pour l’année
Trois jours avant le nouvel an, début janvier,
Au crépuscule, un vendredi, s’en est allé.
Roi ou mendiant, chacun de tâter du martyre.
Le jour de ses adieux fut un Armageddon,
Tous les grands, réunis, rappelèrent ses dons.
Ami, fille ou frère**** pleurèrent l’abandon,
De la sainte lignée implorant le pardon.
Parle pour nous, Prophète, le jour du Verdict.
Le cœur brisé, je veux dire un dernier adieu,
Pleurer le guide avec les larmes de mes yeux,
Crier le malheur d’un monde sans hommes pieux,
L’invoquant en prière ainsi que ses aïeux.
Seigneur, à la Résurrection fais de nous ses Amis !
Nul n’a vu, Karimi, ici-bas cœur fidèle,
Si tu es sage, garde-toi de la querelle :
Un jour, tout roi tombe sous la griffe mortelle
Et disparaît sous terre, avec ou sans stèle
Car nul n’est éternel à l’exception de Lui.
If I open my mouth, it’s to glorify Him
And tell of the Prophet’s charitable bloodline.
Come, Friend, to charity to initiate thee:
Don’t you see it among the stars shining?
One by one they have gone to the other world.
I want to claim your name, O man of pure morals
But cannot find my words since I lack the stature.
Ishan Hamid Khwaja is his nomenclature,
Guide of the Path, model of righteousness.
There is no way out here but to leave life.
Having known, alive, the mourning of his children,
Struck like Joseph* with the loss of his eye,
With no one capable or willing to heal him:
The Creator, for him, wanted all these pitfalls.
If thou art wise, then be concerned about humans.
Modest with constancy and always abstinent
But always generous: the Hatam** of his time,
Serving the Friends but never arrogant:
I would be loath to diminish his talents here.
Make yourself a servant, to merit the Hostelry***.
I want to tell you when this fortunate man died:
Two thousand and three, Christian era, for the year
Three days before the New Year, early January,
At twilight, on a Friday, he went away.
King or beggar, each will feel martyrdom.
The day of his farewell was an Armageddon,
All the great ones, gathered, recalled his gifts.
Friend, daughter or brother**** mourned the separation,
Of the Holy Line begging for forgiveness.
Intercede for us, Prophet, on the last Day.
With a broken heart, I want to say a final goodbye,
To cry, for the guide, all the tears of my eyes,
Crying out the woe of a world without godly men,
Invoking him in prayer as well as his forefathers.
Lord, in the Resurrection make us his Friends!
No one has seen, Karimi, a faithful heart here below,
If you are wise, beware of quarrelling:
One day, every king falls under the mortal claw
And disappears into the earth, with or without a stele
For none is eternal but He.
* Yūsuf-i Kanʿān: Joseph of Canaan, who in the Muslim gnostic tradition personifies, notably, the trials inflicted on the aspirant on his Path to perfection.
** Ḥātam Ṭāʾī, a legendary pre-Islamic Arab noble renowned for his generosity, popular during the 17th and 18th centuries in the Indian subcontinent and later in Central Asia, thanks to the circulation of manuscripts of the Ḥātam-Nāma, a popular romance in prose by an unknown author, consisting of its eponymous hero’s imaginary adventures.
*** Dargāh, a frequent term in Ishan Zarab al-Din’s verses where, contrary to those of his predecessors, it designates primarily the heavenly Paradise.
**** Allusion to the absence of male posterity of Ishan Hamid Khwaja, and to his succession as the holy tomb keeper of Qizil-Qal‘a by his younger brother Ishan Ayyub Khwaja (b. 1962).
The poem ‘In Mourning of Ishan ‘Abd al-Hamid Khwaja (RIP)’ was written in 2003, after the passing of this figure of the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya in the south of Tajikistan, by one of his nephews and disciples, Ishan Zarab al-Din Khwaja ‘Karimi’ (b. 1958). Ishan Hamid Khwaja (1925–2003) was the eldest son of the Soviet-time Mujaddidi guide (muršid) Ishan ‘Aziz Khwaja b. Mulla Muhammad-Nabi (1888–1976; on him, see https://redgold.hypotheses.org/475). Hamid Khwaja had taken over his father’s activity as a spiritual master and a commentator of the works of Ahmad Sirhindi, the 17th-century founder of the Mujaddidiyya, in a cotton-growing collective farm of Qizil-Qal‘a near Qurghan-Teppa, where the family had settled down just after WWII, in the wake of their resettlement from the Qarategin upper valley.
At the turn of the late Soviet and early independence periods, Ishan Hamid Khwaja and his siblings played a key role in the development of the hagiography of their father. In inspirational stories (riwāyāt) transmitted to the visitors of the latter’s grave, situated at the centre of the former kolkhoz, Ishan ‘Aziz Khwaja became celebrated as an important modern link in the chain of the Mujaddidi masters of Dahbidi ascent, whose status as a saint (in Tajik Persian, walīgī) was attested by numerous prodigies (muʿjizāt, karāmāt). After his own passing, Ishan Hamid Khwaja himself became celebrated within the lineage for the quality of his mores and for his physical embodiment of Naqshbandi teachings.
The celebration of these moral values is central to the gnostic poetry developed in classical metre, since the turn of the 21st century, by his nephew Ishan Zarab al-Din Khwaja. Published in two volumes since 2007, these verses show features of continuity with Soviet-time Sufi poets of Qarategini origin such as Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim Dawlat Ilaki (c. 1881–1947, on him, see https://redgold.hypotheses.org/194) or Damulla Iskandar Bidaki (c. 1895–1989, cf. https://redgold.hypotheses.org/705). One of these features is the practice of metric verse and of classical forms such as the ghazal, inspired by the 11th–12th-century poets Sanayi and ‘Attar notably, but also the muḫammas. This short poem, composed of monorhymous stanzas of four and a half distiches, the final half distiches rhyming with each other, had remained the most cultivated form of the funeral elegy (marṯiya) in the Sufi circles of the Tajik SSR. Both Shaykh ‘Abd al-Rahim and Iskandar had practiced it, the latter especially in his homages to the former.
At the same time, Zarab al-Din’s verses show conspicuous by several peculiarities, which raise questions in the context of the hagiographic process to which they relate. One is a much lesser insistence than in Iskandar’s verses, for example, on the significance of Sufi sociability and ritual. Zarab al-Din’s ghazals and his homage to his uncle also place much less emphasis on the role of the muršid, and of the walī in general, as of a possible intercessor (an attribute of Prophet Muhammad, in Zarab al-Din’s verses), and much more on the direct contact of the gnostic with the divine. Even the role played by Ishan ‘Aziz Khwaja and of his son Hamid as transmitters of adab (the norms of deportment conveyed by didactic literature, adabiyāt), which was central in the riwāyāt told about them to the visitors of their graves in the 2000s, does not stick out in Ishan Zarab al-Din’s homage. As for the sacred origins of the Prophetic lineage (awlād-i rasūl-Allah) and the role played by Hamid Khwaja as a leader of the Naqshbandiyya (az pīšwāyān-i ṭarīqat), they appear in a kind of background.
A possible explanation to this thematic turn is the completely new context in which Zarab al-Din’s poetic work has been written, since the turn of the century: a period marked by the ever growing domination of the public debate, in all the former Soviet South, by Salafi currents extremely critical of the Sufi celebration of a lineage-based Islam. (See in this blog, on the North Caucasus in the 1990s-2000s, the document proposed by Vladimir Bobrovnikov.) This context was aggravated, from 2009 onwards, by the restrictions of religious freedom adopted by Tajikistan, at a moment when Sufi poetry had gone out of the underground and was published in Cyrillic for wide circulation. From this viewpoint, the apology of Sufi sociability may have never been more present among modern Tajik literati than when it was reduced to almost nothing by the antireligious repressions of the time, as in Damulla Iskandar’s confidential verses of the 1970s-80s; in the current period, marked by this sociability’s strong revival, it tends to recover confidentiality, almost disappearing from the gnostic poetry that once glorified it in secrecy. Remains in Zarab al-Din’s poem dedicated to his deceased uncle a vibrant celebration of the latter as a past figurehead of the ‘sage’ (Pers. ḫiradmand; the term farzāna is often used, too, by present-day hagiographers). This figure of the ‘sage’ is praised in the Tajik hagiography and local lore of the 2000s and 2010s for her embodiment of a traditional value such as boldness (Pers. saḫā, saḫāwat) — as it could be preserved among sacred bloodlines of Prophetic ascent in the cotton-growing lowlands peopled since after WWII by Persian-speaking Qarategini highlanders.
Karimī, Zarobiddin, Nolai qalam [The Calamus’ Complaint], Dushanbe: s.n., 2007; Rozi dil [The Secret of the Heart], ed. Sayyid Ahmad Qalandar, Dushanbe: s.n., 2012; the author’s interviews with Ishan Zarab al-Din Khwaja and other members of the lineage of Ishan ‘Aziz Khwaja, Qizil-Qal‘a and Dushanbe, August 2004 and November 2005; see also the list of references in https://redgold.hypotheses.org/475 and https://redgold.hypotheses.org/705.
© Stéphane A. Dudoignon for the transcriptions, the translations and the commentary.