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Rafiuddin Raz
--: Biography of Rafiuddin Raz :--


Mirza Rafiuddin 'Raz' Baig (born 12 April, 1938) is a prominent Pakistani poet, considered one of the best modern-day poets of the Urdu language.

Raz published his first volume of poetry Deeda-e-Khush Khwab, to great acclaim, in 1988, and followed it with Beenai (Sight), Pairahan-e-Fikr (The Dress of Thought), Roshni Kay Khad-o-Khaal (Features of Light) and Abhi Darya Main Pani Hai (There is Water in the River, Yet), all books which won him renown in Urdu literary circles.

Since 2000, Raz has released a book roughly every two years. His last book, Itni Tamazat Kis Liye? (For What, this Blazing Heat?), was published in 2007.

Raz is basically a ghazal writer, but he has also experimented - though not extensively - with other forms of poetry, such as free verse or rhyming couplets.

Raz's poetry can be seen as an extension of his personality, as it majorly deals with his experiences and surroundings, and the lessons he has learned from life. Raz claims this in a couplet, saying:

"Not for a friend, nor for advising the enemy,

I speak of the mirror for my own needs.

Adhering to ghazal tradition, Raz's work often contains an abundance of metaphors and similes. Common among them are the words pathar and sang, [stone] for difficulties, ego or hardheartedness, pair or darakht [tree] for prosperity or shade, dasht or sehra [desert] for emptiness and terror, and dhoop [heat] for hardwork, labour and adversity. His most-used metaphor is clearly the word aa'ina, the Urdu substitute for "mirror."

Although Raz may philosophize about the dilemmas of the world, ego and tragedy in his work, his poetry is, for the most part, highly optimistic, and focuses on the importance of love, good character ["The light of high things, enter the bossom of character/ For beauty - 'tis in snake, and flame, too!], patience, labour and hard work, to live and polish life.

Raz is noted for repeatedly playing with the Urdu word aa'ina [mirror in English] in his poetry, and integrating it into his work in different ways. Noted poet and reviewer, Afsar Mahpuri notes this in his article, "Rafiuddin Raaz - A dreaming poet," in which he mentions the "focal position and importance" the mirror has been awarded over time, and presents the following partial list of couplets, containing the word aa'ina, by Raz.

"Protect thy mirror-like eye,

Faces can leave mirrors sans reflection." "That one dream, which makes eyes, a mirror,

That one thought, which makes loyalty, civilized." "Behind the mirror - I; in front of it - I,

My face - present at both." "What incident would be greater,

A mirror - and its breakage soundless!" "The mirror, on seeing a mirror,

Itself, donned facelessness!" "Is battle 'tween mind and heart, or within feeling's vein?

In front of the mirror, is placed a mirror." "Saved in each stone, the reflection of days' direction,

The stone of my age is like the mirror!"

Noted poet Dr. Jameel Azeem Abadi makes a similar observation in his article "What for, this Blazing Heat? - An Overview," saying that, by using one word in so many ways, Raz ties "the subject of one hue, to a hundred hues" which is "a proof of his artistic abilities. Like Mahpuri, he too presents a compilation of some aa'ina-focused couplets, by Raz:

"Raz, there is no scene, no background,

One wonders what he said to the mirror!" "Look at the faces of mirror-like people,

- Ask now how much the impurity beneath this layer of water!" "Today, too, play with broken mirrors,

Wither, often, in the longing to touch fire." "Neither dust of path on face, nor defeated the mirror,

Why, head-to-toe, are thee an unknown reflection of me?" "The face cannot escape, even its shattered pieces,

Even after defeat - the mirror is a mirror." "Why should joyful he not be, when he sees my face,

A complete mirror stands in front of the mirror-maker!"

"Even now, my eyes respect the mirror,

Mistakes cause my head to hang in shame." "This mirror's height - astounding,

I had thought the sea of glass had shattered!"

Raz's poetry has been highly well-received by both contemporary poets and critics. Reviews have been almost unanimously positive, with Dr. Professor Shafeeq Ali Khan calling him "a modern poet in every respect," and stating that "his feelings, emotions, observations and experiences are not traditional - they are, rather, a reflection of his own self and personality." Mehshar Badaiwani has called his work "a living example" of meaningful poetry, showing Raz's "poetical greatness."

Shan ul Haq Haqqi has written that, "Rafiuddin Raz's poetry contains both beauty off thought and beauty of style... [and is] successful throughout the body of Urdu poetry," while Urdu language great and renowned Karachi University professor, Aslam Farrukhi, claims that "Poetry, itself, has picked Raz for its expression." Similarly, Athar Hashmi speaks of finding "the features of life" in Raaz's work, and Shabnam Romani of his "uniqueness", and his "eloquent [use of] language and civilized tones," saying that, "the raz (secret) is that Raz's poetry is new!"

Raz's ghazal has received widespread applause: Professor Najmi Siddiqui calls it "a fragrant puff of air that, having touched the fertile shores of classical tradition, gives life and lesson to the reader"[5] and Mushaffiq Khwaja finds it "a custodian of the highest traditions of Urdu ghazal" which has "not only adhered to tradition, but taken it forward."[6] Similarly, Hafeez Taib has praised him for opening "new horizons" for the ghazal, and saying that "his verses seem to beat with one's own pulse."

Raz is often compared to different Urdu poetry greats, including Ghalib, Meer and Yagana. In his article, Afkaar ki Taazgi [The Freshness of Thoughts], modern-day poet Afsar Mahpuri draws a parallel between Raz and classical, ghazal poet, Yagana, saying that "some of Raz's verses are close to Yagana's voice" because he "has not begun his poetry with romantic exaggerations, in which countless poets waste their lives."

Dr. Rasheed Nisaar, on the other hand, compares Raz to Persian-language poet Bedil and one of Urdu poetry's greatest philosophers, Ghalib, saying that Raz "possesses the same style of thought and beauty of narration as Bedil and Ghalib."

A book entitled Rafiuddin Raz: Shaksiyat aur Fan [Rafiuddin Raz: Personality and Art] was written by Naima Parveen, under the supervision of Dr. Sohaila Farooqi, and published as part of a study for MA, Urdu by the Urdu Department of the Karachi University.

In February 2009, the monthly Rang-e-Adab [The Hue of Literature] dedicated its 9-10 issue to Raz, compiling a list of articles on him and his work, reviews of his books, and selected poetry into an honourary, 432-paged book entitled Rafiuddin Raz: Shaksiyat aur Sha'iri Kay Aa'inay Main [Rafiuddin Raz: In the Mirror of Personality and Poetry.]

In early 2010, the noted poet Zia Khan 'Zia' published a selection of Raz's poetry, titled Jamal-e-Hurf-e-Raz [The Beauty of Raz's Word]. It contained 125 of Raz's ghazalyat, as well as a lengthy essay on the finer points of Raz's poetry.

Raz has been the subject of various poetic tributes, including "Abhi Darya Main Pani Hai" aur Rafiuddin Raz ["There is Water in the River, Yet" and Rafiuddin Raz] by Sohail Ghazipuri, Pairahan-e-Akfaar [The Dress of Thoughts] by Dr. Abdul Manaan Tarzi, Kharaj-e-Tehseen [The Gift of Praise] by Khwaja Manzar Hassan Manzar, Azeez Dost, Rafiuddin Raz ki Nazar [For a Special Friend, Rafiuddin Raz] by Maqbool Naksh, Baleegh Andaaz [Sophisticated Style] and Roshni Kay Khad-o-Khaal Ka Shaa'ir [The Poet of "Features of Light] by Sadeeq Fatahpuri, and Rafiuddin Raz Kay Liye [For Rafiuddin Raz] by Junaid Azar.

Raz was born in Begusarai, India. His father Fariduddin Baig's family belonged to Darbhanga, and his mother Hajra's to Begusarai, both districts of the state Bihar.

Raz has claimed to be an exceptionally bright child with an amazing memory, in his early years He attended BPHE School, Begusarai before switching to the Muslim High School Lehrya Sarai but, after his parents separated in 1945, was sent to live with his father's elder brother, Hameeduddin Baig Unfortunately for him, Hameeduddin was not interested in educating him, and Raz had to work as a conductor and, subsequently, driver, in Hameeduddin's transport company. He continued, however, to persist in juggling his studies alongside the job, and finally passed his Inter-Commerce Exams from Quiad-e-Azam College, Dhaka.

1951 onwards

In 1951, when riots were taking place in the aftermath of the Partition of India, Raz migrated to Dhaka, then a part of East Pakistan, and declared himself a Pakistani.

After the proclamation of Bangladesh, Raz was a prisoner of war from 1971 to 1973He migrated to Karachi as soon as he was released, but found himself facing much poverty. He switched between several jobs in an attempt to earn, from tutoring kids to working as a government employee. He eventually started a business with his commanding officer, Colonel Aakil Abbas Rizvi, and established himself as a self-made and financially stable man.

He married Noshaba Khatoon in 1964, and has six children - two daughters named Naheed Anjum and Ambreen, and four sons named Tariq, Rehan, Saqib, and Waqiuddin - with her. Currently, Raz holds a Masters degree in General History, and has said that, more than anything else, it was an act meant to provide "moral support" to his children.



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