Centre for Muslim States and Societies

Bazm-e-Sarfraz Symposium

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This annual event commemorates the contributions made by Begum Sarfraz Iqbal (1939-2003) to promoting Urdu literature and championing the cause of inter-communal harmony.

Begum Sarfraz Iqbal was a patron of Urdu literature and art and a philanthropist.

Bazm-e-Sarfraz 2012: Tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The 2012 symposium, held at the University Club on 2 May, focused on the contributions made by a leading poet of Pakistan, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984).

Listed four times for the Nobel Prize, Faiz Ahmed Faiz is also remembered as an activist for human rights and liberties, a famous journalist, an editor of literary magazines, trade unionist, and a film song writer. He was a close friend of Begum Sarfraz Iqbal whose book Daman-e-Yusuf celebrates the friendship. The Pakistan Government declared 2011 a Centennial for Faiz Ahmed Faiz for the contribution his poetry and ideas had made to progressive thinking in Pakistan.

The tribute event was significant for drawing attention to the role progressive thinkers like Faiz Ahmed Faiz have played in Pakistan. It also highlighted the contribution Begum Sarfraz Iqbal made to Urdu literature by sharing Faiz’s letters to her with others: they provide an insight into Faiz’s personal experiences, thinking and poetry during an important period in Pakistan’s history, especially during the military rule by General Zia. They also shed light on Faiz’s experiences while working with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in Lebanon during the early 1980s.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter, Moneeza Hashmi, was the keynote speaker. Mrs Hashmi is President of Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (UK) which is the largest global association of public service broadcasters, and a leading forum for exchanging knowledge and supporting members through digital transition. Moneeza Hashmi has been associated with electronic media for four decades. She retired from Pakistan TV as Director of Programs. She is also a media consultant and gender trainer. Currently she is working with Hum TV. She is the soul behind the Faiz Foundation Trust set up for the promotion of Faiz progressive and humanistic ideas.


  • Mrs Moneeza Hashmi provided a moving and emotional insight into her experiences as a daughter who had to deal with the impact of her father’s struggle for a better Pakistan, his captivity and time away from his wife and daughters. She shared her memories with the captivated audience of how she felt as a young girl when her father was jailed and they had to live mostly without him. She also introduced the Faiz Ghar project to the audience and its various activities.
  • Mr Rizwan Zeb, PhD Scholar , Centre for Muslim States and Societies argued that despite being a founding member of the Progressive Writers’ movement in British India and remaining an important leftist activist throughout his life, Faiz's poetry lacks the so-called progressive element. His poetry, most of which is in heavily Persianized Urdu is a continuation of the classical tradition of Urdu poetry especially the Ghazzal. In his poetry, he is a follower of Mir, Bedil and Ghalib.
  • Dr Mohammad Ali of the Urdu Society in Canberra, focused on Faiz’s place in Urdu literature as being one of the three most influential poets of Urdu— with Ghalib and Iqbal.
  • Mr Ghulam Abbas Gillani, Councillor, NSW’s Liverpool Council, talked about the personality of Faiz and narrated events from his life showcasing his greatness.
  • Ms Victoria Schofield, a renowned British historian and journalist, discussed references to Kashmir in Faiz’s poetry. She focused on the Rawalpindi conspiracy case in which Faiz was allegedly one of the conspirators and its links with the larger Kashmir problem. She called for further research on this aspect of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s life and ideas.
  • Mrs Savitree Goswami, a noted Indian writer in Urdu also spoke.


Begum Sarfraz Iqbal (1939-2003)

Born in Rohtak, India, Begum Sarfraz Iqbal migrated to Pakistan at a young age and became a patron of Urdu literature and art in Pakistan. She authored two books: Daman-e-Yusuf (Mavara Publishers, 1989) and Jo Bachay Hain Sang (Naqoosh, 2002) and wrote regular columns in Daily Ausaf (Islamabad) and Daily Pakistan. She also published numerous articles in other literary magazines including Mah-e-Nau.

Begum Sarfraz Iqbal was a philanthropist who introduced the idea of adopting schools to improve the quality of education in Pakistan and ceaselessly worked to help disadvantaged people in Pakistan.

The events commemorating her contributions focus on ideas that unite people across religious and cultural divides and focus attention on ideas and philosophies of moderate Muslim thinkers.

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Last updated:
Thursday, 4 October, 2012 11:54 AM