Shah Latif - His message in the 21st century
The Risalo of Shah Latif has articulated with eloquence the cultural ethos of the landscape by capturing the Sindhi experience with breathtaking clarity. The essence of Shah Latif’s monumental work has been an inspiration for a wealth of research work credited to noteworthy translators like Elsa Kazi, Kalyan Advani, H.T Sorley, Mohammad Yaqoob Aga, Sheikh Ayaz, Agha Saleem catering to a growing need for information on Shah by non-Sindhi speakers. Dr. Nabi Bux Khan Baloch, Mr. Ibrahim Joyo, the department of Sindhi at the University of Karachi & Sindh, & other organization have institutionalized research work & the body of their work forms as a crucial reference point
The responsibility of translating Shah Latif in the modern English idiom is the need of the hour. This is to ensure that Shah Latif's message is relevant for the young generation. As we see unprecedented level of terror unleashing on our streets, Shah’s message has acquired greater importance with its all-embracing message of peace & understanding for the post 9-11 world obsessed with fear. This is a new world in which thought process as well as policy making is jaundiced by malice and prejudice against a specific groups, ideologies and there are fissures in society based on difference of belief, language, race and creed
Closer to home, we feel overwhelmed by a mini-crisis on the cultural landscape in Sindh. Our values have been hijacked by an invasion of satellite communication and cable entertainment. Tainted images of our values and caricatures of Sindhi culture in the media have made it synonymous with feudalism and jirga justice.
Can we fault the younger generation if it finds comfort in western values alien to their own for being unable to relate to them for either lack of understanding or historical perspective that ought to have been nurtured by their parents?
Can they be blamed if their spoken Sindhi is replete with errors of grammar and gender? Parents associate upward social mobility with English and exposure to Sindhi comes by way of domestic help, nannies & cooks. Thus learning Sindhi does not figure in the scheme of larger plans of cultural programming of the new generation
Is it any wonder then that we have a new generation of successful entrepreneurs, doctors, engineers and business executives with rudimentary knowledge of their language, aligning themselves with western values to fill the inner void of identity with icons of popular culture?
It is my sincere hope that new efforts to bring a new voice to Shah Latif by research work being done by the universities in Sindh and elsewhere will meet success and the younger generation and students will find Shah’s message easier to relate to, in a language they find used commonly in the media as well as commerce.
Shah’s message of peace on earth, reverence to the Creator and His Prophet, devotion to mother-earth is as relevant today as it was during the times of the greatest poet of the Sindhi language.