Poetry of the Taliban
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The Taliban are synonymous with the war in Afghanistan. Doughty, uncompromising fighters, they plant IEDs, deploy suicide bombers and wage guerrilla warfare. While much has been written about their military tactics, media strategy and harsh treatment of women, the cultural and sometimes less overtly political representation of their identity, the Taliban's other face, is often overlooked. Most Taliban fighters are Pashtuns, a people who cherish their vibrant poetic tradition, closely associated with that of song. The poems in this collection are meant to be recited and sung; and this is the manner in which they are enjoyed by the wider Pashtun public today. From audiotapes traded in secret in the bazaars of Kandahar, to mp3s exchanged via bluetooth in Kabul, to video files downloaded in Dubai and London, Taliban poetry has an appeal that transcends the insurgency. For the Taliban today, these poems, or ghazals, have a resonance back to the 1980s war against the Soviets, when similar rhetorical styles, poetic formulae and tricks with metre inspired mujahideen combatants and non-combatants alike. The poetry presented here includes 'classics' of the genre from the 1980s and 1990s as well as a selection from the odes and ghazals of today's conflict . Veering from nationalist paeans to dirges replete with religious symbolism, the poems are organised under four headings - - War, Pastoral, Religious and Love - - and cover many themes and styles. The political is intertwined with the aesthetic, the celebratory cry is never far from the funeral dirge and praise of martyrs lost. Two prefatory essays introduce the cultural and historical context of the poetry. The editors discuss its importance to the Pashtuns and highlight how poetic themes correspond to the past thirty years of war in Afghanistan. Faisal Devji comments on what the poetry reveals of the Taliban's emotional and ethical hinterland.
sends arrows everywhere, These arrows will finally strike Washington’s chest.” The other, “Message to the Internationals”, offers an appeal to the foreigners: “Now we look at you with hopeful eyes, We are begging before you. Why did you become like Pharaoh? Why are you concealing your nose? Why don’t any emotions come to your heart? This is essential for human beings. O enemy of ancient humanity, This is one of your moral duties.” For the most part, unaffiliated Afghans – those
done with your zeal, your name is left for Afghans. I inherited your trench, I am pulling up my sleeves, O Martyr Hafez Abdul Rahim, I will be commending your history. Your attack was against the enemy who was arrogant, Your emotions were in your soul as you always had motivation. I will take your revenge from your enemy and be victorious, O Martyr Hafez Abdul Rahim, I will be commending your history. Congratulations on your dignity and that you reached your goal, You wore the
a calamity When we lost our faces. Now we look at you with hopeful eyes, We are begging before you. Why did you become like Pharaoh? Why are you concealing your nose? Why don’t any emotions come to your heart? This is essential for human beings. O enemy of ancient humanity, This is one of your moral duties. Why do you consider yourself free of it? This is a part of this world. May you get blind, pay attention to it. Isn’t this a line of Asia, Herat? Why don’t you see it? Don’t you
have lost their heads on the path of zeal. O my homeland, I haven’t forgotten, you are always on my mind. We will either unite the west and east, Or we’ll end our lives. These are the promises of the lions to you. O my homeland, I haven’t forgotten, you are always on my mind. Your position and honour is so high, Complimenting you is the duty of Hamidpur. O Afghanistan, may I be sacrificed for you. O my homeland, I haven’t forgotten, you are always on my mind. Hamidpur September 4,
He screams, he screams The orphan, who has been burnt in this censer, Has been torched in the flames of loneliness It seems like he has been torched in flames His heart seems to have been pierced by arrows He is a captive in the chains of oppression and cruelty He screams, he screams This oppressed orphan belongs to which martyr? Of which poor and oppressed martyrs is he? The orphan, shaggy-haired with torn collar and wandering He screams, he screams He screams and sighs His collar,