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The cover story of the current edition of Time Out Magazine, Mumbai is “69 Songs That Changed The World”. Inspired (kind of) by Pete Seeger’s quote that “the right song at the right time can change history”, Time Out assembled a panel of musicians, historians and enthusiasts to debate and collate the songs that has the most significant impact on real-world events – culturally, socially and politically.
The list includes classics such as John Lennon’s Imagine and Give Peace A Chance, Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind and Hille Le by Indian Ocean.

The song that tops the list is the Urdu ghazal “Hum Dekhenge” by Faiz Ahmed Faiz that was known for its rendition by Iqbal Bano in 1985. Here’s what the article says:
“This one is a bit of a tie. In prosody, Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “hum Dekhenge” is similar to Pablo Neruda’s “I’m Explaining a Few Things”. In context too, the texts are similar: the first is a thinly concealed distribe against the military dictator and Pakistan’s third president, Yahya Khan, while the second is an excoriation of the Spanish despot Francisco Franco. And, because they enclose inside their words two opposing ideas – tyranny and liberation – the poems are Blakean in their conceit” they are songs of innocence, and experience. Most crucially, each alludes to that necessary condition for revolution to gather force: the desecration of human dignity. It is a trifling matter, then, that concerned as they are with the fall of empires and the dismantling of generals, only one of the two – “Hum Dekhenge”, by the irrepressible Pakistani singer Iqbal Bano – was ever set to song.

Link to the Time Out article is here: http://www.timeoutmumbai.net/music/features/69-songs-changed-world


Here is a link to the song in Iqbal Bano’s voice and below is the poem with a translation:


Iqbal Bano Live – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIDXUD1-8bo

Iqbal Bano recorded version – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wycH3PTVTNE

Hum Dekhenge,  by Faiz Ahmed Faiz:

hum dekhenge,
laazim hai ke hum bhii dekhenge
hum dekhenge

woh din ke jis kaa waada hai
jo lauh-e-azal pe likhaa hai
hum dekhenge

jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-giraan
roo_ii kii tarah ud jaayenge
hum mahkoomon ke paaon tale
yeh dhartii dhaR dhaR dhaRkegii
aur ahl-e-hakam ke sar uupar
jab bijlii kaR kaR karkegii
hum dekhenge
jab arz-e-Khudaa ke kaabe se
sab but uThwaaye jaayenge
hum ahl-e-safaa mardood-e-haram
masnad pe biThaaye jaayenge
sab taaj uchhaale jaayenge
sab taKhth giraaye jaayenge
hum dekenge

bus naam rahegaa allah kaa
jo Gaayab bhii hai haazir bhii
jo manzar bhii hai naazir bhii
uThegaa “ana-l-haqq” kaa naaraa
jo main bhii hoo.n aur tum bhii ho
aur raaj karegii Khalq-e-Khudaa
jo main bhii hoo.n aur tum bhii ho

hum dekhenge
laazim hai ke hum bhii dekhenge
hum dekhenge

A rough translation is given below:
We shall Witness
It is certain that we too, shall witness
the day that has been promised
of which has been written on the slate of eternity
When the enormous mountains of tyranny
blow away like cotton.
Under our feet- the feet of the oppressed-
when the earth will pulsate deafeningly
and on the heads of our rulers
when lightning will strike.
From the abode of God
When icons of falsehood will be taken out,
When we- the faithful- who have been barred out of sacred places
will be seated on high cushions
When the crowns will be tossed,
When the thrones will be brought down.
Only The name will survive
Who cannot be seen but is also present
Who is the spectacle and the beholder, both
I am the Truth- the cry will rise,
Which is I, as well as you
And then God’s creation will rule
Which is I, as well as you
We shall Witness
It is certain that we too, shall witness

(Translation source: http://ghazala.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/hum-dekhenge/)

The title of the song “Hum Dekhenge” or “We will see” is a promise. The promise of the poem is a promise that we will see a day where “mountains of injustice” are “blown away like cotton.” The poem goes on to describe that day, where the land rumbles like a heartbeat under the feet of the oppressed and lightening crackles over the heads of those in power. The poems beginning deals with conventional themes such as injustice and oppression, then gives way to more overtly religious symbolism. Faiz writes that the idols will be lifted from the Kabah – the Kabah being the holiest site in Islam, located in Mecca. The poem goes on to describe a revolutionary inversion of power, where the pure hearted who were outlawed, or cast out, will be honoured and “seated on cushions.” The crowns (of those in power) will be thrown up in the air (alluding to a celebration) and their thrones will be cast low. The final stanza of the poem is the most religious in tone, declaring that the only name (essentially on people’s lips) will that be of Allah and a great revolutionary cry of “I am Truth” will go up and people of faith will rule again.
(Source: wikipedia)