Even since an IIT Kanpur committee began probing a protest in which students sang Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’, multiple videos of the poem being set to music have gone viral on social media. The latest version features two women singers who have sung a cover of Iqbal Bano’s rendition of the poem.
The duet by Sukhnidh Kaur and Abhilasha Sinha was recently uploaded on Instagram. “Iqbal Bano sang Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge as a clear, fearless call to restore democracy. She did this at a time when public recitation of Faiz’s poems was banned. Culture and music lived on despite that then – and will live on now too. We continue singing this song of resistance and defiance, in solidarity and chorus with the rest of India today,” Kaur wrote while sharing the video.
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Iqbal Bano sang Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge as a clear, fearless call to restore democracy. She did this at a time when public recitation of Faiz’s poems was banned. Culture and music lived on despite that then – and will live on now too. We continue singing this song of resistance and defiance, in solidarity and chorus with the rest of India today. #humdekhenge #faizahmedfaiz #iqbalbano With me is @abhilasha_sinha, who first sang this song at Shaheen Bagh.
As our explainer on the poem pointed out, Wa-yabqa-wajh-o-rabbik, a Quranic verse from Surah Rahman that literally means ‘The face of your Lord’, is popularly known by its refrain, “Hum Dekhenge”. In South Asia, the mythology around the poem and one particular rendition by the Pakistani ghazal singer Iqbal Bano (an audio recording is available on YouTube) is embellished by every new protest, which recalls the revolutionary verse.
A professor at IIT-Kanpur had alleged that students protesting on campus on December 17 against the police action in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia were “spreading hate against India”. The complaint was provoked by the use by students of a couple of lines from the late Pakistani poet’s poem. IIT-Kanpur’s Deputy Director later clarified that a committee is probing the whole incident, and not whether the Faiz poem is anti-Hindu or not.
As the debate over the poem intensified, there have been multiple videos of people singing the poem. A video of a student singing on top of a mountain had gone viral earlier.
Here are some of the Hum Dekhenge song videos that have created a buzz online.
— ChintaBAR (@ChintaBAR) January 8, 2020
— Dhruvika (@Dukkkaa1) January 8, 2020
— Parvez Shaikh (@PagalHuMainn) January 8, 2020
#HumDekhenge was played. Some of us sang along. All of us felt it in our hearts. We will defeat you fascists eventually. And we will play Iqbal Bano singing Faiz’s poem on a goddamned loudspeaker for the whole country coz everyone should feel it and hold it in their hearts! pic.twitter.com/w1FIn9XSce
— Sinjini (@sinjini_m) January 7, 2020
Pune showed up last night and how!!
Here’s the entire gathering showing their collective spine by singing Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s Hum Dekhenge which was brought to voice by Iqbal Bano. pic.twitter.com/ID4Q4Scpdb
— Floyd (@floydian_sleep) January 7, 2020
1 am at #OccupyGatewayOfIndia
Crowd favourite ‘Hum Dekhenge’ gets a very late night repeat. pic.twitter.com/PyCVKor8hK
— @firstname.lastname@example.org Sharon Irani 𓅇 شارون (@sharonirani) January 6, 2020
Hum dekhenge being sung by people detained in Vadodara. THIS IS THE VOICE OF OUR DEMOCRACY. PLEASE SHARE. pic.twitter.com/PokoPjexuW
— #Resist (@whorepiya) January 3, 2020
The religious symbolism in the poem, which was written in 1979, is to be read in the context of Pakistan under the military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq.
Zia had deposed Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a coup in 1977, and declared himself President of Pakistan in September 1978. Zia’s dictatorship soon took a powerful religious turn, and he used conservative Islam as an authoritarian and repressive tool to tighten his grip over the country. In Hum Dekhenge, Faiz called out Zia — a worshipper of power and not a believer in Allah — merging the imagery of faith with revolution.