Faiz was born in SIalkot on Feb 13th, 1911 to a respectable household, also well appreciated for their literary work. His home in Sialkot was often the center of gatherings of the city’s poets and philosophers who met to discuss their literary work and art. After initially being taught in a local mosque (as was the custom those days), Faiz was able to grasp the languages of Arabic, Persian and Urdu. he also studied the Quran from the local mosque. His father envisioned a western education for him therefore he was sent to the Scotch Mission School, owned by a British local family at the time. Faiz completed his intermediate qualification from the Murray College at Sialkot and in 1926, he enrolled in the Department of Languages and Fine Arts of the Government College University in Lahore. It was here that Faiz was taught by the famed professor Mir Hasan, who had also imparted education to famous poet Allama Muhammad Iqbal. In 1926, Faiz secured his B.A in Arabic language and in 1932 he obtained Masters in degree in Arabic.
Faiz taught at the Government College University in Lahore. There, he was attracted to a student, who was to be his bride in the future, Alys Faiz. She was a member of the Communist Party of United Kingdom and their secular viewpoints drew them together. Alys married Faiz in 1941 at Srinagar and later bore him two children, daughters Saleema and Moneeza Hashmi.
Notable Achievements, political activism and awards
Faiz Ahmed Faiz inspired many by his literary works. His association with General Akbar Khan led them to commit the first coup de tat in Pakistan’s history known as the Rawalpindi Conspiracy. Faiz had sided with General Akbar Khan who was in cohorts with the Soviet Republic to overthrow Liaquat Ali Khan’s pro-USA government and ally Pakistan with Russia. The move failed when confidants of Gen.Akbar reported the plot to Liaquat Ali Khan and General Ayub Khan, loyal to prime Minister Liaquat, arrested Faiz and Gen.Akbar, foiling the coup.
Faiz was tried by the government of Liaquat Ali Khan as well as General Ayub Khan, later on. After moving out of the country, he returned to Pakistan and on the invitation of Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, became Cultural Advisor in the Ministry for Culture and Ministry of Education. Faiz sought asylum in Lebanon after Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged in 1979. He returned to Pakistan in poor health and shortly after hearing that he had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, he departed from this world.
Faiz breathed his last on 20th November 1984 in Lahore. His legacy today remains alive in each and every corner of Pakistan. His birthday is marked and celebrated each year by the Faiz Mela. Faiz had the distinction of being the first Asian to be awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1962, which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize of Russia. AN interesting fact to note is that when the award was conferred on Faiz by the Soviet Union, it strengthened relations between the USSR and Pakistan, who were bitter enemies at the time. After nearly seven years of passing away, the government of Pakistan conferred the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civil ward to him in 1991.
Notable, legendary singers such as Mehdi Hasan, Noor Jehan and Nayyara Noor lent their voices to poems penned by Faiz Ahmed Faiz. His contribution, no doubt for art in Pakistan, remains unparalleled till this day.
Major literary works
• Naqsh-e-Faryadi (1943)
• Dast-e-Saba (1952)
• Zindan-Nama (1956)
• Dast-e-Tah-e-Sung (1965)
• Mere Dil Mere Musafir