Interview of Jaihoon, by Husain Kodinhi. Published in Pravasi Doothan, Dec 2006
YOUR ENGLISH POEMS ARE BEING TRANSLATED TO MALAYALAM FOR THE FIRST TIME. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THIS?
It was my long-cherished wish to have my English poems translated. Since I began writing, my family and Malayalee readers had constantly demanded the same. Though a Malayalee, it was my handicap of the language which delayed such an attempt. This was beautifully accomplished by my friend Alavi Al Hudawi, who is currently a lecturer at the Darul Huda Islamic Academy. Dedicated to the late Islamic scholar, Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, this work was published by Islamic Sahitya Academy.
Selected poems from earlier published ?Egoptics? and ?Henna for the Heart? were included in this collection. Affinity with the Spiritual Friend, Love, protest against the System, eulogy of the Holy Prophet are the topics discussed. These poems are different from the traditional themes and strive to instill love and hope in the hearts of the readers.
WHY WERE THE POEMS SELECTED FOR MALAYALAM TRANSLATION INSTEAD OF THE NOVEL WHICH WAS WRITTEN IN THE KERALA CONTEXT?
The contribution of Malayalam poetry for Islamic Sufism is very scarce. The reason maybe cultural as well as religious. Metaphors and symbols evolved in one social and religious order is hard to translate into another unless such similar environment is created. But the Malabar environment was much more than conductive for the birth of such literary works. Besides, the Sufi masters present in cities like Ponnani, Mampuram and Kondotty could have produced a golden era of Mystic Malayalam literature.
What developed instead of Malayalam poetry were the verses in the melodious Arabi-Malayalam. Such literary genius filled with historic anecdotes and spirituality was unique in the entire Muslim world. After the death of it as a living language, such writings became part of history. Considering the above scenario, the relevance for mystic works bearing a spiritual touch would not be out of place. Besides, the onslaught of Consumerism is gaining an upper hand over the efforts of preachers of formal religion. I believe this collection of poems can be a wake-up call in the context of the increasing influence of consumerism in the community.
The lack of spiritual progress brews impatience and intolerance in the hearts of the youth. The spiritual vacuum is a major reason for the increasing suicide and consumerism in the Keralite society. Religious zeal minus spirituality breeds terrorism.
I believe that the goal of my poems is a spiritual catwalk for cleaning our heart of all the filth of hatred towards our fellow humans.
YOU LIVE AN EXPATRIATE LIFE IN SHARJAH. WRITE IN ENGLISH. MALAYALAM IS YOUR MOTHER TONGUE. HOW DO YOU HANDLE THESE CONFLICTING ASPECTS?
Born in Edappal, Malappuram district of Kerala, my primary education was in Malayalam. After family migrated to Sharjah, education transformed into English. The writing medium automatically became English. But my thoughts were set afire by the ideas of the East; expressed in the language of the West. The metaphors and symbols in my poems were of Eastern mystic literature. I cannot think of a poem parting from such symbolisms. The expatriate life in Sharjah has enabled me to closely interact with other cultures and thereby broaden my thinking. I could have access to a wide range of writers and works.
YOU ARE AMONG THE FEW WRITERS WHO HAVE CHOSEN INTERNET AS THEIR WRITING CANVAS. HOW DO YOU EVALUATE THIS TOOL AS A MEDIUM FOR LITERARY EXPRESSION?
All my writings saw light on the internet for the first time. Jaihoon.com is my portal where I showcase my writings. Though not an IT professional, I am able to interact and get simultaneous response from readers from all over the world by utilizing the limitless potentialities of the Web. It is through this medium that I was able to gain readership across North Americas, Europe and Africa. My second book, Henna for the Heart, was published from the U.S. Recently I have begun a blog as well in the cyberspace.
Internet has paved way for the democratization of art and knowledge. It crosses the man-made boundaries and challenges the credibility of mainstream media as well as the lordship of intellectual mafia.
Strong influences of Sufi thoughts are apparent in all your writings. How did Sufism become an inspiration for you?
The influence of Sufism is not deliberate at many times. Even while as a young student, I have tried to closely understand the poetry of Allama Iqbal. As a youth, I began to read Jalaludhin Rumi. It was their Sufi thoughts that saved my identity from the bestial aspects of Western culture. Imam Sirhindi?s works convinced me the limitations of human intellect. Teachings of Shah Waliyullah and Syed Abul Hasan Nadwi were real inspirations. How could I liberate myself from the influence of these great teachers?
MANY OF YOUR POEMS CONTAIN A CALL FOR RESISTANCE AGAINST CULTURAL INVASION AND IMPERIALISM. WHAT MESSAGE ARE YOU TRYING TO DELIVER?
Imperialism and consumerism are enemies of humanity. It is the duty of a writer to protest against them. It is in the interest of humanity to voice support for those who are hunted unjustly. Humanity has become cheap in the eyes of those who see everything in a material way. Woman has become the best commodity of sale. I wish to share the message of Divine Love in place of the love expressed for purely selfish ends. Love is no love at all, if for God is not a role.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON THE KERALA MUSLIMS?
The community, despite closely associated with Islamic history and knowledge, is yet to wake up from slumber. The clergy is still hesitant to debate contemporary problems and resolve them as per the demand of modern man. Although progress has been made on many fronts, the intellectual contribution of the leadership is scarce. While religious movements are active, it doesn?t broaden their horizon.
Although celebrations are in full swing on bygone saints like Abdul Qadir Jilani, there were no noticeable protests when the Imperialist forces were destroying the hometowns of such noble sages. The problem is there is no universal perspective about the Muslim world.