ILHAM by Irfan Khaja Moinuddin

ILHAM

Inspired Verses
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Moinuddin’s debut collection of poetry finds inspiration in the Muslim mystical tradition that yearns to reveal the beauty of love and God.

Ghazali and Rumi are Islam’s two greatest mystics—spiritual seekers who want to see God. Coincidentally, they are also Islam’s two greatest poets. Thus, Moinuddin gives himself big shoes to fill in naming Ghazali and Rumi his literary forefathers. What’s impressive is that he does justice to their staggering legacies with his first book of verse. Each of Moinuddin’s poems is presented in original and transliterated Urdu, a common language in India and Pakistan, alongside the English translation. The poet mainly works in two forms popular on the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent: ghazal and nazm. Ghazal poems are single couplets, punchy, two-line compositions that must condense sense and emotion into a few brief words. Like haikus, ghazals attempt to refine the raw material of poetry to its simplest form. Moinuddin’s best ghazals use simple language to paint lasting images: “Why does this world try to crush me / Am I a stone on the sidewalk?” Nazm poetry is also frequently made up of couplets, but there are no length restrictions. Moinuddin’s nazms feature the same tight power of his ghazals, but their roominess allows him to expand the imagery: “She has established herself in my veins in the same way / As a garden becomes fragrant with the scent of the rose / Even the winds sway with intoxication.” Here, readers see Moinuddin using one of the classic tropes of Muslim mysticism—intoxication—to describe his lover’s pleasantly unsettling effect on his soul.

Transporting religious verse.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-1456326203
Page count: 226pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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