Iqbal Bano:The sub-continent’s voice of defiance against tyrrany


By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

April 22, 2009 — Iqbal Bano, the subcontinent’s beloved ghazal singer, born in India and trained in the Dilli Gharana by the legendary Ustad Chand Khan, passed away on April 21, 2009, in Lahore at the age of 74.

In the hearts of all who knew and loved her music is the memory of that day: when, in protest against the jailing of the subcontinent’s foremost left poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz by Pakistan’s dictator General Zia-ul Haq, she sang Faiz’s immortal song “Hum Dekhenge” (We shall witness) at a Lahore stadium full of 50,000 people, wearing a black sari in defiance of Zia’s ban on the sari. As her liquid voice reached the crescendo – declaring “Certainly we, too, shall witness that day … When these high mountains/Of tyranny and oppression turn to fluff and evaporate/And we oppressed/Beneath our feet will this earth shiver, shake and beat/And heads of rulers will be struck/With crackling lightening and thunder roars/When crowns will be flung in the air  — and thrones will be overturned …,” people joined with slogans of “Inquilab Zindabad” (Long live revolution!). (Hear a recording at

In future years, Faiz would be requested, “Please recite that song of Iqbal Bano’s” – because she had made it her own. Smug Indian commentators like to contrast the supposedly superior democratic culture of India’s people with the supposed passivity of Pakistan’s people – but it is Pakistan that gave us that immortal moment of democratic culture – where thousands of people sang in defence of a jailed atheist and communist poet – who had drawn upon progressive traditions within Islam to confront the zealot Zia.

Iqbal Bano, as the people of the sub-continent confront the tyrannies of their governments, of imperialism and of jingoistic hate-mongering, yours will be the voice that will reflect their unity, their defiance, their confidence that one day, tyranny will be defeated and the people will triumph …

[This tribute appeared in the CPI (ML) Liberation’s weekly organ ML Update, Vol. 12 No. 17 21-27 April 2009.]

Iqbal Bano singing Hum Dekhenge :

Faiz Ahmad Faiz reciting Hum Dekhenge :

Hum Dekhenge
– Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Hum dekhenge
Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge
Woh din ke jis ka waada hai
Jo loh-e-azl pe likha hai
Hum dekhenge

Jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-garaan
Rui ki tarah ud jayenge
Hum mehkumoon ke paun tale
Yeh dharti dhad dhad dhadkagi
Aur ehl-e-hukum ke sar upar
Jab bijli kad kad kadkegi
Hum dekhenge

Jab arz-e-khuda ke Kabe se
Sab but uthwaye jayenge
Hum ahl-e-safa mardood-e-haram
Masnad pe bithaye jayenge
Sab taaj uchale jayenge
Sab takht giraye jayenge

Bas naam rahega Allah ka
Jo ghayab bhi hai hazir bhi
Jo nazir bhi hai manzar bhi
Uthega analhaq ka naara
Jo main bhi hoon aur tum bhi ho
Aur raaj karegi khalq-e-khuda
Jo main bhi hoon aur tum bhi ho

Hum dekhenge
Lazim hai ke hum bhi dekhenge
Hum dekhenge


English translation from

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

2 Responses to “Iqbal Bano:The sub-continent’s voice of defiance against tyrrany”

  1. very nice explanation of the ghazal…hum dekhenge….

  2. Hi

    I’m planning to use this song in an event, and I’m wondering if you could recommend any other songs by Faiz Ahmad Faiz or other similar revolutionary poets?


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