Zaib Azkaar Hussain
Karachi: Rabia Al Raba has made a mark as a writer: her prose speaks volumes about her wit and creative skills. Most of her Urdu short stories paint a fresh and some-what absurd perspective on society by rejecting customs and traditions which, according to her, were made to protect the status-quo.
Though she rejects what she calls the ‘outdated values a patriarchal society’ and argues that the so-called champions of such value systems have distorted the original face of religion, she still defends the mystical teachings of great saints. She is fond of the message and teachings of Hazrat Rabia Basri and has translated some of mystical poetry into English.
Rabia has attained her education from the famous Government College Lahore, where she was considered a brilliant student by the administration and was assigned as the editor of the literary magazine ‘Ravi’, as president of Sindhi Translation Society and the official host of the Nazeer Ahmed Music Society.
Rabia completed her Masters in Urdu: she submitted a thesis on the characters of short stories, novelettes, novels and plays by legendary writer, Ahmed Nadeem Qasimi which was recommended and approved by the university.
Though many praise her for her blunt portrayal of society and the craftsmanship of her narrative, there are some critics who argue that her symbols were a serious criticism of state actors, non-state actors, politicians and reformers.
They opine that it was not fair to attribute all societal problems to the ‘male-dominated set-up’ and ‘status-quo’. Her stories, which include works such as ‘Nazria-e-zaroorat’, ‘Zara pass aa jaaye’, ‘Samaaj’ and ‘Janatul Firdaus’ reject exploitations in the name of religion, education and other ‘noble’ aims.
Rabia says she is now paying full attention on improving her writing skills. She has written many articles which present an in-depth study on the role of Sajjad Haider Yaldarum, Dr Allama Iqbal and a number of other literary figures.
Besides writing pieces in Punjabi, she has also written ghazals and poems. The theme of mysticism and a general rejection of materialism and material goals are constant throughout her work. Like most mystical and Sufi works, her philosophy emphasizes purity of soul and peaceful co-existence
Her short stories titled ‘Takhleeq-kar’, ‘Tumhara khwab aur mera ek khat’, ‘Tilisme hairat’ and ‘ik qayamat zara si’ deal with question of ‘creativity’ and other issues of philosophical and psychological importance
Rabia, who is the sole female sibling in a family of five, mentions that her grandmother, Akhar was a poetess and it was her parents; and in particular, her father Munawar Javed, who always encouraged her to pursue art and writing.
Source: The News