This proves that there is still a spark of life remaining in this fable, and the connoisseurs of taste are still in pursuit of it. Sibte Hasan was a very well-read man. He had not only studied classic and modern literature of Urdu, Farsi and English but also had deep insight over economics, sociology and political science. Another branch which opened up new vistas of perception in his writings is anthropology.
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This proves that there is still a spark of life remaining in this fable, and the connoisseurs of taste are still in pursuit of it. Sibte Hasan was a very well-read man. He had not only studied classic and modern literature of Urdu, Farsi and English but also had deep insight over economics, sociology and political science.
Another branch which opened up new vistas of perception in his writings is anthropology. Unlike in the developed nations of the world, the subject of cultural anthropology is unpopular and underdeveloped in Pakistan.
Sibte was especially enthusiastic about anthropology. The subject of Mazi Ke Mazar indeed is anthropology. Sibte Hassan Mazi Ke Mazar The book sees the ancient Iraqi civilisation — also known as the civilisation of the Valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates — in the light of Marxist principles. The subject of this book is those beliefs about the creation of the universe which were prevalent, especially in Iraq and generally among the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Aryans and Canaanites.
One way of studying beliefs and thoughts is to imagine them to be fixed in their essence and to deem the material conditions and particulars of society to be the result and manifestation of the same.
But Marxism presents an entirely different ideology as opposed to this idea-worship. In the history of thought, the ideology of Marx and Engels carries the status of a revolutionary turn in its place that the consciousness of an individual is neither the result of his social existence nor its reason.
In other words, life is not determined by consciousness, rather consciousness is determined by life. In the light of this totality, human history is really neither determined by the ideologies of philosophers and sages or by the ideas of a few people in a society — whether they be afflicted by pessimism or the bearers of respect towards a rival sect — nor its journey is dependent upon it.
Human history is really the history of social relations and social relations themselves are determined by productive forces. Mazi Ke Mazar is an ocean of knowledge and wisdom. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that precious little had been written on such a topic in Urdu prior to its publication. Even if it was written, it was in a sketchy and pedagogic manner, or for the fulfilment of the needs of that time. It is perhaps the first book on anthropology in Urdu in which the tale of civilisational evolution has been told era by era, from the social life of ancient man to the Tigris valley, the Indus valley, Syria and Iran, Central Asia, Egypt, the Arabian peninsula.
It describes how beliefs, moral values, social customs, cultural manifestations, government, institutions were formed, and have changed and deteriorated; how values of a matriarchal social system became different in meanings from a patriarchal society.
The manner of thinking and the character of literature and art; languages become dead but their words, proverbs, symbols and metaphors enter new languages to become a part of them; the divinity of old beliefs comes to an end, but old idols remain in the sleeve of every new religion and every fold of the turban and tiara; civilisations vanish but the palaces of a new civilisation keep dazzling with their marks and decorations Five thousand years ago such a civilisation arose in the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates and before the eyes, it spread across the entire East.
This civilisation established its authority for years from the Mediterranean to the Arabia Sea. Then the chants of the worshippers of Zoroaster arose in the fire temples of Persia, and the Achaemenid rulers raised the buildings of Iranian civilization over the rubble of Babylon and Nineveh.
The civilisational current of the Tigris and the Euphrates mixed with the Iranian civilisation and neither the religion of the land between the two rivers remained nor the language; but we cannot forget the favour which the inhabitants there have bestowed on the world by introducing man to the knowledge and arts for the first time. But the greatest feat of the ancient inhabitants is the invention of the art of writing.
The first schools were also opened on the coasts of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The oldest libraries have also been available there and the oldest epics are also the creation of this area. Just from this, the width and span of the book can be estimated. The style of narration is so light and flowing that the subject opens up, sentence by sentence, line by line.
There is neither a difficult word anywhere nor an unfamiliar term, and then the mention of the display of contemporary life has made the expression attractive to attention.
The story of evolution This is not a discussion of the inconceivable events of the past. Rather, the accessories of contemporary life have been discovered, so that the story of evolution comes forward, completely; the same manner is present from the beginning to the end.
The paths to reason open up before the reader with the help of analyses and explanations of the various ideologies of creation and evolution drawn up in mutual opposition; a story of the effects which economic and social changes have on beliefs, thoughts and values from era to era is also present.
This style imparted a freshness to the manner, otherwise the pessimism which a topic comprising thousands of years contains within might have been suspect to creating a colourless expression. For example, Sibte translated the versified epic of Gilgamesh with extraordinary cleverness. Sibte Hasan writes that in the semi-mythical and semi-historical era of Iraq, heroes were never given the status of gods unlike other civilisations.
In Mazi Ke Mazar, Sibte Hasan discovered the system of beliefs and thoughts of the valley of the Tigris and the Euphrates in the perspective of material conditions of the region. One lumbar, the other competitive.
The lumbar concept is more ancient; because the first Man had a consciousness of the act of creation from his own birth and the birth of animals. He was indeed not aware of human procreation although by experience and observation he did find out that a child is born from the belly of a woman.
Perhaps this process would have appeared very strange to people in the beginning. But then they would have become used to it. Gradually woman became the fountain-head of creation and a symbol of the growth of generations in their eyes.
So if they gave the earth the status of Mother Earth, they were not wrong. This is the reason that all the old rituals of the growth of generations and crops in every region and nation revolve around the woman indeed. This competitive concept could not have developed in a classless society; in fact it arose when society divided into classes. Monarchies were established and conflicts between them became a daily occurrence. Wars were fought, settlements destroyed, the blood of innocents was shed along with soldiers, and the winning rival became famous.
Epics would be written in his honour and hymns and songs would be sung; so much so that every kind of goodness was attributed to his person and enemies were made into idols of evil. No noticeable change occurred in these beliefs and concepts for centuries. Therefore a study of ancient documents reveals that human thoughts and beliefs remained a victim of uniformity for centuries.
It is true that within this duration, political transformations occurred there repeatedly; sometimes the flag of domination of the Babylonian empire rose; sometimes the Kassites and Iranians created an uproar; and sometimes the victories of Assur hastened. But the structure of society remained the same, rather old class relations remained in place, intact. So whether the control of priests of the temple or the principles of law and order; the methods of farming or the manners of industry and crafts, which were there in the period of Esarhaddon and Hammurabi; the same indeed remained prevalent during the time of Ashurbanipal and Nebuchadnezzar.
At the most, the place of the Sumerian god Anu was given to Marduk, or Utu became Shamash, otherwise there was no fundamental change in the old rituals and customs and way of life; and it was indeed not possible for a change to happen because transformations in the way of life and style of thought of a society happen when the existence of that society decrees those transformations; and the existence of society indeed demands transformations when the old relations of production begin to become a hurdle in the path of societal progress.
Then new and old ideas clash with each other; opposition to outdated relations and ideas begins and new thoughts and ideas are presented. This is the reason neither a revolutionary personality like Zoroaster, Mani or Mazdak ever arose from the land of Iraq, nor any social movement was born which would raise a voice of protest against old superstitions and beliefs.
He can be reached at: razanaeem hotmail.
Books by Sibte Hassan
Musa Say Marx Tak by Sibte Hassan pdf