ʿABD-AL-LAṬĪF BHETĀʾĪ, SHAH, Sufi poet of Sind. Born in the village of Haveli, near Hala, in the district of Hyderabad, in 1101/1689, he eventually established a small settlement near his native town and named it Bhit (“sandhill”). Details of his life are lacking. After his death in 1165/1752, Ḡolām Šāh Kalhōrō (amir of Sind, 1172-85/158-71) had a mausoleum built in his honor at Bhit. It became a shrine for his followers and later devotees, who congregated there to recite and sing his poetry. Though not a man of great learning, ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf was steeped in the thought of Mawlānā Jalāl-al-dīn Rūmī, and according to A. Schimmel (Pain and Grace, pp. 164-72), the thematic influence of Rūmī on the Šāh ǰō Resālō is evident. The latter work, often known simply as the Resālō, is perhaps the most famous composition in the Sindhi language. Compiled and published more than a century after the death of Shah ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf, it expounds the cardinal Sufi doctrine of man’s innate and insatiable hunger for things divine, a hunger which the poet brilliantly exemplifies in lyric poems as well as in dialogues and narratives based on folk tales, such as ʿOmar and Māroī, Sassūī and Ponhoñ, and Līla and Čanēsar. The Sindhi verse of ʿAbd-al-Laṭīf conveys a sonorous and pathetic mood; its delicate rhythms and beauty of expression are often heightened by being set to music, e.g., Indian rāga melodies to which the poet was especially attracted.
The Resālō has been edited by Ernest Trumpp (Leipzig, 1867), H. M. Gorboḵānī, with commentary (Karachi, 1973).
The abridgment by Qāżī Aḥmad Shah (see e.g., Bh. Pōkardas Kalrō, Resālō ǰō Montaḵab, 6th ed., Shaikarpur, 1935) was translated by H. T. Storey as part of his study, Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit: His Poetry, Life, and Times, Oxford, 1940.
See also W. Southey, Life of Shah Abdul Latif—an Introduction to his Art, Karachi, 1961.
T. Hotchand, Shah Abdul Latif—an Introduction to his Seven Singing Stories, Hyderabad, 1962.
M. Jotwani, Shah Abdul Latif, his Life and Work, New Delhi, 1975.
A. Schimmel, Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteen-Century Muslim India, Leiden, 1976, pp. 151-262.
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 125-126