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SHABBIR BANOOBHAI (article first published : 2007-07-3)

Acclamed poet Shabbir Banoobhai has recently published a rare gift book: water would suffice – reflections of love.

Shabbir Banoobhai was born in Durban in 1949, and moved to Cape Town in 1995. His personal poems often have a political dimension and the political, a spiritual. Of necessity he shared the fate of the larger black community of South Africans, his poetry reflecting that struggle. He has also identified with the victims of oppressive regimes elsewhere. In 1992 he accompanied a journalist friend on a journalistic mission to Sarajevo, but was turned back by UNPROFOR at Sarajevo airport. His poem Sarajevo - for which he received the 2001 Thomas Pringle Award for poetry - records this experience. But it is his mystical poetry which is most extraordinary.

Douglas Livingstone said of his poetry: “I was struck by the clean, simplistic line he generally favoured. But the simplicity was deceptive: he made each word (a sign of the true poet) carry great emotional and intellectual weight. An obsessive and talented poet, a precocious master of the Word and a fine lyricist to boot, almost every line of the work was subliminally ignited by the ancient great Islamic poets.”

Ravan Press published Shabbir Banoobhai’s first book of poems echoes of my other self in 1980 and his second shadows of a sun-darkened land in 1984. In 1999, he brought out a book of spiritual poems and reflections wisdom in a jug - reflections of love. In 2001, a set of philosophical meditations was published under the title lightmail by Africa Impressions in 2002. inward moon outward sun was also published in 2002 by University of Natal Press while in 2004, Wits University Press published a new volume of poems book of songs - with photographs by John Cleare.

His mystical writing, which may be found on his website: www.veilsoflight.com has become more and more clearly directed against narrow-minded and exclusive thinking. He has recently published a book of letters to his daughters, writing not only to them but through them to others.

Dr. Sa’diyya Shaikh, of the University of Cape Town, has said this of the book: “if i could write is a luminous work of the heart containing profound reflections on the nature of the Divine, Prophetic and human consciousness, love, justice, peace and war. A genuine and original Sufi primer for the 21st-century seeker, reflecting an important development in contemporary South African spiritual thought, it is both a treasury of wisdom and a hands-on learning manual for our times.

Speaking the universal language of love, in a series of tender letters to his daughters engaging the personal and public realms of human existence, Shabbir Banoobhai unravels humanity’s highest spiritual dimensions to those who are willing to hear– who seek to become what the Qur'an describes as ‘people who have a centre’.

water would suffice – reflections of love sells for R100. More information can be found at www.veilsoflight.com




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