Published On:26 April 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Languages and Cultures: From Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz

By Aamir Latif

Pakistan is a multi-lingual and multi-cultural country, where, according to a famous local saying: the pronunciation of even one language changes after every 40 kilometers. The state-run radio Pakistan airs programs in 18 languages, which have been recognized as national and regional languages.

Apart from these 18 languages, over 100 different languages are spoken across this South Asian nuclear Muslim nation. Many of these languages have deeper commonalities, but many have to strive for something common between them, though the influence of Arabic, Persian, Hindi, and Turkish on all major languages spoken in Pakistan is evident.

With these commonalities and differences, all the major languages spoken here have developed one thing common during last two decades. Till early 1990s, the term Khuda was used in almost all major and minor languages for God, which has been replaced by word “Allah” during last twenty years.

Khuda hafiz (may God protect you) had been the most popular phrase in all over Pakistan till early 1990s, which has gradually been replaced by Allah hafiz. Khuda is a Persian word borrowed by Urdu, Pakistan’s national language. Urdu is not a very old language. Its history cannot be traced beyond 16th century.

Urdu is a Turkish word, which means the language of army, and it is conglomerate of Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hindi.

The Roots

Outside Pakistan, "Khuda hafiz" is also known to be used in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan and among Muslims in India.

When King Babar, the founder of Moghal Empire, who originally hailed from Turkey, but later conquered Afghanistan, and settled in Kabul, invaded United India in 1526, his army comprised soldiers from different origins – from Turkey to Afghanistan, and from Iran to India. Therefore, he required a common language that could unite his army.

Many believe that Khuda can refer to any God, whereas Allah is specific name for God in noble Qur’an.

Maulana Wali Razi, a former minister for religious affairs, and a renowned religious scholar observes that the term Allah instead of Khuda is used just for the sake of carefulness. Otherwise, he believes, there is nothing wrong in using the term Khuda for God.

In ancient Iran, word Khuda and Khudawund had also been used for emperors. Similarly, word “Nakhuda” is also used for captain of the ship in Persian and Urdu. Another term “Majazi Khuda” is used for husband in Urdu.

Therefore, it is considered better to use the term Allah instead of Khuda just to avoid ambiguity.
“This is a misconception that the word hafiz is a Persian word. It is an Arabic word borrowed by Persian and later by Urdu. Therefore, if we use the term Khuda hafiz, that means, we are using one word from Persian and one from Arabic. Whereas if we use the term Allah hafiz, that means, we are using both words from one language (Arabic), which is much better  in terms of linguistic rules as well”, Razi, an author of several books on religion and social issues told OnIslam.net.

Razi recalled that many religious scholars in their Tafaseer (explanation of noble Qur’an) have used the term Khuda, which means replacement of the term Khuda with Allah is not at all a religious issue as depicted by some critics.

“This is purely a linguistic development. If someone is comfortable with the term Khuda, that’s very much okay. What we (religious scholar) have little emphasis on the term Allah, is just to avoid ambiguity”, he maintained.

Khuda Hafiz (may God protect you) had been the most popular phrase in all over Pakistan till early 1990s, which has gradually been replaced by Allah Hafiz.

Not Only in Urdu

Not only in Urdu, but in five other major languages- Sindhi, Balochi, Pashtu, Siraiki, and Punjabi-, the term Khuda has been replaced by Allah during this period. For instance, in Pashtu, which is spoken in northwest of Pakistan, and in neighboring Afghanistan, the phrase Khuday-e-- Paiyman” (be God with you) was used to say goodbye till early 1990s, but now the phrase has been replaced b y “Allah Paiyman” for the same.

In Balochi language, which is spoken in southwestern Balochistan province, and southern Punjab province, the phrase “Allah tara madadbath” (may God protect you) has replaced the phrase “Khuda tara madadbath” that was used predominantly till early 1990s.
Similarly, in Punjabi, Sindhi, and Siraiki languages the phrases “Allah beli”, and “Allah wahi”, are used to say goodbye.

Many believe that the promotion of “Allah hafiz” first began during the era of former military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq, who was the blue-eyed boy of United States and Saudi Arabia due to Pakistan’s involvement in Afghan Jihad against defunct USSR forces. They see the replacement of term Khuda by Allah as a result of Saudi influence in Pakistan.

However, a section of analysts point out that the trend of “ Allah hafiz” was actually promoted by the country’s first elected Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in mid 1970s despite the fact that Mr Bhutto’s wife Nusrat Bhutto herself was an Iranian.

Razi dispels the impression regarding Saudi influence behind promotion of the term Allah.
“If you want to involve politics in pure linguistic and literary issues, I cannot stop you from thinking like that”, Razi said.

“ Persian and Arabic both are our languages. We prefer Arabic just because it is the language of Qur’an. And that is it”.

Despite an overwhelming promotion of term Allah hafiz to say goodbye, some continue to use “Khuda hafiz".

“I don’t see any difference between Khuda and Allah. The ambiguity shows by your intentions, and our intention is that we are using the term Khuda for Allah Subhan wa ta’Allah”, zamir Shaikh, a school teacher told OnIslam.net.

Outside Pakistan, "Khuda hafiz" is also known to be used in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan and among Muslims in India.

As mentioned in The Guardian's article, interestingly, while Allah is an Arabic word, the Arabs themselves don't use "Allah hafiz" – which is a purely Pakistani-manufactured invention. Rather the Arabs use "ma salama" or "Allah ysalmak" when parting company. For any who feels there is no need to mention God in a greeting in any language, remember even the English word "goodbye"  derives from “ God be with you”  which was the standard greeting at one time.

(Courtesy: OnIslam.net)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on April 26, 2012. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on April 26, 2012. Filed under , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

1 comments for "Languages and Cultures: From Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz"

  1. i loved to read this , yes khuda hafiz to allah hafiz ...

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