Selections from Urdu quarterly launched
By Peerzada Salman
KARACHI: In an event that featured enlightening speeches enjoyed by a roomful of literature buffs, a selection of critical essays compiled into a book titled Urdu – Intikhab 1921 ta 1925 , taken from the historic quarterly journal Urdu was launched by the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu on the organisation`s premises on Saturday.
Noted scholar Aftab Ahmed Khan presided over the event while Dr Farman Fatehpuri was the chief guest.
Commending the compilers of the book (Dr Mumtaz Ahmed Khan and Shahab Qidwai), Dr Farman Fatehpuri iterated that selecting critical essays was a difficult undertaking, which was why the compilers had done an extraordinary job. He said the book was a good example of high-quality research work and critical analysis. Commenting on the well-attended launch, he claimed that people were still serious about Urdu literature.
Aftab Ahmed Khan in his impassioned style showered praise on Urdu saying that it was the fourth largest spoken language in the world. He said to date the most quoted literary nuggets in the Indian parliament were from the Urdu language. He told the audience that 500,000 copies of Diwan-i-Ghalib had been published in Devnagri, which was proof of the fact that Urdu was still prospering. Talking about Abdur Rehman Bijnori`s essay Mahasin-i-Kalam-i-Ghalib included in the selection, he said he had first read it in 1943 when he was pursuing a bachelor`s degree.
Shedding light on the reasons for publishing the selection, Dr Mumtaz Ahmed Khan said it was the idea of a former member of the Anjuman, the late Hasan Zaheer, which was implemented with the help of the organisation`s current honorary treasurer Azfar Rizvi.
He said that in a span of 90 years (1921 to 2009) many changes in literary techniques had taken place and new genres had emerged. Therefore it was necessary to properly analyse the connecting factors so that researchers and scholars could be acquainted with the various creative and critical aspects of literature.
Briefly touching upon the articles compiled into the book, he mentioned Abdur Rehman Bijnori`s Mahasin-i-Kalam-i-Ghalib (which begins with the famous and oft-quoted line: there are two divine books of India Ã¢â‚¬“ the holy Vedas and Diwan-i-Ghalib ), Mahmood Khan Shirani`s essay on the genesis of Firdausi`s Shahnama , Maulvi Abdul Haq and Ghulam Yazdani`s pieces on Kulliyat-i-Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah , Mohammad Umar`s thesis on the history of drama, Abdul Majid Daryabadi`s essay on Akbar Allahbadi and Hamid Jamal`s commentary on the Bengali language.
Shahab Qidwai said that prior to the publication of the quarterly Maulvi Abdul Haq had many examples of periodicals and magazines before him, but he wanted Urdu to be a purely literary and research-oriented journal.
Raees Fatima pointed out some interesting things referenced in the book. She said people used to think that it was Mehmood Ghaznavi who made Firdausi write Shahnama as he had announced he`d dole out one ashrafi for each couplet. The fallacy was corrected by Mehmood Khan Shirani in his essay according to which it was Firdausi`s wife who one night, while the legendary poet was finding it hard to sleep, agreed to tell him a tale on the condition that he`d compose it in verse. On Dr Latafat Husain`s piece on novel writing, she raised the question as to why the Russian novel wasn`t discussed in it while French, English and Indian novels were thoroughly examined. She appreciated Abdul Majid Daryabadi`s essay on Akbar, in which the writer had highlighted his remarkable ghazal writing ability whereas he`s primarily known as a satirist. She said it was because of the book that she came to know that it`s Akbar who had written the famous ghazal Dunia mein hoon dunia ka talabgar nahin hoon sung by K.L. Sehgal.
Dr Shadab Ehsani gave the suggestion that essays on different genres of literature and those written by Maulvi Abdul Haq should be gathered and published. Mohammad Ahmed Sabzwari and Dr Sadaf Fatima also acknowledged the worth of the selection and said it would help students and teachers of literature alike.
Azfar Rizvi conducted the event nicely.