Urdu journal's centenary celebration -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Urdu journal’s centenary celebration

KARACHI: Speakers highlighted the merits of literary pursuits at an event organised to celebrate the centenary of the esteemed Urdu literary journal Ismat at the Arts Council Karachi on Friday.

A copy of the magazine published in 1908. — Photo by White Star

Eminent scholar Aftab Ahmed Khan, who presided over the event, said Urdu was the fifth widely spoken language in the world and had all the potential for further growth.

He claimed 90 per cent of speeches in our senate and assemblies were delivered in Urdu. Even in India, where the perception was that Urdu was a dying language, the couplets that were quoted in their assemblies were in Urdu, he added.

He congratulated the publishers of Ismat for bringing out the monthly for the last 105 years.

Prof Sahar Ansari lauded the efforts of the founder of Ismat, Allama Rashidul Khairi, who was known as the mussawwar-i-gham (portrayer of grief).

In that context he took names of his books Shaam-i-Zindagi and Sayyada Ka Laal, etc, which justified the title given to him.

He told the gathering that was cognizant of the political goings-on of his time too, because when Italy attacked Tripoli he wrote quite a few short stories on it.

He then talked about the new issue of the magazine brought out by Safoora Khairi, and claimed it had successfully made the transition from the 20th century to the 21st century since now it had pictures of contemporary women achievers like Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Arfa Kareem.

He cleared a notion that Ismat was meant for women writers alone and that renowned women writers contributed to it; distinguished men like Mohammad Ali Sabzwari wrote for the monthly magazine as well.

Writer Zahida Hina appreciated Safoora Khairi for reviving the spirit of the magazine.

Speaking about Allama Khairi, she said he used to think about the well-being of Muslim women of undivided India, and after a decade of founding the journal he was able to introduce intelligent, inquisitive women writers. But the allama was not in favour of women demanding women’s rights themselves and felt it would tantamount to aping the West. In his eyes protecting women was men’s responsibility. But when in 1922 Raziqul Khairi took charge of the magazine, many new ideas and writers were introduced to the Urdu-reading world. Distinguished writers like Qurutulain Hyder and Attiya Faizi wrote for it and Ismat became an important historic document. So much so that with people such as Rasheed Jahan and Ismat Chughtai penned stories for the magazine it created a stir in the power circles.

She informed the audience that if they wanted to know the worth of Ismat they should go through Gail Minault’s book ‘Secluded Scholars’.

She also showered profuse praise on Dawood Usmani (a researcher from Lyari) for doing a PhD on the magazine and Allama Khairi.

Justice Haziqul Khairi said everyone knew about how APWA came into being in 1947 but not many were aware of what led to its inception.

He then shed light on how literature changed the Khairi family from being a purely religious one to a literary group without compromising on religion.

Senator Abdul Haseeb Khan was the chief guest of the event. He put emphasis on the need for including contemporary issues in the magazine.

Safoora Khairi thanked the participants of the programme.

Nusrat Ali conducted the event. Prof Waqar Ahmed Rizvi, Raees Fatma and Kishwar Zehra also spoke.