APPREHENSIONS of those who usually see dark, threatening clouds looming large on Urdu’s horizon should be allayed by the news that Urdu remained live and kicking throughout 2012. The sun shone brightly on Urdu and its literature last year and literary circles were abuzz with a flurry of activities.New Urdu titles kept pouring in and seminars, conferences, mushairas and symposia were well attended. Most literary periodicals appeared fairly regularly and a few new ones were also launched.
Contrary to common perception, the sale of Urdu books kept increasing though no Urdu publisher would admit to it.
Surprisingly, as the standard of the Urdu language seemed to decline further, especially in the media, Urdu literature, on the other hand, seemed to be doing quite well.
No doubt, the 2012 belonged to Manto and Miraji. It was their centennial year. Just as in the previous years we witnessed centenary commemorations for Muhammad Husain Azad, Mir Taqi Mir, N. M. Rashid and Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s, a number of conferences and other literary gatherings took place in 2012 to mark the 100th birth anniversaries of Manto and Miraji. Jammu University, Islamabad’s National University of Modern Languages, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Sahitya Academy, Pakistan Academy of Letters and many other organisations held seminars on Manto. Pakistani scholars and academia including Tabassum Kashmiri, Tehseen Firaqi and Nasir Abbas Nayyar could not get Indian visas to attend the Aligarh Muslim University’s Manto seminar despite having submitted visa applications some two months before the event (the business was as usual on the visa front despite all the lip-service about improved visa facilities). Karachi Arts Council’s Urdu Conference also devoted sessions to Manto and Miraji. Jadeed Adab, a literary journal edited by Hyder Qureshi and published from Germany, brought out a bulky special issue on Miraji. A very special feature of this issue was a section comprising the translations of Miraji’s poems into English, German, Russian, Dutch, Italian, Arabic, Turkish and Persian and that too in original scripts. Zeest, a literary magazine published from Karachi and edited by Dr Ansaar Ahmed, also published a special issue on Manto.
Asif Farrukhi’s Manto ka aadmi nama and Shamim Hanafi’s Manto: haqeeqat se afsane tak were among the top books written on Manto. Amjad Tufail has been working on the complete works of Manto and has published three volumes of his work.
One of the most remarkable works published in the year was the 4th volume of Dr Jameel Jalibi’s monumental work. Titled ‘Tareekh-i-adab-i-Urdu’, this history of Urdu literature is a remarkable feat by any standard and many have been waiting for its arrival. Majlis-i-Taraqqi-i-Adab, Lahore, published it in the early part of 2012.
Moreover, Delhi’s Ghalib Institute published Dr Tehseen Firqi’s Ghalib: fikr-o-farhang. One of the articles in the book raises serious objections to what Anne Marie Schimmel had written on Ghalib. Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu Pakistan published a new edition of Ghalib’s diwan, compiled on chronological lines by renowned Ghalib scholar Kalidas Gupta Riza.
On Iqbal, Rawalpindi’s AlFateh Publications published a collection of letters of some well-known scholars. Addressed to Dr Rafiuddin Hashmi and discussing the life and works of Iqbal, these letters have been collected by Dr Khalid Nadeem. The volume is packed with some rare information and interesting opinions of scholars on Iqbal.
A good reference work appeared on Faiz Ahmed Faiz. It is titled Ik zara Faiz tak and has been compiled by Dr Muhammad Asif Awan. The work is an index of Faiz’s poetry, compiled in alphabetical order, and published by Islamabad’s Poorab Academy.
Furthermore a book on Sufism titled Talaash also appeared in 2012. It is a voluminous translation of Aksi Mufti’s book from English and has been rendered into Urdu by Dr Najeeba Arif and published by Al-Faisla Nashiraan, Lahore. The book is a journey into the realm of Sufism and attempts to demystify Islamic mysticism.
As for research and criticism, Dr Rubeena Tareen’s Tareekh-i-adabiyaat-i-Multan was published by Muqtadira Qaumi Zaban, renamed as Idara-i-Farogh-i-Qaumi Zaban in 2012. Jamal Naqvi compiled a book on renowned critic Prof Mumtaz Hussain. Dr Abdul Aziz Sahir’s book Mehraab-i-tehqiqe is a collection of critical and research articles published by Karachi’s Idara-i-Yadgar-i-Ghalib. Dr Hanif Naqvi’s book Tehqeeq-o-tadveen also appeared from Pakistan but unfortunately Dr Naqvi passed away on Dec 22. Amjad Tufail’s Adab ka aalmi dareecha, Khwaja Razi Hyder’s Saleem Ahmed and Nasir Abbas Nayyar’s Matn, Siyaaq aur tanazur were some of the works that caused a stir in literary circles.
Poetry, as usual, was one of the most published new works. However, it was also expectedly one of the least read areas, except for classics or poetical works of established poets. Among new entrants, Ambreen Haseeb Amber impressed many with her maiden collection Dil ke ufuq par. The well-known poets who published their works during the year included Tehseen Firaqi, Yasmeen Hameed, Khalid Moeen, Sabir Zafar, Fiza Aazmi and Ahmed Javed.
As for literary journals, Nai kitab published its 20th issue. It was published from Delhi and was edited by Shahid Ali Khan. Idara-i-Yadgar-i-Ghalib published the 20th issue of its journal Ghalib. Prof Dr Tehseen Firqai launched from Lahore a new research-oriented journal Mabaahis, which made its mark with the very first issue. Another new quarterly Ilm-o-fun was launched by Muqtadira Qaumi Zaban. Ambreen Haseeb Amber’s nascent literary magazine, Asaleeb, published a special issue on Urdu literature in the 21st century. Qaumi Zaban, Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu’s monthly, appeared with clockwork regularity, though publishing a literary monthly is a tough row to hoe. Adab-i-lateef, one of Urdu’s oldest magazines also brought out its issues regularly. Similarly issues of magazines such as Daryaft, Bazyaft, Almaas, Takhleeqi Adab, Iqbal, Mukalma, Seep, Dunyazaad, Zarnigar, Ijra and Ijmaal were also published.
Zafar Ali Khan Trust did a good job by publishing some new and old works on Maulana Zafar Ali Khan. Hamza Farooqi compiled and published Ghulam Rasool Mehr’s autobiography.
When we look at some of the translations done during the year, Ab-ul-Farah Humayun translated into Urdu Khaled Hosseini’s bestseller The kite runner.
This by no means is a complete survey of the Urdu works published in 2012 and is just an overview, but it may give the reader reasons to be optimistic about Urdu literature and its future.