DAWN - Features; 6, April 2005

Apr 06 2005


A steadfast progressive

WELL-KNOWN Marxist intellectual, anthropologist and author of several volumes the late Syed Sibte Hasan was remembered at Irteqa on Sunday with Ghayurul Islam in the chair and Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui as chief guest. Papers were read out by Dr Jaafar Ahmad, Zahida Hena, and Shafiq Ahmad Shafiq, while Jamal Naqvi presented an introductory paper. Sibte Hasan’s books are not prescribed in university courses and yet he was popular among students as his writings provided answers for many inquisitive minds. His books were best-sellers in Sindh and Balochistan. His first book, on the Chinese revolution published around 1950, was banned by the government.

Dr Jaafar Ahmad introduced some of the publications — including Pakistan mein Tahzeeb ka Masla, Moosa sey Marx Tak, and Naveed-i-Fikr — and informed the audience that Sibte Hasan’s many manuscripts and loose papers when compiled would make up at least three volumes, including one in English.

Journalism was another of his passions. His journalistic career began with the journal Payam Hyderabad edited by Qazi Abdul Ghaffar for whom Sibte Hasan had great admiration. Naya Adab (in India), Lail-o-Nahar, Lahore, and then Pakistani Adab, Karachi, were some of the journals to which Sibte Hasan lent distinction. Zahida Hena praised the late intellectual’s commitment to the ideology he had adopted in youth when young men had many dreams. He remained steadfast in his beliefs and his book ‘Moosa sey Marx Tak’ was a history of socialism.

Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui recalled Sibte Hasan’s association with many English-language and Urdu papers, particularly New Age, Bombay, a journal he represented from New York. There, he was arrested for being a communist and deported after a brief period of detention. Dr Siddiqui was impressed most by Sibte Hasan’s political foresight. Whereas Faiz contended that the Iranian revolution was much “bigger” in its form and impact than the Russian revolution, Sibte Hasan felt that the Iranian Tudeh (communist) Party, although closely following the Ayatollahs, would be their first victim, which proved right. Sibte Hasan had further predicted that the Iranian people would wage another struggle for their emancipation.

Shafiq Ahmad Shafiq read out a paper on the ideology and writings of Sibte Hasan and his modest and convincing ways in dealing with young writers.

Sibte Hasan was the moving spirit behind the golden jubilee seminars of the Progressive Writers Association held in London, Karachi and Lucknow. Born in 1916, a year before the Russian revolution, he died of a massive heart attack in 1986 in Delhi while returning to Karachi after attending a writers’ conference in Lucknow.

Wahid Bashir suggested that hi articles should be published in the form of low-priced booklets to enable more people to read than.

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PHILOSOPHER and educationist Dr Manzoor Ahmed was the chief guest at a reception held in his honour by city organizations last week.

Before the presidential remarks by Jamiluddin Aali, Dr Manzoor Ahmed was asked to speak about himself, which he found “very embarrassing”. But the point which he stressed was the importance of a “culture of questioning,” something that he said had always been central to his outlook. He advised his audience not to accept any idea without hard questioning and deep thinking. They were always free to make their choices but these should not be irrational.

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SABIHA Saba has made a place for herself as a poet in Urdu literary circles in the US. She was in Karachi last week and a guest at a literary meeting held by the Pakistan Social Welfare Organization. Dr Peerzada Qasim, himself an eminent poet, presided over the meeting and said Saba’s poetry spoke for itself and was popular wherever she went. She reflected a deep love for her land and its people.

Earlier, Syed Abdul Basit presented a welcome address on behalf of the organization. Others who spoke at the

occasion included Azhar

Abbas Hashmi, Naqqash Kazim, Ms Gulnar Afreen and Arif Shafiq.

Many popular Urdu poets like Sabiha Saba based abroad — in the US, the UK and Canada with their roots in Pakistan — make frequent visits to their hometowns and get their works published in periodicals and also in book form. Local publishers and writers are always willing to lend a helping hand to expatriates, and the area of Urdu’s popularity is thus constantly expanding.