Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


LATE Mulla Wahidi was counted among the few grand old men of pre-Partition Delhi. In 1947, after Partition, he migrated to Pakistan. After settling in Karachi he chose to write his autobiography. He started writing it under the heading Maira Afsana, but while he was in the midst of what he had planned to write he suffered an attack of paralysis. He eventually recovered from his illness and luckily was well enough to start writing. But now he was in no mood to write his life story.

“Of course,” he says, “I go on writing for the whole day. But what I now write are my impressions relating to religion”. And he ends by saying, “I very much want to complete my life story. But I have failed to revive my mood to write it. The zest in me for writing it has died. Khuda Hafiz — 20th Aug, 1967.” And he breathed his last on August 22, 1976.

Mulla Wahidi’s unfinished life story has now been published by the Oxford University Press under the title Maira Afsana. This unfinished account may be read as the years lived in Delhi. In it he is talking mainly about distinguished personalities with whom he had the opportunity to meet and to develop personal relations with. He was lucky to serve as a host to a select few. A number of them were, of course, Dehlvi personalities. Others came from distant cities of pre-Partition India, such as Allahabad, Lucknow, Budaun, Shahjahanpur, Fatehpur, Lahore, Sialkot, Ambala, Bareilly and Faridabad. A few of them were Abdul Halim Sharar from Lucknow, Akbar Allahabadi from Allahabad, Sir Abdul Qadir and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Lahore, Allama Iqbal from Sialkot, and Ghulam Bhik Nairang from Ambala.

As portrayed by him, together they make a galaxy of distinguished personalities of that age. They are seen playing important roles in the cultural and political life of those days.

Within this galaxy a mini galaxy soon emerged. It may well be called Punjabi Dehlvi galaxy, a galaxy comprising distinct personalities — Allama Iqbal, Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Mir Ghulam Bhik Nairang from Punjab and Khwaja Hasan Nizami, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Allama Rashid ul Khairi and Mulla Wahidi from Delhi.

Talking about Mir Ghulam Bhik Nairang, Mulla Wahidi tells us that Mir Sahib was a distinguished advocate from Ambala. It was in connection to court cases that he often paid visits to Delhi. He, as Mulla Wahidi tells us, liked to stay at his residence. That speaks of his friendly relations with him.

It was at the occasion of the inauguration of the Muslim High School in Ambala that Mulla Wahidi along with Khwaja Hasan Nizami had paid a visit to that city at the invitation of Mir Nairang. Allama Iqbal too had been invited to participate in that function. It was on that occasion that he had the opportunity to meet Allama Iqbal. Soon he developed personal relations with him so much so that once on a visit to Delhi he chose to stay at his residence.

But Sheikh Abdul Qadir had a long stay in Delhi. In fact he had chosen to start his practice as an advocate in this city. The office of monthly Makhzan had also been shifted from Lahore to Delhi. “The office of Makhzan,” says Mulla Sahib, “was situated first in front of my house in Kucha Chailan. Sheikh Muhammad Ikram, was there as assistant editor.” But, as narrated by Mulla Sahib, Sheikh Sahib reached there in the evening. Most of the writers in Delhi arrived there in those hours to meet him. “I and Asif Ali because of our luck to be his neighbours paid [a] visit to the place.”

Once again, he in later years arrives in this city in the capacity of a member of the Viceroy’s executive council. Mulla Sahib had this to say: “What a cultured and sober man he was just like Hakim Ajmal Khan.” He adds, “He may well be called Hakim Ajmal Khan of Lahore. Also he spoke in a polite way like him”.

As for Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Mullah Sahib calls him as his best friend. “He was Maulana Mohammad Ali of Punjab. He was a regular visitor to Delhi and always stayed with me. The Muslims of Punjab owe him much for their awakening.”

Such were these personalities with their deep relations to Dilliwallas.

Add to them a few more figures from other cities such as Shibli Naumani, Akbar Allahabadi and Maulana Mohammad Ali, each paying a visit to Delhi and adding new charm to the Indo-Muslim culture associated with it. As depicted by Mulla Wahidi they come alive to us.

Mulla Wahidi’s unfinished life story has now been published by the Oxford University Press under the title Maira Afsana. This unfinished account may be read as the years lived in Delhi.