KARACHI: The entire poetic collection (Majmoay Kalam) of the famous revolutionary poet of the subcontinent Josh Malihabadi has been published in Karachi 38 years after his death.

The whole creative work comprises 75 lively years of the great poet’s life. Three volumes of the collection contain all the poetic work of Josh, including all genres like nazm (poems), ghazals, rubaiyat, salam, marsiya (elegies), geet (songs) etc. The collection has been published by Welcome Book Port and comprises 2,500 pages.

Prominent critic and poet Dr Hilal Naqvi, a pupil of Josh Malihabadi, compiled and edited this voluminous creative work. These three volumes contain more than 24 small collections.

‘A versified political history’

Dr Naqvi said that the primary objective of this publication was to preserve the massive poetic work of one of the great poets of Urdu. In the 20th century, Josh owns robust political voice, and stands as a great poet after Allama Iqbal, he mentioned, adding that Josh was the only revolutionary poet in the freedom movement against the British Empire who wrote political poems in response to nearly all political events and incidents taking place in undivided India like Jallianwala Bagh massacre, death sentence of Bhagat Sindh, Khilafat Movement, World War II, Rowlett Act etc. His revolutionary and political poetic collections can be declared as a versified political history of the subcontinent before the partition, he observed.

Indian poets and writers were writing laudatory poems and paying tribute to British rulers, but the pen of Josh Malihabadi was throwing out fire against the imperial power and their illegitimate government in India, he said.

Dr Hilal Naqvi, a pupil of Josh, has compiled and edited the work

Dr Naqvi said, “Josh writes when he feels. He wrote poems on various topics in a large number. When we talk about the poetry on topics, only Josh stands first, he is the poet of ‘topics’. In this work, the topic list begins from page 35 and ends at page 135.”

This massive work encompasses more than 24 poetic collections, including Roh-i-Adab (published in 1920), Jazbat-i-Fitrat (1921), Awaza-i-Haq (1921), Shair Ke Ratain (1930), Paighambar-i-Islam (1936), Shola-o-Shabnum (1936), Josh K Sou Shair (1936), Fikr-o-Nishat (1937), Junoon-o-Hikmat (1937), Hurf-o-Hikayat (1938), Hussain Aur Inqalab (1941), Ayat-o-Naghmat (1941), Arsh-o-Farsh (1944), Ramish-o-Rang (1945), Sumbul-o-Salasil (1947), Saif-o-Sobu (1947), Sarood-o-Kharosh (1952), Samoom-o-Saba (1955), Tulu-i-Fikr (1957), Mojid-o-Mufakir, Qatra-o-Qulzom (1963), Ilham-o-Afkar (1966), Najoom-o-Jawahir (1967), and Josh Malihabadi K Marsiye (1980), he said.

These books of poetical pieces also have profound research work, carried out by Dr Naqvi, before every small collection, and many political poems.

Dr Naqvi added that the first small poetic collection (Roh-i-Adab) was published a century ago, while Ilham-o-Afkar and Najoom-o-Jawahir were the last collections published in the poet’s life. The last collection, Mehrab-o-Mizrab was published by his son Sajjad Haider after the death of Josh.

Josh is known by many titles like Shair-i-Inqilab (poet of revolution), Shair-i-Shabab (poet of beauty), Shair-i-Fitrat (poet of nature) and Shair-i-Azam (great poet), he said, and maintained that these titles revealed the diversity of the poetry that Josh possessed.

Responding to a question, Dr Naqvi said, “As a student of Josh Malihabadi this was my responsibility to gather all poetic pieces of my teacher for publication, and I gathered all the material in three volumes.”

He lamented that Josh was the only great poet in this region whose poetic work was heartlessly squandered. He regretted that essentially this was the duty of our national institutions that he had performed.

Josh was anti-imperialistic and left-oriented, he said, and maintained that he was also a front runner of the Progressive Writers’ Movement but he was purposely neglected in Pakistan.

Mushfiq Khwaja, a well-known personality of literature, once said that Josh as a revolutionary poet on one side is heavier than Faiz Ahmed Faiz with all the progressive writers on the other side, Dr Naqvi quoted.

This publication is quite different from other poetic collections, as it also holds a book index or back-of-the-book index, which is also known as a roadmap to the book.

Dr Naqvi is famous for his research works particularly on Josh. Earlier, he has written and published as many as nine books, excluding these three volumes, about his favourite topic, the poet of revolution. The names of these nine books included Auraq-i-Josh, Josh Ke Nadir-o-Ghair Matboa Tehreerain, Irfaniyat-i-Josh, Josh Kay Inqalabi Marsiye, Josh Malihabadi: Shakhsiyat Aur Fun, Yadon Ke Barat Ka Qalmi Nusqa Aur Uskay Gumshuda Auraq, Intiqadiyat-i-Josh, Gujrati Zaban K Shair Sabir Thariyani Ka Manzoom Urdu Tarjuma, and Yadon Ke Barat Ka Jadeed Edition.

To a query, Dr Naqvi said that young poets should follow the path of the poet of revolution, as the current era required the writers and poets to play their due role in terms of making people aware about the inhuman politics and conspiracies in the country.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2020

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