Rarely does it happen in our society that someone deserving kudos is paid tribute in their lifetime. No sooner than one leaves this world for the eternal abode does the appreciation arrive. As soon as one is departed it dawns on everyone how great a personality one has been.
But luckily now a good tradition is taking root and we have begun appreciating those who have devoted their lives to a great cause. One such recent example is Syed Mazhar Jameel’s book ‘Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo: aik sadi ki awaz’ (Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo: the voice of a century).
One of the well-known personalities of our times whose works and efforts have not been acknowledged the way they should have been is Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo.
A nonagenarian now, he has had an amazingly versatile career and an eventful life. He is a writer, scholar and social and political worker known for his peculiar views and services he has rendered for Sindh and its people.
The book reveals Joyo Sahib’s life right from his birth, forefathers, education, career, political and social services, literary works, his contribution to Sindhi literature, his services for the Sindhi Adabi Board, and many more aspects of his life. The two personalities that inspired Joyo Sahib most are G.M. Syed and Pir Hussamuddin Rashdi.
G.M. Syed himself was first deeply impressed with the movements of Pan-Islamism as a young scholar. He also participated in the Khilafat movement.
The other social and political movements that G.M. Syed either took an interest in or practically worked for were Theosophical Society, Sindh Hari Committee, Educational Conference, movement for the separation of Sindh from Bombay Presidency and, though it may sound ironical today, the Pakistan movement. In fact, G.M. Syed organised the All India Muslim League in Sindh. He made sure that the Sindh legislative assembly voted in favour of Pakistan.
It was the first motion of its kind approved by any assembly in pre-independence era. Being a disciple and close ally of G.M. Syed, Ibrahim Joyo, too, was naturally influenced by these events and movements.
On the other hand, Hussamuddin Rashdi was a great historian, scholar of classical Sindhi and Persian literature and other branches of oriental studies. In Rashdi Sahib’s personality there was a rare confluence of modern and classical ways of life.
But he did not like the reclusive ways of hermits that many scholars and researchers adopt.
Rashdi Sahib had a huge circle of friends that included stalwarts of Urdu and Sindhi literature and foreign scholars such as Annemarie Schimmel. In spite of being a ‘Pir’, Rashdi Sahib did not like the institution of ‘Piri-Mureedi’.
Neither did he favour the aristocratic and feudal system the rural Sindh has been reeling under. Joyo Sahib had a close companionship with him. Many of Rashdi Sahib’s research works on Sindh were published by Joyo Sahib under the aegis of the Sindhi Adabi Board. Rashdi Sahib’s ways, too, influenced Joyo Sahib.
The writer, Syed Mazhar Jameel, has been able to trace down the influences that helped shape Joyo’s personality and one can see through the pages of the book how Joyo Sahib became what he is today.
He has also taken care of the social and political background of the life that was taking shape. In fact, the book is more than a biography of Joyo Sahib — it is a political, social, cultural, educational and literary history of Sindh as well.
Syed Mazhar Jameel is a veteran critic and scholar of Sindhi and Urdu and to his credit there are a number of books, which include ‘Jadeed Sindhi adab: mailanaat, rujhanaat, imkanaat’, ‘Angare se pighla neelam tak’, ‘Aashob-e-Sindh aur Urdu fiction’ and ‘Mukhtasar tareekh-e-zaban-o-adab: Sindhi’.
Mazhar Jameel carried out meticulous research for the book and apart from the published sources he personally interviewed Joyo Sahib many times.
The result is a book that offers many rare glimpses into the life of an intellectual who is generally known as reclusive and secluded, as scholars are usually believed to be.
As Ghulam Ali Allana in his introduction to the book has put it, “Ibrahim Joyo is a nationalist, progressive, and enlightened writer, scholar and intellectual known for his scholarly, literary and critical works.
That is why some narrow-minded circles, especially the retrogressive and conservative ones, have been lining up against Joyo Sahib’s rationality, logical approach, enlightenment and secularism and have been hurling different accusations at him. Mazhar Jameel has not only highlighted Joyo’s great contributions and the feats that he has achieved but has not also ignored those who object to his views and accuse him of having embraced contradictory views during different stages of his life. ... Mazhar Jameel has been successful in extracting some inside knowledge during the interviews with Joyo Sahib and it includes some such matters that even Joyo’s close friends won’t know of”.
The book has been published by the culture department of the government of Sindh. The well-produced, 755-page book contains many memorable photographs.