Literary gems - Dr A Q Khan - Monday, October 11, 2010

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During the last two-and-a-half years this country seems to be under a curse from Almighty Allah, though the problems are man-made. There is a shortage of sugar, flour, gas, electricity, etc., the cost of living has become exorbitant and floods have devastated the country. Whatever problem you can think of, we have it.

For the last few weeks there has been much talk amongst the people, politicians and journalists that the time has come, and there is great need, for change—change in leadership, change in attitudes and change in general. I have seen and heard numerous discussions on TV and it seems like the people of the country are going to become the trumpet of Allah.

How this change is going to take place, only Allah knows. History is witness to the fact that wrongdoers have always been given respite for some time by Allah, but are then dealt with and made an example for posterity.

Enough of what has already been discussed in great length and depth by others. Today I turn to a lighter topic—that of some interesting and knowledgeable books that I have had a chance to read. These are real literary gems in their own right.

The first, Makkah and Madinah, is written by my dear friend and well-known Jang columnist, Mr Irfan Siddiqui. Who is not familiar with Mr Irfan Siddiqui and his excellent and logical views on political affairs? He likes calling a spade a spade and is not a turncoat or an opportunistic journalist. The book in question is beautifully presented.

He has not only portrayed his own inner feelings, but has also commented on important national issues. His columns on Haj and Umrah are touching and graphic and make you feel that you are there and actually going through the same ritual.

Mr Siddiqui mentioned that he first performed Haj in 1978 and visited Madina and paid his respects to our Holy Prophet (PBUH). He has expressed his feeling in the following verse:

Mera maqam keh yasrab ki sarzamin dekhun/Mera nasib keh arz-e Rasul tak pohonchun/Yeh baat merey takhayyul sey maavara thi key main/Nabi key shehr men pohonchun, nabi ki naat kahun/Men kis khayal sey liptun tere sutunon sey/Men kis tarah terey rozey ki jaalian chumun/Dua ko haath uthaun to lafz hi na milen/Yeh sochta hun keh maangun to kistarah maangun.

He has published many columns in this book about Makkah, Madinah and Saudi Arabia. I don’t doubt that, both those who have been lucky enough to have performed Haj or Umra, as well as those who are not able to do so, will all feel as if they are actually there and going through the whole spiritual experience. There are many very informative and valuable columns in it and it is literally a literary gem.

The second interesting book and of historic value is Nuqush-e Paaey Mustafa. It has been written by Mr Mohammad Makki Hijazi, compiled by Mr Abu Mohammad Abdul Malik. It is full of information on Seerat and places of Seerat and is a gem of Urdu literature. It contain all the important and useful information on the life of our Holy Prophet (PBUH)—i.e., his early life, his life as a prophet, his travels, wars, the last pilgrimage, footprints in Madinah and his demise.

It is indeed an important literary and historical book on the life of our Prophet (PBUH). What makes this book so unique and valuable is the large number of photographs and maps it contains, which are not readily available in other books. Contrary to most other Urdu books, this one contains a useful index as well.

The third book I would like to mention is Pakistan Chronicle. It is a sequence-wise public encyclopaedia of the history of Pakistan, covering all its aspects from Aug 14, 1947, to March 31, 2010. It has been compiled by Mr Aqil Abbas Jafri. Mr Jafri has spent 20 years of his life in preparing this invaluable source of information, which may rightly be called a literary gem.

It contains almost 1,100 pages and covers politics, literature, music, painting, architecture, science, journalism, the film industry, television, radio, commerce and sports. Besides 5,000 facts, it also contains more than 4,000 pictures. Not only this, the author of this book also has the distinction of having the reputation of being an excellent Naatgo and writer of national songs.

Another interesting and valuable book is Majeed Nishan, compiled by Prof Maajed Siddiqui. It consists of his excellent poetic work and is a treat to read. I have known Prof Maajed Siddiqui for more than 25 years. He used to regularly drop in to see me at my Rawalpindi office. He has presented his book in a beautiful manner.

Interesting and humorous books, literary gems in their own right and worth reading in these troubling times are: Vasiat Naamey, Attaeye, and Dunya Khubsurat Hey by Mr Atta-ul-Haq Qasimi, who is a well-known scholar, poet, journalist and diplomat. His books have been beautifully printed and bound.

Mustaqil Mizaji by Mr. Zahid Malik, a well-known journalist, religious scholar and Chief Editor of Pakistan Observer, is also worth mentioning. It contains humorous articles and is a valuable contribution to our modern literature. This has also been published by Purab Academy, Islamabad.

Considering what the country is going through and the agony and difficulties faced by many, these last four books, and others like them, are an excellent source of relaxation and enjoyment. They could well be an antidote to depression and stress caused by the nasty situation presently prevalent in the country.

I would like to stress here that these are not the only good books that are of literary gem status. I am sure there are many more that are useful, informative, historical, humorous, etc. I have commented on these because they came under my notice due to the fact that they were sent to me as a token of love and affection by the authors and I found them to be so good that they deserved comment.

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