By Mohammed Ayub Ali Khan, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
CHICAGO, IL– â€œUrdu is a language of unity and brotherhood and negates the theory of clash of civilizations. Efforts should be made to propagate its message of amity and inclusiveness in order to defeat the divisive forces,â€ said renowned critic, linguist and Urdu scholar Dr. Gopi Chand Narang. He was speaking at the inaugural session of the fourth International Urdu Conference in Chicago on Friday, June 22. The three day convention consisted of nine sessions were more than two dozen papers were presented on Urdu fiction, Urdu literature & Feminism, the role of Naat & Marsia in Urdu literature, and the Contributions of the Progressive Movement, etc.
Continuing on the importance of Urdu as a unifying force Dr. Narang said that its role is similar to the one of the mystics. He cited an anecdote of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who was once gifted a pair of scissors. The great mystic declined to accept it and said that he should rather be presented with thread and needle so that he can do something constructive. â€œUrdu has the vast potential to patch up the civilization, religious, and other differences,â€ Dr. Narang added.
Dr. Taqi Abidi, president of the Central Committee of the Urdu Conference, said over 60 per cent of the Urdu literature consists of devotional poetry like Naat & Marsia and that it will be foolhardy to ignore this discipline. He claimed that there are over seven thousand Marsias in Urdu. In a powerful rebuke to those who claim that Marsias are exclusively the domain of the Shiâ€™ah community, Dr. Taqi Abidi said that each Marsia ends on the Naat which is universally accepted by Muslims and even non-Muslims. â€œIf one wants to get a glimpse of pristine forms of poetry in which chivalry, devotion, faith, suffering, and other noble characteristics are discussed then one cannot ignore the disciplines of Naat & Marsia.â€
Dr. Ali Ahmed Fatimi of Allahabad University in his paper on the Progressive Movement said that it introduced the genuine emotions,concerns, and aspirations of the suffering masses in Urdu poetry which was predominantly occupied with mundane subjects. He said that this movement should be revived to meet the modern day challenges of poverty, hunger, and war.
Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, educationist & author, pointed out that the Progressive Movement had played an influential role in socialist countries. He claimed that the literature of Communist China had borrowed heavily from the subcontinentâ€™s progressive writers.
Dr. Qamar Raees clarified that the Progressive Movement wasnâ€™t necessarily anti-Islam or anti-religion and that many poets of this movements were deeply religious. He said that even Sajjad Zaheer was highly appreciative of the revolutionary message of the Holy Qurâ€™an in his book Roshnai which was written while he was incarcerated. While in jail Zaheer and other prisoners were denied the books of Marx, Engels and other revolutionary writers but were provided with copies of the Holy Qurâ€™an. At this he apparently remarked that perhaps the jail authorities do not know that the Holy Qurâ€™an is the most revolutionary book on the face of the earth.
Dr. Abdul Jaleel Pathan, Vice Chancellor of Maulana Azad Urdu University, said that Urdu is not an impediment in the learning of modern subjects and his university offers a diverse array of subjects including business management and communication. Many graduates of the university are now employed in many mainstream businesses and the university will soon offer more courses in Science and Arts streams.
Khalil ur Rehman, publisher & chief editor of Urdu Times, stressed on the need to develop new educational techniques and methods for the teaching of Urdu in the modern context. He said that the internet holds vast potential in imparting Urdu literacy in North America due to its widespread penetration. Urdu Times, the largest Urdu language newspaper in North America, is the organizer of the conference and has held successful Urdu conferences in the past years in New York, Toronto, and London. He urged the lovers of Urdu to join the movement for its propagation. He proposed the formation of a â€˜Urdu Foundationâ€™ as a not for profit organization to promote Urdu language & literature, commission research activities, and develop technologies for learning and teaching of the language.
The convention concluded with a grand Mushaira in which more than thirty local and international poets participated including Dr. Qamar Raâ€™ees, Dr. Mohsin Ahsan, Dr. Taqi Abidi, Dr. Khaliq Anjum, Nayyar Jehan, Sayyid Hanif Akhgar, Dr. Ziauddin Shakeeb, etc.