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The lives of others

By Raza Rumi

The first half of the 20th century witnessed a transformation in Urdu literature with the emergence of the short story as the choicest medium of literary expression, reflecting the shifting contours of Indian society. Urdu was not a communal language then. The Muslims and Hindus of pre-1947 India preferred the language for its subtlety, richness and aesthetic qualities. This was the age of Prem Chand’s realism, the romanticism of Rajinder Singh Bedi and Krishna Chandar, the irony and brutal directness of Ismat Chughtai and Manto and of course the prescient visions of Ghulam Abbas.


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Coffee House By Irfan Javed Sang-e-Meel Publication, Lahore, 2011 Price Rs. 400

The art of storytelling and creating ‘real’ characters was a huge shift from the idyllic, escapist and courtly expression of the 18th and 19th centuries. These new storytellers were children of Syed Ahmad Khan, Hali, Shibli and the modernists who modernized the Urdu idiom and brought it closer to the people and their evolving everyday dialect, now interpreted as Hindustani. The 20th century was also a time of ideological upheavals and movements inspired by the October 1917 revolution, leading to the creation of the first Communist state. Therefore, the realism of later writers like Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi was inspired by the literary debates on what literature ought to be doing and saying. This genre of short story gradually gave way to post-Partition traumas and the emergence of other styles that relied on symbolism and allegory, especially when Pakistan was pushed into martial rule in the 1950s. […]

July 29th, 2011|books, Published in The Friday Times, Urdu, Urdu Literature|1 Comment

Ghamdi on Islam and the Taliban

A friend sent this piece with an introductory message that ” Ghamdi’s life is under threat by the Taleban as they want to eliminate all who can challenge them. Can they eliminate 168 million of us?” Ghamdi is a beacon of hope and enlightenment in these dark days.

The Taliban say that democracy is a concept alien to Islam. According to them, the ideal method of establishing a government according to Islam is the method adopted by Mullah Omar in Afghanistan. Constitution, parliament and elections are evil innovations of modern times. Islam is not bound by any of these institutions for its enforcement. The interpretation of governance conveyed to us by the Hanifi School of jurisprudence is enough for us. The ijtehad of modern jurists are also vague. The ancient jurists have delivered their decisions regarding individual and collective life.  These have all been arrived at […]

May 14th, 2009|Islam, Islamophobia|Comments Off on Ghamdi on Islam and the Taliban