Islamabad:14 Nov:I feel I must appreciate the informative and useful contents of the 2011 issue of ` Takhleeqi adab ` — one of the two Urdu research journals published by Islamabad`s National University of Modern Languages (NUML), the other being ` Daryaft `— and say that the standard of some of the papers included in this latest issue is really high. But, at the same time, I feel I would not be doing justice and would be misleading the readers if I do not mention one of the few lapses which seemingly are minor ones but can prove to be irritating for students of Urdu.
Kulliyat-i-Iqbal murattaba Maulvi Abdur Razzaq ` is the title of one of the research papers included in the journal. Written by Dr Rehana Kausar, the paper is about one of the early versions of Iqbal`s poetry and it has made me think a lot about the standard of research being carried out in Pakistani universities. But first let me tell you about Iqbal`s first collection of Urdu poetry and the backdrop against which this paper is written: Iqbal had published his three collections of poetry till 1924. But none of them was in Urdu. The three collections, ` Asrar-i-khudi ` (1915), ` Rumooz-i-bekhudi ` (1918) and ` Payam-i-mashriq (1923), were in Persian. Iqbal had been planning to publish his first Urdu collection ` Bang-i-dara `, which finally appeared in September 1924, but many of his fans, who simply adored his poetry, had been collecting his verses published in newspapers and magazines all along and many intended to publish their own, cherished collection as the complete Urdu works of Iqbal and claim the pride of being the first to do so.
Two such personalities were Ahmed Deen of Lahore and Maulvi Abdur Razzaq of Hyderabad (Deccan). Both of them had compiled their own versions of Iqbal`s Urdu poetry and got them published, even before Iqbal could see his own manuscript of ` Bang-i-dara ` in print, which was to happen in 1924. Ahmed Deen`s book titled `Iqbal` was published from Lahore in 1923 and Maulvi Abdur Razzaq`s ` Kulliayat-i-Iqbal ` appeared from Hyderabad (Deccan) in 1924 — though its text had been printed in 1923, its release was delayed because Maulvi Abdur Razzaq, the compiler, had not finished writing the preface, which he did on December 31, 1923. Iqbal wanted to publish his own version of his Urdu poetry which he had meticulously revised. Ahmed Deen, being his friend, realised his mistake and burned down the copies of `Iqbal`. After the publication of ` Bang-i-dara `, Ahmed Deen got his book reprinted in 1926. Some of the copies of the book were somehow saved and Mushfiq Khwaja edited and published it in 1989 as ` Iqbal az Ahmed Deen `. The sale of Abdur Razzaq`s book was also restricted and soon it became a rare and much sought-after volume since it contained some of the early versions of many of Iqbal`s verses, which Iqbal later amended and ` Bang-i-dara ` now has their slightly different versions.
Prof Dr Farman Fatehpuri carried out an extensive research on Iqbal and published a unique book in the April 2005 issue of ` Nigar `. The book was none other than ` Kulliyat-i-Iqbal ` compiled and published by Maulvi Abdur Razzaq in 1923/1924. It was a literary scoop. On the insistence of the readers, ` Allama Iqbal ki zindagi mein (1924) shae hone wala awwaleen Kulliyat-i-Iqbal ` was published in 2007 in book form with 136-page foreword by Maulvi Abdur Razzaq, by the Beacon Books, Multan. The foreword clearly mentions the date it was penned on, and it was December 31, 1923. Farman Sahib in his intro to the book described the background in detail, some of the information from which I have reproduced above. I also wrote a piece introducing the book in these columns (Sept 11, 2007).
Maulvi Abdur Razzaq was an officer in the finance department of the Hyderabad`s princely state. He was also a poet and his ` takhallus ` or penname was Raashid.
Now, keeping this all in mind, juxtapose it with the information given in the research paper titled ` Kulliyat-i-Iqbal murattaba Maulvi Abdur Razzaq ` published in the 2011 issue of ` Takhleeqi adab `. The abstract of the paper claims that “basic information regarding this book is being provided for the first time in the paper below. Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory information available about ` Kulliyat-i-Iqbal ` edited by Abdur Razzaq in any book written about Iqbal and his poetry”. The author then in the body of the paper says that only Dr Rafiuddin Hashmi`s book ` Tasaneef-i-Iqbal ka tehqeeqi-o-touzihee mutala ` gives some information about Iqbal`s kulliyat compiled by Abdur Razzaq, and goes on to criticise Hashmi Sahib`s book.
A scholar is at liberty to differ from other scholars. In fact, that`s how the borders of knowledge are pushed beyond what is known. But it would have done a lot more good to the writer if she had carried out a little more research on her subject before criticising whatever little information she could get from Hashmi Sahib`s book because she has not only missed ` Nigar ` and Farman Fatehpuri`s book but has also not taken into account Sabir Kalorvi`s book ` Kulliyat-i-Baqiyat-i-sher-i-Iqbal `. In the preface of the book Dr Sabir Kalorvi has also given the names of all the sources that he consulted for collecting Iqbal`s early and discarded poetry. Kalorvi`s book was first published by the Iqbal Academy in 2004. One wonders how a scholar working on early versions of Iqbal`s poetry can afford to ignore the basic sources on the subject like Farman Sahib`s book and Kalorvi`s book and then claim the credit for being the first to write about it?
The Higher Education Commission has some strict criteria for research journals published by our universities and only those journals are approved that meet the standards set by the HEC. This involves, among other things, a standard procedure that requires the research journals to get the research papers (received for publication) evaluated by two research scholars and professors. These scholars, known as referees, are usually well-known scholars in their field of expertise. Known as `peer review`, this has been in vogue now quite for some time in Pakistan as well. Now one wonders that if the writer of the paper is relatively a new entrant in the field and the editors, too, could not recall Farman Fatehpuri`s and Kalorvi`s works, who were the referees who approved the paper?
The purpose of this piece is neither discouraging the researchers nor blaming the HEC but rather asking the experts and the editors of Urdu research journals to be stricter in their evaluation in order that a certain standard is maintained. The HEC has done a great job by introducing certain measures to regulate research activities and have the bar set high but it seems that a little complacency can mar the good work of long years.
All in all, Takhleeqi adab `s new issue is a good effort and notwithstanding a paper or two, the editors — Dr Rubina Shahnaz and Dr Shafiq Anjum — have done a commendable job.Dawn.