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Josh Malihabadi’s birthday celebrated with launch of his complete poetic works

Karachi:06 Decenber:If not for any other reason, the 13th International Urdu Conference would perhaps be remembered in the coming years for the launch of Kulliyat-e-Josh, the complete poetic works by Josh Malihabadi.

Shabbir Hasan Khan Josh Malihabadi was a poet who enjoyed immense respect among his peers and had an equal share of controversies with a number of opponents in literary circles during his lifetime.

But, unfortunately, many of his works were eventually lost and others that had been published in India before he migrated to Pakistan could not see the light of day again until literary scholar Dr Hilal Naqvi compiled them in three volumes. The collection comprising around 2,500 pages was launched on the third day of the Urdu Conference on Saturday, December 5. Interestingly, December 5 is also the birthday of Josh. Hence, the launch of his collection perfectly coincided with his birthday.

Before a formal talk on the three-volume set began, the Arts Council president asked some literary luminaries to come on stage to cut a cake for what he claimed to be Josh’s 126th birthday.

Javed Hasan, the moderator of the talk, provided a brief introduction to Dr Naqvi as well as his literary achievements before inviting him to talk.

According to Hasan, Dr Naqvi has published some 28 books, many of which are on Josh. The researcher was also a poet himself, said the moderator, adding that his research works, however, did not let his creative works garner attention.

Hasan said Dr Naqvi was a student of Josh and had not only compiled the poetic works of the great poet but also annotated them.

Interestingly, he said, Josh’s first collection of poetry was published in 1920, when the world was facing a pandemic, and now when his complete collection was being launched, another pandemic had taken over the world.

Dr Naqvi was too humble to admit what a great feat he had accomplished, saying that he had tried to compile all of Josh’s works as his responsibility as an Adna Shagird (ordinary disciple) of the poet.

He said Josh had to fight on various fronts during his life, and although he was a friend of Nehru and Bhutto, he never hesitated saying to them what he thought right.

The researcher lamented that 38 years had passed since Josh left this world, and in the years that had followed, many of his poetic works were destroyed.

He explained that through various sources such as libraries, audio recordings, magazines and manuscripts, he had been able to retrieve all the poetry of Josh, except his ‘Harf-e-Aakhir’, which he failed to find in its complete form anywhere. Dr Naqvi said ‘Harf-e-Aakhir’ was a long poem with thousands of stanzas. Later, poet Iftikhar Arif, who attended the session virtually, remarked that Josh himself considered ‘Harf-e-Aakhir’ his supreme intellectual work. He expressed his wish that someday that poem was also found and published.

Arif said that due to the unavailability of many works by Josh, it had been impossible to ascertain his literary position in the pantheon of Urdu literature, and now when his complete collection was available, it would help people recognise his true stature as a poet.

He was full of praise for Dr Naqvi, saying that as Haali had proved to be a worthy disciple of Ghalib (by writing Yaadgar-e-Ghalib) and Syed Suleiman Nadvi had penned ‘Yaadgar-e-Shibli’ in memory of his mentor Shibli Nomani, Dr Naqvi had established himself as a worthy disciple of Josh.

He said Dr Naqvi had earlier published Josh’s critical essays under the title ‘Intiqaad-e-Josh’, and by reading those essays he came to know how great a literary critic Josh had been.

Arif said that compilation of all the poetic works by Josh was an arduous task for the researcher, as many of the materials he had to deal with were worn out.

He said that of the 24 poetic collections of Josh, only a few were available while most of them had been lost, adding that Dr Naqvi had served literature lovers immensely by finding all those lost poems.The news.
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