Dr. Khalid Sohail’s memory of meeting Joginder Paul

Joginder Paul


Joginder Paul a major Urdu Short story writer passed away in India at the age of 90 on April 24 2016. He was born in Sialkot , Pakistan and migrated to India at independence.

He chose to write in Urdu and was associated with Progressive Writers Movement.

Here is an article by Dr. Khalid Sohail about his meeting with Joginder Paul in India in 2006, from Khalid Sohail’s collection, Sach Apna Apan The article is in Urdu and you can read it at the following link:

It also tells you what makes a great writer like Joginder Paul.

Joginder Paul say Mulaqat   (Click here to read PDF file)

Muhammad Khalid Akhtar – The Uncelebrated Master by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

This must read article on Muhammad Khalid Akhtar, a major Urdu writer, was written by Musharraf Ali Farrooqi, for Dawn (28 August 2011).

Khalid Akhtar

It was later shared by Annual of Urdu Studies # 27. I share it with our readers with thanks to these two esteemed publication.

Please click the link to read the PDF.  I also share a brief bio of  Muhammad Khalid Akhtar.

The Uncelebrated Master


Muhammad Khalid Akhtar

Muhammad Khalid Akhtar (1920–2002) was born in Allahbad Tehsil of the state of Bahawalpur. He studied in Bahawalpur and Lahore and in 1946 went to England for his postgraduate training in electrical engineering. He worked as an engineer in Karachi in the 1940s and 1950s. He retired in 1980 and made Karachi his permanent abode.

His short story “Khoya hua ufaq” was written in 1943 and published in Sawaira by Saadat Hasan Manto in 1953. From the 1950s onward, his short stories, essays, reviews, parodies, and travelogues were published in journals like Funoon, Sawaira, Adab-i-Latif and Afkaar. In the 1990s, he wrote mostly reviews and travelogues. His last piece of writing, travel notes on Greece, written in late 1999, was published in Tehrir.

His books include Bees sau giyarah (1950 and reprinted in 1999), Chakiwara mein wisaal(1964), and Khoya hua ufaq (collection of stories, sketches, satirical essays, the winner of the Adamjee Award in 1967), as well as Alice jehan-i-hairat mein and Aaienay kay paar (1980, Urdu translations of Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass), Do safar(1984, travelogue), Chacha Abdul Baqi (1985, stories), Makateeb-i-Khizr (1989, humorous letters), Yatra (1990, travelogue, and winner of the Baba-e-Urdu Award), Ibn-i-Jubair ka safar(1994, history, travelogue), and Laltain aur doosri kahaniyan (1997, stories and a novella). He was awarded the Aalmi Farogh-e Urdu Award for lifetime achievement by Majlis Farogh-e-Adab, Doha

(Source: http://www.wordswithoutborders.org/contributor/muhammad-khalid-akhtar)

A poem for the people of Pakistan: ابھی کچھ لوگ زندہ ہیں Abhi Kuchh Log Zinda heiN , with Translation

I share my poem with the people of Pakistan and dedicate it to them. It is in Urdu, and I have also translated it.

For those who may understand Urdu but can not read it, I have added an audio file of my recitation. Please click the audio link to listen:

Abhi Kuchh Log Zinda HeiN

Click below to listen.

Poem by Munir Saami, translation edited by Yasser Pervaiz,

ابھی کچھ لوگ زندہ ہیں


دیارِ اجنبی سے میں

پلٹ کر اپنے گھر آیا تو یہ دیکھا

کسی وحشت زدہ کوچہ میں

اک سہما ہوا بچہ

بہت سرگوشیوں میں کہہ رہا تھا

اے مسافر سُن

ہوائے تُند خُو نے شہر میں انساں کو مارا ہے

گلستان کا ہر ایک گوشہ اجاڑا ہے

مگر کچھ  کُنج باقی ہیں

انہی کُنجوں میں خستہ تن ابھی کچھ لوگ بیٹھے ہیں

جو اک دوجے کی ہر شام و سَحَر ڈھارس بندھاتے ہیں

جنوں کی بات کرتے ہیں، وفا کے گیت گاتے ہیں

تہی داماں ہیں ،لیکن آس کے پرچم اڑاتے ہیں

ابھی کچھ کُنج باقی ہیں

ابھی کچھ لوگ زندہ ہیں

ابھی کچھ لوگ زندہ ہیں


We are still alive!
I returned home once

from a foreign land,

and found a child in a deserted lane,

scared and alone.

He spoke to me in a whispered lament,

 “O traveller,

violent storms have killed all,

and uprooted all the flowerbeds.

But there are still some groves,

where shattered souls survive.

Helping and consoling each other,

with firm resolve,

and singing songs of love.

Their clothes are tattered,

yet they keep raising the banners of

defiant hope.
We are still alive,

we are still alive,
O traveller!”


An audio at a Mississauga mosque : Imam calls, Liberalism, Secularism, Nationalism, as tyrants of today/

Click the audio above, and listen to a preacher at the prayer room at Mississauga’ Living Arts Center.  It is .wav file.

You have to be patient to listen to the entire video. Go 5:30 and focus on Laat, Munaat, and Uzza, the three deities the prophet destroyed in Mecca.

The preacher equates them with what he calls the tyrants of today: Secularism, Liberalism, and Nationalism. And induces to work against them.

You need patience because of the Arabic mix and the pronunciation.

فرشتے کیا ہیں؟ یا نہیں ہیں ؟۔۔ مرزا یٰسین بیگ صاحب کی ایک فیس بک بحث میں شمولیت کے لیئے

کینیڈا میں مقیم ممتاز صحافی، اور مزاح نگار محترم مرزا یٰسین بیگ صاحب نے فیس بک پر فرشتوں کے وجود، عدم وجود اور وجہہِ وجود پر ایک سوال اٹھا یا ہے۔ ایہلِ دانش کے نزدیک کوئی بھی سوال غیر ایم نہیں ہوتا۔ میں نے ان کی محفل میں شرکت کی دعوت پر مندرجہ ذیل تحریر پیش کی ہے۔

فرشتوں کے وجود یا عدم وجود کی مباحث مغرب میں کم از کم دو سو سال سے جاری ہیں۔
اس ساری بحث کو مغرب کی سو اہم کتابوں کے مجموعہ کی ادارتی جلد کے پہلے ہی باب میں، فرشتے، کے عنوان سے زیرِ بحث لایا گیا ہے۔ ایک طویل اقتباس تناظر کے لیئے پیش ہے۔

احباب اس پر غور کر سکتے ہیں۔ میں اس اقتباس کے اختتام پر اس کے تیسرے پیرا گراف کا ترجمہ پیش کرکے بات کو مختصرا آگے بڑھانے کی کوشش کروں گا۔

“The word “angelic” usually has the connotation of perfect moral goodness, but that must not lead us to forget that demons are angelic in their nature although of a diabolical or evil will. Nor should the fact of Satan’s subservience to God cause us to forget that the Christian theology tries not to underestimate the power of the devil in his going and comings to the earth. Satan tried to tempt even Christ, and throughout the New Testament the destruction of diabolic influence over men occupies a prominent place. The intervention of the devil in man’s life provides, if not the theme, the background of Goethe’s Faust.

As the theory of demonic influence and diabolic possession is an integral part of the traditional doctrine of angels, so, in modern times demonology has been a major focus of attack upon theological teaching concerning spirits. Moralists have thought it possible to explain human depravity without recourse to the seductions of the devil, and psychiatrists have thought it possible for men to go mad or to behave as if bewitched without the help of evil spirits. The idea of Devil according to Freud, is a religious fiction….”The best way out in acquittal of God” for those who try “to reconcile the undeniable existence … of evil with his omnipotence and supreme goodness”.

The characteristic skepticism of our age has been directed against the belief in angels generally. It casts doubt by satire or denies by argument the existence of spirits both good and evil. Yet, all arguments considered, it may be wondered whether the existence of angels… or in philosophical terms the existence of pure intelligences — is or is not a genuine issue. Or are these two issues here, one philosophical and the other theological, one to be resolved, or left unresolved on the level of argument, the other to be answered dogmatically by the declarations of a religious faith?”

اثرِ حاضر عقائد کے خلاف شک یا تو ہجویانہ بیانات کے ذریعہ اٹھایا جاتا ہے، یا ان کے انکار کو مدلل مباحث میں اچھی یا بری ارواح کے وجود کے رد کے ذریعہ کیا جاتا ہے۔ لیکن تمام مباحث کے بعد یہ تعجب بھی کیا جا سکتا ہے کہ فرشتوں کا وجود ، یا فلسفیانہ اصطلاح میں مصفا فہم کو وجود، قابلِ توجہہ حقیقی مسائل ہیں کہ نہیں کی

ا ختصاصی تشکیک کو عام طور پر فرشتوں وغیرہ پر مبنی عقائد کے خلاف استعمال کیا گیا ہے۔ ان؟

کیا یہ مممکن ہے کہ یہ دو الگ مسائل ہیں۔ ایک فلسفیانہ اور دوسرا مذہبی۔ فلسفیانہ طور ہر اس مسئلہ کو بحث کے ذریعہ حل کرنے کی کوشش کی جا سکتی ہے اور اسے بغیر حل چھوڑا جا سکتا ہے۔ یا پھر مذہبی سطح پر اس کا جواب کٹر مذہبی عقیدہ پر مبنی ایمان پر چھوڑا جاسکتا ہے؟

ابراہیمی مذاہب میں یہ عقائد اسلام سے بھی ہزاروں سال پہلے سے موجود ہیں۔ اور ان کے خلاف تشکیک کا سللسہ ہر مذہب کے اہم ادیب اور شاعر نے جاری رکھا ہے۔ جبھی تو غالب نے کہا تھا کہ،

ہم کو معلوم ہے جنت کی حقیقت لیکن
دل کے بہلانے کو غالب یہ خیال اچھا ہے

یا یہ کہ،

نہ تھا کچھ تو خدا تھا ، کچھ نہ ہوتا تو خدا ہوتا
ڈبویا مجھ کو ہونے نے، نہ ہوتا میں تو کیا ہوتا

اگر ہم غور کریں تو شاید اندازہ ہو کہ ایک طرف تو مذہبی عقائد، جن میں خدا ، فرشتوں ، اور غیر مرئی اور غیر محسوس تخلیقات کے وجود کے مفروضات پر مبنی ہیں، دوسری جانب سارے کے سارے سائنسی علوم بھی ان نظریات اور مفروضات پر مبنی ہیں جن میں سے ہر ایک کو ثابت نہیں کیا جا سکا ہے۔

سائنس واالوں نے ان مفروضوں کے تلے اپنے لیئے راستہ یہ نکالا ہے کہ وہ ثبوت کے غلط ثابت ہونے پر عارضی طور پر معذرت کرکے نئے ثبوت ڈھونڈنے نکل پڑتے ہیں۔

میں بذاتِ خود اس غیر حتمی نتیجہ پر پہنچا ہے کہ ساری کائنات مفروضات پر قائم ہے اور کیا ہے اور کیا نہیں ہے کی خبر کسی کو بھی مکمل طور پر معلوم نہیں ہے، جیسے غالب ہی نے کہا تھا کہ،

ہاں،کھایئو مت فریبِ ہستی
ہر چند کہیں کہ ہے، نہیں ہے

مفروضوں پر مبنی کائنات کی ایک ادنیٰ سسی مثال یہ ہے کہ، ہم اور آپ نو سیاروں پر مبنی نظامِ شمسی پر سالوں سے عقیدہ کیئے بیٹھے تھے

۔ لیکن مشاہدوں کےجدید آلات نے ہمیں ان نو سیاروں کی صف سے پلوٹو کو نکالنے پر مجبور کیا، اور اب اس کی جگہ ابھی چند ہی روز پہلے ایک نویں سیارے کو ڈھونڈا گیا ہے جسے ابھی تک کوئی دوربین تلاش نہیں کر سکی ہے۔

اس کو دریافت کرنے والے ماہرینِ اجرام ِ فلکی نے اقرار کیا ہے کہ ان کی یہ دریافت صرف ریاضی کی مساواتوں میں موجود ہے ایک قوی امکان کے ساتھ لیکن اس نویں سیارے کے وجود کو مادی طور پر ثابت نہیں کیا جا سکتا ہے۔

سو چاہے معاملہ فرشتوں کا ہو، خدا کا ہو، یا کائنات اور اجرامِ فلکی کا، جب تک دنیا قائم ہے ، ہونے اور نہ ہونے کی مباحث جاری رہیں گی۔ صاحبانِ ایمان و عقائد اپنے راسخ ایمان کی بنیاد پر خدا اور غیر مرئی تخلیقات کے وجود کو مانتے رہیں گے۔ اور دوسری جانب حاملانِ اذہان و علوم اپنے مشاہدے، نظریہ ، اور مفروضہ ، اور عارضی ثبوتوں کی بنیاد پر تسخیرِ کائنات کے لیئےکوشاں رہیں گے۔

شاہد یہی وجہہ تھی کے عصرِحاضر کے نابغئہ روزگار نظریاتی سایئنسداں اسٹیفن ہاکنگ نے کہا ہے کہ، جس دن دنیا کے سارے سائنسداں، فلسفی، مذہبی علما، اور سیاستداں بیک زباں عام فہم زبان میں انسان کو سمجھا سکیں گے کہ کائنات کیسی بنی تھی، کب بنی تھی، اور کیوں بنی تھی، اس روز ہم شاید خدا کے ذہن کو تسخیر کر سکیں گے۔

میں منیر حقیر پر تقصیر بھی یہی سمجھ پایا ہوں کہ فرشتوں کے ہونے ، نہ ہونے، اور کیوں ہونے کا جواب بھی اسٹیفن ہاکنگ کے جواب میں پوشیدہ ہے ، جو شاید ایک لا متناہی مدت تک ثابت نہ ہو پائے گا۔

آخر میں ایک بار پھر غالب ہی سے استفادہ کرتے ہوئے ، اور محفل میں شریک کرنے پر آپ کا شکریہ ادا کرتے ہوئے اجازت طلب کرتا ہوں۔

ہستی ہے ، نہ کچھ عدم ہے، غالب۔۔ آخر تو کیا ہے اے نہیں ہے۔۔۔۔

Writers Forum Canada Jon Elia Event Videos , November 29, 2015

Videos of Jon Elia celebration in Canada

Friends, Writers Forum celebrated Jon Elia, an essential Urdu poet, writer, and philosopher, in Canada.

We now share a collection of videos of the event, which will engage you and provide you intellectual bliss.

It contains a reading of Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi’s article on Jon Elia, a thought
provoking essay by Dr. Tahir Qazi, renowned artist and painter Shahid Rassam’s memory of Jon Elia.

(We will add the compositions of Jon Elia’ poetry immediately after this).
Please watch and share with friends. Click the link:

Videos of Jon Elia celebration in Canada

Review of H.T. Sorley’s Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit by Annemarie Schimmel

Here is a very informative review by Annemarie Schimmel of H. T. Sorley’s Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit, one of the most important books on Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in English.

Read the review by clicking the links below:

Review of H. T. Sorley’s Shah Abdu; Latif of Bhit, by Annemarrie Schimmel

Reading Jon Elia’s poem Shehr Ashob on the sad day of attack on Paris by ISIS

Friends, in my anguish over the attack on Paris, I reverted to one of Urdu language’s foremost poet Jon Elia.

In this poem, titled Shehr Ashob, he exposes the evil and falsehood propagated by the clergy in Islam, and acceptance of such by the intellectuals in all times.

It also exposes the intellectuals for bowing down to such falsehood and kings to gain personal material benefits.

And criticizes those intellectuals who raise apologia to defend the actions of clergy and its stooges.

It is in Urdu, and the above synopsis covers it for those who may not read Urdu.

Urdu readers: Click the link below;

Shehr Ashob Jon Elia

Those who would like to listen to the audio of the same, or those who may not understand Urdu but can discern the sound, click the audio file below:

Here is a link to audio video on Vimeo:

Shehr Ashob by Jon Elia on Vimeo

Remembering S M Mehdi with an article by Jawed Naqvi and videos by S M Mehdi

SM Mehdi: A Life Less Ordinary – by Jawed Naqvi (Jawed Naqvi is an eminent Indian journalist and popular columnist and political analyst. He is Dawn’s correspondent in New Delhi.)

(S M Mehdi, who passed away in Aligarh in January 2015, had for most of his 90-plus years dreamt his own version of unselfish dreams, hitched mostly to an embarrassingly abiding faith in the fellowship of man)

THERE can be many ways to announce the end of an era. Saeed Mirza made Naseem, for example, a delicately poignant film that turned the 1992 demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya into a metaphor for the unravelling of the Nehruvian promise. Saeed staged a cinematic coup of sorts, in fact, by getting the leftist poet Kaifi Azmi to agree to essay the waning of the Indian dream. He excelled in his role as the doting grandfather of Naseem, a curious, fun-loving Muslim schoolgirl, like so many of her age from the pre-1990s Mumbai.
At the end of the story, Kaifi passes away quietly in his bed on the day of the Ayodhya outrage, leaving Naseem distraught but also equipped with his simple, unassuming insights into life, to cope with the challenges the cataclysmic day would usher.

Saeed’s schoolgirl reminded me in a way of a skit by American playwright e.e. cummings that we staged in Aligarh’s Abdullah Hall (a rare peep for any man behind the walls of the chronically gated women’s college). A girl in the one-sentence play wakes up on the bench in a park, and says: “What a beautiful day.” The sun falls down from the sky. The stage goes pitch-dark. Haven’t there been a few other occasions in history when darkness descended when it was least expected, often at the high noon of an otherwise promising day.

S.M. Mehdi, who passed away in his sleep in Aligarh last week, had for most of his 90-plus years dreamt his own version of unselfish dreams, hitched mostly to an embarrassingly abiding faith in the fellowship of man. In that quest early on he befriended Kaifi Azmi in Kanpur in the late 1930s, and drafted him into the communist party of which he was already a member.

They had a third friend, Munish Narain Saxena, a thoroughbred Lucknow Kayasth, a raconteur and a wit who possibly spoke better, easier Urdu than his two comrades. Over a stretch of time, Mehdi became known to an entire generation of young admirers as Maamujan, so much so that Doordarshan serialised his scribbled notes about his comrades recently, as Maamujan ki Diary. His comrades and alliances ranged from Faiz to Hameed Akhtar, from Ahmed Ali Khan to Sajjad Zaheer.
Let me share some memories from years of conversations with Maamujan. They describe what seems like an improbable era he belonged to, and also give hints of how Naseem’s dream could have been saved from destruction.

Munish Chaacha, as we knew Mehdi’s life-long friend from Lucknow, was a hands-on communist pamphleteer who rode a rickety old scooter with an oversized helmet for a large portion of the life he spent in Delhi. In Mumbai he edited the Hindi Blitz while having a tough time coping with a strict disciplinarian of a wife, a sister of K.A. Abbas’s wife. In Lucknow, when Mehdi’s sister had gone away to Lakhimpur Kheri for a longish stretch with her husband, the trio of Mehdi, Kaifi and Munish converted their 17 Kutchehry Road residence into a commune.

Before he became a more astute communist, Kaifi was a devotee of Hazrat Ali, and a few of his early poems about human brotherhood were culled from traditions surrounding the iconic Islamic figure. The poet became popular for his deep hypnotic voice though initially, according to Maamujan, he liked to croon his poetry in tarannum. Mehdi and Munish found it insufferable and threatened to walk out if he sang off-key once more.
“Utho dekho wo aandhi aa rahi hai,” Kaifi was immersed in his newly composed verse at Kutchehry Road one day. Sit up and watch the storm approach, would be a rough translation. It was a hot and dreary afternoon. Munish, halfway into his siesta, was in no mood to brook the grating on his ears. “Yaar, tumhari aandhi ko dekhney ke liye uthna zaroori hai?” (Is it necessary to sit up to watch the storm you are imagining, Kaifi?) His protest registered, Munish turned his back on the unmoved friend.

It was a tribute to this bonding that Munish found himself playing Shabana Azmi’s father for her school admission in Mumbai. It was a requirement that the parents be able to express themselves in English. Sultana Jafri, wife of fellow poet Sardar Jafri, played Shabana’s mother before the school principal.
On another occasion, Munish could have been an inspiration for Mother Teresa. He was the one who cleaned the festering stench from the blisters of friend and comrade Majaaz Lucknavi.

It was Munish, according to Maamujan, who took the tragic hero home, nursed him, and put the self-destructive poet back on his feet.

In 1970, Sheila Bhatia (her partner Hali Vats had been a gun-runner for the communist party) directed Mehdi’s play Jaan e Ghazal, the story of Urdu poetry in a musical format. Begum Akhtar had composed the music, the only time she did so for the stage. Madanbala Sandhu was the heroine. I have yet to come across someone who can sing and act on stage with aplomb as Madanbala did. Unfortunately, in the year of Begum Akhtar’s centenary, I have been searching with no apparent success for men and women who can help revive the magical musical.
In recent years, when Maamujan had gone totally blind, he would continue to share his thoughts with the youngsters whose attention span for history was flagging. As an Indian communist, he had a preference for the middle of the road P.C. Joshi against an implacably radical B.T. Ranadive.

His grandson had given him an Internet radio on which he could listen to the news from different sources. The news was not good of late, but he didn’t blame any villain for the chipping away of his dreams. He was too seasoned a campaigner, too good a Marxist, not to divine the passing of an era.–c. Dawn

Various videos where S M Mehdi shares important cultural historical events of India. Click each link to listen.

S M Mehdi on his own life.

S Mehdi on Sajjad Zahir

SM Mehdi on Kaifi Azmi

S M Mehdi on Majaz

S M Mehdi on Ali Sirdar Jafri

S M Mehdi on Makhdoom Mohiuddin

SM Mehdi on Kanpur and Hasrat Mohani

SM Mehdi on Bhopal

S M Mehdi on Josh Malihabadi

SM Mehdi on Majrooh Sultanpuri


SM Mehdi on Majrooh Sultanpuri (contd.) and Faiz Ahmed Faiz


SM Mehdi on Bhopal

SM Mehdi on Hasrat Mohani and Christopher Ackroyd

 S M Mehdi all videos of the above series