A Seraiki in love with Urdu

July 14, 2019

The two books published in one volume recently show Syed Anees Shah Jilani had a style of his own

A Seraiki in love with Urdu

Syed Mubarak Shah Jilani had a dream. He wished that his hometown should develop like ganga-jamuni culture, which had an irresistible attraction for him. He was deeply in love with everything related to Urdu -- its culture, literature and its classical writers.

Jilani counted many Urdu writers of the era, among his personal friends. He loved collecting and preserving books by Urdu writers. Overtime his collection of books and manuscripts kept with extreme care at his native village, Muhammadabad, Tehsil Sadiqabad, in district Rahim Yar Khan district, grew into a virtual treasure trove.

In 1926, he established Mubarak Library in Muhammadabad. The library stands to date, a reminder of the commitment and passion of its founder. It holds more than ten thousand volumes in Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Seraiki and a number of rare manuscripts.

Dr Abul Hasan Shah, a grandson of Mubarak Shah Jilani, looks after the treasure and receives visitors and research scholars to the library.

Mubarak Jilani wanted to initiate his son in the tradition. He sent him to Karachi where he mingled with some of the literary giants of his age. Anees Shah Jilani had the privilege of meeting, among others, Raees Ahmad Jafri, Raees Amrohvi, Shahid Ahmad Dehlavi, Niaz Fatehpuri, Ziaudddin Ahmad Barni, Hairat Shimlavi, Mahirul Qadri, and Zahida Hina.

Many of the writers had had cordial relations with his father, so that he was like a family member to them. He stayed with Raees Ahmad Jafri -- a prolific writer and journalist. Anees Shah Jilani was treated with immense love and affection.

Anees Shah Jilani was much more than an illustrious father’s son. But his interest in classical Urdu and Seraiki literature caused him a huge following.

Admi Ghaneemat Hai and Admi Admi Antar -- two of his books which have been published in one volume recently -- testify his being a marvelous writer with a unique style. The volume contains twelve sketches of the people with whom he interacted over the years. His portrayal of his father, Mubarak Shah Jilani, is candid and frank.

Raees Ahmad Jafri, too, was a father-figure to him. Another important piece is a peep into the life and times of Raees Amrohvi -- a a stylist as well as a popular poet.

Niaz Fatehpuri, the unflappable rationalist and scholar and the editor of Nigar comes alive, in his writing. Fatehpuri, who vehemently attacked the obscurantist clerics, was accused of being a heretic. He didn’t budge an inch from his stand. After 1947, he landed in Karachi where Anees Jilani became friends with him and came to admire him as a genuine scholar and a fine human being.

The book also contains write-ups on Zahida Hina, Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr, and Shahid Ahmad Dehlvi -- all prominent writers. To me the most revealing pieces are about Abdul Majeed Hairat Shimlavi, a scholar who for many years was bed-ridden due to illness; and Qazi Ahsan Ahmad Shujabadi, the religious scholar.

Shujaabadi was a fiery orator and a sympathiser of Majlis-e-Ahrar. The booklet titled, Admi Admi Antar contains short snippets which Anees Shah Jilani must have drawn from his autograph book.

Anees Shah Jilani was a brilliant prose writer. His letters to many of his contemporaries are a great read primarily on account of his mastery of Urdu prose. He has more than thirty books in Urdu and Seraiki.

Admi Ghaneemat Hai and Admi Admi Antar
Author: Syed Anees Shah Jilani
Publisher: Fazlee Sons Urdu Bazaar, Karachi
Pages: 325
Price: Rs500

A Seraiki in love with Urdu