Diwan-e-Khatir: The prolific scholar of Ghazni remembered

Published: July 7, 2014
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‘Go zara si baat par barson ke yaranay gaye,
Lekin itna to hua kuch log pehchanay gaye.
Main isay shauhrat kahoon, ya apni ruswai kahoon,
Mujh se pehlay is gali mein meray afsanay gaye.’

‘A trifle matter has oft ended years of comradery,
The fair-weather friend, though, is no longer hid.
Shall I call it fame, or the curse of my being?
My tales traversed this street before I ever did.’

‘Go zara si baat par barson ke yaranay gaye, Lekin itna to hua kuch log pehchanay gaye. Main isay shauhrat kahoon, ya apni ruswai kahoon, Mujh se pehlay is gali mein meray afsanay gaye.’ ‘A trifle matter has oft ended years of comradery, The fair-weather friend, though, is no longer hid. Shall I call it fame, or the curse of my being? My tales traversed this street before I ever did.’

PESHAWAR: An exceptional writer of Urdu, Pashto and Hindko will be remembered today on his 6th death anniversary. Born on November 5th, 1925 as Mohammad Ibrahim Beg, he became much better known by his pen name – Khatir Ghaznavi.

Ghaznavi belonged to a family originally from Ghazni, but settled in Peshawar. He was an established authority on research and creativity in literature in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and authored books in Urdu, Hindko and Pashto. Moreover, he also translated the work of several Pashto writers into Urdu. For his contribution to the field of literature, Ghaznavi was awarded the Pride of Performance award in 1999, besides winning dozens of other accolades.

“He is not only a poet, but also holds ample authority over every aspect of writing,” wrote the great Ahmad Faraz about him. “He is a man of hard work, perseverance and creativity.”

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi once wrote about how Ghaznavi’s work has a fresh and modern outlook to both poetry and prose. Iftikhar Arif noted that his literary contributions are not only a vital part of our own history, but also honoured by many around the world.

Ghaznavi remained the head of the Urdu and Pakistan Studies Department at University of Malaya in Malaysia, head of the Urdu department at University of Peshawar (UoP) and also the president of Pakistan Academy of Letters. The scholar was also the founder of the Department of Chinese at UoP, because of his command over the language. Unfortunately, with Ghaznavi’s demise, the department has also now come to a close.

The multi-lingual poet had thoroughly researched the Hindko language throughout his lifetime. Ghaznavi was of the opinion that Hindko was not just restricted to the Hazara region or Peshawar Valley, but has been around since ancient times. Time and again he tried to prove through his research that this was the language spoken by residents of the Indus Valley Civilisation and had given shape to many modern tongues, such as Urdu.

Ghaznavi also wrote extensively about the services of Pukhtuns to Urdu literature. He spoke of poets and scholars such as Josh Malihabadi, Patras Bukhari, Akhtar Sherani, Mirza Aqil Hussain Barlas, Farigh Bukhari and Raza Hamdani. Though proud of the past, Ghaznavi seemed unsatisfied with the present and pessimistic about the future of Urdu literature amongst Pukhtuns.

Ghaznavi might have left us on July 7, 2008, but he gave us his gift of 55 books in Urdu, Pashto and Hindko. He will, however, always be most remembered for his contribution to Urdu literature.

Some of his more important work includes his novelette, ‘Phool aur Pathar’ and his folk story collections, ‘Chattan aur Romaan,’ and ‘Sarhad ki Romaanvi Kahaniyan’.

Ghaznavi’s Urdu poetry includes his collection titled ‘Khwab dar Khwab’ – published in two editions – and ‘Rizmia Nama’; while his Hindko poetry collection is called ‘Koonja’.

His famous translations from the work of warrior-poet Khushal Khan Khattak are spread over three books called, ‘Khushal Khan Khattak Ki Shayri’, ‘Khushal Nama’ and ‘Dastar Nama’. Similarly, his translation of Samandar Khan Samandar’s work from Pashto is titled, ‘Raqs Nama’.

Ghaznavi’s role as a playwright can also not be underestimated, as his plays are still used as part of the curriculum for Urdu at the masters’ level. Some of his more famous works includes the dramas, ‘Zindagi ke liay’ and ‘Manzal ba manzal’.

Research conducted by him on the history and modern role of the Urdu language can be found in his works titled ‘Pakistan mein Urdu’, ‘Khayban-e-Urdu: A Critical View on the Poetry of Allama Iqbal’, ‘Jadeed Urdu Adab’ and ‘Jadeed Urdu Nazm’. Besides the aforementioned, Ghaznavi has also written at least a dozen books for children.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2014.

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