Paying tribute: Of science and poetry

Published: November 2, 2015
Bazme Sciency Adab society remembers Azmat Ali Khan and his efforts to merge literature and science. PHOTO: NNI

Bazme Sciency Adab society remembers Azmat Ali Khan and his efforts to merge literature and science. PHOTO: NNI

KARACHI: The 233rd literary sitting of the Bazme Sciency Adab society brought to light the efforts of the late Azmat Ali Khan in the field of literature and science. Members of the literary circle and the Bazme Sciency Adab society discussed the publication of ‘Aitraf-e-Azmat’ and paid tribute to Khan.

Khan was a pioneer in introducing the concept of science and literature together as a single entity. He worked at length to bring science in Urdu literature and was also involved in conducting scientific seminars and similar activities during his lifetime. In 1992 he established the Bazme Sciency Adab society. He is also referred to as ‘Baba-e-Sciency Sahafat’ for his services in science journalism in Pakistan.

Faculty member of Karachi University’s department of chemistry, Dr Zahida Maqsood, said that science and the love of Urdu was a mantra that Khan carried throughout his life. “The introduction of Urdu in scientific poetry was due to the work of Khan alone,” she said.

“It never felt like I was meeting a person whenever I met him. It felt as if you were talking to a mission or a goal,” shared Tahir Masood from the department of mass communication, University of Karachi. “Try to include science journalism as part of the mass communication curriculum, he would advise me whenever we would meet,” said Masood.

Elaborating on the importance of the scientific approach in daily life, Masood said to adopt science is to be logical about decisions. “At present, extremism and irrationality govern all spheres of our personal and professional lives. It is because we have left rationality that the nation is in the mess that it is in,” he claimed. “We should give it a thought as to why science is missing from our lives,” said Masood.

One of Khan’s students, Saeedul Kabir, read some verses of scientific poetry. Kabir shared numerous instances from his student life when he wrote such verses under the supervision of his beloved teacher. Be it the melting of glaciers, the 1957 sputnik incident or a matter as complicated as a heart bypass, Kabir amused the audience with his refreshing approach towards literature. “Sambhal ker chairna cactus ko dekho, yeh mosiqar ki sargam nahi,” [Be careful while touching a cactus, it is not a musician’s tune] he cautioned.

Poet Sahar Ansari also spoke about the dilemma of the absence of science in the humanities’ curriculum. “Traditions of teaching science to students of philosophy and humanities no longer exists,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2015.


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