Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Naseem Hijazi; the Finest Urdu Historical Novelist

Sharīf Husain (Urdu: شریف حسین), more commonly by his pseudonym Nasīm Hijāzī (Urdu: نسیم حجازی, commonly transliterated as Naseem Hijazi, or Nasim Hijazi) (c. 1914- March 1996) was an Urdu writer who is well-known for his novels dealing with Islamic history. He was born at Wazirabad in Pre-Partition India in an Arain family and migrated to Pakistan after independence from the British Rule and subsequent partition of India in 1947. He lived most of his life in Pakistan and died in March 1996.

As a novel writer, Naseem Hijazi is regarded as one of the finest writers of Urdu language especially in the later 20th Century. Among his popular contemporaries were Ibn-e-Safi, Saadat Hasan Manto, and Shafiq-ur-Rehman, all having their particular line of literature.

Naseem Hijazi is known for his potent and romantic description of history. There are only two writers prior to Hijazi who wrote history novels in Urdu: Abdul Haleem Sharar and Sadiq Sardhunwi, but Hijazi's writing is most credible in terms of historic description and accuracy. He exercised extra care to back his study of history by thorough research and to cite his sources whenever possible. Hijazi creates his powerful expression by blending this study of history with fairytale romanticism. The story usually revolves around characters who were related to, and shown present at the actual historical event that he wishes to focus on.

Naseem Hijazi's bases most of his work in Islamic history. In dealing with this history, he shows both the rise and fall of the Islamic Empire. His novels Muhammad Bin Qasim, Aakhri Ma'raka, Qaisar-o Kisra and Qafla-i Hijaz describe the era of Islam's rise to political, militaristic, economic, and educational power. While Yusuf Bin Tashfain, Shaheen, Kaleesa aur Aag, and Andheri Raat ke Musafir describe the period of Spanish Reconquista. In one of these novels (Kaleesa Aur Aag) he has painfully, yet truthfully, depicted the infamous Inquisition that began by targeting Jews and ended with the conversion or expulsion of the Moriscos or Muslims.

In Akhri Chataan, he describes the Central Asian conquests of Genghis Khan and his destruction of the Khwarizm Sultanate. The novel shows the brutal conquests of the Mongols, the military geniuses of Genghis Khan, the undying will power of Sultan Jalal ud-Din Khwarizm Shah, and the unworthy condition of the Abbassid Caliphate of Baghdad.

He wrote two sequential novels on British conquest of India, and described the shortcomings of Indian nations after the collapse of Mughal Empire. The story, Mu'azzam Ali, starts a little before the Battle of Plassey. The lead character, Muazzam Ali joins the fight against the British with the army of Siraj ud-Daula. The story goes around as the character moves from one place in India to another in search of the lost glory and freedom. He takes part in the third battle of Panipat and finally settles in Srirangapattana that was growing in power under the towering personality of Haider Ali. The book ends almost around the death of Haider Ali. The second book, Aur Talwar Toot Gayee (And the Sword is Broken) is more about Haider's son Sultan Tipu where the same character is finding his dreams being fulfilled in Tipu's valiant endeavors against the British East India Company. The book culminates in the sad and untimely martyrdom of Sultan Tipu.

He also wrote a novel on the Independence of Pakistan named Khaak aur Khoon. Many believed that the novel was his own story.

This writer seems to have been inspired a lot by Allama Muhammad Iqbal's poetry. He tries, not very unlike Iqbal, to remind his readers of the lost glory of the Muslims and in a way inspire them to work with commitment to achieve lost glory in all walks of life. He portrays Islamic tolerance, the will to fight for the protection of the weak, and the love for arts and knowledge. His readers believe that he has best illustrated Allama Muhammad Iqbal's Islamic philosophical ideal of "khudi" in Urdu prose, where in a way he has justifiably imparted the message that is presented in Iqbal's "The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam".

Naseem Hijazi has immensely influenced his readers both in and out of Pakistan. He has been one of the key sources of Islamic ideologies in Pakistan and helped build valour during the Soviet-Afghan War. Many Pakistani educated youngsters throughout 1950s till today are believed to have been emotionally and ideologically inspired by his writings. He enjoys a very large reader base even after his death.

Three of Naseem Hijazi's novels have been dramatized. Akhri Chataan and Shaheen were dramatized in 1980s and were televised on Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) as independent drama serials. Akhri Chataan is considered to be the greatest historic attempt ever made by PTV. The theme songs composed for the serial and the character play of Sultan Jalal ud-Din by Salim Nasir earned high acclaim.

The Novel Khaak aur Khoon was dramatized into a movie with the same name and is one of few block buster movies that Lollywood or Lahore film industry has ever produced.

It is argued that many of his novels, if provided with the production facilities of Hollywood, will produce movies equal in grandeur to Ben-Hur, Braveheart and The Patriot. But due to the lack of required attention, a great work of literary art is untouched by the filming icons.

Novels/books by Naseem Hijazi

Khaak aur Khoon (Dirt and Blood)
• Yousuf bin Tashfin
• Akhari Chattan (Volume-1) Online (The Last Rock)
• Akhari Chattan (Volume-2) Online (The Last Rock)
• Aakhari Marka (The Last Battle) (fiction)
• Andheri Raat Ke Musafir (Travelers of the Dark Night)

• Aur Talwar Toot Gai (Volume-1) (And the Sword was Broken)

• Aur Talwar Toot Gai (Volume-2) (And the Sword was Broken)
• Daastaan-e-Mujahid (Tale of the Fighter)
• Gumshuda Qaafley (The Lost Caravans)
• Insaan Aur Devta (The Human and the Deity
• Kaleesa Aur Aag (Church and Fire)
• Muhammad Bin Qasim
• Pakistan Se Diyare Haram Tak (travelogue)
• Pardesi Darakht (The Alien Tree) (fiction)
• Pouras Ke Hathi (Poras's Elephants) (comedy)
• Qafla-e-Hijaz (The Caravan of Hijaz)
• Qaisar-o-Kisra (Caesar and Kisra)
Saqafat Ki Talaash (In Search of Culture) (comedy)
• Shaheen(Volume-1) (The Eagle)
• Shaheen(Volume-2) (The Eagle)
• So Saal Baad (After 100 Years) (comedy)
• Sufaid Jazeera (The White Island) (comedy)

1 comment:

  1. naseem hijazi k namm hi sy islami tareekh aankhon k saamnye aa jati hy,
    wo zamaanye mein moazaz thye musalman ho kar aor ham khwaar huye taarak e Quraan ho kar,,

    ReplyDelete

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