KARACHI: The Pakistan Arts Council in Karachi hosted an event on Saturday evening to pay tribute to famous Indian critic, fiction writer and linguist Shamsur Rahman Farooqi, who died last year on December 25.
Professor Sahar Ansari, one of three speakers at the council’s Josh Malihabadi library, said that Farooqi sahib was an expert institution in carrying out various [literary] works brilliantly. Although he had accomplishments in various literary genres, even if he had focused on one of them, he would still have been a big name in the field. Giving this argument, Professor Ansari referred to the great critical achievement of the late Sher-i-Shor Angez. He argued that it was important in two ways. First, it enabled the reader to understand the poetry of the great poet Mir Taqi Mir at the level of meaning (as is done in educational institutions). Second, he also discussed the poet with reference to philosophical theories such as deconstruction and hermeneutics.
“In our part of the world, critics don’t usually find the courage to speak about a lot of things with clarity.”
Poet Iftikhar Arif who joined online from Islamabad said after Mr. H. Askari, Farooqi sahib was the most prominent name in critics. He started his literary magazine Shabkhun in the 1960s as a movement. He was a voracious reader who had read literature from all parts of the world (Persian, Arabic, Western). If he had done nothing but translate his novel Kai Chand Thay Sir-i-Aasman into English only, he would always have been one of the most important literary figures. His death is a huge loss for the literary world.
Poet Yasmeen Hameed, who spoke about Lahore, said Farooqi sahib was an extraordinary man. He came to LUMS twice where she was his host and got to know him better on a personal level. He was like a teacher to her. She learned a lot from her writings. “He was a thinker. In our part of the world, critics usually don’t find the courage to speak about a lot of things with clarity. This was not the case with Farooqi sahib. His criticism was transparent.
Ms Hameed said the late scholar has the ability to simplify the more difficult subjects, which shows that he has a perfect command of his subject. His scientific approach to criticism was remarkable. He would never make an argument without giving examples. Everything he chose to write about had meaning, she added.
Dr Ziaul Hasan said that Farooqi Sahib’s personality is rooted in Hindi-Islamic civilization. He was known for different [literary] aspects at different times. For example, when he started publishing Shabkhun, he became the torchbearer of modernism. When he dates Sher-i-Shor Angez, his penchant for 18th and 19th century India is evident. Much of his personality is found in the grip of 18th and 19th century India. But when he started to write fiction, the clarity of this period became evident.
The late academic’s daughter, Mehr Afshan Farooqi, who resides in the United States, said her father can connect across generations. He was a modern and contemporary man. He always had a book in his hands and this reading habit sharpened his intelligence. His knowledge was deep and vast; and he had an analytical mind.
Mubin Mirza said that after Alftaf Husain Hali and Mr. H. Askari, Farooqi sahib had referred to “unpopular discussions” in his critiques.
Akhlaq Ahmed said that Farooqi Sahib’s debut novel was published in a Meerut magazine in four episodes. He was barely 15 at the time.
Ambareen Hasib Amber moderated the program.
Posted in Dawn, July 19, 2021