Maulvi Abdul Haq [Baba e Urdu] and Allama Iqbal

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Maulvi Abdul Haq [Baba e Urdu] and Allama Iqbal

During the period 1936-38 seme correspondence was exchanged between Allama Iqbal and Maulvi Abdul Haq. For his services to the Urdu language, Maulvi Abdul Haq was known by the title of ‘Babai Urdu’. Maulvi Abdul Haq served in the Education Depart¬ment of Hyderabad Deccan. He headed the Translation Bureau of Osmania University. He was the Secretary of Anjuman Taraqi Urdu. Its Head office was first located in Aurangabad. Then it was shifted to Delhi. After independence Maulvi Abdul Haq and the Anjuman of whom he was the President shifted to Karachi. He died in Karachi in 1961.

Some eight letters of Iqbal addressed to Maulvi Abdul Haq have been published by Majlis Taraqi Adab under the title “Iqbal and Abdul Haq”. These letters provide interesting source materia! for the life story of the Allama during the period 1936-1938.

In 1936 at its annual session, the Anjuman Himayat-i-lslam celebrated one day as ‘Urdu Day’. Maulvi Abdul Haq presided at the functions held on the Urdu Day. On this occasion Allama Iqbal invited Maulvi Abdul Haq to dinner at his residence. Maulana Zafar All Khan and Chaudhri Muhammad Hussain also attended the dinner. The Allama advised the Maulana that his Anjuman should take a bold stand that the Arabic script in the case of Urdu would not be changed.

A few months later this question came up for consideration at a high powered meeting at Nagpur presided over by Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi urged that in the cause of nationalism the Muslims should accept the Devanagari script for Urdu. Maulvi Abdul Haq made a counter proposal that Urdu should be accepted as the lingua franca of India. Mahatma Gandhi said that he could not accept the proposal as Urdu was the religious language of the Muslims and was written in the Quranic script. Maulvi Abdul Haq thereupon retorted that if the Hindus could not leave Hindi how could they expect the Muslims to leave Urdu which was their heritage?

In September 1936, Maulvi Abdul Haq wrote a letter to the Allama in which he requested him to attend the annual session of the Urdu Conference. The main points to be considered by the Conference were firstly to shift the Head office of Anjuman Taraqi Urdu to some city in India, and secondly to establish an Urdu Publishing House.

The Allama replied to this letter on 27th September 1936. He said that as he was suffering he could not travel. He added that if he felt any improvement in his health he would be pleased to attend the Conference. He suggested that the Head office of the Anjuman should be shifted to Lahore. He approved the proposal for the setting up of a Urdu Publishing House, but he was not very sure as to how the House would be financed. He was of the view that the question of funds would present some difficulty as most of the Muslim leaders were heavily under debt. In prophetic vein the Allama observed that the future battles for the preservation the Muslims were going to be fought in the Punjab and it was accordingly advisable that Lahore should be made the centre of activities for the promotion of Urdu, the language of the Muslims.

It was decided that the Urdu Conference would hold its annual session at Aligarh. During these days a Palestine Conference was proposed to be held at Delhi and the Allama was requested to preside at the Conference. The Allama’s health did not improve and he felt acute pain in the back. He was very much interested in the Palestine Conference, but in view of failing health he had to forego the pleasure of attending the Palestine Conference. On 21st October the Allama wrote to Maulvi Abdul Haq that as he continued to suffer, it would not be possible for him to attend the Urdu Conference. He wished the Conference success and said:
“The future of the Muslims in India depends on the success of your movement. From many points of view your movement is not less important than the movement which originated with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.”

The Urdu Conference was held at Aligarh and it was a success. The Conference took the decision that the Head office ofthe Anjuman should be shifted to Delhi. It was also decided that the Anjuman should be registered. Maulvi Abdul Haq forwarded a copy of the proceedings of the Conference to the Allama in April 1937. On 28th April 1937 the Allama addressed a letter to Maulvi Abdul Haq. He agreed with the decisions to shift the head office of the Anjuman to Delhi. He also agreed that the Anjuman should be registered, he added:

“For the promotion and development of Urdu it will be necessary for you to shift to Delhi. I do not know whether your circumstances permit your shifting to Delhi. I wish for the remaining days of my life I had been with you to v^ork 4 in the cause of Urdu. I regret that while on the one hand the maladies do not leave me, on the other I am much worried about the looking after of my two young children.

The next letter was written on 3rd August 1937. In this letter the Allama referred to the death of Sir Ross Masood who was a common friend of the Allama and Maulvi Abdul Haq. In the letter the Allama said:

“Sir Ross Masood was an embodiment of character, nobility, and sympathy. He had inherited these virtues from his father and grandfather. With his death, these values have also disappeared from India.

The very day the sad news of the death of Sir Ross Masood was received In Lahore, I wrote a few verses giving expression to my grief at his death. These verses do not deserve to be called an elegy. As a matter of fact I am not adept in elegy writing. For me the grief at the death of Masud was a motivating force. I have the conviction that although he has been separated from us, he is not dead, but is very much alive. To shed tears on such occasion is natural, but the faith that those who die live and zre merely separated from us affords me comfort in my grief. I have been of this view for the last forty years.

The Allama sent the verses that he had written on the death of Sir Ross Masud to Maulvi Abdul Haq. Iqbal also wanted Maulvi Sahib to pay his respects to Sir Akbar Hydari who was understood to have returned from England. The Allama also stated that his eye sl?ht was falling and he had got the letter written by some one else.

The next letter was written on 9th September 1937. In this letter the Alama said:

“For the work that you are doing for the preservation of Urdu the coming generations of the Muslims will be grateful to you. But who knows better than you that in the matter of language much reliance cannot be placed on the grant from Government. Languages develop because of their inner potentialities. Their survival depends on their capacity to express new thoughts and emotions. Your efforts should be in accordance with the programme approved at Aligarh. Occasional tours to the Punjab are also necessary.”

In this letter, Iqbal referred to a personal matter as well. He said:

“You will recall that in one of your previous letters you have written that I should not feel concerned over worldly affairs, but the responsibility therefor should be passed on to my friends. Have you taken any practical step in this connection? if you have not done anything so far, I feel that it’s the time to do something as Sir Akbar Hydari in his letters has kindred some hope in this connection.”

Ir. appears that like Bhopal, Hyderabad State proposed to settle some pension on him. This proposal however, did not materialise.
The next letter was written on the 7th October 1937 on the eve of the annual session of the Muslim League at Lucknow. The Allama wrote:

“I understand that the Muslim League has invited you to attend the session at Lucknow. Please do attend the session. If in the open session of the League a resolution is passed in support of Urdu that will serve a useful purpose.”

In December 1937, the Allahabad University conferred the decree of O. Litt on Maulvi Abdul Haq. in his letter dated 23rd December the Aliama congratulated Maulvi Abdul Haq on the award of the Degree. He also congratulated the Allahabad University for their keen perception in the recognition of merit.

The last letter of the Aliama to Maulvi Abdul Haq was addressed on 15th March 1938. In this letter the Aliama said that he understood that Syed Nazir Niyazi was translating for the Anjuman.Saryon’s book on the History of Science. The Aliama said that he had read some parts of the translation and it was satisfactory. He suggested that some more time should be given to Syed Nazir Niyazi so that he might complete the job with due ease.



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