Al-Aqreba: An Impressive Literary Magazine
By Saeed Malik
Lahore


The volume of literature, including books and magazines, published in a country serve as a yardstick for measuring the intellectual development of its people. In developed countries like the US, the UK, Germany and Japan, annual production of books runs into six digits and libraries in these countries keep millions of books on their shelves. Unfortunately, Pakistan is placed at the lowest rung of the ladder of countries where books and literary magazines are produced aplenty every year. Only once in a blue moon one comes across a quality magazine or a few books produced in this country.
I have before me a copy of the annual number of Al-Aqreba, a quarterly Urdu magazine, which appears from Islamabad under the aegis of Al-Aqreba Foundation. This impressive literary magazine emerged on the literary scene of Pakistan and had its first brush with the literary market in 2001. Within a short span of four years, it has convincingly established its credentials as one of the frontline and most sought-after Urdu literary magazines published in Pakistan. It has works by literati who are admired for their gift of the jab and literary accomplishments. Some of them are considered authorities on Urdu language and literature and serve as guiding lights to the intellectuals and writers of today.
Since its inception four years ago this quarterly magazine has won large readership not only in Pakistan but also from other countries of the world, including Australia, Europe, Middle East, North America and the United Kingdom. The multifaceted personality and dynamism of its editor Syed Mansur Aqil has contributed much to such wide acceptance of the magazine, who satiates and caters to the literary tastes of cultivated laymen and critics alike. His edifying editorials always have a sense of purpose and rigorously confront the facts of ethics in the present-day world of Urdu literature.
Included in an impressive list of contributors to the annual number of this prestigious quarterly are a number of internationally renowned literati, whose works – poems, hamds, naats, ghazals, short stories and critiques - combine scholarship with clarity of view and expression. This has made this literary magazine very attractive not only for scholars and students of literature but also cultivated readers.
To substantiate the point, the names of a few distinguished contributors are mentioned in this review. They are Prof. Aasi Kernali, Dr. M. Moizuddin, Dr. Aalia Imam, Prof. Shaukat Wasti, Prof. Razia Sultana, Prof. Suhail Akhter, Dr. Jamil Jaalibi, Dr. Sabahat Aasim, and Mr. Naved Zafar. These men and women of impressive literary record need no introduction.
Eminent personalities writing on topics of much human interest and different literary genres include Prof. Zuhair Kunjahi, Prof. Mashkoor Husain Yaad, Khatir Ghaznavi, Tauseef Tabassum, Himayat Ali Sha’ir, Abdul Aziz Khalid, Qamar Ru’eni, Guftaar Khiyali, and Mohsin Ehsan. On its editorial roster besides Syed Mansur Aqil are such erudite creative writers as Shehla Ahmed, Muhmmad Akhter Saeed, and Naasriuddin. Among its rotating consultative editors are Prof. Razia Sultana, Dr. Aali Imam, and Jalees Siddiqui, who need no introduction.
From among the foreign writers are: Pandit Anand Mohan Gulzar Zitshi, the indefatigable advocate of Urdu in India, and the founder of Anjuman-e-Ta’meer-e-Urdu. In his thought provoking article, he discusses in detail the story of Urdu in the Pakistan-India subcontinent. The poetry section opens with a beautiful Hamd “Dua-e-Neem Shub” by Owais Jafrey (US), who has contributed another poem “Ta’a’ruf”, which exhibits the mastery of his craftsmanship and sharpness of focus in highlighting the rise and fall of Muslim Ummah. Indian poetess Rabia Latif Burney’s diction, melody, and grace of language of her ghazal keep the reader spell-bound. Akbar Hyderabadi (UK) is another noteworthy poet, who is known for his chaste style in the subcontinent and abroad. The contributions made by such eminent poets and writers point to the quality, prestige, literary vigor and vim of the magazine.
Urdu is not only the national language of Pakistan, but a language written, spoken and understood by an estimated one billion people around the world. Its contemporary and classical literature contains some of the finest specimens of prose and poetry ever produced anywhere.
The most eminent among the celebrated literati have regularly contributed to Al-Aqreba, especially to its annual number 2005. Their creative works have added much to the credibility of this quarterly magazine winning it the approbation of being a first rate literary journal of Pakistan. Distinguished writers who are no more with us like Taj Saeed, Tabish Dehlvi, Mushfiq Khawaja, and Syed Habibullah Auj had also contributed to this magazine which is now counted among those few publications known for their productive values and monumental works in Urdu.
The appearance of Al-Aqreba on the literary scene of Pakistan four years ago heralded the creation of some new literary traditions in the country. The publication of literary magazines in not a flourishing business in this country and only persons with dedication and devotion to the cause of promoting good literature can brave the hardships inherent in keeping such a magazine in circulation.
Already several literary magazines published from Karachi, Lahore like Sareer (Ed. Dr. Faheem Azami) and Taqazey (Ed. Payam Shahjahanpuri) have disappeared from the literary ethos of Pakistan as a consequence of the demise of their editors, who were totally dedicated to the cause of Urdu literature. In this scenario keeping Al-Aqreba in circulation and maintaining the quality of its content is a horrendous task, which only men like Syed Mansur Aqil and members of his dedicated team of editors and contributors can keep.
The services of Al-Aqreba and its management for the promotion of Urdu literature in the sub-continent and other countries must be appreciated. Al-Aqreba’s representative for Australia can be reached at drsikanderkhan@hotmail.com , for UK/Europe qureshi@ss.life.co.uk and for USA and Canada jafreyomi@gmail.com


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