BOOK REVIEW
A Serious Literary Journal
Review by Dr Afzal Mirza
al-Aqreba
(Annual Issue 2006)
Editor: Syed Mansur Aquil
Publisher: Al-Aqreba Foundation, Islamabad
Pages: 204
Price: Rs 70

It goes to the credit of former bureaucrat Syed Mansur Aquil that magazine al-Aqreba is being regularly published dot at time without compromising its literary and aesthetic standard. The present issue is the ninth annual issue which possesses all the ingredients of a serious literary journal.
In the last few issues the editor had started writing some profound editorials on various literary issues but this time he has justifiably taken up the earthquake and its aftermath as his subject. It becomes far more relevant because the magazine is published from Islamabad which was also severely hit by the quake and this had a deep impact on the psyche of the literati of that area. This is the reason why he has earmarked a separate section in the magazine on the writings pertaining to this devastating happening under the heading “Qahar Aashob.” The section includes some passionate contributions by Muhammad Shafi Arif Dehlvi, Naeem Fatima Alvi, Mahmood Akhtar Saeed and moving poems by Amin Rahat Chughtai, Saifur Rehman Saifi and Shahida Lateef. Both the short stories in the section, especially the one by Mahmood Akhtar Saeed entitled Koi School Ki Ghanti Baja De, evokes compassionate feelings for the victims of the tragedy:
As usual this time as well the section Maqalat -o- Mazameen is the strongest and the contributors are Dr Mohammad Mueezuddin, Dr Ghulam Shabir Rana, Dr Shahid Hasan Rizvi,Dr Khayal Amrohvi, Dr Muzammal Bhatti,Qamar Raeeni and Prof Mashkoor Huasain Yaad. In his article Dr Mueez has described the importance of Iqbal and his philosophy and poetry in present-day Persia. The writer rightly points out that Iqbal’s interest in Iran could be seen from the subject of his thesis “Development of Metaphysics in Persia”. He has also tried to explain the reason why Iqbal did his research in Cambridge but got his doctorate from Munich University. Why didn’t he submit it to Cambridge University for his PhD? He puts to rest various earlier speculations that it was not of the desired standard for a doctorate degree by saying that before 1921 Cambridge had not started awarding PhDdegrees, that is why Iqbal submitted the thesis to Munich University and learnt the German language to defend it. He has however not explained what Iqbal was doing at Heidelberg University. He also reveals that Iqbal switched to writing poetry in Persian language on the suggestion of his friend Sir Abdul Qadir.
Dr Muzammal Bhatti has contributed an interesting article on Islamic Calligraphy. He has traced the origin of Islamic Calligraphy to the times of the holy Prophet when his companions jotted down God’s message. This art then reached Medina from Makka. The first calligrapher was Zaid ben Harris and the first to write Bismillah was Khalid bin Saeed Abu Al-Aas. He also points out that Hazrat Ali was also a good calligrapher of the Koofi script. Among the present day calligraphers he has given the names of Aslam Kamal, Zawwar Husain,Abdul Wahid, Sadequain, Gul Jee and others forgetting to mention Haneef Ramay. Syed Intikhab Ali Kamal’s lengthy article on Allama Seemab Akbarabadi is also worth mentioning. He has shed light on hitherto unknown aspects of the personality of this popular poet of the third half of last century. Seemab Sahib got his poems corrected by Daagh Dehlvi and among his well-known protégés was famous poet Saghar Nizami.
Abdul Hamid Azami who retired from a senior position in Radio Pakistan a few years ago now devotes most of his time in research .Last time he had unraveled the mystery of Maulvi Madan. This time he has dug out the background of Mian Miskeen, a poet and rival of Mirza Rafi Sauda whom Sauda had mentioned in one of his Hijvs in the line: ”Phir koi na pooche Mian Miskeen kahan ho” He writes that Miskeen was a prolific Marsiya writer who migrated to Calcutta when Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was interned there.
In the poetry section one finds the names of Abdul Aziz Khalid, Shabnam Roomani, Muztar Akbarabadi, Saifur Rehman Saifi, Dr Khayal Amrohvi, Karamat Bokhari, Amin Rahat Chughtai and Anwaar Feroze. Poet Owais Jafrey who lives in America has written a meaningful poem entitled Mere Qabeele Mein Aane Wali .The poet has addressed this poem to an American white girl who has married a Pakistani Muslim and has beautifully described to her the character of the person she has married and the shape of the social structure she would be entering which was totally different from the one she had been living in. The magazine also carries the critical reviews penned by Syed Mansur Aquil on the latest books of Rabia Burney, Khayal Afaqi and Mashkoor Husain Yaad.


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