Dr Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, a Man of Letters, Passes away
By Dr A. Khan
Dr Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, an academician per excellence, a unique critic, a prolific writer, in short, a man of letters, passed away in Karachi on January 9, after a brief ailment.
Dr Siddiqui was born on March 7, 1938 in Amroha, British India. After the partition in 1947, his family migrated to Pakistan. He received his early education at Christian Mission School in Karachi. After graduating from D.J. Science College, he attended the University of Karachi, and received his Master of Arts in English Literature, and later at the same institution, completed his PhD and DLitt degrees in Pakistan Studies.
Dr Siddiqui served as the Director General of Quaid-i-Azam Academy at the University of Karachi. After retirement from the University he worked as the D ean of Faculty of Social Sciences at the Hamdard University, Karachi, and as the Dean of Faculty of Management and Social Sciences, at the Institute of Business and Technology, Karachi.
Dr Siddiqui was a prolific writer. For almost four decades, he wrote a column in DAWN under the pen name of Ariel. He also regularly wrote articles for a number of publications including Morning News, Business Recorder, Hurriyat,Jaam-e-Nauh, Auraak, Afkaar and Funoon.
Dr Siddiqui was truly a man of letters; knowledge was his business. His scholarship can be gauged by his vast volume of intellectual output; he authored/edited many books including the following :
- Tawazun (A Book of Critical Writing) 1976
- Croce Key Sargozasht (Translation of Bendetto Croce, Autotrigraphy) 1976
- Nishanaat (A Collection of Critical Writings) 1981
- Pakistaniat (Vol.1), Edited with Dr H.M. Jafri1989
- Mazameem (A Book of Critical Writings) 1991
- Isharye (Collection of Critical Writings) 1994
- Quaid-i-Azam: A Chronology (Urdu) - Published by Quaid-i-Azam Academy
- Quaid-i-Azam: A Chronology (English) - Published by Quaid-i-Azam Academy
- Quaid-i-Azam: Speeches (English) - Published by Quaid-i-Azam Academy
- Quaid-i-Azam: Urdu Adibon Ki Nazar Mein (Urdu) - Published by Quaid-i-Azam Academy
- Zikr-i-Quaid-i-Azam (Urdu) - Published by Quaid-i-Azam Academy
- Talash-i-Iqbal (Urdu) 2002
- Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Aur Jiddat Pasandi (Urdu) 2003
- Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Aur Jiddat Pasandi (Urdu) 2nd Edition , 2004
- Mutalea-i-Josh Malihabadi (Urdu) 2005
- Ghalib Aur Aaj Ka Shaoor, Idara-i-Yaadgar-i-Ghalib, 2005
- Idrak (A Collection of Critical Writings), 2007
Dr Siddiqui was also a unique critic of Urdu literature. Describing the traits of criticism , he observed, “Criticism is a specialized field. A literary critic has to be well equipped with all tools of inter-disciplinary insights and perspectives, and he should be able to evaluate and compare local literature with the literature of the world. I know that people consider me arrogant when I refuse to write for the flap of any poet’s anthology, or decline the invitation to a literary program. But I believe in honest criticism. To express an opinion is one thing and to criticize is another. If you are an opinionated person you have every right to express your opinion, but that does not make you a critic.”
Dr Siddiqui also authored more than 100 research articles. His books Tawazum , and Croce ki Sarguzasht won literary awards in 1976 and 1979. He was given the Pride of Performance award by the Government of Pakistan in 2003 in recognition of his literary contributions. Dr Siddiqui has left behind a legacy of unique scholarship especially in the area of literary criticism. He is survived by his wife, two sons and four daughters. May his soul rest in peace. (Amen)