Dr. Abdul Jabbar Honored at San Francisco Literary Meet
By Ras Hafiz Siddiqui
Pictures above: Glimpses of the award ceremony. In the first picture on extreme left Dr Abdul Jabbar receives the award from Urdu “Poet of the West” Javaid Sayed
There is sometimes a tendency amongst overseas Pakistanis to overlook the achievements of people from within our community, especially when they themselves don’t speak up and “toot their own horns,” so to speak.
But if one has known Dr. Abdul Jabbar of San Francisco for any length of time, one will certainly know that he will not speak up to glorify himself. He remains his usual humble self, something that his wife Talat will accurately attest to. But his work on behalf of our community already speaks for him.
Now that does not mean that there are not others here who will not speak well about him. In San Francisco, Urdu “Poet of the West”, Javaid Sayed is one such individual who has known Dr. Jabbar for several decades. And so has Berkeley’s Khawaja Ashraf, another Urdu writer who has been quite prolific with the release of “Mitti Ka Beta” and “Aina Khani,” just to name a couple of his recently published books. This scribe has to admit that there are too many books and just too little time to read and review their works.
Pakistani Americans are a very creative lot. Dr. Jabbar is one of our most unique literary representatives especially since he is not a novelist. One of his main achievements has been his role as a teacher of English and Interdisciplinary Studies at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF). The publication of his book “Reading And Writing With Multicultural Literature Volume I &II” available through Montezuma Publishing has been widely hailed. It is a phenomenal textbook, praised not just by students but by some English teachers as well. This detailed 850 plus-page work had been in progress for almost 15 years. We are glad to note that it has now become a reality.
Dr. Jabbar was educated at Gordon College Rawalpindi. He received a Fulbright Scholarship and completed his PhD from Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio. In addition to this honor, he has received two National Endowment for the Humanities awards since that time. His long teaching career has also included a role as visiting Professor at UC Berkeley. His other activities also continue to be noteworthy. At the moment, Dr. Jabbar is Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Central Asia Institute, an effort led by “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson.
The event itself was attended by a select group of people with a range of literary interests. Javaid Sayed as the host introduced Dr. Abdul Jabbar and highlighted his contributions to not just the literary but the political and social realm of Pakistani-American life as well. Khawaja Ashraf echoed similar sentiments. This scribe also added his observations by reminding the gathering that Dr. Jabbar does a great deal of work but takes very little or no credit for it. One wishes that more people in the community would emulate his style (since we often find the opposite to be true). Dr. Jabbar was presented with a token of our community appreciation by Javaid in recognition of his long years of silent service to Pakistani-Americans. Dr. Jabbar spoke briefly and humbly accepted his award. A poetry recital followed with free verse Urdu poetry presented by visiting poet Alishan Zaidi and fine tarannum by Rashid Butt Sahib. A delicious dinner followed during which a very happy Javed Ellahie informed us all that the San Francisco Giants had beaten the Philadelphia Phillies to enter the World Series of baseball.