Urdu Academy Pays Tribute to Chiragh Hasan Hasrat
By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The Urdu Academy of North America dedicated its November 16, 2014 literary event to the life and work of Chiragh Hasan Hasrat, a prominent poet and satirist of Urdu.

Maryam Turab was the master of ceremony of the event held at the Chandni Restaurant, Fremont/Newark, CA. Professor Ibrahim Siddiqui was the guest of honor while Dr Ismat Kamal presided over the event.

As usual a number of Urdu lovers presented the poetry of Hasrat: Atia Naaz, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Arshad Rashid, Mujeebur Rehman, Mobeen Khalil, Mueez Khan, Nagesh Avadhani, Tashie Zaheer and Zafar Khan.

Atia Naaz perhaps stole the show with her melodious presentation of a doha of Chiragh Hasan Hasrat.

Maryam Turab presented a well-researched paper on the life and work of Chiragh Hasan Hasrat who was born in 1904 in the princely state of Punch (Kashmir) but migrated to Pakistan after matriculation. His father was a newly converted Muslim and had learnt Urdu and Persian. In his time the son too received a sound grounding in these two languages. He began composing poetry when he was still a student at school. Even at that time his natural bent of mind showed through his poetry: it was humorous and satirical. After completing his studies, Chiragh started teaching Persian in local schools but soon left the job as he didn't find it interesting.

In 1920 he joined a school at Shimla to teach Urdu and Persian.  Here he had a chance to meet with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and was greatly impressed by him. Hasrat quit the job and went to Calcutta (now Kolkata). Azad was in Calcutta and in addition to planning a re-launch of his famous newspaper 'Al-Hilal,' he was preparing to start a new weekly named 'Paigham'. Azad asked Hasrat to join.

Hasrat came back to Poonch, Kashmir. In 1925, he again went to Calcutta and joined the newspaper 'Nai Dunya' (the new world). Here he used to write a humor column 'Kalkatte ki baten' under the penname of 'Columbus'.

Hasrat came to Lahore in 1929. A great many number of  literary magazines  were being published from Lahore and, just like Calcutta, a galaxy of renowned writers had gathered in the city. Adding spice to that literary and cultural scene was the literary and cultural rivalry  raging  between UP and Punjab, according to Dr Tayyab Muneer who did his PhD on Hasrat's life and work. 'Niazmandan-e-Lahore' was an informal literary circle that used to defend the poets and writers of Punjab by writing rejoinders on their behalf. Soon Chiragh Hasan Hasrat became a member of Lahore's literary circles and lent his support to efforts of the circle to get recognition of Lahore as a distinct school of literature just like Delhi and Lucknow.

Chiragh Hasan Hasrat was a restless soul. He could not work anywhere for too long and looked for something different. But then his health deteriorated and he had to be content with writing a daily column in 'Nawa-e-Waqt'. Radio Pakistan, Lahore, arranged some programs with him but Hasrat fell ill again and died in Lahore on June 26, 1955.

Chiragh Hasan Hasrat wrote 16 books. 'Kele ka Chhilka' and 'Mataibaat' are collections of humorous writings. 'Harf-o-Hikayat' is the collection of his columns. 'Do doctor' and 'Murdum deeda' are collections of pen sketches. His humor drew upon current affairs but it is natural and his command over the Urdu language, his wit, metaphors and allusion made it a real treat for anybody who was well-read. This is perhaps one of the reasons why today he is not so popular, since most readers today are not acquainted with the finer points of literature.

Unfortunately, not a single poetic collection of Hasrat was ever published .

In the last phase of his life, which began with the editorship of Daily Imroze in 1948, Hasrat’s literary involvement seemed to be receding in the background. He emerged as the leading journalist of Pakistan who gave a new turn to Urdu journalism. It was at this time that he was seen both as a leading columnist as well as a prose writer.

Hasrat was a poet and journalist. Most of what he wrote had a streak of humor and he was perhaps more of a humorist than anything else. Dr Tayyab Muneer's PhD dissertation on 'Chiragh Hasan Hasrat' was published by Idara-e-Yadgar-e-Ghalib in 2003.

At the end, Tashie Zaheer, President of Urdu Academy of North America thanked the audience for making the literary evening successful. He particularly thanked entrepreneur Syed Sarwat for promoting the cause of Urdu in the Bay Area.




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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