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Young generation should read history, says Rizvi
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 07 - 2015

Muhammad Mujahid Syed
Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — “The young generation shouldn't depend on only excerpts of Orientalists and historians. It should try to go through their complete works.
This method of study and diligence will help them in providing the correct idea of Arabic literature and Islamic history, “ said Dr. Khurshid Rizvi, a Pakistani scholar, poet, linguist and historian of Arabic language and literature.
“Savera, a prominent literary magazine, has recently published five chapters of the second volume of my book on pre-Islamic Arabic literature,” Rizvi said in an interview to Saudi Gazette during his visit to the Kingdom.
He was awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz by the government of Pakistan in 2008. His first volume of Arabi Adab Qabl Az Islam (The Arabic Literature Before Islam) a 700-page book, was welcomed in the Urdu literary circles with great enthusiasm.
Presently, he is working on the second volume of his book. This book covers the history and the place of Arabs and Arabic language among the Semitic races and languages.
“I had a chance to meet Naser Al-Din Al-Assad, the winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Arab Writers and earlier the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Language and Literature.
Al-Assad was considered to be the last surviving student of Taha Hussein, a legacy in Arab literature,” Rizvi said.
Al-Assad was born in 1922 and received his education in Cairo. He obtained his Ph.D. from Cairo University in 1955.
Al-Assad established the Jordanian University and was its vice chancellor from 1962-1968. He was Jordan's ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1977-1978.
“His most famous book, that tried to correct Taha Hussain's theory about pre-Islamic Arabic poetry, “Masadirus She'r Al-Jahili Wa Qimatuha Al-Tarikhiyah” (Sources of Jahili Poetry and Their Historical Value), is considered a reference book for the poetry before the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
In fact, it is the basis of Al-Assad's doctoral thesis that was supervised by Shawky Deif,” he said. “Al-Assad told me that when his book got published.
Taha Hussain (Al-Assad's mentor) got very upset and furious. ‘He rushed to my house and scolded me,'” Rizvi said of Al-Assad's recollection of the incident.
Rizvi continued: “Al-Assad, however, remained quiet till Taha Hussain reconciled and praised his disciple's personality and research.
“In the 20th century there were some attempts to suggest that the poetry attributed to the pagan Arabs was actually fabricated in later times.
Taha Hussain and earlier David Margoliouth of the Oxford University were ahead in stigmatizing Arabs of forgery based on a massive conspiracy involving political, religious, exegetical, professional, patriotic and resistance motives,” Rizvi said.
Rizvi added: “A.J. Arberry of Cambridge refuted and rubbished Margoliouth's claims as ‘quite unworthy of a man who was undoubtedly one of the greatest erudite' of his times.
Al-Assad did a great service by restoring confidence of the lovers of pre-Islamic poetry by refusing to accept Taha Hussain's views expressed in his book ‘Fil Adab Al-Jahili'.”
“One may be in disagreement with Taha Husain for his theories but his enchanting style attracts hearts and minds of his readers. His lucid style simply spell-bounds them.
I like Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz too, for his style as well as plots and characters of his novels. One wonders to think that he hardly ever went out of Cairo.
Mahfouz devoted his whole life keenly observing Cairo's surroundings and people. I am also a fan of Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi's writings. Arabs too are his fans.
Interestingly, Ali Mian's Arabic prose excels his own Urdu prose. To keep one update, in Pakistan, we are not able to get as many Arabic literary journals as we need but one can find many of them on Internet,” he said.
“In Urdu prose I am most impressed by Ghalib. As for the contemporaries I like the fiction of Intezar Hussain and critical prose of Dr. Wazir Agha.
Although Wazir Agha was more immersed in contemporary Western knowledge than in Oriental disciplines, he wrote Urdu prose in a very lucid and readable style least resorting to English words.
“Famous poet Jaun Elia's prose is laced with grand and unfamiliar words but his whole impact on the mind of readers is terrific.
Jaun, as a poet too, is quite distinguished for his style. Tauseef Tabussum as a poet and as a man attracts attention of his readers and audience.
Even in his biography “Band Gali Men Shaam” (Evening in the Blind Alley), he promotes others more than himself. His selfless nature enslaves one.
“Amongst the seniors, Zafar Iqbal is known for his innovations, while Anwar Shaoor's simple and spontaneous style has become very popular.
Abbas Tabish, Saud Usmani and later Hamida Shaheen also emerged as good poets,” Rizvi said, shedding light on the literary and poetic scene in Pakistan.

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