Saturday, July 11, 2009

Muhammad Hussain Azad

Muhammad Husain Azad (1830-1910)was an Urdu writer, who is regarded as the best Urdu prose writer. He wrote prose as well as poetry but he is mostly remembered for his prose. He contribution and impact is immense to Urdu literature and prose in particular.

He is famous for his masterpiece Aab-e-Hayat (meaning elixir of life). It is regarded as the most often printed and most widely read book of Urdu because of its numerous qualities, which makes it a constant companion or a book of reference for an ardent Urdu lover.

He was born in Delhi in a highly educated Persian immigrant family. His mother died when he was four years old. His father was Maulvi Muhammad Baqir (c.1810-1857), was a man of versatile talents, and was educated at the newly founded Delhi College. Besides his many other activities he worked in the British administration. In early 1837 Maulvi Muhammad Baqir bought a press and launched the Dihli Urdu Akhbaar (Delhi Urdu Newspaper), which was probably the first Urdu newspaper in north India. Maulvi Muhammad Baqir was executed for siding with Mughals and joining the rebellion in 1857.

Muhammad Husain Azad was the only son of Maulvi Baqir and was married to Aghai Begum daughter of another Persian immigrant family. Following his father's death and a period of turmoil in Delhi, Azad migrated to Lahore in 1861. After struggling for years he gradually settled down in Lahore and started teaching at newly founded (1964) Government College, Lahore,and later at Oriental College, Lahore, found under the auspices of Anjuman-e-Punjab (Punjab Society).

In Lahore he came in contat of Dr. G. W. Leitner who was the Principal and founder of Anjuman-e-Punjab. Anjuman-ePunjab's mission was solely cultural and academic, Anjuman arranged public lectures, set up a free library and reading room, compiled educational texts and translations in Indian languages, and established Lahore's famous Oriental College. The Anjuman was actively supported by leading British officials of the time and was considered a grat success. In 1866 Azad became a regularly paid lecturer on behalf of the Anjuman; in 1867 he became its secretary.In 1887 he managed to set up the 'Azad Library', which earned him praise and earned the title of 'Shams ul-ulamā' (Sun among the Learned). After undergoing great personal, health and mental loses, Azad died in Lahore in 1910, at the age of eighty.

Around 1845 he was enrolled at Delhi College in Urdu-medium 'Oriental' section, which offered Arabic and Persian rather than English. He keenly pursued his studies for about eight years before graduating in 1854.


*Qisas ul-hind (Stories of India)-1869
*Nairang-e Khiyāl (The Wonder-World of Thought)-1880-worked on a volume
of thirteen allegorical essays, mostly by Samuel Johnson and Joseph *Addison, that he transcreated into Urdu.
*Āb-e Hayāt (Water of Life/Elixir)-1880-Book about the life of Urdu pooets
and linguistic development of Urdu.
*Sukhandān-e fārs (On Iranian Poets)- completed in [[1887], published in
*Darbār-e akbarī (The Court of Akbar)-1898

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