15th June 19:55
By Intizar Hussain
Maulana Chiragh Hasan Hasrat least deserved to be consigned to
oblivion. He was a distinguished journalist and more than that. I will
venture to say that in the history of Urdu journalism, he ranks second
only to Maulana Zafar Ali Khan. His column, Harf-o-Hikayat, still
stands unparalleled in Urdu. But soon after his death in 1955, his
name sank into oblivion. Sindbad Jahazi, his pseudonym, is now a
forgotten name for readers of Urdu columns.
But now, after about half-a-century, the Idara-i-Yadgar-i-Ghalib of
Karachi has come out with a research work on him, where we find a full
account of the man and his achievements. The researcher is Dr Tayyab
Munir who has collected facts about his lineage, his life, his
different engagements and involvements and his journalistic
activities. The facts about his father, who was a convert, a
nau-Muslim, make an interesting story.
Maulana Chiragh Hasan Hasrat was fortunate in having come into contact
at the very start of his journalistic career with the best brains of
his time, such as Maulana Abul-kalam Azad and Nawab Naseer Husain
Khyal. While in Lahore, he got the opportunity to come into contact
with Allama Iqbal. He learnt much from them. In fact, these three
personalities had been a great influence in his life. It is
interesting to know that in his early years of writing career, he was
much under the influence of the grandiloquent diction of Maulana Azad.
But the company of Naseer Husain Khyal, who worked as a
counter-influence, helped him to come out of this and to know the
value of writing with ease and facility.
It was perhaps under the influence of these personalities that he felt
inclined towards classical literature, both poetry and prose, and
developed a fine literary taste. He expected the same kind of study of
classics from the writers of his time. Every young writer who chanced
to meet him had to face a challenging question from him.
"Maulana, have you read Tilism-i-Hoshruba?"
The reply, in general, came in the negative. Disappointed, he would
heave a long sigh and say "Maulana, if you have not read
Tilism-i-Hoshruba, you have read nothing."
For those who were known for their study of western fiction, he had a
question to ask.
"Maulana, have you read Tolstoy's War and Peace?"
Getting a reply in the negative, he would again sigh and say:
"Maulana, it is a pity you have not read it. War and peace is the
greatest novel in the world."
With this kind of study and a mature literary taste, he made an entry
in the world of journalism. He tried his best to infuse this literary
taste in contemporary Urdu journalism. While acting as editor of the
Imroze, he strictly saw to it that what was published in the paper was
in correct Urdu. Any sub-editor committing a linguistic error would
find himself under threat of suspension.
prose writers belonging to the literary world. In fact, he has to his
credit a number of writings, which fall under the category of
literature. I would like to cite one such writing. It is a collection
of mythological stories, which was published under the title Parbat ki
Baiti. Taking into consideration the kind of stories he was writing,
he attempted with great success a different kind of prose, which could
be called as Hindized prose. In this style, he had only one rival
among his contemporaries, Miraji.
The Maulana was, in fact, a journalist steeped in the best tradition
of Urdu and Persian classics. His humour, too, had been nourished by
the same tradition and so carried with it a dignified tone, knowing no
vulgarity. He himself was a man of dignity. And so he had to face
difficulties throughout his journalistic life. The way he resigned
from the Imroze speaks of his sense of dignity and self-respect. Here,
I may add a few words in respect of what Dr Tayyab Munir has said
about his resignation. Frankly speaking, his research here has
betrayed him. He is not right in saying that the Maulana was not
expecting that his resignation would be accepted, that he tried to
stick to the paper after his resignation was accepted. The true
position is that in the heat of the battle with the management, he
along with his editorial staff tendered his resignation, and within
hours he along with the staff members left the office and were on the
street. That he decided to leave office only when pressed by his
friends is totally wrong.
He has also said that after being relieved from the Imroze Hasrat
Sahib joined the daily Afaq for a brief period. Here, also, his
research has failed him. If so, has he some evidence about this?
Except a few unauthenticated statements of this kind, the book is a
reliable study of Hasrat's life and his journalism, and is helpful in
the understanding of his dynamic personality.