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06 April 2012

Prof. A. Q. Desnavi groomed a generation of students to excel with humane face

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By Pervez Bari


Bhopal: The late Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi apart from being a par excellence teacher, writer, critic, linguist, bibliographer, scholar and researcher of Urdu language and literature, was a unique person who took keen interests to train and groom a generation of his students to excel in their fields with a humane face.


Prof. Desnavi’s arduous painstaking training regimen which motivated his students to read, write and speak publicly under his watchful eyes did pay rich dividends and they are living examples for one and all to see. The dream he saw did become true when in his lifetime when he saw a host of them shining on the firmament of the Urdu world while carrying on his legacy of promoting the cause of Urdu by eating, drinking and breathing it as he himself did it in his career spread over 50 years.


Not only this Prof. Desnavi took extra-ordinary pains to inculcate the moral values in his students to become men of character, true representatives of humanity and become good and true citizens of India when they take up their due place in society.


The towering personality of Prof. Desnavi came alive with vivid memories of him getting rekindled while one sat through the two-day National seminar on “Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi Hyat Aur Adabi Khidmaat” (Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi, Life & Literary Achievements) listening to about two dozen papers presented on him. The scholars while throwing light on his head and heart qualities described myriad aspects of his character and listed his literary triumphs of his writings on Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Mirza Ghalib, Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi et al. Apart from this all the scholars pointedly stressed upon his unique trait of grooming students like a sculptor carves out his wares.


The auditorium of Mulla Ramuzi Sanskriti Bhavan, the headquarters of Madhya Pradesh Urdu Academy, where the seminar was held on April 1 and 2 last echoed and resonated for two days with the name of late Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi, who has over 50 books to his credit. An aura of knowledge, education, learning, wisdom and understanding of Urdu pervaded all over the place. The air became thick with his literary epoch works on Iqbaliyaat, Ghalibiyaat, Bhopaliyaat etc. along with his treatise on Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, which is often termed as encyclopaedia on Azad, and Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi as scholars after scholars from all over the country mentioned their worth in the Urdu literary world.


The family members of Prof. Desnavi, which included his wife, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law along with grandchildren and other relatives, some of whom even descended on Bhopal from beyond the Indian shores especially for the seminar, listened in rapt attention to every word that was spoken about him with joy and sorrow both. It appeared that they often went into trance seeing people praising their mentor so highly of him after he was gone. It seemed at times as if they were dismayed trying to figure out as to why all this did not happen in his lifetime so that he could have drawn solace from the agony he suffered from some of his hecklers in Bhopal while engaged in his literary pursuits.


As such a common refrain expressed by the scholars, who presented papers, and the assemblage, who converged to attend the seminar, both was that Prof. Desnavi did not receive his due in his lifetime which he really deserved as a gigantic literary figure. On the contrary some disgruntled elements in Bhopal had conspired and connived to defame him on flimsy issues but he stood his ground by maintaining a stoic silence while keeping himself busy with his works. His literary works when published and acclaimed by people beyond the boundaries of Bhopal at the national and international level made his detractors realise their folly and they befriended him. He embraced them with open arms. They soon fell in line to become his admirers along with others.


The seminar was organised by Ilma Education Society, Bhopal under the joint aegis of National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language, (NCPUL) and Madhya Pradesh Urdu Academy.
Meanwhile, Kailash Sarang, former Rajya Sabha member, while delivering his inaugural speech on day one said that Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi apart from reaching zenith in his literary pursuits in his lifetime, was a colossal personality in whom the cultural and high moral values were ingrained to the core which flowed in his veins in abundance. He was a gem of a person with an upright honest approach in life who did no wrong in his public life while serving the cause of Urdu till his last breath. He inculcated the qualities of a good upright citizen among his students beside imparting the knowledge of Urdu literature to them, he added.


Mr. Sarang recalled that Prof. Desnavi relinquished the office of the secretaryship of Madhya Pradesh Urdu Academy in the 1990s, a much sought after post then, in just two years time after taking over when some vested interests tried to create impediments in the smooth working of the Academy. If he had continued and was allowed a free hand then the Urdu Academy would have scaled great heights, he remarked.


Continuing Sarang said: “I feel honoured in remembering such a person of high calibre like Prof. Desnavi and salute him for his honesty and trust-worthiness along with his invaluable contributions to Urdu literature”.


Urdu litterateur Prof. Afaq Ahmad, who presided over the inaugural function, while congratulating the organisers of the seminar said that Prof. Desnavi himself wrote so much about Bhopal and motivated his students to do the same that if all this is collected and put together at one place then one can have “Bhopal Darshan”. He came to Bhopal all the way from Bihar via Mumbai and became part of the city by assimilating himself with the ethos of Bhopal culture while enhancing it by his literary pursuits and introducing the city to the world of Urdu at the all India level and abroad.


Prof. Afaq Husain Siddiqui delivered the keynote address in the inaugural function. He said Prof. Desnavi held a broad outlook and vision about Urdu language and literature. He had enormous love with Urdu language and had interests in all Urdu poets and litterateurs of all genres.


Prof. Siddiqui said: “Temperamentally Prof. Desnavi had an inclination towards research work which though a difficult path to tread upon but he enjoyed it. Despite this he did not limit himself to some particular field of Urdu literature but exhibited his over-flowing talent in areas like “Tahqueeq, Tanqueed, Maqala Nigari, Mazmoon Nigari, Ansha Pardazi, Khaka Nigari, Reportas etc.”.


Mr. Kausar Siddiqui, Director of the organising committee, welcomed the guests while Maulana Syed Sharafat Ali Nadvi conducted the proceedings of the inaugural function with aplomb.


Others who also spoke in the inaugural function included Prof. Ateequllah (Delhi), Prof. Khalid Mahmood, Dr. Mohammad Nauman (all from Delhi) and Prof. Shakoor Khan, former principal of local Saifia College where Prof. Desnavi was Head of the Urdu Department.


Meanwhile, a book by Dr. Arjumand Bano Afshan entitled “Riyasat Bhopal Aur Mashaheer Urdu” was released by Kailash Sarang and Prof. Afaq Ahmad in the inaugural function of the seminar. Master Daem Desnavi, grandson of Prof. Desnavi and son of Ali Naqui Desnavi, presented a Nazm “Mere Dada” on the occasion.


On the second day presentation of papers continued in two sessions which were held. Dr. Mahtab Alam, Madhya Pradesh Correspondent of Urdu ETV, instead of presenting a paper spoke extempore. While lauding Prof. Desnavi’s contributions to Urdu literature, he said that the history of Urdu literature after partition of India would remain incomplete if the works and names of three Urdu litterateurs viz. Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi, Prof. Abu Mohammad Sahar, who also hailed from Bhopal, and Prof. Gyanchand Jain are not included.


Dr. Alam said: “Prof. Desnavi Ne Bhopal MeiN Ek Ahad Ki Tarbiyat Ki Jo Urdu Ke Manzar Naame Par Mulk MeiN Nazar Aate HaiN”.


Later, Prof. Afaq Ahmad while speaking in the valedictory function on the second day said that Prof. Desnavi after coming to Bhopal searched thoroughly the libraries of the city before starting his literary journey. He himself wrote much about Bhopal in relation to leading literary figures associated with Bhopal and also inspired his students to do so.


Prof. Afaq said Prof. Desnavi, who had all the capabilities to adorn the high chair of any of the reputed national universities of the country, did not strive for it but preferred to stay back in Bhopal and adopt it as his home. Though he accomplished a great task in his lifetime but he wanted to do more.


One of the good points about Prof. Desnavi was that he used to revise his writings as Allama Iqbal did. He pointed out that Allama Iqbal rephrased the opening couplet of his Tarana-e-Hind after few days as he considered communalism being more dangerous than regionalism. As such the habit of revising one’s writings is attribute of good writers which Prof. Desnavi no doubt possessed, Prof. Afaq added.


Ali Muttaqui Desnavi, the eldest son of Prof. Desnavi who is a Nuclear scientist posted at Kota (Rajasthan), while thanking all the scholars who presented papers or put forth their views about his late father, recalled and narrated many incidents which depicted the love for Urdu and the sacrifices made to propagate the language by the departed soul. He recalled that his father gave up smoking till his last breath to meet out the expenses of education of his progenies and remained committed not to charge anything from his students who approached him to learn Urdu.


Earlier, Prof. Mohammad Nauman Khan, who had been one of Prof. Desnavi’s student and later also became his son-in-law, informed that Prof. Desnavi was lucky that in his lifetime a book containing articles on him was published. The papers presented in this seminar would be soon published. Now, after this seminar the Linguistic Department of Govt. of India is holding a seminar in which one session has been dedicated to Prof. Desnavi’s life and works, he added.
In all five sessions which included valedictory function were held in the two days after the inaugural ceremony wherein papers were presented on different aspects of Prof. Desnavi’s life and literary works. Those scholars who presented papers included: Prof. Ateequllah, Prof. Khalid Mahmood, Dr. Maula Baqsh, Dr. Mohammad Nauman Khan, Dr. Farooq Ansari and Dr. Khalid Mubashshir (all Delhi); Prof. Manzar Husain and Mohammad Huzaifa Rahmani (both Ranchi), Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan (Jabalpur); Dr. Saifi Sironji and Dr. Shan Fakhri (both Sironj); Master Akhtar, Arif Aziz, Ms Farhat Jahan, Maulana Syed Sharafat Ali Nadwi, Iqbal Masood, Rasheed Anjum, Dr. (Mrs.) Razia Hamid, Naseem Ansari, Zia Farooqui, Khalid Abidi, Javed Yazdani, and Inamullah Lodhi (all from Bhopal).


Some of the topics on which the scholars presented their papers were: “Prof. AQ Desnavi Bahaisiyat Iqbal Shanasi”; “Prof. AQ Desnavi Bahaisiyat Naqqad”; “Ilm-wa-Tadrees Ke Vatvarksh Prof. AQ Desnavi”; “Iqbaliyat Ka Aik Anokha Qari Abdul Qavi Desnavi”; “Prof. AQ Desnavi Bahaisiyat Muaqqiq-wa-Naqqad”; “Prof. AQ Desnavi Bahaisiyat Azad Shanas”; “Prof. AQ Desnavi: Aik Dhoop Thi Jo Saath Gayee Aftab Ke”; “Mere Ustad Prof. Desnavi” etc.
The untiring efforts of Mr. Kausar Siddiqui, Director of Ilma Education Society, Prof. Afaq Husain Siddiqui, Prof. Mohammad Nauman Khan and other members of the organising committee along with Mr. Ali Nawaz Desnavi, the youngest son of Prof. Desnavi, bore fruits and the national seminar was organised with utmost success.


It goes to his credit that Prof. Desnavi after migrating from Desna in Bihar via Bombay to Bhopal in 1961 adopted the city of erstwhile Nawabs and Begums as his second home till his last breath. He did everything in his capacity to bring Bhopal on the world map of Urdu and in his efforts he was much successful. Now, it would be in the fitness of things that the people of Bhopal should perpetuate Prof. Desnavi’s memory by establishing some memorial which could be some award in his name given annually to upcoming Urdu scholars or something else worth his stature. This would be a true tribute to the person who did so much for Bhopal and its people without expecting any material gains in return from them.


Meanwhile, it may be stated here that Prof. Abdul Qavi Desnavi (November 1, 1930 - July 7, 2011) had authored more than 50 books on Urdu literature. His books were also translated in other languages. His important work was about Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Mirza Ghalib, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and litterateurs of Bhopal.


Prof. Desnavi received many awards in his lifetime, such as Shibli Award, Mumbai, 1957; Senior Fellowship, Ministry of Education & Culture, Government Of India for 4 Years, 1979-1983; Sanad “Imteyaz Meer” All India Meer Academy, Lucknow 1981; Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan Provincial Award, Bhopal 1986; Bihar Urdu Academy Award, for recognition of Urdu services (1988–89) & (1989–90); All India "Parvez Shahidi Award" West Bengal Urdu Academy, Calcutta 1998.


He received Senior Fellowship from the Union Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India. His great treatise was a voluminous book on one of India’s frontline freedom fighter and first Union Education Minister Maulana Abul Kalam Azad over 900 pages titled "Hayat-e-Abul Kalam Azad" which he penned in the year 2000. It was acclaimed nationally and internationally.
Prof. Desnavi was born on November 1, 1930 in village Desna of block Asthawan in Nalanda district Bihar. He belonged to the family of great Muslim scholar Maulana Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, who was one of the eminent historian and biographers of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), during his times. He was the second son of late Prof. S. M. Saeed Raza, who was Professor of Urdu, Arabic and Persian languages in St. Xavier's College, Mumbai. His elder brother was Prof. Syed Mohi Raza and younger brother was Syed Abdul Wali Desnavi.


[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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