Dr.Shadab Ahmed is a cognized name in the domain of historical Indo-Persian, Arabic and Ottoman literature from the kingdoms, empires, emirates and sultanates. A Maxillofacial Surgeon by profession, and an extra-academic scholar of Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Sanskrit, Pali, Prakrit and Castilian literature in the Devanagari, Shahmukhi, Nasta’liq, Perso-Arabic, Latin &Orkhon scripts, Dr. Ahmed has translated, paraphrased, transliterated, composed, edited and published numerous books on inter-personal, belletrist and historical poetry. The themes of his book are as varied as his personality is.His book reviews and verses appear in major inter-continental poetry and literature journals. Today, in the context of his book “Befarmaid” – here are the excerpts of our conversation with the author.
Q. In the context of your book “Befarmaid”, what impact do you hope it will have on the readers’ understanding of Indian culture and history?
A. “Befarmaid” deals with authors of Persian and Urdu who primarily composed in the Shahmukhi and Nasta’liq scripts. The readers will observe different flashing points in Indian history among the verses versified in this book. Be it the political conquests in India by the Central Asians, or the desire of a secular India by the 13th to 15th century and 17th to 19th century mystics, or the general anguish prevalent in Indian literary society through the 18th century, or the development of the Deccani-style Sufi poetry and the Naqshbandi-Mujaddadi religious order, or the history of the Qadiri order or Owaisi order, or the ChishtiSama and the Sufi reforms aiming at the harmony of Sufi philosophy in Islam and Vedanta philosophy in Hinduism, or the Mughal-Afghan Wars and the rise of Afghan Nationalism, or the economic and political history of India with the advent of Western Imperialism – many details have been recorded by the contemporary poets, writers and chroniclers of the era. This will present another narrative beyond the traditionalist and orthodox orbit of the text books that we are used to gather historical, cultural and political history from. The readers will understand how rich and profound the Indian culture is, how diversified the Indian literary history has been and how together we have survived as natives and citizenry.
Q. What relevance doesyour book has for the contemporary readers and writers?
A. In this age when India has globalized and liberalized – Persian, Urdu and other vernacular native languages of India have been restricted to an intelligentsia community of scholars, academicians and patrons. English can be safely considered as the lingua franca of the masses now, for practical, conceptual and professional reasons. The situation is made more complex, as there exists a colonial past, which complicates the scenario with the presence of English as the Associate Official language of India. English has been variously described by educationists and politicians as an ‘imposition’ of the colonial rule, a ‘gift’ or the last ‘legacy’ of the imperial power. Young adults from Indian subcontinent today acknowledge the emergence of English as a global language owing to the process of globalization. I will acknowledge that though knowledge and proficiency in English contributes to professional identity as a common tool to get a firm grasp in our respective fields, our personal identities are defined more by our own mother tongues or first languages.
Q. How has the experience of writing this book been so far for you?
A . The journey so far has been congenially gratifying, the experience has been enriching and vitaminizing. This concept has been brilliantly put forth by the great author Mr. Salman Rushdie, and I will paraphrase him – “Books choose their authors, the act of creation is not entirely a rational and conscious one”.
Q. Who are your target readers and why should they read your books?
A. My target reader is a person who loves the “book”, irrespective of being authorial or critical. The ideal reader
comes from diverse socio-economic-political background, nationality and faith. I have got warm and sultry reviews from strangers and friends alike, both nationally and internationally. In their expressed cordial words, my raison d’etre is complete.