Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Don't Pollute and Politicise Urdu

By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam 09 November 2022 "Jis ahad-e-siyasat ne ye zinda zabaan kuchli/ Uss ahad-e-siyasat ko marhoomon ka gham kyon hai/Ghalib jise kahte hain Urdu hi ka shayar tha/Ghalib pe sitam dhaa kar Urdu pe karam kyon hai" -Sahir Ludhianavi, from his nazm ' Jashn-e-Ghalib', written on the occasion of Ghalib's centenary year, 1969 (The political dispensation that bulldozed a living language/ why should that political outfit care for those departed/ the man known as Ghalib was an Urdu poet/ why on earth is this charade of eulogising Urdu and marginalizing Ghalib?) ... Today is World Urdu Day and also the birth anniversary of Allama Iqbal. In fact, to perpetuate his memory, his birthday is commemorated as World Urdu Day. Urdu or Hindi Day comes every year. But with a few write-ups here and there, a perfunctory lip service, a sheer tokenism, the day gets over. What Sahir wrote more than a half-century ago is still relevant. In fact, it's all the more relevant in these turbid times and climes. Mind you, at that time, Congress was at the helm and people have a misconception that Congress went the extra mile to promote Muslims. But even at that time, Muslims and Urdu suffered. And now things have gone south under the current government. Well, here I don't associate Urdu with Muslims. To me, it's just a language, an exquisite one at that. But the fact remains that Urdu has unfortunately become a language of Muslims. Its right-to-left Nastaliq script, which is its identity, is being looked down upon. But to be honest, even before this government, Urdu failed to get political patronage. It's indeed a matter of pity, nay shame, that a language needs political backup to survive in this country. But this deplorable fate has befallen Urdu and today, it's a pariah language. A language is not a prerogative or preserve of a particular community. It's a means and mode of communication one chooses to express himself or herself. Yours truly's father tongue is Bangla and mother tongue is Pahalavi. I read, write and speak both tongues with native sensibilities and dream in them. But neither can be called my language of communication ( though both belong to my linguistic consciousness) as I perforce express myself in English, a language I started learning rather late and am still not at home with. In other words, English became my expressional necessity, not my linguistic reality. My point is, any language can be picked up at any age or stage as a communication conduit and the whole process should be totally apolitical. The moment you politicise a language, you kill its soul. Independent India politicised Urdu and jettisoned it. Moreover, growing Hinduism is blocking Urdu's path and Sanatanis are calling it the language of Mughals, not knowing that the Mughals spoke Persian! Urdu is zubaan-e-sarzameen-e-Hindustan (a language of the soil of the subcontinent). It's as dear to Hindus as it has been to Muslims. Don't politicise and pollute it. Speak and spread love through Urdu. ... A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to world's premier publications in several languages including Persian. ----- URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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