↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

k k aziz By Altaf Hussain Asad

Hot Seat

By Altaf Hussain Asad

It is sometimes difficult to sum up the accomplishments of a man whose contributions in any field are mammoth. One falls short of suitable words to do justice to his or her achievements. Professor K.K. Aziz is also one such person who, as an outstanding historian, is not only held in the highest esteem in Pakistan but also across the globe for his in-depth erudition.

Author of almost 75 books, his area of interest is history, political science, Muslim art, and even poetry as he has complied a collection of the best of Persian poetry too. He has taught at renowned institutions as in Cambridge, Heidelberg, Manchester, Toronto, Khartoum and Oxford. Besides Urdu, Punjabi and English, he is well familiar with Persian, French, German and a smattering of Spanish and Italian.

As far as he can remember, books were a part of his surroundings. His father, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, also wrote books on Mughals and also did monumental work on Heer of Waris Shah by properly editing it. As consequence, Prof Aziz too got attracted to the printed word quite early.

“I have been reading books from an early age. It was my father who instilled in me the love of books and learning. Raising my pocket money, he wanted me to buy more books. At first, I read Phool magazine and some titles from Charana Library. On growing up, I got introduced to authors like Hardy, Dickens, Maugham and some others. I have also been studying Persian poetry from my early days as I believe that a man cannot be civilized unless he reads poetry,” says Prof Aziz.

Thus started Prof Aziz’s affair with books which remains as passionate today as it was in his childhood. Though he sat in the competitive examination as per his father’s desire, his heart was not in it. After two years of stay at F.C. College, Lahore, he joined Govt College, Lahore, where he was lucky to have tutors such as Patras Bukhari and Prof Sirajuddin. The days passed in the inimitable company of Patras Bukhari are so firmly etched on his memory that he is planning to write a book on him.

Prof Aziz feels a bit uneasy when asked to name just one book as his all-time favourite. He recalls few books that have left an indelible mark on his memory. History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell is a book that is a treat to read. He is also all praise for the book Shakespearian Tragedy by A.C. Bradley. He is infatuated by Moorish culture, thus the History of Moorish Empire in Europe, a work by S.P Scott in three volumes, is a book for which Prof Aziz has unbounded praise.

Prof. Aziz also loves to read Urdu fiction and poetry. Since his father edited Heer of Waris Shah after painstaking research, he too came under its influence. In Urdu fiction, he names Krishen Chander, Premchand, Bedi and Manto as the writers whose works he reads with interest. About Manto he says, “I have different views on Manto. He only paints just one aspect of life. My opinion might be a bit biased but I think Manto was vulgar. In my estimation, Bedi has more depth than Manto,”

He terms Patras kay Mazameen as “unparalleled” and says he read the book almost 50 times. Of the other humourists, he likes Rasheed Siddiqi, Shaukat Thanvi and Kanhayya Lal Kapoor. Praising the creativity of Qurratulain Hyder, Prof Aziz states that books like Kaar-e-Jahan Daraz Hai amply show her firm grip on history. In the field of poetry, he ranks Ghalib as the best poet of Urdu.

Yes, he likes Iqbal too, but his opinion is not stereotyped about him. He says, “The Urdu poetry of Iqbal is not that promising. Apart from few poems like Shikwas Jawab-e Shikwa, Masjid-e-Qurtaba, etc, the rest of his Urdu poetry cannot be termed great. The real poetry of Iqbal is in Persian, of which we are not aware because we no longer study the language these days.”

He considers Nasir Kazmi is a great poet as he, according to Prof Aziz, “brought something new in the Urdu poetry”.

One feels tempted to ask him why we shy away from the discipline of history. He answers, “The powers that be do not want to impart the subject of history in the right manner. It is their aim that the nation does not get to know the real history of the country. As a result, we have been studying disfigured history since 1947. What we study is not history but is sheer mythology. In my opinion, no ideological state can produce true history.”

Prof Aziz is unhappy about the decline of Persian language as he thinks that we must learn it because all the primary sources of Mughal reign are in Persian. “Even the best work of Ghalib and Iqbal is in it”, states Prof Aziz sadly.

As for music, he only likes to listen to is any beautifully sung ghazal. Singers who appeal him are Mahdi Hasan, Amanat Ali Khan, Saigol, M. Kaleem, Nayyara Noor, Iqbal Bano, and, to a certain extent, Tina Sani. About Noor Jehan, he says that though she sang nazams well, but she “should not have been allowed to touch ghazals”.

“I have with me the tapes of songs sung by Spanish gypsies in their language. Historians are of the view that these gypsies migrated from the areas of Punjab and Sindh few centuries ago. I listen to their songs though I am not able to make heads or tails of it. While listening, it appears as if you listening to Punjabi ditties as there are Punjabi words in these songs,” discloses Prof Aziz.

Prof Aziz remembers watching his first movie in Batala when he was a student of Class Eight. On growing up, he watched mostly the English movies. Although his advancing age handicaps his memory a bit, he is able to remember few movies which he watched in the years gone by. These are Ben Hur, Casablanca, The Man in the Grey Suit, Waterfront, John of Arc, Gone With the Wind and he singles out Waterloo Bridge as his all-time favourite movie.

Though not a fond Urdu film watcher, Prof Aziz alludes to films like Heer Ranjha and Anarkali with some adoration. Without a second thought, he names Madhubala as his favourite actress. Concluding the conversation Prof Aziz says the ban on screening Indian movies must be abolished.

Favourite book: Many

Favourite actress: Madhubala

Favourite film: Waterloo Bridge


Post a Comment

<< Home