In a year riddled with tragic news, Indian poet and theorist Shamsur Rahman Faruqi passed away. The Twitter handle of Dastangoi Collective confirmed the news and informed that Faruqi breathed his last at his place in Allahabad at 11.20 am. He was later flown to Delhi and will be put to rest at the Ashoknagar Nevada Qabristan.
In November, historian Rana Safvi had tweeted that Faruqi had tested positive for COVID-19.
Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, the Sun of the Urdu World passed away at his home in Allahabad at 11.20 am where he was flown down from Delhi this morning
— Dastangoi Collective (@DastangoiTheArt) December 25, 2020
Born on September 30, 1935, Faruqi was known for his application of Western criticism to Urdu literature, but not before tempering it to fit native sensibilities. The novelist’s contribution to Urdu literature is immense and in some ways even immeasurable. A profile of his on Caravan alluded to this and mentioned the Urdu magazine he worked tirelessly for, for four decades — Shabkhoon. The intent, as stated, was to find a way in literature beyond deep-rooted imperial influence.
Faruqi’s work is posited at the Indo-Muslim way of life of the 18th and 19th centuries. He continuously wrote on the predicaments faced by minorities. In a column in The Indian Express, he had stated, “Personally, I am against burka, hijab, skull cap, unkempt beard, the whole works. If possible, I never lose an opportunity to berate the wearer of any of the above appendages. But I do admire every attempt by a minority in a democracy to make a statement of its identity. So long as such attempts are not outlawed, they should be understood for what they are — an individual’s attempts at assertion of her right to be what she is.”
Other than working to expand and sustain relevance of Urdu literature, he also revived the lost art of oral storytelling — dastan. He was critical of Progressive writers, for he felt they stifled other writers. In an interview with Mint, he was quoted as saying, “To them, literature had to follow the forces of social change on the lines of the Marxists. Other ways of seeing was not to be considered literature. This became the standard doctrine of the Progressive writers in the 1950s and early 1960s, when the movement started losing steam.” He continued: “The Progressives did not encourage new authors to choose their own themes and attitudes to life. Writers like me, who came from outside the standard Urdu literary establishment, began to challenge the hegemony of the Progressives and my magazine became the flag bearer of that challenge.”
He spent his life in Allahabad for all his books were there and, as he disclosed in the same interview, was also home to his wife Jamila’s legacy.
source: Indian Express