Professor Syed Hasan Askari
Distinguished Historian & Eminent Scholar
Abstracts, Analyses, Reviews, & Synopses of Research Articles (Urdu Language)
"Abstracts, Analyses, Reviews and Synopses" of Professor Syed Hasan Askari's more than fifty "Research Articles" in Urdu Language are posted, under the title of Ikhtesar or Takhlees on this page to assist academics, historians and scholars in their respective literary and research projects.
The collaborative academic and scholarly initiative of Professor Syed Hasan Askari Historiography Project, Los Angeles, USA pursued with Dr. Imtiaz Ahmad, Nida Ahmad, Dr. H. L. Archambault (PhD. UC Berkeley, CA, USA) for the drafting of "Abstracts, Analyses, Reviews, Synopses & Keywords", followed by the "Review/Edit/Format-Due Diligence Process" (by Professor Syed Hasan Askari Historiography Project, Los Angeles, USA), made it possible for the respective postings on this page. Senior academics, and historians namely; Professor Dr. M. D. Faruqui (USA), Prof. Dr. I. Ahmad (India) and Professor Dr. S. E. Hussain (India), initially provided scholarly guidance on the format for ease of reference by global academic and non-academic audience. Special thanks to Professor Richard Eaton for his offline appreciation and complimentary feedback after reviewing the posted abstracts below.
So far, abstracts of 54 research articles and scholarly essays have been posted. There will be weekly updates on this page and website.
Please access the Articles page of this website for online links to review and download the research articles as organized in chronological order of publication. An Online Dropbox for digitized PDF copies of "Prof. Askari's Research Articles" has been created to compile and consolidate them in one place, with restricted access upon request, to respect Copyright Laws, if and where applicable. Please contact Professor Syed Hasan Askari Historiography Project, Los Angeles, USA @ Info.Prof.Askari.Hist.Project@gmail.com for additional information and feedback in this regard.
“Suba Bihar (Sharif) mein Qalmi kitabo (Nushkon) ke Zakhire” in Maeyar, Jild 1, Shumar 4, June 1936, pp. 255-257. (Also published in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, 1957 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 211-214).
In this short note addressed to the editor of Maeyar (an Urdu magazine), Prof. Askari mentions a few personal collections of manuscripts: two at Patna, one at Gaya, one at Ara and one at Kujhwa, his native village. The manuscripts were in a state of decay due to negligence, natural factors, and lack of conservation. The Kujhwa collection, which belonged to the descendants of Diwan Nasir Ali, had several important manuscripts. These included the Diwan of Humayun Badshah, Nuskha-e Dilkusha of Bhim Sen Kayastha (the only extant copy in the country) dealing with the events of Aurangzeb’s reign, Muntakhab al-Wazra, which compared favorably with the copy available at the Khuda Bakhsh Library, Masalak al-Iqbal covering early Islamic history until the period of Hazrat Ali (4th Caliph). Two more texts, the Mirat al-Asrar of Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Bayan Waq`ai are also mentioned. These collections were visited by Prof. Askari and his colleagues to select important manuscripts for display on the occasion of the Patna session (1930) of the Indian Historical Records Commission. An annotated list of the displayed manuscripts was published by Govt. of India Press, Calcutta, in the same year. Bemoaning the poor condition of these collections, he suggests that Anjuman Tarraqi-e Urdu should take steps for improving the sad situation.
Keywords: Patna, Gaya, Ara, Kujhwa, Humayun, Bhim Sen Kayastha, Indian Historical Records Commission, Nuskha-e Dilkusha, Muntakhab al-Wazra, Masalak al-Iqbal, Mirat al-Asrar, Bayan-i Waqai, Diwan-e Humayun
“Gauhar-e Jauhri, suba Bihar ki aik qadeem aur nayab urdu Musnavi”, in Urdu Adab Quarterly, Vol. 20, Issue 77, April 1940, pp. 225-260. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 400-435).
This article is a critical survey of the Urdu masnavi, Gauhar-e Jauhari of Shah Ayatullah Qadiri, sajjadah of Phulwari (sharif), which Professor Askari found in a private collection. Shah Ayatullah composed verses in Persian and Urdu. His Persian Diwan of Na`at (Paeans for the Prophet(pbuh) and Manajat (supplications) are preserved. The tazkiras of ‘Shorish’ and ‘Ishqi,’ both eminent litterateurs, provide biographical information about Shah Ayatullah. It appears that he wrote the Gauhar-e Jauhari in response to a request by his close friends. The masnavi, written in Urdu in the first half of the 19th century, has a long introductory section with references to the revered persons in Islamic history, notably Hazrat Ali. Then the narrative begins. It is a collection of stories of love, Sair-e Gulshan, and Ramraja and Kanwaldi; the last being the most important and extensive. The normal pattern of masnavis is followed and it concludes with the reuniting of the hero and heroine in death. Some Persian verses are interspersed in the text, none of which are rated very highly by Professor Askari. But he considers the Urdu text as important because it shows a more refined form of the language, even though local words are also used. The errors by the copyist are also pointed out.
Keywords: Na`at, Manajat, Gauhar-e Jauhari, Sair-e Gulshan, Ramraja, Kanwaldi.
“Nuskha-e Dilkusha (I) - Ahwal–e Alamgir Badshah aur us ka Musannif”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, November 1940. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 123-127 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 295-301).
“Nuskha-e Dilkusha (IA) - Ahwal–e Alamgir Badshah aur us ka Musannif”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, December 1940. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 128-131).
“Nuskha-e Dilkusha (II) - Ahwal-e Alamgir Badshah aur us ka Musannif”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, January 1941. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 132-138 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 302-310).
This article in three parts examines the useful but (at the time) less-noticed text, Nuskha-e Dilkusha of Bhim Sen as a history of the times of Aurangzeb. Professor Askari begins with a comment on the features and utility of historical works written by Hindus increasingly available by the 17th-18th centuries. He appreciates their impartiality since many written without a patron to please. Their writings present a view that often differs from the courtly perspective. He argues that they demonstrate a better understanding of revenue matters and are more dependable than the ‘foreign’ accounts. An interesting feature of these works is that they follow the pattern adopted by Muslim writers, including religious invocations. Information about Bhim Sen’s career is elaborately discussed. Then follow some brief comments about the utility of his work. It is the single work for that period offering detailed information regarding non-political matters such as the price of food-grains and other edibles, condition of roads and transport-facilities, moral character and social standards of officials, forms of recreation, as well as harmony between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. References to the Deccan wars and the author’s comments on Aurangzeb and Shivaji are interesting and useful.
Keywords: Bhim Sen, Aurangzeb, Shivaji, Nuskha-e Dilkusha, Deccan, 17th century, 18th century, Kayasth, Mughal Empire, administration, warfare
Suba-i-Bihar ke Akhri Hindustani Governor, Intizamul mulk, Mumtazuddawla Maharaja Kalyan Singh, in Nadeem Urdu Journal, Gaya, Bihar, 1940. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 194-206).
The contents of this article have much in common with an English-language article by Professor Askari, published elsewhere: Maharaja Kalyan Singh Ashiq, the last Native Governor of Bihar, Journal of Bihar and Orissa Research Society (1940). Also published in The Journal of Bihar Research Society, Vol. 26, pt.1 (1940), pp 7-34. Professor Askari, regretting that not much had hitherto been written about Kalyan Singh, provides a biographical account of the last Indian governor of Bihar, drawing largely on the Khulasat at-Tawarikh and its supplement Wardat-e Qasimi. At the same time, the article also provides useful details about Shitab Rai, Kalyan Singh’s father, and his tenure as Naib Nazim (deputy governor) of Bihar. His proximity to Warren Hastings and the latter’s benevolence towards Kalyan Singh; the deception and ingratitude of Khayali Ram, the Maharaja’s aide; Kalyan Singh’s personal indiscretions and loss of office; and his efforts to regain favor with the English are all discussed in detail. Towards the closing years of his career, Kalyan Singh suffered much economic distress. He shifted to Calcutta, did not succeed in convincing the Council members, and returned to Patna an elderly and unwell man, suffering from neglect and humiliation. He stayed on in Patna at the request of Kunwar Daulat Singh and wrote the Khulasa. Finally, he returned to Calcutta where he died in 1821. Kalyan Singh was a poet of considerable merit and composed a number of verses and masnavis in Persian. Professor Askari praises him as an icon of the syncretic culture that evolved in Patna during the 18th century.
Keywords: Khulasat at-Tawarikh, Wardat-e Qasimi, Shitab Rai, Naib Nazim, Khayali Ram, Warren Hastings
“Nuskha-e Mufeed-ul Insha aur uski tareekhi ahmiat (I)”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, March-April 1941. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 139-144).
“Nuskha-e Mufeed-ul Insha aur uski tareekhi ahmiat (II)”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, March-April 1941. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 145-150- & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 311-318).
In these articles, Professor Askari makes a comparative analysis of three texts of Mufeed al-Insha by Lekhraj (early 18th c.), found by him at Hussainganj, Kujhwa, and Patna. The variations in the number of pages and letters are pointed out. This important collection of letters sheds light on the affairs of Koch Bihar (a sarkar to the north and east of Bengal) during the closing years of Aurangzeb’s reign and the tenure of Azim ush-Shan in Bihar. The letters were mainly addressed by the faujdar of Koch Bihar to Aurangzeb and Azim ush-Shan. Letter nos. 2, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10 from the Kujhwa copy are of special significance. These letters were used by Professor Askari for his English article published in Proceedings, Indian Historical Records Commission, 1940. (An Unknown Phase of Mughal-Koch Relations, Proceedings Indian Historical Records Commission, Vol. 17 (1940).
Keywords: Lekhraj, Koch Bihar, Aurangzeb, Azim ush-Shan, Bihar, Mughal
“Jangnama (I) - Ek Kamyab hindi manzoom tareekh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, April 1942. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 156-162 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 83-91).
“Jangnama (II) - Ek Kamyab hindi manzoom tareekh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, May 1942. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 163-173 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 92-97).
“Jangnama (III) - Ek Kamyab hindi manzoom tareekh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, June 1942. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 174-178 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 98-112).
“Jangnama (IV) - Ek Kamyab hindi manzoom tareekh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, August 1942. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 179-183 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 113-118).
“Jangnama (V) - Ek Kamyab hindi manzoom tareekh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, September 1942. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 184-193 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 119-130).
This long article, in five parts, relates to a rare Braj Bhasha work known as the Jang Namah. It is a versified account (66 pages in 1600 couplets) by Muralidhar, alias Sridhar, about the rise of Farrukhsiyar and his victory over his uncle, Jahandar Shah, near Agra; thus ensuring his succession to the Mughal throne. It was partially published in 1900, and in full in 1904. The full publication has been examined here by Professor Askari. The first decade of the 18th century witnessed several important changes, particularly in Bihar. The most important event was the rise of Farrukhsiyar, the great grandson and third successor of Aurangzeb, which is the major focus of the Jang Namah. The first part of Prof. Askari’s article focusses on the identity of the author and his family; followed by the events leading to the coronation of Farrukhsiyar at Patna with the support of Syed Hasan Ali Khan at the pleading of Farrukhsiyar’s case by his mother. The account spills over in the second part and ends with Farrukhsiyar’s victory over Jahandar Shah near Agra and his accession to the throne. The second and third parts provide full details of Farrukhsiyar’s supporters, mentioning each by name, and providing a host of information not available in other works. The fourth part draws attention to the synergetic culture of the times, highlighting the evolution of a synthesized language drawing on Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, Arabic, and Persian. The last part closely examines certain details of syntax and phonetics. It ends with some interesting observations about the use of Hindu gods, particularly Krishna, and some mythological figures by Sridhar.
Keywords: Muralidhar/Sridhar, Jang Namah, Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, Farrukhsiyar, Jahandar Shah, Syed Hasan Ali Khan, Aurangzeb.
“Tarikh-e Kashmir (I)”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, May-June, 1942 (MSHA) / 1943 (HKAVPM). (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 68-74 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, 1996, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, pp. 25-34).
“Tarikh-e Kashmir (II)”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, July-August, 1943. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995 pp 75-88 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna 1996, pp. 35-52).
Prof. Askari examines some less-noticed Persian histories of Kashmir available in personal collections and libraries. The focus is on four works: i) Nawadar al-Akhbar, from a private collection at Ramnagar (Banaras); ii) Tarikh-e Azmi (Khuda Bakhsh Library, Patna); iii) Tarikh-e Kashmir (Kujhwa collection); and iv) Tarikh-e Kashmir by Haidar Ali (Diwan Mahalla, Patna). The first, by Rafiuddin, is a further continuation of Kalhana’s Rajatarangini, down to the reign of Yusuf Chak, the last ruler of medieval Kashmir. It is treated somewhat briefly. The second, by Muhammad Azam, is incomplete. An Urdu translation is also available. The work consists of three sections, one assigned to pre-Islamic rulers and the next two to early Muslim rulers and the Mughals. It includes references to the saints, holy men, and scholars of Kashmir besides its geography and culture, etc. The third is the earliest among the discussed texts, though moth-eaten and incomplete. Its author, Narayan Kaul “Ajiz,” traces the history of pre-Muslim and Muslim rulers till the Mughal conquest. He gives a list of the Mughal governors of Kashmir from Akbar to Aurangzeb. Kaul was aware of Haidar Ali’s work and was unhappy with the boastful manner in which he had praised his ancestors. He depends on Kalhana’s work but also differs from it in matters of detail, providing some new information as well. The fourth is rare—with no other copy available in India (though the British Museum has a copy). The author was a native Kashmiri from Charsaddah. The work includes biographical information and a discussion of events together with miscellaneous information on the saints and holy men. The book is useful in mentioning minor details of events not discussed elsewhere, but also suffers from major errors at times. Extracts from the original texts of Narayan Kaul and Haidar Ali are frequently quoted. Comparing the texts, Professor Askari considers the Tarikh-e Kashmir by Narain Kaul as the most useful.
Keywords: Rajtarangini, Tarikh-e Kashmir, Tarikh-e Azmi, Nawadar al-Akhbar, Haidar Ali, Kalhana, Narayan Kaul, Kashmir historiography, Rajatarangini.
“Istidrak bar Nuskha-e Mufeed ul-Insha, (A rejoinder by Prof. Askari to a letter of Hakim Habibur Rahman of Dacca)”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, May-June 1943. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 151-155).
This is Professor Askari’s rejoinder to the observations of Hakim Habibur Rahman of Dhaka about the article on Mufeed ul-Insha. Habibur Rahman refers to his personal copy and points out that there were two collections of letters under the same title, one by the author and another by his son, Jannat Rai. Professor Askari refers to yet another copy acquired by the Khuda Bakhsh Library, which contains 73 letters. He concedes the possibility of two copies of Mufeed ul-Insha but emphasizes that the name of the son is ‘Champat’ and not ‘Jannat’ Rai. Notably some important cities in Bengal bear different names across the texts: Murshidabad (Makhsusabad/Maqsudabad), Rajmahal (Akbar Nagar) and Dhaka (Jahangir Nagar).
Keywords: Insha, epistolary, Koch Bihar, Aurangzeb, Azim ush-Shan, 17th century, 18th century
“Zafar Nama-e Alamgiri - Musannifa Aaqil Khan Razi ke chand boseeda Auraq”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, May - June, 1945. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 112-122)
The article addresses some scattered folios of Aqil Khan Razi’s famous work, Zafar Nama-e Alamgiri obtained by Professor Askari from Aurangabad (Bihar). The 60 folios were damp, partially torn and in a poor state. Professor Askari begins with introductory comments on some important histories of Aurangzeb: Alamgir Namah, Aurang Namah, Waqiat-e Alamgiri, etc. He highlights the central role of these works in Sir Jadunath Sarkar’s exhaustive works on the history of Aurangzeb. This is followed by a short introduction describing the author (Razi) and contents of the Zafar Nama-e Alamgiri. As the early pages are missing, information available in other copies (such as Aurangzeb’s birth, early years, religious views and campaigns in the Deccan prior to his accession) are missing. Some events from the war of succession are also missing. But there are also interesting observations, not found in other copies, regarding Aurangzeb’s treatment of his brothers. Razi’s comments about the manner in which Aurangzeb beguiled Shuja into an alliance – later to be repudiated, the harsh treatment of Dara Shukoh, and the relentless pursuit of Shuja are all interesting. Many unnoticed facts are described, some of which do not project Aurangzeb in a favorable light. The case of Murad is discussed here in detail. It lends support to the account given in Tarikh-e Shah Shujai. Aqil Khan wrote the book on his own, with the subsequent approval of Bahadur Shah I. As such, he was able to express his views in a more independent manner.
Keywords: Aquil Khan, Bahadur Shah I, Aurangzeb, Jadunath Sarkar, Zafarnama-e Alamgiri, Alamgir Namah, Tarikh-e Shah Shujai, succession war, 17th century, Deccan
“Lala Ujagar Chand Ulfat aur unki Naadir Ghair-Matbua Tasaneef (I)”, in Proceedings Volume, All India Oriental Conference, 1946. (Also published in Sada-e-Aam, Urdu Newspaper, Patna, Bihar, Vol. Eid Issue, 1953, Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt 1995, pp 366-381 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 262-268.
“Lala Ujagar Chand Ulfat aur unki Naadir Ghair-Matbua Tasaneef (II)”, in Proceedings Volume, All India Oriental Conference, 1946. (Also published in Sada-e-Aam, Urdu Newspaper, Patna, Bihar, Vol. Eid Issue, 1953, & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 269-292.
“Lala Ujagar Chand mutakhallis ba Ulfat o Gharib ka Urdu Kalaam”, in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt 1995, p. 365. & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp.293-94.
“Lala Ujagar Chand Ulfat”, in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt 1995, pp. 382-400.
This set of three articles and a short note offers a considerable amount of overlapping information. The short note addresses the poetic work of Ujagar Chand ‘Ulfat’. Though a Persian poet, he composed one Urdu ghazal too (quoted in full). This Urdu ghazal remained unpublished. Professor Askari appreciates the Persian verses in the Diwan-e Ulfat, but he also points out certain shortcomings in its poetic merit. Two interconnected articles discuss the unpublished Persian writings of Ujagar Chand ‘Ulfat,’ including verses and letters, the latter in prose. Some biographical information is given, as gleaned from his writings and those of his contemporaries, particularly Bindraban Das Khushgo, in the Safina-e Khushgo. ‘Ulfat’ was an emigrant from Delhi who settled at Patna. Though a competent munshi, he could not find gainful employment. Two collections of his letters, the Insha-e Ulfat and Insha-e Gharib, are examined for information on his personal life, details of his eminent contemporaries, and for insights into the social, economic, and cultural conditions of Patna and surrounds (mid-18th century). The last article mentions the personal life, abilities, weaknesses of Ulfat and the financial difficulties he faced. Ultimately, he turned a recluse. Professor Askari describes the sources as important for scholars interested in the history of this transitional phase of the history of Bihar.
Keywords: Safina-e Khushgo, Insha-e Ulfat, Insha-e Gharib, Diwan-e Ulfat, 18th century, Bihar, Urdu poetry, Persian poetry, diwan, Patna.
“(Nuskha) Khulasat al-Ansab”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, March-April, 1946. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 207-215).
The same article is published under the title Do Makhtute in Maqalat-e Syed Hasan Askari – Muratab Syed Muhammad Hasnain.
“Professor Mahfooz-Ul-Haq (Obituary), in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. August-September, 1946. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 486-488)”.
A short obituary note on Professor Mahfuzul Haque, Chairman of the Department of Persian at Presidency College, Calcutta. Professor Haque was a member of Calcutta Historical Society and Honorary Assistant Editor of the Society’s reputed journal, Bengal, Past and Present. Professor Askari recollects that he had been invited by the Secretary of the Indian History Congress to present some manuscripts for display at a session of Indian History Congress held at Calcutta. For various reasons, the manuscripts were eventually excluded from the display. Professor Haque, realizing the importance of the manuscripts, intervened to ensure that they would be included in the display, after all. Professor Haque died after a prolonged and debilitating illness. Professor Askari’s pain and anguish is amply reflected in his note. He also makes an important reference to Professor Haque’s unfulfilled desire to edit the Diwan of Humayun, which Professor Askari had obtained from his native village, Kujhwa.
Keywords: Mahfuzul Haque, Presidency College, Calcutta, Indian History Congress, Calcutta Historical Society, Bengal, Past and Present, Diwan, Humayun.
“Shumali Hind ke Sufia Keram ki Hindi Dosti,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 4, December, 1952. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā Hissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 43-56 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 421-431).
The article begins with a mention of the Sufis and their contact with the masses, their mission, the need of a common language for communication, assimilative spirit, et al. Then it moves on to some new and interesting themes such as appreciation of points of similarity between Islam and Hinduism, especially the concept of One Omnipotent and Omnipresent God. This point has largely been ignored in the common polemical approach of monotheism vs polytheism as the defining features of Islam and Hinduism. There is another interesting point: a sense of pride among the second generation of Muslims, mainly those born in India, in their ‘Indianness.’ Some examples from the writings of Amir Khusro are cited. The effortless use of ‘Hindi’ (Hindavi) words in his writing and, to a lesser extent, in the epistles of Sharafuddin Maneri is cited. Several examples of a similar nature from other texts, Ma`adanul Ma`ani (of Sharafuddin Maneri), Manaqib-i Muhammadi, (the biography of Syed Muhammad of Amjhar), Munis al-Qulub (compiled by Muzaffar Shams Balkhi), Mufid al-Insha (of Abdullah Shuttari) and Anis al-Ushshaaq (by Husamuddin of Manikpur) and some writings associated with Ahmad Langar Dariya of Jahanbad, etc. are cited. Though the meaning of some Hindi dohas (couplets) is obscure, their linguistic value is significant. Another interesting point is the interest shown by Muslim settlers in Indian music. References to Jagi Rabab, court-singer of Iltutmish the first ‘Sultan’ of Delhi, Chajju Gawai, the singer attached to Sharafuddin Maneri, and the well-known interest of Amir Khusro in music are all given. The practice of devotional song using Indian meters and rhymes, with words from local dialects, as seen in the jagari/chakri in the sama (musical sessions) of Sharafuddin Maneri are highlighted.
Keywords: Hindavi, Jagari/Chakri, Doha, Sama, Sufism, syncretism, dohas, Hindustani music, Delhi Sultanate, Hinduism, courtly culture
“Dakani Urdu Ke Makhtutat per ek nazar,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 5, December 1953. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā ḥissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,1995, pp 33-42 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 177-183). [Please note: the title in both Urdu collections is ‘Dakani urdu ke makhtutat ka ek Majmua’]
This article relates to a collection of 20 manuscripts in Dakani Urdu (that developed under the Muslim rulers of South India from the late 14th century onwards) examined by Professor Askari during a short visit to the University Library at Hyderabad. These were short monographs (Risalas) specifically on mystic (Tasawwuf) themes. The full list is given in the article. All the manuscripts were written by the same scribe and in a common hand. Due to paucity of time, Professor Askari could take a close look at only a few important texts about which he writes in some detail. The Meraj al-A`ashiqin and Risala-e Wujudia contained several expressions that were akin to those he had earlier heard at home from his mother and also read in a manuscript at the library of Khanqah Mujeebiah at Phulwari (Sharif), near Patna. An important reference was to Sharafuddin Maneri of Bihar. Another eminent Sufi, Aminuddin Bijapuri is also mentioned. The Risala-e Laila-o Majnun narrated the well-known story in detail, with interesting sentences in Dakani Urdu, cited in the article, and a purported conversation between Majnun and Imam Husain, grandson of the Prophet. The Risala-e Noor discussed the question of Rooh (spirit) and Noor (light) and their inter-relation. The conclusion was that the two were intertwined and the gnosis (ma`arifat) of one automatically led to realization of the other.
Keywords: Dakani Urdu, Risala, Mera`aj al-A`ashiqin, Tasawwuf, Rooh, Noor, Majnun, Hyderabad, Sufism, mysticism, language
“Diwan Syed Raja”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 5, December 1953. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 323-347 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 193-210).
The article introduces the unnoticed Diwan of a somewhat obscure Sufi known as Syed Raja. It is a collection of Persian verses with a few bilingual couplets where the first hemistich is in Persian and the second in Hindavi; a trend that has also been attributed to Amir Khusro. Syed Raja was possibly a contemporary of two Mughal governors of Bihar under Shah Kahan, Saif Khan and Buzurg Umeed Khan. He was a disciple of Mulla Shahbaz of Bhagalpur and was equally conversant in Arabic, Persian and Hindavi. His verses reflect his latitudinarian attitude towards such issues as Wahdat al-Wujud, Wahdat al-Shuhud, a synergy between the shariah and tariqah (mystic path), the khanaqah tradition, and the significance of the Pir (Sufi guide). Although Prof. Askari did not think much of the poetic worth of these verses, he praises, and quotes, a few good verses he encountered. The use of words from the local dialects of north India, Khari Boli, Braj Bhasha, and Awadhi, show Syed Raja’s familiarity with them and the continuation of this synergy of languages in mystic poetry. An interesting feature is the influence of yogic ideas in his verses.
Keywords: Diwan, Khari Boli, Braj Bhasha, Awadhi, yoga, Sufism, Bihar,
“Jayasi aur chand Musalman Hindi Shoara ke kalam ka ek Qadim Nuskha,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 4, December 1953. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā ḥissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,1995, pp 175-208 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 53-82).
Here, Professor Askari examines a copy of Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s classic, the Padmavat, available at the khanqah at Maner. Its uniqueness and rare value is because it includes some other compositions of Muslim poets in the ‘Hindi’ language (Khari Boli, Braj Bhasha and Awadhi). These include Akhrawat of Jayasi, Mehr Baisi, Biyog Sagar and Mehrai. Other examples of Muslims composing poetry in ‘Hindi’, such as Mrigavati and Madhu-Malti, are cited separately. A major portion of the article is devoted to Jayasi’s origin, family background, religious identity and period. Citing Jayasi’s works and their interpretation by modern scholars of Hindi, he accepts that Jayasi was a contemporary of Syed Muhammad, who claimed the status of the Mahdi in the mid-16th century AD. There is little consensus on other details. The second major debate concerns the language used in these verses. It is accepted that Jayasi consciously avoided Persian words; and deliberately adopted the local dialect. Protagonists of Hindi argue, on this basis, that the work is in proto-Hindi. Prof. Askari differs. He rightly points out that Jayasi’s script is Persian. This is important because we have the example of Tulsidas’s Ramayana (sic) in Nagari, as a distinct script around the same time. On the other hand, since Persian was then the official language many Hindus had taken to learning Persian language. The use of the Persian script was more common and naturally used in these texts, although the vocabulary was largely non-Persian. This was due to the liberal attitude of the Muslim poets.
Keywords: Padmawat, Akhrawat, Biyog Sagar, Madhu-Malti, Mrigavati, Mahdi, Ramayana, Hindavi, language politics, Jayasi, Devanagri, Arabic script, Jaunpur Sultanate, Mehrai, Meher Baisi.
“Awraq-i-Parina”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 7, April 1954. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,1995, pp. 436-449 & Awraq-i-Parina, in Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 471-480).
Here, Professor Askari skims through some scattered folios in the personal collection of Hakim Muhammad Shoaib of Phulwari. They include a bayaz (scrap-book), a nasab namah (genealogy) mentioning other branches of the family including that to which Professor Askari belonged, a farman regarding a land-grant by Aurangzeb to a saint of this family, intellectual contacts with Makhdum Mun‘am, an eminent saint of Patna who is said to have been a teacher of Prince Azim ush-Shan. Some letters of another important saint of Patna, Shah Hasan Ali, who was held in high esteem by Raja Ram Narayan, then deputy governor of Bihar are also mentioned. Contents of a risala (treatise) on moral conduct prepared by Shah Qamaruddin Abul Alai of Danapur (western suburb of Patna) are noted. Some important hakims (physicians) from these families and their prescriptions are also cited. Professor Askari’s interest in the vernaculars is reflected in some comments. An important underlying theme is the emergence of Patna (Azimabad) as an important centre of intellectual and cultural activities. The article ends with a short obituary remark on the sad demise of Hakim Shoaib (apparently, a little before the article was published) and expression of gratitude to him.
Keywords: bayaz, nasab namah, risalah, hakim, Makhdum Mun`am, Shah Hassan Ali, Shah Qamaruddin, Danapur, Azimabad, genealogy, Phulwari, Raja Ram Narayan, Bihar, Patna
“Urdu Hindi Zabanen,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 6, April, 1954. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā ḥissah’, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 1-32 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 445-470).
This article was written in the context of the controversy regarding the Urdu language that was raging in Bihar and elsewhere in the early 1950s. The protagonists of Hindi argued that Urdu was an offshoot of Hindi and not a separate language, although its script was different. Prof. Askari maintained that Hindi and Urdu were two different languages, even though the two had a common origin in the Khari Boli. The difference between the two was not only in the script—Devanagri and (modified) Persian—but also in the vocabulary, syntax, grammar and forms of literary outpouring. Hindi in the earlier context was a geographical identifier, referring to the regional dialects spoken in India. It was enriched by Muslim Sufis whose writings are mainly in the Persian script. The language developed a vocabulary which had an overwhelmingly large number of Indian words. These were not original Sanskrit (tatsam) words, but their modified vernacular (tadbhav) forms. Conversely, many Arabic and Persian words entered the Indian languages. He cites examples from the verses of Bhakta saints. This syncretic language, by the colonial period, had developed two distinct identities: the Persian script and Perso-Arabic words crystallized as Urdu; the Sanskrit words and the Devanagari script coalesced in Hindi. Many Europeans composed verses in Urdu. He refers to the role of the Hindi Pracharini Sabha in eastern India and Punjab in demanding the replacement of ‘Urdu’ by ‘Hindi’ as the language of the law-courts. He concludes that while we must respect the state-language, it should not be at the cost of Urdu, which had a wider following beyond India.
Keywords: Urdu, Hindi, Devanagari, Khari Boli, tatsam, tadbhav, Hindi Pracharini Sabha, Persian, Hindavi, Sufism, syncretism, language development, vernacular, language politics
“Wali Vellori ki Deh Majlis ka ek Qadeem aur Mutaber Makhtuta”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol.pt. 8, April, 1954. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 348-364 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, 1996, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, pp. 432-444).
The article begins with a general comment on ‘deh majlis’ as a genre of Urdu poetry comprising 10 short narrative poems recited in the majlis (mourning session) observed by Shi`ite Muslims from the 1st to 10th day of Muharram to commemorate the death of Imam Husain in the battle of Karbala. Then follows a discussion on the identity of the poet Wali. Two names—Wali Aurangabadi and Wali Vellori—are discussed. Professor Askari cites other eminent contemporaries to conclude that Wali Vellori, a Shi‘ite Muslim, soldier by profession, and a capable poet, composed a deh majlis towards the mid-18th century. It was based on the Persian masnavi titled Rauzat ush-Shuhada of Hasan Kashifi. Professor Askari maintains, on the basis of a copy of the text at the Patna University Library, that the Kanz ul-Gharaib was the main source for the Deh and adds that this is not noted elsewhere. Wali’s other important works include a masnavi (epic) Ratn-o Padm, Riyazat ush-Shoara and a book of supplications consisting of 50 couplets. Prof. Askari cites examples of differences between the Dakani Urdu of the text and that of northern India, especially in terms of vocabulary and pronunciation. In an Addenda published separately, Prof. Askari clarifies that the Rauzat ush-Shuhada is not a masnavi but a work of prose and that Wali has specifically referred to it. He also states that Wali is more rabid (ghali) in his views than Kashifi.
Keywords: Wali Vellori, Deh Majlis, Rauzat ush-Shuhada, Kashifi, Kanz ul-Gharaib, Riyazat ush-Shoara, Ratn-o Padm, Masnavi
“Awwalin Musalman aur Desi Bhashaen,” in Patna University Journal, Vol. 10, 1955. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā ḥissah’, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 1-32).
The article outlines the contribution of Indian Muslims to the evolution of early Indian languages, mainly Hindavi and its variants, besides Punjabi, Multani, Sindhi, and Gujarati. The need for a common language for preaching led to the active involvement of Sufis in the process. Their role is highlighted with numerous specific and general references covering the 8th to 10th centuries AH: Masud bin Saad, Baba Farid (Punjab), Sharafuddin Maneri, Muzaffar Shams Balkhi, Ahmad Chirmposh and others (eastern India). The cited texts include Ma`adan al-Ma`ani, Anwar al-Oyun, Lataif-e Ashrafiya and several Maktubat. Some verses of Amir Khusro, Mulla Daud’s Chandain, Qutban’s Mrigavat demonstrate continuity from the earlier examples. Professor Askari avers that by the 14th century AD, this synthesized language had come into vogue in northern India. There are references to devotional verses, a medical prescription, curative charms and a book of prophecy in the local dialect in Bihar. The use of Hindi lyrics and Indian raags (musical strains) in sama (recital sessions) was not uncommon. This early evolution of a synthesized language was not necessarily related to the Deccan. Finally, its use gave the emigrant Muslims and their descendants a feeling of identification and assimilation with the Indian socio-cultural milieu.
Keywords: Hindavi, Sama, Ma`adan al-Ma`ani, Anwar al-`Oyun, Lataif-e Ashrafiya, Maktubat, Chandain, Mrigavat, Sufism, syncretism, language development, vernacular
“Hazrat (Syed) Abdul Quddus Gangohi aur unka Hindi kalam,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 11, December 1957. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā Hissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 209-255 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 360-396).
This article relates to the Hindi verses of Abdul Quddus Gangohi, a Sufi saint of the 16th century belonging to Chishtia-Sabiriya Order who spent considerable time in Awadh region. The initial part deals with the liberal attitude of Chishti saints, their adoption of the Indian philosophy of Advaita of Shankaracharya and Vishisht Advait of Ramanuja with certain modifications to make these conform to Islamic teachings; their contact with the siddhas and yogis; their proximity with the common people, etc. A brief account of the saint’s life follows. Some of his letters addressed to Humayun are also mentioned to show his influence on the ruling class. Important examples are cited from his Maktubat-e Quddusi and Anwar al-`Oyun about the frequent use of Hindi verses in the form of dohras (doha or couplet). These are interspersed with the verses of Sufi masters like Rumi and Attar. Many of his verses were composed under the penname Alakhdas. The largest collection is to be found in the Murshid Nama which has 82 verses. These are virtually in all important genres of Hindi poetry such as dohra, shabad, chaupads and ashloks. He frequently refers to Krishna, Gorakhnath and the yogis in his verses. More interestingly, these verses were composed on Indian melodies – raags and raginis. Several important examples with their rendering in Urdu are cited.
Keywords: Advait, Vishisht Advait, Maktubat-e Quddusi, Anwar al-`Oyun, Murshid Nama, Alakhdas, Krishna, Gorakhnath, dohra, shabad, chaupad, ashloks, raags, raginis.
“Hazrat Husamuddin, Pandrahveen Sadi ke Chishti Sufi Buzurg”, in Sanam Urdu Magazine, Bihar, November 1959. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 251-261).
This is a biographical study of Hazrat Husamuddin, a spiritual disciple of Sheikh Nur Qutb Alam, the most eminent early Chishti saint of Bengal. He settled at Manikpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh and attracted a large number of devotees and disciples. Several mystic texts mention his name but provide little further information. Professor Askari examines the Anis al-‘Arifin, a malfuz or ‘collected sayings’ of the saint, and sifts through the information to provide details of the saint’s life, writings, and their significance. He reiterates the point, made by him elsewhere as well, that mystic literature is not devoid of information about mundane matters, political and social, especially a concern for the poor and deprived. Hazrat Husamuddin was quite aware of his responsibilities as a follower of the mystic path. Several stories, anecdotes and pieces of advice by the saint are cited in the text which show the remarkable ease with which he could explain mystic ideas that appear beyond comprehension of a common man. Some excerpts from other works, notably the Anis al-`Ashiqin, are also cited. Another significant point is the use of Hindavi words. Professor Askari mentions the Suktiyan or ‘noble words’ of the saint in Hindi, which are an important contribution.
Keywords: Sheikh Nur Qutb Alam, Manikpur, Hazrat Husamuddin, Anis al-`Arifin, Anis al-`Ashiqin, Suktiyan, Bengal, Sufism, Hindavi, Persian
“Hindi fanun-i-latifa aur Chandain ki chand tasviren,” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 17, July 1960. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā Hissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,1995, pp 137-174 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 319-347).
The paintings in the Maner copy of the Chandain are examined in this article, which begins with a fairly long discussion on Indian iconography, architecture and wall-painting from ancient days. The Islamic injunction against painting is cited. The palm-leaf paintings sponsored largely by Jaina merchants, the introduction of paper by the Muslims and evolution of Mughal, Rajput, Malwa and Jaunpur schools of paintings are also discussed. The six paintings in Chandain and their features are the main content. An interesting feature is that Mulla Daud is portrayed, either in standing or sitting posture, on the top corner of all these paintings. The paintings are divided in small horizontal panels; one, however, is divided into four panels, two in vertical and two in horizontal position. The Barahmasa narrative is another distinct feature. Quranic verses are inscribed in some cases. The letters are not well-drawn, possibly because the painter was a non-Muslim. One painting shows Lorik and Chanda in conversation. Chanda and other women are most commonly portrayed. The landscape includes furnished houses, trees and flowers. In one instance, a pet dog is also shown. The costumes are a blend of Indian and Iranian forms, the former more commonly associated with women, having well-groomed and plaited hairs. The pictures are invariably in profile so that only one side of the face is visible. The eyes are large, noses are sharp, and the forehead is broad and flat. On the whole, the paintings lack the sophistication of the Mughal School, and were possibly influenced by the Jaunpur style.
Keywords: palm-leaf paintings, Mulla Daud, Chandain, Jaunpur style, iconography, artistic patronage
“Chandain az Mulla Daud aur Mainasat az Miyan Sadhan (Qadeem Hindi Prem Kathayein) (I),” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 16, April 1960. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā Hissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 75-106 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, 1996, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, pp 131-153).
“Chandain az Mulla Daud aur Mainasat az Miyan Sadhan (Qadeem Hindi Prem Kathayein) (II),” in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 17, July 1960. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā Hissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna,1995, pp 106-136 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 154-176).
The article, which is published in two parts, discusses the contents of two love-poems in Hindi by two Muslim poets; the language being an early example of Hindi-Urdu. It is based on the texts, unfortunately incomplete, available at the khanqah of Maner (Sharif), near Patna. Both are in the Persian script, unlike many other copies, which are in Nagari. Both stories are intertwined, Mainasat being a sequel to Chandain. The first part of the article addresses Chandain, whose author was a contemporary of Firoz Tughluq. The story is about a brave cowherd, Lorik, who elopes with Chanda, a married daughter of a Kunwar (chief). The two are madly in love. Lorik forsakes his wife Maina. He fights successfully against all who try to separate him from Chanda. But his victory ends in tragedy as Chanda dies of snakebite. Lorik bitterly laments this turn of events. Maina remains loyal to her husband throughout, devoting her life to isolation and prayer. Ultimately, her devotion leads to reunion with a repentant Lorik. The second part of the article deals with Mainasat. Its language and content show that it was written after Chandain and also inspired by it. The story focusses on Maina, her suffering and fidelity. A new element is added in the form of a female emissary sent by the Kunwar of Santan Nagar to distract Maina and convince her to marry him. The prolonged arguments and counterarguments between the two also include the barahmasa, portraying the pangs of separation in different seasons. Maina, initially generous towards the woman, ultimately punishes her for her wickedness and remains firm in her fidelity (sat). Variations in the text of different copies are briefly pointed out.
Keywords: Chandain, Mainasat, Lorik, Chanda, Maina, Kunwar, Barahmasa, khanqah.
“Afsana-e Badshahan ya Tarikh-e Afghani ka ek kamyab Nuskha (I)”, in Saaghar, Urdu Magazine, 1964. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 89-100).
“Afsana-e Badshahan ya Tarikh-e Afghani ka ek kamyab Nuskha (II)”, in Saaghar, Urdu Magazine, 1965. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 101-111).
This article offers a critical evaluation of the Afsana-e Badshahan or Tarikh-e Afghani of Shaikh Kabir as a source of Afghan history in the context of Bihar. Prof. Askari relied on a print of the microfilm obtained from the British Museum. The work comprises 140 anecdotes about Afghan rulers and chiefs from the Lodi Sultans to Daud Khan, the last Afghan king of Bihar. There are occasional references to other Sultans also, the most important being Firoz Tughluq, and his brief sojourn in Bihar and his contacts with Sharafuddin Yahya Maneri. He also provides information about other Sufis of Bihar. Relevant extracts are given. The Afsana is based on personal memory and recollection and was written at the author’s personal initiative rather than at the order of a patron. Professor Askari not only comments on the information provided by Kabir but also compares it with other important, and somewhat later, sources of Afghan history, for example Nematullah’s Makhzan-e Afghani and the Waqiat-e Mushtaqi. The work makes frequent use of ‘Hindi’ words, a point carefully addressed by Prof. Askari. Another aspect of the text that drew Prof. Askari’s attention was the author’s familiarity with the geography of Bihar, the text’s frequent references to towns and cities, rivers and other topographical features which provide a new dimension to his work, even though some of these sites cannot be specifically located.
Keywords: Shaikh Kabir, Nematullah, Daud Khan, Afghans, Makhzan-e Afghani, Tarikh-e Afghani, Waqiat-e Mushtaqi, Bihar, historiography, Sufism, Afghan kingship
“Sandes Rasak, Apbharamshai Hindi bhasha mein ek Musalman ki manzoom kitab,” in Mutala, Urdu Quarterly Patna, Bihar, Vol. no. 1, Nov - Dec, 1968. (Also published in ʻAhd-i vust̤ā kī Hindī adabiyāt men̲ Musalmānon̲ kā ḥissah, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 57-74).
Here, Professor Askari discusses the contents of the text Sandes Rasak, consulting its published and unpublished editions; the latter transcribed in the first half of the 18th century. Though the exact date of the original text is difficult to ascertain, a tentative date inferred by him is the late 12th or early 13th century. The author was Adhdhman (Abdur Rahman), possibly a converted Muslim. The story portrays the agony of a lovelorn woman whose husband has gone to a distant place for trade. The main content includes the description of the lady’s physical beauty and her anguish caused by separation. The lady, by chance, meets a stranger travelling in the same direction as her husband had gone. She follows him and pleads with him to look for her husband and convey her message, which is a long monologue narrating her woes. The barahmasa narrative is invoked, though only six months are actually covered, in describing the changing seasons, the flora and fauna, and the sentiments of the forsaken woman, influenced by seasonal changes. Certain similarities with the Meghadoot of Kalidasa offer an interesting feature of the work, even though there is no direct evidence of borrowing. Towards the end of her monologue, a stranger is seen approaching the two. To the lady’s great joy, he turns out to be her husband. The poet concludes by saying that just as the lady’s desire was fulfilled so would be those of the readers. The work is a significant specimen of the transition from Apabhramsha to the modern Indo-Aryan languages.
Keywords: Sandes Rasak, Apabhramsha, Barahmasa, Meghadoot, Kalidasa
“Turki Salateen-e Hind key ibtedai daur mein Shikar”, in Patna University Journal, May-June, 1969. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 56-67).
The contents of this article have much in common with Prof. Askari’s article in English, titled “Hunting in India under the early Turks,” published elsewhere (Hunting in early Medieval Period or Hunting in India under the Early Turks, Golden Jubilee Number of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, Poona, Vol 48/49 (1968)] It touches upon one of the common recreational practices of the Turkish rulers of Delhi, notably Aibak, Iltutmish, Balban, Alauddin Khalji and, most significantly, Firoz Tughluq. Citing the Sirat-e Firoz Shahi (a rare text translated by Professor Askari, which has a complete section on hunting and from much of the information has been used here by him), the Taj- al-Maasir, Tarikh-e Firoz Shahi of Barani and Afif, and the Nama-e Shikar in the second volume of Khusro’s Risail, he provides graphic details on the hunting ‘campaigns’ of the Sultans. The royal hunt was confined to the four winter months. The master huntsman—shikar bek or mir shikar—was a high-ranking officer, Malik Qiran being one such important figure under Alauddin. The hunting of birds was a particular favorite pastime for Alauddin. Enclosures were marked for the Sultans’ hunting activities, and animals were driven and encircled within a marked area by qamargha. Eagles and falcons were especially trained as hunting birds. Hunting was a means of physical training and exercise for the soldiers too. On the other hand, the danger inherent in overindulgence and the risks involved, especially for the Sultans, are also a key area of concern for the authors of the texts.
Keywords: Sirat-e Firoz Shahi, Tarikh-e Firoz Shahi, Nama-e Shikar, Risail (Ijaze Khusrawi), Shikar Bek, Mir Shikar, qamargha.
“Dastur Mulla Firoz Musannif Georgenamah”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Vol. pt. 23, 1972. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 450-485 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, 1996, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, pp. 397-420).
The article deals with an eminent Parsi dastur (high-priest), Kaus bin Rustam Jalal or Mulla Firuz (personal name Pishtun), and his less-known work, titled the Jurj Namah or ‘George Namah’. He was an acclaimed theologian and prolific writer with more than 30 books to his credit, including an English translation of the Dasatir, and a treatise on the calculation of the Kabisa (leap year) of the Zorostrian calendar. Dastur Firuz was born into a family of religious scholars. His father, Dastur Kaus Rustam Jalal, was a renowned theologian from Baroch who settled at Bombay. Jonathan Duncan, the British governor of Bombay during1795-1811, came to know and respect Dastur Firuz’s scholarly capabilities. He requested Firuz to write a detailed account of British rule in India from the early phase of British conquest to the reign of George III, in Persian, on the lines of Firdausi’s Classic, Shah Namah. A monthly stipend of 400 rupees and required English works on history of British India were provided to him with a facilitator. The ambitious project, however, remained incomplete. It ended with the British victory at Poona (Pune) and collapse of Maratha power by 1813. It was published in 1837, seven years after the death of Dastur Firoz, by his cousin. Professor Askari has consulted a copy of the second volume of the George Namah available at the Khuda Bakhsh Library. It provides useful and detailed information on the events in Bengal before and after the Battle of Plassey, including the alleged ‘Black Hole tragedy’ and the role of British supporters and co-conspirators Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh, Omi (Amin) Chund, and Jagat Seth.
Keywords: Dastur Firuz, Kabisa, George Namah, Jurj Namah, Shah Namah, Firdausi, George III, Battle of Plassey, 18th century, Bombay, Marathas, literary patronage
“Diwan-e Nanak Shah”, in Aurang, Urdu Newspaper, Vol. November 1974. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 310-322).
Here Professor Askari examines a Persian work by an unknown author available at the Khuda Bakhsh Library. The Diwan-e Nanak Shah has an explanatory subtitle: Tarjuma-e Sukhmani Saheb ba Zaban-e Farsi (Translation of Sukhmani Saheb in the Persian language). The Sukhmani Saheb is a book of supplications, printed in 1935 by the Khalsa College, Amritsar, at the initiative of Sardar Ganda Singh, the doyen of Sikh historians. It consists of 104 pages divided into 8 sections each with 80 stanzas. A Punjabi or Hindi rendering is not available. The contents include such themes as pre-determination and free will, fate, destiny, good and evil, etc. Several extracts have been quoted. The weakness of the book as a work of poetry has been underlined. These include errors in the use of poetic meters and rhymes. Professor Ganda Singh’s opinion that the author was possibly a Muslim is contested. It is maintained that the author, in all probability, was a Hindu who was nonetheless familiar with the Sufi tradition and had a rather cursory knowledge of Persian. He uses the poetic meters from the masnawis of Rumi and Hafiz but does so at times incorrectly.
Keywords: Diwan, Baba Nanak, Sukhmani Saheb, Ganda Singh, Khalsa College.
“Debacha” in Tarikh Farukhsiyar, wa awa’il-e ahd-e Muhammad Shah, Shahnama Munawwar Kalam, musannif Shivdas Lakhnawi, Iqbal Book Depot, Patna, 1974.
Professor Askari wrote the introduction of this compilation in 1968, but due to a multitude of reasons it was published in 1974. Shahnama Munawwar Kalam by Shivdas Lakhnawi is an important but less-known history of the Mughal Empire in the first half of the 18th century. This was a key turning point in Mughal fortunes, thus the importance of this work. It was noticed briefly in Volume VIII of the series edited by Elliot and Dowson; William Irvine consulted portions of it in his History of Later Mughals; it was known to Sir Jadunath Sarkar as well. The credit of publishing the complete text, meticulously collated with other available copies, goes to Professor Askari, however. He has compared the copy available to him at Patna with copies held at Rampur, Aligarh, the British Museum and the Salar Jung Museum (Hyderabad). The Aligarh manuscript is a photostat of the British Museum copy. The Rampur manuscript is a different text entitled Shahnama-e Farrukhsiyar. Its authorship is not known, and it has meagre information about the ruler, copied mainly from Shivdas. The remaining part of the text is distinct. Its other title is the Iqbalnamah. Professor Askari considers the Salar Jung copy as the most authentic. He points out differences in its content with that of the British Museum copy. Shivdas Lakhnawi has not been mentioned in any other contemporary source. He was a munshi and had access to some official papers and documents. He was also a personal observer of—and participant in—some events described by him, beginning with the accession of Farrukhsiyar and coming down to the 4th regnal year of Muhammad Shah. The text enumerates 37 major events, each marked with the word Waqai in bold writing. Besides the various battles, court intrigues, frequent change of rulers, and manipulations of Sayyid brothers, he also mentions the tyrannical rule of Mir Jumla in Bihar and the abolition of jizyah. Some 50 copies of royal farmans and letters exchanged among eminent nobles further add to the value of the work.
Keywords: Shahnama Munawwar Kalam, Iqbalnamah, Waqai, munshi, jizyah, Farrukhsiyar, Muhammad Shah, Mir Jumla, Syed Brothers.
“Kuch Hazrat Makhdum-e Bihar ke Malafeez-o Makateeb ke Mutalliq”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, pt 27, 1974. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 216-244).
This article is an evaluation of hagiographical literature such as Malafeez or malfuzat (discourses) and Makateeb or maktubat (epistles), related to Makhdum Sharafuddin Maneri. Professor Askari points out that although the Sufis were not interested in mundane affairs, they were not mere ascetics and recluses. Several contemporary texts associated with Makhdum Maneri are examined and extracts from them quoted to support this point. Political events, for example Firoz Tughluq’s campaign across Bihar on his way to Bengal, his meeting with Makhdum Saheb, grant of gifts and jagir by Muhammad bin Tughluq to Makhdum Saheb and its return to Firoz Tughluq by him, as well as the careers of such lesser-known Sultans of Bengal as Shamsuddin Firoz and Fakhruddin are mentioned. Some letters written to Muhammad bin Tughluq, Firoz Tughluq and Dawar Malik, hakim of Bihar, provide corroborative and supplementary information about events mentioned by Zia Barani and Shams-e Siraj Afif. There are numerous references to Sufis. Sharfuddin Abu Tawwama, Ahmad Chirmposh, Nizamuddin Auliya, Husamuddin Manikpuri, and others are mentioned in different contexts. Some practices of the Sufis, especially Sama are discussed and their practice justified. The use of ‘Hindi’ compositions or Chakri, wherein the feminine expression of intense passionate love is equated with divine love, its restricted use lest it may mislead the novices, and Makhdum Saheb’s views on the topic are another theme. Prof. Askari focuses on Makhdum Saheb’s liberal, humanitarian, and generous attitude, and his willingness to intervene with rulers on behalf of a sufferer. He also examines the text’s detailed enumeration of a wide range of rituals, customs, social practices and superstitious beliefs popular among the people.
Keywords: jagir, sama, chakri, hakim, Abu Tawwama, Makhdum Saheb, Nizamuddin Auliya, social history, Sufism, historiography, 13th century, 14th century, Bihar, malfuzat, maktubat
“Kai Kard ke Na Yaft”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, 1975. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 33-55).
This article delves into the question of divine retribution for evil deeds. Prof. Askari begins with a discussion on Hindu philosophy, with a focus on “consequence of action.” He highlights the fact that the consequence of good or bad deeds visits an individual in due course. He then cites identical teachings in Islam. These are substantiated by several instances from the history of the Delhi Sultanate related to Qabacha (of Sindh) Balban, Jalaluddin Khalji, Alauddin Khalji, Malik Kafur and Khusro Shah. Bypassing the Mughal period, he refers to events from the Bengal Nazimate during the 18th century. Shuja ud-din, Ali Vardi Khan, Mir Jafar and his son, Miran are cited as examples. The discussion focusses on conspiracies, rebellions and upheavals during the reigns of these rulers and on those occasions when the throne was seized by unscrupulous means; it was lost in due course in the same manner. The message is clear: those who live by the sword, shall perish by the sword. He makes tangential reference to similar contemporary events in a “neighbor” country and in Africa at the beginning and end of the article.
Keywords: Nazimate, religion, Delhi Sultanate, fate, 18th century, Bengal, rebellion, succession, Hindu-Muslim relations.
“Qazi Saheb, Alim aur Insaan”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, Qazi Abdul Wadood Felicitation Volume, 1976. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 489-511).
Here Professor Askari reminisces about Qazi Abdul Wadood, an eminent scholar with a penchant for research and a keen eye for authentic and original sources in Urdu and Persian literature; his other interest being history. Qazi Saheb obtained a Tripos in Economics from Cambridge and a degree in law from Middle Temple, but did not take up practice, a trait he had in common with Professor Askari. The two first met at a session of the All India Oriental Conference and Indian Historical Records Commission at Patna in 1930. It took some time before the two became properly introduced, however. Then followed a long association of four decades that continued till the death of Qazi Saheb in 1984. Qazi Saheb was a man of few words, reserved but polite, courteous and affectionate to the few people, including Professor Askari, with whom he picked up an acquaintance. The two often shared observations on important manuscripts, notably the Muzaffar Namah of Karam Ali and the Gauhar-e Jauhari. Professor Askari wrote path-breaking articles on both texts. As a scholar and researcher, Qazi Saheb held very strong opinions, but that did not affect his objective and balanced assessment. He was a prolific writer with 17 books and an unspecified number of articles to his credit. He also edited three literary journals in Urdu, the Maeyar, Maasir and Tehqeeq, at different points of time. Professor Askari also mentions some iconic contemporaries in Urdu and Persian literature: Maulana Abdul Haque, Mahmud Sherani, Maulana Arshi, Nazir Ahmad and some more who deeply appreciated the meticulous works of Qazi Saheb; the same being reciprocated by Qazi Saheb.
Keywords: Qazi Abdul Wadood, Maulana Abdul Haque, Maulana Arshi, Mahmud Sherani, Nazir Ahmad, Karam Ali, Muzaffar Namah, Gauhar-e Jauhari, Maeyar, Maasir, Tehqeeq.
“Ilm ut-Tarikh”, in Maasir, Urdu Magazine, 1983. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp 5-32 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 481-500)
This long article examines history as a subject and historiography as a discipline. The focus is on India but there are illustrative references to ancient Greek and modern European historians. Prof. Askari’s definition of History is quite elaborate, “it is a study of the Past as an explanation of the Present and guide for the Future,” but is aptly summed up as “Man is the core of History.” The utility of the subject lay in “knowing the past, [and] understanding the present.” He begins with the ancient history of India based on mythical narratives and Puranic traditions not in accordance with chronological or objectively plausible accounts of events. The reason for these types of accounts, he suggests, could have been either a disinterested attitude towards transitory human life or a tendency to appreciate imaginary narratives. Prof. Askari identifies the mid-19th century as a watershed, since it marked the beginning of a critical study of the past based on authentic sources. The discussion moves on to the different stages and schools of historiography, including the Greeks, the Annalists, Renaissance historians and the more recent Materialistic and Deterministic schools. He identified regional history as an important domain. Historiography is defined as an analysis of the historian’s selection of sources, facts, and their interpretation, leading to an objective and unprejudiced assessment of the historian’s conclusions. Prof. Askari takes time to examine a wide range of sources, including varied literary texts, documents, personal papers, paintings, inscriptions, coins, monuments or their remains and excavated artefacts. Chronology is emphasized as the basic framework of historical writing. The Islamic tradition, as it developed among Arabs, Central Asians and Indo-Muslims constitutes the concluding portion. References are made to ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddemah, the works of Alberuni, his contemporaries and the historians of Mughal India.
Keywords: Puranas, Annalists, Renaissance, Materialistic, Deterministic, Historiography, Regional History, ibn Khaldun, Alberuni.
“Kujhwa ki Sahafati Rivayat”, in Khujwa Magazine, Madarasa-i-Islamia, Khujwa, Siwan, 1987, pp. 38-41 (Also published in Khujwa till 2006 Magazine, Madarasa-i-Islamia, Khujwa, Siwan, 2006, pp. 23-24)
Professor Askari recalls here journalistic activities in his native village Kujhwa over a span of eight decades, highlighting the contribution of Syed Ali Azhar, his son Syed Ali Haidar and grandson, Syed Muhammad Baqar. The three actively participated in the publication of the Urdu monthly, Islah. It was the first literary magazine in Bihar, launched in 1897. Initially, it was published from Patna, and later from Kujhwa when a press was set up there. Its publication ceased in 1932 after the death of Syed Muhammad Baqar. Some other magazines, monthly and fortnightly, published from Kujhwa were al-Shams, al-Kalam, al-Islam and al-Taj. Except for al-Shams, which continued for a quarter-century, the others led short lives.
An English fortnightly, Muslim Herald was launched from Kujhwa in 1909-10. It was edited by Syed Haidar Husain, and advocated Hindu-Muslim unity, inter-faith harmony and social reforms. Later, Husain edited the Leader, published from Allahabad. He was the founder-editor of the famous English daily The Searchlight, published from Patna at the initiative of such luminaries as Sachidanand Sinha and Hasan Imam. Husain was also a political and social activist. He joined the national movement in response to Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation and was appointed Publicity Secretary of the Bihar Provincial Congress Committee. His political views gradually changed and he later settled in Lucknow, serving as Honorary Editor of the Muslim Review and later the Star of India.
Keywords: Ali Azhar, Ali Haidar, Muhammad Baqar, Haidar Husain, Islah, Muslim Herald, Leader, The Searchlight, Muslim Review, Star of India, Non-Cooperation movement, Bihar Provincial Congress Committee.
“Kujhwa ki Tarikhi Haisiyat”, in Khujwa Magazine, Madarasa-i-Islamia, Khujwa, Siwan, 1987, pp. 22-26. (Also published in Khujwa till 2006 Magazine, Madarasa-i-Islamia, Khujwa, Siwan, 2006, pp. 19-22)
In this article, Professor Askari offers a glimpse of the history of his native village, Kujhwa, its settlement, development into a prosperous agricultural and later intellectual center. The village is a small, rur-urban settlement, located 15 miles south of Siwan railway station under the Raghunathpur block of Saran district. A Persian farman issued by (Aurangzeb) Alamgir in his 27th regnal year, under the seal of the Sadr us-Sudur, is preserved at Bihar State Archives. It records the rent-free (madad ma`ash) grant of 200 bighas of land to a lady, Bibi Badi. Sixteen more names of grantees are also mentioned on the reverse. Significantly, all are women. Professor Askari then traces the genealogy of Ghulam Muhammad Saheb, the founder of the village. The identity of Bibi Badi and her relationship with Ghulam Muhammad, however, could not be traced. The village owed its name to the dense forests of Kush (grass) and Jhaua (fern-like small trees) that grew there. The village enjoyed agricultural prosperity with a large population of landed gentry. Western-style education reached the village in the latter half of the 19th century, and it soon gained a reputation as the ‘most learned village in Bihar’.
Up until 1947, Kujhwa was a flourishing settlement, dotted with impressive structures, Imambargahs, and a mosque, giving it a reputation as a pakka gaon (village with brick structures). The partition of India dealt a death blow to Kujhwa as almost three-quarters of the population migrated to Pakistan. Professor Askari also traces his ancestry back to the eminent Sufi saint of the late 6th century, Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkhposh, who came from Bukhara and settled at Bhakkar, in Sindh (now in Pakistan). At some later stage, the family embraced Shi`ism.
Keywords: Bibi Badi, Alamgir, farman, sadr us-sudur, madad ma`ash, Kujhwa, Ghulam Muhmmad, Jalauddin Surkhposh, Shi`ism, Bukhara, Bhakkar, Sindh, Partition, genealogy, Kujhwa, Khujwa, local history
Professor Syed Hasan Askari, “Qazi Abdul Wadood” in Ghalibnama, Qazi Abdul Wadood Number, Ghalib Institute, New Delhi, January 1987, pp 45-51.
In this second article on Qazi Abdul Wadood, an eminent scholar, Professor Askari shares his memories and observations complemented with examples, especially when he met Qazi sahib just couple of days before his demise. Father Paul Jackson was also in this meeting. Prof. Askari not only mentions as how he met Qazi sahib but honors him and inks several anecdotes as well which provides an insight into his personality.
Keywords: Qazi Abdul Wadood, Father Paul Jackson, Patna, Khuda Bakhsh library, Hazrat Ali, Hazrat Imam Hussain, Hazrat Sakina, Hazrat Kulsum, Prof. Kalim, Phulwari Shareef, London
“Sikh-Muslim Talluqat Mughal Ahd mein”, in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 306-309.
This article is a brief but important survey of relations between Sikh gurus and Mughal Emperors. The events from the reigns of Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb covering the period of six gurus from Shri Arjan Dev (5th) to Shri Gobind Singh (10th) are discussed in an objective manner, pointing out distortions often promoted by writers with ulterior motives, contemporary and modern. Professor Askari cites the example of Miyan Mir laying the foundation of the temple at Amritsar and other instances of cordial relations between the gurus and the Emperors, notwithstanding intermittent wars between the two. The rift between Jahangir and Shri Arjan Dev is justified on the basis of a political misunderstanding further aggravated by the mischief of Diwan Chandu. The execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, who had earlier fought on the side of the Mughals in the north-east, is also explained in terms of the ‘dubious’ role of the hill chiefs, Kashmiri Pandits, and Dhir Mal. Aurangzeb’s bigotry is also cited. The brutal execution of two sons of Guru Gobind and the equally brutal retaliation by Banda Bahadur (d. 1716), which ended with his arrest and inhuman execution, are condemned as immoral acts unacceptable in norms of war. The most important information comes at the end of the article. It refers to a letter from the Ahkam-e Alamgiri addressed to Munim Khan. He is directed to address the concerns and apprehensions of Guru Gobind, who had expressed a desire to meet Aurangzeb, then in the Deccan. He was further directed to assure secure transport to facilitate the journey. If asked for, the necessary expenses were to be provided.
Keywords: Ahkam-e Alamgiri, Guru, Munim Khan, Miyan Mir, Arjan Dev, Tegh Bahadur, Sikhism, Mughal, Banda Bahadur, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb, Deccan, Panjab, Amritsar, Gobind Singh
“Ganj-i-Fayyazi, Khanwada-i-Rasheediya ke ek Buzurg Ka Malfuz”, in Hayat-e Kalim, Kalimuddin Ahmad Felicitation Volume, 1995. (Also published in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 262-305 & Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 233-268).
In this fairly long article Professor Askari traces the early phase of hagiographical Sufi writings in India alongside instances of gradual assimilation of local dialects into Persian. He briefly refers to the varied nature of the contents of hagiographical literature (mainly malfuz) such as introspection, meditation, abstinence, repentance, supplications, etc. Hindu influences on many of these ideas are noted; as are superstitious beliefs and practices. Prof. Askari then offers a short introduction to the Ganj-e Faiyazi (copy from Rajgir, close to Bihar sharif) a malfuz of Hazrat Abul Faiyaz Rasheed or Pir Dastgir, the third sajjadah of the khanaqah Rasheediya at Jaunpur. The main focus is on the saint’s malfuz, spread over 650 pages, referring to the lifestyle and living standards of the people rich and poor, their social customs, practices, and rituals. An account of journeys undertaken by the saint, the description of areas he visited between eastern Bengal and eastern Uttar Pradesh, the details of routes, vegetation, population, eminent Sufis, and their interactions over matters related to the faith is interesting and useful. Extracts from the text are quoted. Additionally, Prof. Askari comments on the language and diction of the text. He highlights frequent use of words from the local dialect. The article ends with an important mention of Kabirdas, described as a disciple of Shah Muhammad Taqi who lies buried at the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna.
Keywords: Ganj-e Faiyazi, Pir Dastgir, Sajjadah, Shariah, Khanqah Rasheediya, Abul Faiyaz Rasheed, Kabir Das, Muhammad Taqi, Sufism, Bihar, Bengal, Kabirdas, Jaunpur.
“Pandherween sadi ke ek Bihari Sufi Buzurg”, in Hindūstān ke ʻahd-i vust̤á par maqālāt by Professor Syed Hasan Askari, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1995, pp. 245-250. (Also published in Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp. 348-359).
This is a biographical essay on Hazrat Muhammad Qadiri of Amjhar (near Daudnagar, Gaya). Francis Buchanan, in his Report, mentions that the saint was the founder of the khanaqah at Amjhar. Professor Askari reconstructs the details of the saint’s life and activities on the basis of the Manaqib-e Muhammadi by Ali Sher Shirazi, a close companion of the saint (copy held at Patna University Library). Besides details of his personal life, the text gives information on his proselytizing activities in the isolated tracts of the Chhota Nagpur plateau, adjacent to Gaya. It also sheds light on political, social and cultural conditions. There is a detailed account of the saint’s encounters with the local Kolhiya (Kol?) chiefs, Jiwan and his brothers Karmu and Kshetra, who ruled over the Dumraon-Palamau region (now in Jharkhand). The saint was protected by his miraculous powers, and he killed Kshetra. Dariya Khan Nuhani, the powerful Afghan chief of Bihar, revered the saint. He built a mosque, a hospice and a grand residence for him. This is a somewhat rare account of the activities of a Sufi among Hinduized tribal groups of Bihar. Several instances of conversion are cited. It also offers an exceptional example of the saint’s violent encounter with a local chief. The saint’s familiarity with the local dialect is also highlighted.
Keywords: Buchanan, Daudnagar, Dumraon, Palamau, Dariya Khan Nuhani, Kolhiyas, Manaqib-e Muhammadi, Ali Sher Shirazi, Sufism, conversion, Bihar, Jharkhand, Kol, Chhota Nagpur, Amjhar, Daudnagar
“Do Makhtute”, in Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 184-192.
This article refers to three manuscripts, of which one is discussed in detail. The first manuscript contains two titles, namely: i) the Badshah Namah of Jalaluddin Taba Tabai, which describes the first to eighth regnal years of Shah Jahan, and ii) a collection of 46 letters, including 9 by Ahmad Shah Abdali, related in one way or the other to Maharaja Madhav Singh Kachwaha of Jaipur. Prof. Askari mentions his article, based on these letters, published in the Proceedings of the Indian History Congress [Durrani-Rajput Negotiations (1759-1761), Proceedings, Indian History Congress, Vol.IX (1945)]. The second manuscript is the Mirat al-Muluk of Shaikh Tajuddin Gangohi which, he writes, “will be discussed later in another article”. The third manuscript, titled Khulasat al-Ansab by Hafiz al-Mulk Rahmat Khan, is taken up for detailed comment. Rahmat Khan was an eminent Afghan chief and a trusted noble of Nawab Ali Muhammad Khan founder of the riyasat (petty kingdom) of Rampur. The book covers the tumultuous events during 1772-74 in the tripartite struggle for control over Rohilkhand between the Marathas, the Rohillas and Shuja ud-Daulah of Awadh. The shifting loyalty of the persons involved and the rapid change of fortune in course of the war is described at length. The account ends with the death of Hafiz Khan on the battlefield. The other section of the book discusses the religious beliefs and sectarian views of the author. Relevant extracts are given by Prof. Askari.
Keywords: Rahmat Khan, Rohillas, Marathas, Shuja ud-Daulah, Madhav Singh Kachwaha, Ahmad Shah Abdali, Khulasat al-Ansab, Badshah Namah, Jalaluddin Tabatabai, Mirat al-Muluk, 18th century, Afghans, Awadh
“Tabaqat-i-Baburi az Sheikh Zainuddin Khawafi”, in Maqālāt-i Sayyid Ḥasan ʻAskarī - Syed Hasan Askari, Muratab: Syed Muhammad Ḥasnain, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna, 1996, pp 215-232.
The article introduces the (then) unnoticed (but for a brief extract in Volume IV of Elliot and Dowson’s multi-volume series) rare work by Babur’s close companion, Zainuddin Khan Khwafi. Among the available copies of the text, under different titles, Prof. Askari selects the copy at Rampur Raza Library personally consulted by him (copy available at Khuda Bakhsh Library), and the title Waqiat-e Baburi. This article was subsequently used by him, in his Introduction to the English translation of the book (1983) [Introduction in Zain Khan’s Tabaqat-e Baburi (translated from Persian) 1983, p. 1-39]. The Waqiat, spread over 247 pages, describes the events of Babar’s life until the eve of the battle of Khanwa; and then ends abruptly. The contents of the book are first compared with the Tuzuk-e Baburi and its authentic translations. The differences are minutely pointed out, especially errors of decipherment in Elliot and Dowson. Zainuddin’s omission of certain uncharitable remarks made by Babur about India and its people, and the retention of the original by Mirza Abdur Rahim in the Persian translation (Babur Namah) is highlighted. Prof. Askari did not appreciate Zainuddin’s ornamental prose, pompous vocabulary and pretentious style. But he appreciated the useful information Zainuddin provided. They include building activities near Agra taken up by the author himself, as well as different letters and farmans drafted by him for Babur. Some details supplementing the observations of Babur are also useful.
Keywords: Zainuddin Khwafi, Babur, Mirza Abdur Rahim, Tuzuk-e Babari, Babur Namah, Elliot and Dowson, Khanwa, 16th century, Mughal, Waqiat-i Baburi
“Meray dost Sohail Azimabadi jo mujh sey pehley bula liye gaye”, in Khuda Bakhsh Library Journal, Vol. 111, 1998, pp. 197-204.
This obituary is in the form of an anecdotal essay about Sohail Azimabadi (Muhammad Mujib), an eminent author of Urdu fiction and political activist loyal to the Indian National Congress as well as a close acquaintance of some of the leaders of the provincial unit of the Party. Later, he served as Station Director of All India Radio at Patna and Kashmir. He also tried his hand in Urdu journalism and published a fortnightly Saathi and a monthly Tehzeeb. Professor Askari recollects that he came to know Suhail Azimabadi in 1937 just when his own career in teaching began. He admires his friend Sohail for his many qualities: simplicity, forthrightness, and disdain for political office or personal advancement. He acknowledges his gratitude to Sohail Azimabadi for introducing him to some eminent families of Phulwari (sharif), a major Sufi center in Patna. These connections helped Professor Askari in gaining access to rare manuscripts and documents in the families’ personal collections. In particular, he mentions collections of the Maktubat of Sharafuddin Maneri. Prof. Askari in turn introduced these texts to a wider circle of readers through his many articles on their historical significance. Prof. Askari also offers further anecdotes regarding Sohail Azimabadi’s uncle, Syed Jafar Imam, an important political figure associated first with the Muslim League and then with Congress. He also served as a Cabinet Minister in Bihar.
Keywords: Sohail Azimabadi, Syed Jafar Imam, Phulwari (sharif), Maktubat, Saathi, Tehzeeb