A New Fable to Extend Islamic Literary Tradition (January 11, 2010)

L-R: Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam, Dr Shafeeque Ahmad Khan Nadvi, Dr Ausaf Ahmed, Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani, Dr Tabish Mehdi, Prof. Noman Khan

The Urdu translation of Abdul Hameed Abu Suleiman’s book Jazeeratul Bananain is released with critical acclaim.

New Delhi, January 9: “Islam has a long literary tradition that includes different genres of fiction”, Prof. Shafique Ahmad Nadvi, former head of Arabic department of Jamia Millia Islamia, said here today.

While releasing a book Maimaron Ka Jazeerah, Prof. Nadvi said this book was “a continuation of that long Islamic tradition of fiction righting”. The book is an Urdu translation of an Arabic fable (Jazeeratul Bananain). Written by Dr. Abdul Hameed Abu Suleiman in Arabic, it has been translated by Dr Nakhat Hussein.

The book, inspired by the Arabic classic Kalilah wa Dinnah in its choice of the format of a fable, is a didactic tale that bases its moral teachings on the Quran and the Hadith. Prof. Nadvi dwelt at large upon the evolution of fiction in Arabic over the centuries.

Prof. Syed Jamaluddin, former professor of history at Jamia Millia and presently the editor of Human Rights Today, observed that the book likened society to a tripod, whose three legs were family, culture, education-information. “It also says that an individual is significant within the group only, as outside it the individual is rendered irrelevant”, he observed.

Prof. Mohammad Noman Khan, former head of the Arabic department, University of Delhi, opined that books on physical and natural sciences should also be translated into Arabic and Urdu as of now very few translation of such works were available in these languages. Talking about intensive translation work in Abbasid Middle East and Renaissance Europe he made the point that translation was a marker of cultural flowering.

The Chairman of Institute of Objective Studies, where the function was organised, released the book. He informed the gathering that more than 50 books had been translated (including the present one) by the IOS from Arabic to Urdu so far. The translation of this book came in for great appreciation by various speakers.

Maulana Abdul Hameed Nomani of the Jamiatul Ulama-e-Hind placed this book in the context of Kalila wa Dinna (which was the inspiration for it) and Panchtantra, which was the inspiration for Kalilah wa Dinna. He also traced the influence of Katha Sukh Sagar, another major Sanskrit text, on Kalilah wa Dinna to emphasise certain universal human values across civilisations.

In his presidential remarks Prof. Ausaf Ahmad, former senior economist of Islamic Development Bank, Jeddah, and currently editor of the Urdu journal Mutaaliyaat, observed that the Maimaron Ka Jazeerah should be of enduring interest to today’s readers as well as to those who would come in future.

The book has been published by Al-ittihad Publications in collaboration with IOS.


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