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Maulvi Abdul Haq
--: Biography of Maulvi Abdul Haq :--


Maulvi Abdul Haq was a scholar and linguist, who is also regarded as Baba-e-Urdu (Father of Urdu). He was a champion of the Urdu language and the demand for it to be made the national language of Pakistan.

Abdul Haq was born on November 16, 1872 in Hapur town in Ghaziabad District in India. He developed an affinity for the Urdu, Deccani, Persian and Arabic. He did B.A. from Aligarh Muslim University in 1894 where he found company of some of the savants of that time, including, Shibli Nomani, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Ross Masood, Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Syed Mehmud, Professor Arnold, and Babu Mukharjee. After graduation, Abdul Haq went to Hyderabad Deccan and associated himself to learning, teaching, translating and upgrading Urdu. Abdul Haq was deeply influenced by Sir Syed's political and social views, and learnt English and scientific subjects. Like Khan, Abdul Haq saw Urdu as a major cultural and political influence on the life and identity of the Muslims of India. He founded the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu in 1903 in Aligarh. Professor Arnold become the first president and Shibli Nomani the first secretary. Abdul Haq joined the Indian Civil Service under the British Raj, and worked as a chief translator at the Home Department in Delhi, before being appointed as the provincial inspector of schools at Aurangabad in the Central Provinces. In the same year, he was appointed secretary of the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference, which had been founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan in 1886 for the promotion of education and intellectualism in Muslim society. He become Principal of Osmania College (Aurangabad) and retired in 1930.

Abdul Haq was so dedicated to his work that he did not want to marry. However, he did go through the act of getting married just to satisfy the wishes of his parents but never met his wife.

Following the establishment of the Osmania University by the Nizam Osman Ali Khan, Asif Jah VII of the Hyderabad State in 1917, Haq moved to Hyderabad State to teach and help build the university. All subjects at the university were taught in Urdu, and under Haq's influence the institution became a patron of Urdu and Persian literature and linguistic heritage. Appointed as chairman of the department faculty of Urdu, Abdul Haq emerged as a leading literary critic and accomplished writer in the intellectual life of Hyderabad. He published numerous works of Urdu poetry, as well as treatises on linguistics, Islam, history, politics and philosophy. Widely respected as a scholar and teacher, Abdul Haq was a scholarly critic who provided criticisms of modern Urdu works and encouraged his students to develop literary skills and appreciation of Urdu. Following his retirement in 1930, Haq worked to compile and edit a comprehensive and authoritative English-Urdu dictionary. Haq was also a leading figure in the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam, a Muslim socio-political body of intellectuals. He also led the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu (Organisation for the Progress of Urdu), which had been founded as a group of Urdu scholars, intellectuals and students. Initially focusing on intellectual subjects and work, in 1930 Haq led the group in protest against a campaign by Indian nationalists to promote the use of Hindi as the national language of British India. Haq became a fierce critic of Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi and the Indian National Congress and joined the All India Muslim League led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In November 1947, Abdul Haq migrated to Pakistan. In the wake of migration much of his property, especially valuable manuscripts, papers and books were lost. The ordeals of partition and the migration also adversely affected Abdul Haq's health. He re-organised the Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu in Karachi, launching journals, establishing libraries and schools, publishing a large number of books and promoting Urdu education and linguistic research. Abdul Haq's work especially helped preserve the distinct "Old Urdu" linguistic and literary traditions of Hyderabad, known as Hyderabadi Urdu. He also used his organisation for political activism, promoting the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca and sole official language of Pakistan. He criticised the popular movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to demand the recognition of Bengali, stressing his belief that only Urdu represented Muslim heritage and should be promoted exclusively in national life. Condemning the 1952 Language Movement agitations in East Pakistan, showed apparent dislike over the decision of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan to make Bengali a second official language. With the help of the Anjuman and sympathetic political parties, he organised a major series of public rallies and processions in Lahore and Karachi on April 22, 1954. He is criticised for his insistence of Urdu as the sole official language of Pakistan, a cause which served to intensify the sectional gulf within the country and led to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971.

Despite illnesses and failing health, Abdul Haq continued to promote the active use of Urdu as a medium for all activities. He pushed for the creation of an Urdu College in Karachi, the adoption of Urdu as a medium of instruction for all subjects in educational institutions and worked to organise a national Urdu conference in 1959. Suffering from cancer, Haq died after a prolonged period of incapacitation on August 16, 1961 in Karachi.

For his achievements in the development and promotion of Urdu literature, he is officially regarded is Baba-e-Urdu. His most famous works include the English-Urdu dictionary, Chand Ham Asar, Maktoobat, Muqadimat, Tauqeedat, Qawaid-e-Urdu and Debacha Dastan Rani Ketki. The Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu remains an important intellectual organisation in Pakistan. Held in high esteem amongst intellectuals, educationalists and scholars in Pakistan, Haq is praised for his work in promoting Muslim heritage and Urdu as a unifying medium for Pakistani Muslims.

In recognition of his services to Urdu literature, Pakistan Post issued a Commemorative stamp on 16 August 2004


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