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Urdu Academy’s tribute to Amir Minai

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Urdu Academy’s March 21, 2010 literary evening was devoted to the life and work of Ameer Minai,Podium-2  3-21-2010 an eminent Urdu poet and prose writer of the 19th century. The event, held at the Chandni Restaurant, Newark, CA, was presided over by popular poet Nasim Farogh.  

Memood Ali from Ohio and Jagjeevan Lal Ishthana from India were guest poets.

The program included presentation of the poetry of Ameer Minai and a mini mushaera.

(Picture shows from left: Memood Ali, Jagjeevan Lal Ishthana, Nasim Farogh and Dr. Tahir Mahmood.)

Ameer Minai’s poetry was presented by: Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Affif Siddiqui, Asim Bajwa, Fauzia Timberlake, Jawed Umerani, Khalid Rana, Ken Sherfy, Mukesh Kacker, Meraj Sultana Ghazali, Misbah Rahman, and Dr. Tahir Mahmood.

Dr. Tahir Mahmood was MC of the first session. Dr. Mahmood very skillfully acquainted the audience with the life and work of Ameer Minai. As usual, he interspersed his comments in between the presentations of the ghazals of Ameer Minai.

Misbah Rahman presented a special maqala about the life and work of the great poet.  

A prolific poet, writing several pieces a day, he is believed to have written more than 40 books, many of which have remained unpublished. His manuscripts are mostly preserved in the Reza Library, Rampur.

His lyrical poetry proves beyond doubt his mastery over the language and confirms the romantic affection and affirmation of the classical traditions. Audience-2  3-21-2010

His most ambitious prose work is Amir-ul-Lughat (A Urdu Dictionary), which he began in 1884.

The first volume of the Lughat was published in 1891 and second in 1893. The Lughat remained unfinished till his death.

Ameer Minai was born in 1826 at Lucknow and died in 1900 at Hyderabad. A popular poet both with the people and the aristocracy, he was held in high esteem by his contemporary poets like Ghalib and Daagh Dehalvi.

Amir Minai’s father Sheikh Karam Muhammad was a direct descendant of Shah Makhdoom Minai, the renowned Muslim saint of 15th century.

Besides being a scholar of Urdu and Persian, he had a thorough grounding in Arabic, Sanskirt theology and mediaeval logic. At fourteen, he became pupil of Aisr Lukhnawi and started participating in the Mushairas.

He entered the service of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in 1853. During the 1857 Revolt, Amir Minai, alongwith his family proceeded to Kakori. By the time his reputation as a prominent poet had been well established.

On an invitation from Nawab Yusuf Ali Khan, he went to the Princely State of Rampur and was appointed as ‘Mufti” (magistrate). His association with the Rampur State (1859 to 1887) was the most fruitful period of his life both from the point of view of employment as well as his literary output.

After the death of Nawab, he left Rampur and paid several visits to Bhopal and Patna in search of patronage.

Incidently, he met Mir Mehbub Ali Khan, the VIth Nizam of Hyderabad, at Banaras in early 1900. The Nizam invited him to Hyderabad where he stayed with Dagh Dehlvi.Audience 3-21-2010

He died in October 1900.

Mini Mushaera

A mini mushaera was held in the second session. Poet Ahmed Shahwar was MC of the mushaera.

The poets who amused the audience with their poetry included three visiting poets with published works or anthologies (sahib-e-diwaan). They were: Mehmood Ali from Ohio, Jagjivan Lal Asthana from Hyderabad, India and Nasim Farogh from Washington DC.

Nasir Humayon, a well known poet from Pakistan who has recently immigrated to the US, has two poetry collections to his credit.

Surinder Seerat, a well known Bay Area sahib-e-diwaan poet of Urdu and Punjabi, also entertained the audience with his melodious presentation. Surinder Seerat is the founder the Punjabi Academy in the Bay Area some 25 years ago that is still working for the promotion of Punjabi language and literature. His organization holds an "Urdu Punjabi Mushaira" each year in the bay area to promote cooperation and understanding between two cultures and the people.

Other poets who presented their poetry included Tashie Zaheer, Ahmed Shahwar, Arshad Rashid, Afif Siddiqui and Abdus Sattar Ghazali.

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