Abdul Haq (Urdu scholar)

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Maulvi Abdul Haq
Born 20 April 1870[1]
Hapur, Uttar Pradesh, now India
Died 16 August 1961[1]
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Occupation Researcher, scholar and a literary critic
Era 20th century
Known for Compiling a Standard English-Urdu Dictionary
and a lifetime dedication to the promotion of Urdu language
AbdulHaq Autograph.jpg

Maulvi Abdul Haq (Urdu: مولوی عبد الحق‎) (20 April 1870 – 16 August 1961) was a scholar and a linguist, who is also regarded as Baba-e-Urdu (Urdu: بابائے اردو‎) (Father of Urdu). Abdul Haq was a champion of the Urdu language and the demand for it to be made the national language of Pakistan.[1]

Early life

Abdul Haq was born on 20 April 1870 in Hapur city in Meerut district (now Hapur district, Uttar Pradesh) in India. He developed an affinity for the Urdu, Deccani, Persian and Arabic languages. He obtained a B.A. degree from Aligarh Muslim University in 1894 where he was in the company of some upcoming politicians/ scholars of that time including, Shibli Nomani, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Ross Masood, Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Syed Mahmood, Professor T. W. Arnold, and Babu Mukharjee. After graduation, Abdul Haq went to Hyderabad Deccan and dedicated himself to learning, teaching, translating and upgrading Urdu. Abdul Haq was deeply influenced by Sir Syed's political and social views, and, following his wishes, learned English and scientific subjects. Like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Abdul Haq saw Urdu as a major cultural and political influence on the life and identity of the Muslims of India.[2] He founded the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu in 1903 in Aligarh. Professor Arnold became its 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 then called 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 became Principal of Osmania College (Aurangabad) and retired from that position in 1930.[1]

Educational and political activities

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. 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 a 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 from Osmania University in 1930, Haq worked to compile and edit a comprehensive and authoritative English-Urdu dictionary.[1] 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 in 1903 by a group of Urdu scholars, intellectuals and students. Initially focusing on intellectual subjects, later in 1930, Haq led the group in protests 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 Pakistan

In 1948, Abdul Haq migrated to Pakistan. In the wake of migration and the accompanying riots in 1947, much of his property, especially valuable manuscripts, papers and books were lost. However, some of the material which he brought to Pakistan is kept in the Urdu Dictionary Board library.[1] 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 education in the Urdu language and linguistic research in it. Abdul Haq's work especially helped preserve the distinct "Old Urdu" linguistic and literary traditions of Hyderabad, known as Hyderabadi Urdu.[3] He also used his organisation for political activism, promoting the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca and sole official language of Pakistan.[4] He criticised the popular movement in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to demand the recognition of the Bengali language, stressing his belief that only Urdu represented Muslim heritage and should be promoted exclusively in national life. Condemning the 1952 Language Movement agitations in former East Pakistan, he 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 22 April 1954. He is criticised for his insistence on Urdu as the sole official language of Pakistan, a cause which served to intensify the sectional gulf within the country and later led to the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. He was a pioneer in educational development in Andhra Pradesh, specially in the Rayalseema Region of Andhra Pradesh, Osmania College, Kurnool is still an example of his great contribution.


Despite illnesses and failing health, Abdul Haq continued to promote the active use of Urdu as a medium for all educational activities. He pushed for the creation of an Urdu College in Karachi,[5][4] 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, Abdul Haq died after a prolonged period of incapacitation on 16 August 1961 in Karachi.[1]

Baba-e-Urdu's publications

For his achievements in the development and promotion of Urdu literature, he is officially regarded as Baba-e-Urdu. His most famous works include the English-Urdu dictionary, Chand Ham Asar, Maktoobat, Muqaddimat, 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 the 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.[6][4]

Commemorative postage stamp issued in 2004

In recognition of his services to Urdu literature, Pakistan Post issued a Commemorative stamp in his honor on 16 August 2004 in its 'Men of Letters' series.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h http://www.pakpost.gov.pk/philately/stamps2004/maulvi_abdul_haq.html, Profile and commemorative postage stamp of Baba-e-Urdu: Maulvi Abdul Haq, Retrieved 2 February 2017
  2. ^ S Krishna Bhatnagar (1969) History of the M.A.O. College, Aligarh. Asia Publishing House.
  3. ^ M Yusuf Abbasi (1992). Pakistani Culture: A Profile. National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research. ISBN 969-415-023-X
  4. ^ a b c http://www.dawn.com/news/1278009, 'Homage paid to Baba-e-Urdu on his 55th death anniversary', Dawn newspaper, Published 17 August 2016, Retrieved 2 February 2017
  5. ^ It became a predecessor of Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science & Technology
  6. ^ M Ayub Khan (1961). Speeches and Statements. Pakistan Publications.

External links

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