Book Review: A Unique Collection of Personal Letters

A Unique Collection of Personal Letters
Title: Khutoot-e-Mashaheer Banaam Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch
Compiler: Muhammad Raashid Sheikh
Publisher: Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch Research Foundation, Haiderabad Sindh

Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (1919-2011) was a pre-eminent polyglot scholar, researcher, intellectual, educationist, lexicographer, and man of letters. He was born in district Sanghar, did his matriculation from Naushahro Feroze Madressah & High School (1936) securing first position in the province of Sindh, BA (Hons) from Bahauddin College, Junagadh (1941) securing first position in Bombay University, MA (Arabic) from Aligarh Muslim University (1943) again securing a first class first alongwith an LL.B. degree also, and finally obtained a Ph.D. degree in teacher education from University of Columbia, New York (1949).

Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch worked as OSD in the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, GOP (1950-51), Professor of Education at Sindh University (1951), Vice Chancellor, Sindh University (1973-76), OSD in Education Ministry, GOP (1976-79), Director, National Commission on Historical & Cultural Research, Islamabad (1979-82), the first Vice Chancellor of International Islamic University, Islamabad (1980-83), Adviser, Hijra Council, Islamabad (1983-89), and the first Chairman of the Sindhi Language
Authority, Hyderabad (1990-94).

Muhammad Raashid Sheikh, an acclaimed literary critic, researcher and biographer from Karachi, who earlier authored four books on Dr. Baloch’s person and art, finally compiled the present book comprising a collection of some 246 letters, addressed to Dr. Baloch by a galaxy of litterateurs, intellectuals, cultural elite, scholars, and educationists from Pakistan and abroad. The book was published under the aegis of ‘Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch Research Foundation’, Hyderabad (Sindh), in 2015.

The compiler recounts his quarter-century long association with Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch and graphically critiques the latter’s academic, literary, and intellectual feats in the preface to the book. He has already published four books encompassing the whole gamut of Dr. Baloch’s life, work, and attainments wherein he has also separately, though concisely, appraised Dr. Baloch’s epistolary art, and sketch-cum-travelogue writing, and enlisted Dr. Baloch’s academic and literary achievements thus:
1. Compilation of the largest Sindhi dictionary viz. ‘Jamai Sindhi Lughat’ in five volumes, later digitally condensed into three.
2. A vast collection of Sindhi Folklore in forty-three volumes with seventeen left unpublished.
3. An annotated collection of the great mystic Sindhi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s authentic poetical work titled ‘Shah Jo Risalo’, in ten volumes.
4. Co-compiler of Sindhi-Urdu and Urdu-Sindhi Lughat with Dr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan.
5. Publication of a good number of authentic books on the history and culture of Sindh.
6. Publication of two books in Persian highlighting the last phase of the Persian poets in Sindh. Besides the above, Dr. Baloch authored, translated and edited a great number of articles and books on education, culture, and literary history in Sindhi, Urdu and English languages.

The letters in view are authored, among others, by intellectual icons and academics like Allama Abdul Aziz Memon (the illustrious teacher and mentor of Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch), Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, Dr. Syed Abdullah, Dr. Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Mumtaz Hassan, Qazi Ahmad Mian Akhtar Junagadhi, Hakim Muhammad Saeed, Dr. Mukhtaruddin Ahmad, Dr. Waheed Qureshi, Dr. Muhammad Abdullah Chughtai, Dr. Muhammad Rafiuddin, Nur Ahmad Khan Faridi, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Ashfaq Ahmad, Hakim Abdul Hameed, Hakim Muhammad Moosa Amritsari, Dr. Muhammad Baqar, Dr. Ihsan Haqqi, Dr. Muhammad Ayub Qadri, Prof. Muhammad Iqbal Mujaddadi, Dr. Muhammad Mozuddin, Ijazul Haq Quddusi, Ainul Haq Faridkoti, Prof. Muhammad Aslam, Dr. Rizwan Ali Nadvi, Syed Zameer Jafri, Dr. Wafa Raashdi, Muhammad Ismail Zabeeh, Dr. Inam-ul-Haq Kausar, Manzoor-ul-Haq Siddiqui, Dr. Syed Moeen-ur-Rahman, Prof. Pareshan Khattak, Iftikhar Arif, Dr. Tahir
Taunsvi, Syed Barkaat Ahmad, Faisal Ahmad Nadvi, Syed Anees Shah Jilani, Dr. Aslam Farkhi, Raja Ram Shastri, Prof. Afaq Siddiqui, Dr.Waqar Ahmad Rizvi, Dr. Safia Bano and Muhammad Raashid Sheikh (the compiler himself).

Facsimiles of some letters have also been inserted in the book to supplement the text.
Letters in the book vary in length and are generally concise but communicatory. The picture of Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch (the addressee of these letters) as it emerges from a thoughtful reading of the text, is one of an astute scholar —– fecund and insightful, modest yet magnanimous, ever ready to share his knowledge and wisdom with his seniors, peers and juniors alike besides counseling them in academic matters, where necessary.

In view of what has been said heretofore, the book turns out to be a true compendium of learning, enlightenment, and virtuosity which account for its lasting value.

Syed Afsar Sajid
Syed Afsar Sajid
The writer is a Faisalabad based former bureaucrat, poet, literary and cultural analyst, and an academic. He can be reached at: [email protected].


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