A Great Poet Ghalib Died Today
Perhaps the best known poet in the classical Urdu poetry tradition of the 'ghazal' or love poetry is Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, popularly known as Mirza Ghalib. Today is his 140th death anniversary. Born in the city of the Taj Mahal - Agra - perhaps in 1797, not only is Ghalib famous and popular for his poetry, his letters as well as his diary "Dast Ambooh" is famous too. It recorded, amongst other things, India's War of Independence 1857 (against its British colonizers) after which wholesale masacres took place by the British in Delhi, where Ghalib lived in the period of the last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. Ghalib died on February 15, 1869.
February 2008 is almost over but subcontinent’s peerless poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib still rules the hearts of connoisseurs of Urdu literature about one and a half century after his death on February 15, 1869. This was perhaps the reason why some men of letters decided to establish a library named after him in Karachi.
Ranked high among city’s libraries, Ghalib Library was opened nearly four decades ago. The library is in fact an offshoot of Idara-i-Yaadgaar-i-Ghalib, which was founded by Mirza Zafrul Hasan in February 1968.
The idea behind the venture was to set up an institution that would promote literary activities and research and especially cater to the needs of those who wanted to carry out research on Ghalib and other prominent literary figures.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz was founder president and Mirza Zafrul Hasan was founder secretary of the Idara.
In 1969, Ghalib centenary was commemorated on a grand scale by the Idara-i-Yaadgaar-i-Ghalib. Leading men of letters, not only from Pakistan but also from India and other countries, took part in the programmes.
Realising soon after establishing Idara-i-Yaadgaar-i-Ghalib that the objectives of the institution could not be fully served without a well-stocked library, Mr Hasan decided to set up Ghalib Library. He even went from door to door collecting books for Ghalib library from donors who could not come to the library for one reason or another. He was supported and helped by personalities like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Muslim Ziai, Begum Aamna Majeed Malik, Mushfiq Khwaja, Sibt-i-Hasan, Mumtaz Hasan, Dr Jafer Ali Hashmi, Mukhtar Zaman and scores of other prominent personalities from all over the country.
Appeals were made for donations and the response was simply overwhelming perhaps because people at that time wanted to help and contribute. Books and money poured in from all over the country. Many scholars sent books from India. Sadequain donated a few of his paintings, especially created for the occasion. He even designed and painted the signboard and insignia of the library. Finally the library was opened on Sept 1, 1971.
The Idara and library were eventually made a cultural centre where literary figures and personalities like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ralph Russell, Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, Ibn-i-Insha, Mushfiq Khwaja, Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Shaukat Subzwari and Farman Fatehpuri attended literary and cultural gatherings. Writers, poets, journalists, intellectuals and artistes used to frequent the library.
The library, housed in a spacious and well-lit building, now boasts over 35,000 books and 50,000 issues of some 600 journals. The library keeps a very good collection on ‘Ghalibyaat’. Apart from its invaluable collection of books and periodicals on Ghalib, it has published a good number of books on one of the greatest poets of Urdu.
The periodical section is another feature Ghalib Library is known for. It has a complete record of some very rare periodicals. Some 19th century and early 20th century journals are the valued treasure library is proud of. One can find rare magazines like ‘Hasan’ (Hyderabad Deccan), ‘Music Gazette’ (Faizabad), ‘Rafiq-ul-Atibba’ (Lahore), ‘Doctor’ (homeopathy magazine) (Lahore), Al-Mualij (Amritsar), Ghar Ka Ved (Amritsar) and ‘Oudh Punch’ (Lucknow), to name a few.
Hundreds of college magazines also adorn the library. More importantly, about 2,000 special issues of literary journals are stocked here. In addition, letters written by authors and intellectuals are preserved in the library.
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Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan