The beauty of Urdu

Discussion in 'Language Notes' started by kunh al-naqiibah, Apr 29, 2008.

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  1. Thanaullah/sanaullah I suspect he might'v been ehl-i-hadiis he used to have debates with the ahmadiyahs but not sure..
  2. is this thanaullah al-amritsari the same as mawlaana sanaullah panipati?
  3. Gesundheit Naqsh miyaN,

    Ah yes, mein guter herr edmund von Muenchen, nicht wahr? (glasses, grey mop, Twain mustache?) I used to call greet him GrueSS Gott! nice bloke.

    ron buckley al-buxtoni? can't speak arabic but has a grammar out. he's more like a keith lemon. please someone tell him 'one' rhymes with 'sun' not 'gone'.

    my Arabic profs were Rex smith (nice but no arabic conversation); Norman calder from the wansbrough revisionist school - but nuntheless a laugh - colonic cancer got him in january 1998: still working, having made his funeral arrangements I saw him emaciated, sunken eyes and eroded but still with a clutch of papers on hanafi fiqh.. there's an obituary of him in the guardian. and there's the true python: Dr sadgrove the civil service vintage white man's burden veteran - still working on volume on zanzibar.

    and there was this ghastly turkish head: cigdem balim...a thoroughly unpleasant hag that vext all that crost her hext tracts...

    I enjoyed the conversation classes with iraqiyah and sooriyyah teachers..they knew their stuff. I first learnt Arabic as a living language from another Iraqi, Jenny of Mancat.

    Lane's dictionary is a stupendous stellar sedulous feat. To me he picks up from where the classical Arab lexicographers left off. Mawrid doesn't cut any khardal whatsoever..

    Lane / Wright ought to be re-printed and made more widely available. rex smith had a one volume tome. the qur'an com were making copies available free.

    I saw some tafseers of Thanaa Allah al-amritsaari and maulani islaaHi, tadabbur -i-qur' you know more about them?
  4. hmm....thanks...I attended a few classes with Dr. Ron Somebody-- a funny Monty-Pythonesque character--at Manchester's Arabic Dept before switching to Farsi with the wonderful Edmund Herzig (now moved to Oxford) and the gorgeous Ms. Khabarova (sadly now moved to the US)...I too remember that Egyptian woman you mention...

    Many of the ulama from Indo-Pak have mastery of classical grammar but cannot have a conversation with today's arabs...of course there are exceptions...allama sayyid irfan shah sahib tells of his encounters with a shaykh umar al-sudani in arabia...!!

    How do u rate Lane's dictionary?
  5. naqsha sahab,

    of course the title 'modern standard/written arabic' doesn't have an equivalent in arabic - the arabs call the Arabic 'fuSha' and the language they speak 'arabi' or 'aamiyyah or 'daaraijah'.

    Sometimes MSA just means classical Arabic used today but with a modern vocabulary. in modern grammars all the vowels are fully written, but the variations between MSA and classical can be small: e.g. using 'lughah' for language instead of 'lisaan' - or using 'idhaa' for 'in' as a conditional 'if'.

    Cowan (mod lit Arabic) uses pure classical word formation: e.g. 'miHlaq' (razor) instead of the used 'moosaa'/ moosay. AFL Beeston in his (negative) review of cowan's work describes how the arabs laughed at him for using 'miHlaq'.

    Really the laugh's on the silly laughers.

    It altogether depends on who's running the Arabic Dept and what their specialisms are. You have to ask if the lecturer's mastered e.g. alfiyyah/ajrumiyyah or zamakhshari's grammar : minimum!

    in the other extreme, there are lecturers/orientalists whose mastery of grammar is phenomenal yet cannot hold a decent conversation. this is seen in muslim countries as well, like Turkey.

    sultaan qaboos recently awarded a big largesse to Cambridge Uni for modern arabic. this should be interesting.

    At Manchester, the arabic's gone downhill: you've got the egyptian Dalia - a specialist in women's studies- not in Arabic- teaching translation thinking that being a native speaker will get her off. she seems to be ignorant of correct usage e.g saying 'tazhruba' for tajribah etc. and often denies normal classical syntax as wrong without realising.

    sorry but this is a telling mistake.

    Mona Baker - big shot specialist in translation studies at manchester, nice lass but thinks the source of arabic is current usage not what the tradionalists/academies recommend. I think some quarters want to cut the cord between arabic and the Qur'an, and make usage the standard.

    I'd certainly study under Yasir Sulaiman (edinburgh?) or Yasin Dutton (dundee? st andrews? ) Daniel Newman (Durham / Holland) seems to have his finger on the pulse of arabiyyah, e.g. analysing sh. Minshawi's qiraa'ah:

    in sum, it's who's there that matters.
  6. afzal miyan,

    what saith you about arabic language courses at british universities which teachj modern standard arabic?
  7. the butcher of babel

    I always let myself down when I disappoint others...
    I'd be the last person to gainsay what the great Imam says.

    I well remember watching space 1999: and what professor victor bergman says:

    "in our voyages we've learnt many things but the thing that we've learnt the most is................ that we still have a lot of things to learn."

    Abu Hasan is kind to call me a 'polyglot' but this I am not...

    My own intimate and beloved language is English, and I decry those who say it's 'goreya dii zabaan' and I should speak 'aapnii zabaan' but English IS meri pyari zaban- and in a sense I take pride in how it's become mor and mor ubiquitous that it's ousting/changing other languages. (though David Crystal would warn us against an English that scorches earth).

    I can enjoy maHmood Taymoor (great writer) and understand Tabari easily. Ibn 'Aashoor is a harder but Zuhayr ibn Abi Salmaa is absolutely taxing. but I'm still learning.

    I speak to my mum in a broken punjabi. when people ask me about my origins: I say (which might be construed as provocativ): I'm English. my Parents are Pakistani. My grandparents were British Indian. My origin is England. my parents', Pakistan. My grandparents', British India. To me this is truthful.

    The power richness and beauty of English is awesome. originally 'good-bye' or 'goodby' meant 'God be with you': To giv an illustration of its power: instead of saying the Arabic 'Allah ma'ak' the arabs in the levant rather say 'bye bye' : or say 'saanweesh' isntead of 'shaTeerah'.

    On the other hand it is desolating to hear time and time again, arab students of mine saying, 'I hate Arabic'; 'it's outdated'; and it's laft at. Just take a look at Mohammed Asfour's 'Arabic' in 3 months (hugo publishing), and how he insults Arabic. or the fact that al-jazeera conducts its meetings in English rather than Arabic. This is why I resoect andadmire the French who are proud of their language and promote it - despite English incursions no inferority complex there.

    I certainly don't wan to paint all Arabs or subcontinentals with the same brush..but I mean to say most whom I've known in my general experience. But generalising ain't a good thing, you're right.

    Abu Hasan brings up the butcher; and despite the disclaimer it's puzzling that butchery profession gets the saaToor in discussions like this. I always speak to every arab in classical arabic even if they speak dialect/english/french etc -

    so when buying a chicken in a tunis district I was delighted to hear the ordinary run-of-the-mill butcher reply in amazing flawless arabic

    That Arabic is ordinary for ordinary folk for our ordinary lives not esoteric and specialised or formal fuSHa as people make out is the point I'm trying to make, really.

    You're right, I don't know how languages work: I simply can't fathom why Arabs don't speak Arabic but use ugly dialects in lieu. one jordanian told me Arabic is the best language - (though he prefers using English when talking to a Tunisian! It just doesn't cohere.)


    the hadith: whoever's two days are the same has been ripped off.

    من استوى يوماه فهو مغبون ومن كان آخر يوميه شرا فهو ملعون ومن لم

    يكن على الزيادة فهو في النقصان ومن كان في النقصان فالموت خير له

    ومن اشتاق إلى الجنة سارع في الخيرات ومن أشفق من النار لهى عن

    الشهوات ومن ترقب الموت هانت عليه اللذات ومن زهد في الدنيا هانت

    عليه المصيبات‏.‏

    رواه الديلمي بسند ضعيف عن علي مرفوعا، وفي الموضوعات الكبرى

    للقاري بلفظ من استوى يوماه فهو مغبون ومن كان يومه شرا من أمسه فهو

    ملعون‏.‏ ثم قال لا يعرف إلا في منام ابن رواد،

    وقال العراقي في تخريجه لا أعلم هذا إلا في منام لعبد العزيز بن أبي رواد

    قال رأيت في المنام رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقلت يا رسول الله

    أوصِنِي‏.‏ فقال ذلك، بزيادة في آخره، والزيادة هي‏:‏ ومن لم يكن على

    الزيادة فهو في النقصان‏.‏ ولله در الإمام البستي حيث يقول‏: ‏

    زيادة المرء في دنياه نقصان * وربحه غير محض الخير خسران
  8. abu Hasan

    abu Hasan Administrator

    frankly, i am disappointed that afzal has gone down rather than up; but this downness is not due to gravity but a rather heavy load of one's prejudices.

    i had heard it from someone that a scholar has said: 'when a man is ignorant, he is humble because of the obvious lack of knowledge; when he is a mutafaqqih or the newly learned, he is apalled at the ignorance of everybody else; and if he is fortunate enough to make it further, he will realize the extent of his own ignorance.' on similar lines are these lines attributed to the great imam raDiyallahu anhu:
    kullama addabaniya'd daharu
    arani naqSa `aqli
    wa idha ma'zdadtu `ilman
    zaadani `ilman bi jahli
    there is a saying among sufis [probably a hadith; will check later]: 'if a man's today and tomorrow are the same, he is in a loss; and if his today is better than his tomorrow, he is on the route to perdition.'

    kN's stated objective that 'he urges' everyone to use proper arabic is a fine one indeed; but he seems to be oblivious to the manner in which he demands this from everybody. and coming from a polyglot like afzal, it is regretful that he seems to ignore the way language works.

    yes, some people have an inferiority complex and a distaste for their own language(s) and nowadays a higher regard for the english language - but, most do it because of necessity, and not necessarily because they are ashamed of it.

    english is the language of the internet and in today's world - ironically - the lingua franca. people from the subcontinent, like us, can only hope to get a job if we speak english - and don't you know that man cannot live on lingual fanaticism alone?

    the parable of the scholar and the peasant in the raft comes to mind. a man was in a raft/boat/canoe [according to various versions] along with a philosopher who asked him if he knew about plato and socrates. the man replied in the negative. hippocratus? no? and surely archimedes or at least, epictetus? the man said, no; he did not. the scholar declared: 'half of your life has been wasted.' the boat ran into troubled waters and as every man jumped to save himself, the man asked the scholar: 'do you know how to swim?' the scholar said that he did not.

    the peasant jumped in the water and said: 'your entire life, is now wasted.'

    indeed, we must renew our languages - and take it back from those who are murdering it. but please, with consideration and not with condescension.

    again, i share many of your concerns and i agree with you - along with linguists - that english should not debauch other living languages. in our context, those tongues we find rich and gorgeous - arabic, persian and urdu. but, generalizing all 'arabs' or all 'sub-cs' is dangerously holier-than-thou.

    as i have repeated myself ad-nauseum, if you expect a butcher* to be well versed in the languages, you must have been displaced in time and place; surely, you don't expect a lawH that reads: laHm e ghanam; kharuuf o duNbah; murgh o parindah bhi dastyab hai.

    a favorite line of a learned man in our city: "the urdu of lucknow is so refined, that a woman annoyed by her maid calls her: 'sang e bey nuun' / sang sans the letter nun."

    those days are gone forever; gone with the wind...**

    as ghalib would muse:
    jaata huN daagh e Hasrat e hasti liye huwey
    huN shama'a e khushta, dar-khur e maHfil nahiN rahaa

    bar ruu e shash jihat, dar e aayinah baaz hai
    yaaN imtiyaaz e naqiS o kaamil nahiN rahaa
    and the classic:
    aagahi daam e shuneedan jis qadar chaahey bichaay
    mudda'a `anqaa hai apney `aalam e taqreer kaa

    *i don't intend denigration of any profession here - while i have seen a couple of very pious and erudite butchers, in my experience, most of them are just ordinary men with ordinary ideas and ordinary language. you can replace butcher with software engineer, if you like; because they too seem to think that using four-lettered words is acceptable because, everybody uses it. and many people use it without knowing its true meaning: for example, an elderly relative keeps referring to anyone he feels like, as a 'bugger.' al iyadhu billah.

    ** here is the passage i have helpfully sorted from a gutenberg text:

    remembering things and people who were dead, remembering a way of living that was gone forever--and looking upon the harsh vista of the dark future.
    the harsh 'vista' of a dark future? surely, microsoftees were not reading gone with the wind during the making of vista? eerie, though.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
  9. yes i hate this writing of english in urdu script--even on govt buildings in pakistan! it is a new phenomenon: instead of, e.g. Vazarat e Daakhila (Ministry of the Interior/Home Ministry) we might have something like MinisTry aaf inTeriyar written in Urdu script!


    especially when urdu has its own vast vocab of hindi, arabic and farsi to pick from!

    to be fair the other extreme is sometimes seen too: instead of ice cream we might have mala'ee -e-barfaab! :D
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008
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  11. If you look at Urdu nowadays, it's all english with a thick subcontinental accent. look at the signs which are still's mangled english in an awfully produced shikasta script - I've seen really beautiful shikastas but urdu doesn't appeal at all -why can't they adopt a printed font; and use arabic persian turkish sanskrit words instead of writing in urdu for example : pakistani communiTee centR. / meeT ehnd polTree.

    inferiority complex or what - just like the arabs.

    alas the majesty that was once urdu...
  12. Everytime I read these lines (from the play by Imtiaz Ali Taj and the movie subsequently made from it (Mughal e Azam)) I want to swoon!
  13. Literal translation will make my point clear:
    S: Anarkali shall be the queen of Hindustan by Salim's side.
    A: Do not make the dust of thy feet the crown of thy head...
    S: It has already become so Anarkali! I can see that the Hindustan of Akbar the Great shall be in your power.
    A: For God's sake!
    S: The destinies of the people of Hindustan will be tied to the curls of your flowing tresses Anarkali. And in whichever direction you then deign to look thousands of fates will tremble, futures will quiver!

  14. the point being that, Urdu, having its origins as a courtly language is highly ornate a polite...baroque almost!
  15. I was just browsing sunniport and came across this old post of mine...recent conversation with brother afzal [kunh...] have made me want to add some more to this as I really think that if Arabic is the language of Paradise then Urdu must be the language of the houris!

    Ah! If only such language was still spoken today but it is not! Today most people speak a mixture of Urdu-Hindi-Panjabi-and English and call it Urdu! If one wants to hear pure Urdu one must turn to the older generation of ulama from the subcontinent...for his command of a highly persianised and classical urdu qibla pir sayyid abdul qadir shah is one name which needs must be mentioned...another is the son of the late allamah kazmi sahib, ghazali e zaman....
  16. Classical Urdu, as was once spoken (see sample below), is the sweetest language:

    S: Salim ki pehlu mein Anarkali Hindustan ki malika hogi.
    A: Paon ki khaak ko sar ka taaj na banaiye..
    S: woh ban chuka Anarkali! Main dekh raha hoon Akbar e Azam ka Hindustan tumhare ikhtiyaar mein hoga.
    A: Khuda ke liye!
    S: Hindustan kay insaanon ki taqdeerein tumhare gisu`on ki khalqay mein ghir jaayeingee Anarkali. Aur tum phir jidhar muR kar dekho gi hazaron taqdirein kaampti rehengee, mustaqbil larazte rehenge!
    (S = [Prince] Salim), (A = [Emperor] Akbar)


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