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Munshi Nawal Kishore & Indo-Islamic culture and civilization

Munshi Nawal Kishore played an important role in the promotion of Indo-Islamic culture and civilization

New Delhi: Jamia Millia Islamia’s Department of Urdu organised Munshi Nawal Kishore Memorial Lecture on 20 December in which Prof. Shah Abdus Salam, OSD of Rampur’s Raza Library said that in view of his (Nawal Kishore) overall services and his cultural achievements, he should be considered more as a dynamic and epoch making cultural leader of Indian renaissance rather than a great printer and publisher. His great academic and cultural activities and achievements played a fundamental role in the formation and building of new India and promotion of Indo-Islamic culture and civilization. The memorial lecture, sponsored by JMI’s Department of Urdu, was held at Tagore Hall, Dayar-e-Mir Taqi Mir and was chaired by JMI’s deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. S.M. Rashid.

Prof. Abdus Salam further said that Munshi Nawal Kishore founded and promoted Indo-Islamic culture through his own press. From linguistic point of view also he gave his large scale publication plan such universal and comprehensive shape which is rather difficult to find anywhere else. In addition to Urdu, Arabic and Persian literature, the sincerity and boldness with which he published Qur’an, Hadiths, books on Islamic jurisprudence, exegesis, theology and Islamic sciences and philosophy are examples of his learning, large heartedness and magnanimity which cannot be forgotten for centuries. He said that Munshi Nawal Kishore not only held contemporary scholars and ulama in high regard but also benefited from their capabilities and abilities.Ulama and scholars like Maulana Syed Amir Ali Malihabadi, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanotvi, Maulana Fakhruddin Firangi Mahli, Maulana Ehtashamuddin Muradabadi etc were regularly associated with his publishing house but in addition to them there were many ulama who, though not associated with him and his publishing house, were always prepared for compilation, writing and translation of books on oriental knowledge and sciences and with their help and cooperation Munshi Nawal Kishore revived and promoted Indo-Islamic culture and civilization.

Prof. Shah Abdus Salam further said that he (Nawal Kishore) played extra-ordinary role in broadening mental and intellectual outlook and understanding of common people of India and that is why he published books on different topics of literature, culture and civilization. He played vital role in protecting our intellectual and cultural heritage after 1857 through his press. So far no one has been able to equal, not to talk of surpassing, the epoch-making role he played in preserving and promoting Arabic, exegetic writings, jurisprudence and fatwas, dictionaries, books on Persian language and literature, translations from Sanskrit works and scriptures into Urdu, stories and legends and promotion of Urdu journalism in the form of Awadh Newspaper through his press. He regretted that after Independence his (Nawal Kishore’s) press has fallen on bad days which is a great loss for academic and literary world. He said that we can get many publishers but where can we find a sincere, large hearted and broad minded person like Munshi Nawal Kishore. These were his qualities because of which he was so popular and beloved of all and sundry. These aspects of his personality can be seen and found in the books published from his press/publishing house.

Prof. S.M. Rashid said in his presidential address that today we greatly need the materialisation of the dream of Indian renaissance which Munshi Nawal Kishore had seen. Munshiji’s sincerity, kindness and large-heartedness and deep humanitarian feelings illuminated the hearts and minds of innumerable people with the light of knowledge. He said that Jamia Millia has a right to present and popularise Munshi Nawal Kishore’s achievements and intellectual and ideological catholicity.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2011 on page no. 9

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