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A Tribute to the Father of Urdu

Rohail A. Khan Event Sponsor

Rohail A. Khan – Event Sponsor

Rohail A. Khan, senior banker and finance director, has been living in Saudi Arabia since 1993 and is developing communities through literature, culture and philanthropy. As chief guest of the memorial service of the Father of Urdu, Rohail Khan reports the success and conclusions of the event for Jeddah Blog.

For the first time in Saudi Arabia, a grand event was organized in the memory of Baba-e-Urdu (Father of Urdu), Dr. Moulvi Abdul Haq, to commemorate his 140th birthday and to propagate his message. Jeddah has rarely witnessed such extraordinary enthusiasm and exemplary love for Urdu.

Who was Baba-e-Urdu?

Baba-e-Urdu (1872-1961) was an acclaimed Urdu educator, writer, critic, linguist, lexicographer, editor, compiler, translator, etymologist, biographer and grammarian. He authored more than 20 books on these areas. Having realized the slow demise of the Persian language, Moulvi Abdul Haq devoted his entire life to making Urdu the primary language of the sub-continent and to placing it head-to-head with English and Arabic. He founded and managed Anjuman Taraqqi-e-Urdu, an organization dedicated to the promotion of Urdu language and literature, for 50 years pre-partition. During his migration in 1947, he carried 15,000 rare Urdu books from Delhi to Karachi. He was the moving spirit behind the establishment of the Osmania University in Hyderabad, Deccan, where Urdu is still one of the mediums of instruction. The world’s largest Urdu Translation Centre was established where rare Urdu books and Deccani manuscripts were translated and published. He was also instrumental in setting up the world’s first Islamia College for Women, Lahore in 1939, and Pakistan’s first Urdu College in Karachi (1949). He was the creator of the world’s largest Urdu-English Dictionary (1930) and in 1959 initiated the grand project of compiling a Modern Urdu Dictionary in 22 volumes. This project was completed three years ago under the Urdu Dictionary Board, Pakistan.


The Memorial Event

The memorial event was held at Lasani Restaurant on the evening of 21st November, 2012. The successful event had been organized by the Aalmi Urdu Markaz and welcomed more than 275 guests from all walks of life. Men, women and especially youngsters hailing from assorted nationalities all gathered together to commemorate Baba-e-Urdu’s 140th birthday. Multi-cultural community leaders, social workers, businessmen and literary figures added to the light of the event. The audience were treated to a four-hour literary discussions and poetic recitations and warmly applauded the proceedings.

A very diverse audience commemorating the 140th birthday of the Father of Urdu.

A very diverse audience commemorating the 140th birthday of the Father of Urdu.

The event took off with a short video containing a speech by Baba-e-Urdu and his life story with rare pictures, before the poetry recitals and literary discussions.

On stage from left: V.P. of Aalmi Urdu Markaz, Rohail A. Khan, Hon. Tahseem ul-Haq, President of Aalmi Urdu Markaz and poet Anwar Ansari with the Executive Team from Aalmi Urdu Markaz.

On stage from left: V.P. of Aalmi Urdu Markaz, Rohail A. Khan, Hon. Tahseem ul-Haq, President of Aalmi Urdu Markaz and poet Anwar Ansari with the Executive Team from Aalmi Urdu Markaz.

Chief Guest, Rohail Khan, shared his thoughts on Baba-e-Urdu with the organizers and participants, and offered practical suggestions to promote and protect Urdu.

“Architect and saviour of Urdu language and literature, Baba-e-Urdu, Dr. Moulvi Abdul Haq’s lifetime services to protect and promote Urdu are spread over 75 years. He proved a Prophet of Urdu and his message must be adequately propagated for the benefit of current and future generations. Le us not forget that Urdu, 4th largest language, is spoken by over 100 million people across 5 continents.”

7 Steps to Promote Urdu

Rohail A. Khan suggested seven projects to promote Urdu:

  1. Renew the Anjuman-e-Taraqqi-e-Urdu and propagate its mission across the globe by supporting tertiary local and international Urdu-serving institutions.
  2. Promote the importance of Urdu as a means to enhance our knowledge about Islam.
  3. Build the brand of Urdu world-wide through the proactive use of social media.
  4. Studying Baba-e-Urdu’s works and achievements and spreading his message by establishing Urdu faculties and research chairs at Ivy League Universities for the award of doctorate degrees on Urdu.
  5. Launch new Urdu periodicals, Urdu dictionaries and encyclopaedia.
  6. Identify and promote upcoming Urdu writers and poets.
  7. Launch “Urdu Academy International” as a global think-tank to incubate new ideas and projects to promote and protect Urdu.

The first goal is to launch the cause of making Urdu one of the official languages of Facebook. Rohail Khan can be reached at and on Facebook.

– compiled by Anousha Vakani

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10 thoughts on “A Tribute to the Father of Urdu

  1. write some thing in urdu poetry and post it .i really like to read poetry


  2. Pingback: Shahid Afridi in Jeddah! « Jeddah Blog

  3. Kristina on said:

    Surely something has happened in Jeddah since December 12th, or will happen in Jeddah in 2013. Why not profile a museum in Jeddah (that’s not burned down), an art gallery opening, a cooking class, an interesting neighborhood that’s within the city limits of Jeddah, investigate the Jeddah public library that has yet to open–what’s going on with that?


    • I see! We’re currently on holiday and should be back working on the blog in a couple of weeks. Thanks for your suggestions. We’ll keep them in mind. Great to know the blog is being followed so closely 🙂


  4. Kristina on said:

    Will this page ever get updated?


  5. Sheikha Noor Al-Memani on said:

    Welcome UAI. Giant Leap. Urdu Academy International (UAI) is indeed a multi-dimensional trans-continental think tank. I am honoured to be associated with this ground breaking “future shaping organization”. UAI is a long awaited giant leap by its visionary founder. We all pray UAI will set new trends to develop and protect the future of Urdu language, literature, and culture. We are keen to welcome its branch in UAE. Alf Mabrook.


  6. Dr. Selma Tabassum on said:

    Global Promotion of Urdu – Beyond common perception: Congratulations on launching Urdu Academy International. UAI is more than a Global Think Tank. It is the engine to propagate Urdu across five continents. The projects to promote and protect Urdu will fill the gaps and build bridges beyond common perception. We all must support UAI and its founder Rohail Khan on his long term vision and wisdom.


  7. Shibli Faraz on said:

    I think its very encouraging to see different societies in different countries doing useful work to reconnect with our literary and cultural heritage .However instead of everybody launching different societies working in the same area should co opt existing ones to make them effective and vibrant.

    Shibli Faraz


  8. Prof. Nazim Ali on said:

    We sincerely applaud Mr. Rohail Khan on his wise initiatives. We are positive UAI will carve out a bright future for Urdu and act as a bridge between East and West. I strongly encourage UAI and its founder to expedite its operations in North America. We have a dozen Urdu societies eager to join hands with UAI to ensure its success in USA and Canada. Let us work together on the aggressive projects announced by UAI. They only live who dare. I hereby volunteer to set up UAI chapter in Boston.


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