Majlis-e-Frogh-e-Urdu Adab (MFUA) and other prominent local Urdu literary figures expressed profound grief over the death of Mushtaq Ahmed Khan Yousufi, renowned humour and satire writer. He remained chairman of the jury which decided the winners of Majlis’ Aalmi Frogh-e-Urdu Adab Award in Pakistan from 1996 to 2012.
Yousufi contracted pneumonia a few days ago and was admitted to a hospital in Karachi. According to his family, he did not suffer from any serious disease but he would often fall ill because of his old age. He breathed his last on June 20. He is survived by his two sons and two daughters. His wife died more than 10 years ago.
Yousufi was born in a learned family of Jaipur, Rajasthan in India, on September 4, 1923. His father Abdul Karim Khan Yousufi remained the chairman of Jaipur Municipality and later became the speaker of Jaipur Legislative Assembly. Yousufi completed his intermediate from Central India Board of Education, Rajputana, BA from Agra University, MA in Philosophy and LLB from Aligarh Muslim University with distinction. The excellent educational achievements in a competitive environment was evidence of his exceptional brilliance. Afterwards, he joined Indian Civil Service. He was deputy commisioner, Tonk when the partition of India took place and his family moved to Karachi.
In Pakistan, he joined Muslim Commercial Bank in 1950 and reached the position of deputy general manager. He joined Allied Bank Ltd. as managing director in 1965. He became president of United Bank in 1974 and chairman of Pakistan’s Banking Council in 1977. He worked in Bank of Credit & Commerce International, London and its subsidiaries/affiliates from 1979 to 1990. He was awarded Quaid-e- Azam Memorial Medal for distininguished services in the banking field.
Yousufi wrote five books namely, Chiragh Taley (1961), Khakam-Ba-Dahan (1969), Zarguzasht (1976), Aab-e-Gum (1990) and Sham-e-Shair-e- Yaaran (2014). He received Adamjee Best Book Awards for Khakam-Ba- Dahan and Zarguzasht and Pakistan’s Academy of Letters Hijra Award for Best Book for Aab-e-Gum. He received Sitara-e-Imtiaz Award in 1999 and Hilal-e- Imtiaz Award, the highest literary honour given by the Government of Pakistan, in 2002. His hobbies included writing, photography and music.
Dr Mohammad Tahir of Shibli National College Azamgarh, India has written a book Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi ki Adabi Khidmat in 2002.
MFUA Doha invited Yousufi to Qatar in November 1994 and held Jashn-e-Yousufi programme in Al-Ghazal Club. At his and Dr Gopi Chand Narang’s, from India, advice, Majlis initiated ‘Aalmi Frogh-e-Urdu Adab Award’ for creative fiction writers, one each from India and Pakistan, in 1996 and designated them the chairmen of the juries of their respective countries. The scope of the award was later extended to include research and criticism. The award comprised of gold medals and cash award of Rs100,000 which was later increased to Rs150,000 for each winner.
MFUA has been holding the award function since 1996 and Urdu Mushaira since 1994. Later, Majlis invited Yousufi to come to Doha in 1996 and 1997 to participate in the award and mushaira functions and deliver speech on Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Ashfaq Ahmed, both noted Urdu writers from Pakistan, who were the award winners for those years.
Many years ago, Ibn-e-Insha, himself an Urdu satirist and humorist, wrote about Yousufi: ‘‘If we could give a name to the literary humour of our time, then the only name that comes to our mind is that of Yousufi’’. Dr Zaheer Fatehpuri, another Urdu scholar,wrote: ‘‘We are living in the ‘Yousufi era’ of Urdu literary humour.’’ The Yousufi era started from 1961 when Yousufi’s first book Chiragh Taley was published. So far, 11 editions of the book have appeared. It has a foreword titled Pahla Pathar written by the author himself plus 12 satirical and homourous articles. In 2008, he was living in Karachi and often appeared in TV programmes as well as seminars. His fifth book Shaam-e-Shair-e-Yaaran was launched at Arts Council of Pakistan in Karachi in 2014 at a ceremony presided over by Zehra Nigah, a reputed writer and poet, who said, ‘‘Neither Yousufi saheb nor any of his books will ever get old. Yousufi had always been careful about his diction.’’ She further said that it’s a rarity when the subtle element of surprise was added to humour, something that Yousufi was very good at. Iftikhar Arif, another distinguished writer and poet, said, “I had never seen anyone so meticulous about the usage and application of words as Yousufi. He is an extremely well-read man. He is not just a great humorist; he is a great prose writer.’’ Zia Mohyeuddin, an artiste, said on the occasion, “While we enjoyed Yousufi’s writings immensely, it is his learnedness that is no less astounding. There would be hardly any writer in the world whom he hadn’t read or not known about.” He articulated that humour stemmed from human weaknesses; however, Yousufi’s characters made the reader laugh at them as well as become fond of them. A major English daily newspaper in Karachi called him ‘‘a wordsmith par excellence’’.
After his death, Iftikhar Arif said about Yousufi, “He was the greatest [Urdu] prose writer after Ghalib. In the presence of writers like Shafiq ur Rehman , Petras Bukhari, Colonel R Mohammad Khan , and Ibn-e-Insha, he was the tallest. He was unique and his contemporaries wholeheartedly acknowledged his greatness. People remember his paragraphs [not just sentences or words] like the way they memorise good couplets.”
Mahmood Shaam, a journalist and poet, was of the view; “Although the ‘Yousufi era’ of humour has come to an end, his writings will live on. He was the kind of humorist and satirist who is known and recognised in all those regions of the world where Urdu is understood.”
Professor Dr Gopi Chand Narang, Chairman Indian Jury of MFUA award from 1996 till now, said, “Yousufi saheb was an extremely sophisticated person, so was his wit and humour, very urbane and erudite fine use of inversive poetry. His death has created a void as there is no writer who can write humour in literature the way he did.”
Mohammad Atiq, MFUA Chairman, said, ‘‘Yousufi saheb’s death is not only a big loss to his family and Pakistan, but also to Urdu literature and our Majlis. He was widely admired in the literary circles for his unique way of writing and subtle satire. He was the most luminous, par excellence cultural icon.’’
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