Kutub Khana

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Kutub Khana

Today I finished listening BBC Radio series "Kutub Khana - http://kutubkhanabbc.blogspot.com/ ".

Kutub Khana was a hunt for the treasure of knowledge and wisdom. Mr. Raza Ali Abidi traveled all over the Indian subcontinent in search of books and libraries and discovered some well preserved and some ignored collections. Here he narrates many amazing stories about the books left by our fore-fathers. Here you will hear several foremost scholars talking about this valuable treasure.

I was amazed by the efforts put forward by Mr. Raza Ali Abidi to find these hidden treasures from the width and depth of the Indian subcontinent. The series is a bit old as it was broadcasted on BBC in late 70s or early 80s and of course I was a kid at that time and had no interest in series like "Kutub Khana".

For the first time I heard about this series when I was in Aligarh and my cosine Mr. Abdul Mabood Usmani, a research scholar in Urdu talked about this series and recommended me to read the book "Kutub Khana" by Mr. Raza Ali Abidi. It was amazing to read too but there is no comparison of reading and listening in the voice of Mr. Raza Ali Abidi. He is a legend and an institution in himself. It was interesting to listen to this series and I was amazed by the efforts put by Raza Ali Abidi Sahab to document about the hidden treasure of subcontinent.

Mr. Abidi said it very correctly; now even our well established and well to do people including academicians does not have a decent Kutub Khana (Library) in their homes. When we built our home, we specifically make sure to have "Bawarchi Khana (Kitchen), Mahman Khana (Drawing Room), Zanan Khana " , but do not even consider to have a "Kutub Khana (Library)". Hope this series may help us to ponder upon the subject.

I was a bit disappointed also that Mr. Raza Ali Abidi could not make it to 2 of my favorite place, Aligarh and Azamgarh to cover Maulana Azad Library and Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy Library ( www.shibliacademy.org ). These 2 library got a mention in the series but at least I was expecting more from the series.

When the series was produced, I am not sure about the status of personal library of (Late) Prof. Khaliq Ahmad Nizami Sahab but when I paid my first visit to him in October/November 1992 to invite him as a Chief Guest for one of the evening of "SHAHEEN-92", his personal library was very impressive. SHAHEEN-92 was a week long literary and cultural festival organised by Literary & Cultural Society of Allama Iqbal Hall. I also paid a visit to the said library in January 2009 and was a bit disappointed at the condition of the library. I wish his heirs should have taken the same care of the library. When it comes to personal libraries in Aligarh, I have not not visited much of it but pleased to share that on every trip to Aligarh, I vist Ibn Sina Academy library. This is amazing work by Prof. H.S. Zillur Rahman and his son and heir Dr. S. Ziaur Rahman. The library and the museum has no match of its kind at least in the way they have built it from the scratch with personal efforts and resources. Hope we can put good use of their efforts and can help them to survive.

Afzal Usmani
Austin TX

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