Dr Wasim Ahmad
Department Head of Islamic Studies
Preston University Ajman
Sometimes it occurs to me that we use English as Urdu. There isn’t much difference between the writings in both the languages. I thought that English was introduced in our education system – along with the ‘modern’ subjects – to give us some more ideas. I thought that I will encounter more analysis and more objectivity (which of course I do many a times). But I come across it less frequently. I mostly read Urdu even though it is English.
When I find more words and fewer meanings I consider it Urdu. When I find less reason and more emotion I consider it Urdu. When I find that we are not trying to get world class ideas because we are using a world-class language I consider it Urdu. There is nothing wrong with a language. There may be something (seriously) wrong with a people and the institutions as well as the traditions that they have developed.
When I find that there is less focus on the issues and more on persons it is categorically Urdu. When I find that some of the issues we have blown out of proportion I feel that it is clearly Urdu. When I find that the blame entirely lies with the communal forces and the West I feel that I have started reading Urdu now. When I find that we are not quite willing to deliberate on the ways of promoting critical and scientific thinking among our youngsters it appears as if we are not communicating in English – even though apparently we are.
When we start a topic and do not take it to its logical conclusion localizing the responsibility and stopping the buck it seems that we have switched over to Urdu. When I see that it is exactly the same email about the tearing of passport pages on Indian airports which is being forwarded for a couple of years without first verifying the content and the claim, it seems that now I am reading Urdu. When we unconsciously contradict ourselves every now and then and we do not know what we stand for then it occurs to me that I am reading more of Urdu.
When I find that we are glued to the past personalities and are basking in their reflected glory and are not mindful of the fact that we, too, will not live forever on this earth I find that the glorification is in Urdu. When I find that we are not willing to change our thought patterns and are most comfortable with the existing ways of looking at things I find that the expression of this desire and trait is in Urdu.
When I am satisfied with my existing situation and am contented with what I am doing or have achieved and I am expressing it, too, then I feel that the language of expression has changed from English to Urdu. When I read words like “great service” and “Islam ki khidmat” then both of these expressions seem to be Urdu to me.
When we talk about reservations for Muslims so frequently and do not do so with any reservations – completely forgetting that the Muslims should be the givers I feel that we have switched over to Urdu. When we talk of the minority character forgetting the real minority character I feel that we are communicating in Urdu.
When we leave the core issues and discuss the non-issues it is most likely to be Urdu than English. When a piece of writing starves the opportunities and feeds only the problems it sounds to be more in Urdu.
When we brand the people and label them with the names we desire then we have switched over to Urdu. When we summarily reject some people and do not deal with each point of discussion dispassionately we are not communicating in English. It is purely Urdu. The history bears it.
When we do not see the link between one piece of writing and another – no matter how distant the subjects may seem – then it has the dual distinction of being English and Urdu both. But then it ceases to be tahreer. Because it does not ‘liberate’ – the literal meaning of tahreer. A piece of writing could be called a tahreer only if it liberates – de-conditions. It should alter the schema. Only then it is TAHREER.
When we underestimate ourselves, talk more of hurdles and pass a lot of buck I feel that all these expressions are in Urdu. But by the same token there may be some whose Urdu is English if it has more meanings and reason. I may not know them but I salute them.