Scarcely ever does female sensibility that usually revels in poetry, fiction, drama and other forms of fine arts, luxuriate in digging deep into reservoirs of the cultural heritage, semantic nuances of words and the archives of literary history to mobilise resistance to the dominant cultural discourse. A dispassionate pursuit of knowledge that comprehensively deflates seemingly intact resources of common sense is hardly considered the metier of women whose creative dexterity finds its expressions in various literary genres. Any deviation from the fixed role or formulate phrase did not go well with the male dominant literary society of yore that generally described it as an act of a contingent aberration.
Now the world has moved on and in the post-modem society women are being recognised fully capable of producing magisterial research work. In line with it an international literary organisation, Majlis-e-Farogh-Urdu, Doha, has given lifetime achievement award to Professor Syeda Jafar who has authored 30 books, including a commodious history of Urdu literature running into five volumes.
Prof. Jafar has also written extensively on the distinctive and awe-inspiring features of “Deccani culture”. She taught Urdu at Osmania and Central University, Hyderabad for many years.
Born in 1934, Jafar has many seminal works to her credit. With an even-handed attention to early Urdu prose and early Urdu poetry, she debunked many myths related to the origin of Urdu. She took pains in tracing the entomology of word ‘Urdu’ and lamented that Urdu has discarded its early exponents who used regional idioms and also employed various indigenous literary genres. Early Urdu poets of the Southern India have not been given their due, she regretted.
Her five volume book “Tariq-e-Adab Urdu” proved to be a philosophical and rhetorical tour de force of her scholarship. Early Urdu prose writers, poets and various literary genres including elegy writing have come in for detailed and perceptive discussion. Syeda Jafar’s trail-blazing research on early Urdu especially Deccani Urdu would not let well entrenched namby-pamby Urdu scholars score early intellectual and research inspired victories over positions they dislike.
For eminent Urdu critic Professor Gopi Chand Narang, Syeda Jafar is the only woman research scholar whose commendable contribution has enriched Deccani Urdu literature. It is a pleasant surprise to note that it is given to female research scholar who has written literary history and compiled the work of one of the most celebrated Urdu poet, Wali Deccani.