Death Anniversary Special: Rashid Jahan – ‘Embers’

Dr. Rashid Jahan is the shining, shining and golden name of the Tehreek, which was active on many fronts simultaneously in its short life of forty-seven years. He had many identities like Afsana Nigaar, Drama Nigar, Journalist, Doctor, Political-Social Karkun and above all Rashid Jahan has unmatched contribution in laying the foundation and permeating the progressive Tehreek in the country.

She was a founding member of the Progressive Writers Association and the Bharatiya Jana Natya Sangh (IPTA). He played an important role in the expansion of these two organizations. It connected Hindi and Urdu language people, cultural workers with these organizations.

Lucknow, Allahabad, Punjab, Lahore which were the big markaz of those times, from these Markaz connected all the important writers in the organization. He knew the ideology of the organization. It is known that he participated in all the works of the organization. As if he had sacrificed his life only for the welfare of his favorite Tehreek.

In 1936, the first national convention of the Progressive Writers’ Association was held in Lucknow. Rashid Jahan also played an important role in making this convention a success. Describing the dedication of Rashid Jahan and Mahmuduzaffar to the advanced Tehreek, Sajjad Zaheer writes in his book ‘Raushnai’: “They had forgotten themselves and made humanity the purpose of their lives.”

The hallmark of Sajjad Zaheer is that due to his propensity for progressive movement and social work, Rashid Jahan not only quit his job but also married Mahmuduzzafar on the condition that he did not have his own family Because it can make your social work difficult. There is hardly a second example of such strong intent, commitment to the cause of humanity. Where Rashid used to serve humanity sometimes with his social, political works and sometimes with his writings.

Born on August 25, 1905 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Dr. Rashid had not only developed and encouraged opinions but also inherited personal freedom. Her father Sheikh Abdullah was a great supporter of women’s education. Rashid Jahan’s mother, Waheed Jahan Begum, popularly known as Aala Bi, also served the nation shoulder to shoulder with her cousin. When Sheikh Abdullah opened a madrasa in Aligarh for the education of girls, Aala Bi was very supportive. Rashid Jahan does well in such a bright and thoughtful environment. Which had an impact on his life. He understood the importance of training and took that training further. Rashid Jahan himself has written about this: “Since we regained consciousness, we have to carry the cloth of training-Niswan and the bed of training-Niswan.”

Rashid Jahan started taking interest in Tehriks for the country’s independence from the age of only fourteen along with education. At first, Gandhiji was attracted to the idea and also wore Khadi. In the midst of this political fervor Rashid Jahan’s education continued, there was no disturbance. In 1923, when he was only eighteen years old, he wrote his first short story ‘Salma’.

A new turning point in Rashid Jahan’s life came when he met Sajjad Zaheer, Mahmuduzzafar and Ahmed Ali. The long discussions that took place between these people during the formation of the Progressive Writers’ Association gave Rashid Jahan a new perspective. When the short story collection ‘Angare’ was drafted, Rashid Jahan also agreed to include one of his short stories ‘Delhi Ki Saar’ and a single ‘Purda Ke Peche’. In 1932, when the book hit the market, there was an uproar.

‘Embers’ created a stir in Indian society. The commotion is not like that, Hajra Begum has described the cafe of that time in this way, “Sajjad Zaheer himself had no idea that it would become a conglomerate of a strange new path. He himself went to London , but there was panic here. The opposition of the readers increased to such an extent that Rashid Jahan-Angarwali started being called in the mosques, fatwas were given and the book ‘Bresnes’ was confiscated. At that time, “Embers” had really lit the fire.” Rashid Jahan obviously had the biggest impact of ‘Embers’. Fatwas came against him and he also received death threats. But she was not at all frightened by these fatwas and threats, but stood firm against these reactionary forces. These setbacks further strengthened his belief in his advanced thoughts.

On the one hand, the book ‘Engare’ and its authors were opposed, the book was confiscated by the government of the United Provinces, and on the other there were people who openly defended this movement. Baba-e-Urdu Maulana Abdul Haq, Munshi Dayanarayan Nigam were also one of them. Wherever Rashid went, people used to call her and appreciate her as a writer with “embers”. However, a single book, Angare, changed the entire tide of Urdu adage. Till yesterday stories were started being openly written on the subjects where Afsana Nigar did not use her pen.

If we talk about ‘Delhi Ki Sair’, the story of Rashid Jahan included in ‘Angare’, then it is a small story. The main character of this story ‘Malika’ starts an open rebellion by declaring not to go on a trip to Delhi with her husband. This is a small gesture to tell the story, but in the circumstances of that time, this small gesture was also very important. In the single ‘Behind the Curtain’, Rashid Jahan becomes even more aggressive towards patriarchal thinking. Even after the British government imposed a ban on ‘Embers’, its four writers neither bowed nor apologized to the government for it.

Rashid Jahan’s profession was that of a doctor and she was quite engrossed in that profession. The works of the Association of Political and Progressive Writers, IPTA, differ on this. But for all his fanaticism, he continued to write short stories, monologues, articles and plays. In 1937, his first collection of short stories ‘Aurat’ was published. If you look at the early stories of Rashid Jahan, there is definitely a rawness, at some places, there is a lot of sentimentality and sloganeering in these stories, but as new experiences are gained in life, the ideas become stable, the his The story begins to unfold. They improve in content and crafts. Later he wrote ‘Thief’, ‘Her’, ‘Asif Jahan’s Daughter-in-law’, ‘Istakhara’, ‘Chhidda’s Mother’, ‘Iftari’, ‘Mujrim Kaun’, ‘Mad Woman’, ‘Sifar’, ‘Lord of the poor’. He wrote good stories like ‘, ‘It burned’.

One feeling in Rashid Jahan’s stories is constant, that of rebellion. Rebellion – from rotten stereotypes, inequalities between men and women, from feudal values, from the tyranny and exploitation of British rule. Be it Rashid Jahan’s Afsane or the drama, the female characters in both are quite vocal.

In most of Rashid Jahan’s stories and dramas, anger against British rule and a clear struggle to change this rule is visible. Although he wrote few short stories, but these stories also have touching patterns of themes, characters, crafts and narration. Rashid Jahan’s excellent writing is not unlike a scientific approach and a communist point of view. Class consciousness and favoritism towards the downtrodden and downtrodden is an important part of their stories. Rashid Jahan also applied his pen to the people from the neglected sections of the society. He made him a major character in his disasters.

Whatever Rashid Jahan may have written, the bill has a purpose after all. There is a struggle to fight the situation and Bala’s insistence is there to change it. The central characters of the stories like ‘Sifar’, ‘Chor’, ‘He’ etc. somewhere carry forward the thoughts of Rashid Jahan. These characters are designed in such a way that they will never be forgotten.

Qamar Raees, a great Urdu critic, has an opinion about Rashid Jahan’s Afsan: “Rashid Jahan was Tanha after Premchand among the most popular Idibs, who vowed to make the tradition of socialist and revolutionary reality nigari a solid in urdu words”. It was indeed a great task in India. This was the period when both arrogance and journalism had to come under the strict surveillance of the British government. All kinds of articles and news were monitored. On the one hand there were restrictions on idiots and journalists by the British government, on the other hand the feudal and reactionary forces of the country were also opposed to any progressive idea. There was no freedom for women in Indian society. They had a variety of guards over them. Far from giving women an equal status in the family and in society, their education was also not considered necessary. In such a bad environment, Dr. Rashid Jahan’s first higher education, then becoming a doctor and then actively participating in political and social work was truly a revolutionary step. Which had a great impact on Indian women.

Rashid Jahan also wrote several plays and singles. ‘Neighbourhood’, ‘Hindustani’, ‘Goshaye Afisayat’, ‘Nai Paud’, ‘Manipulation’, ‘Children’s Blood’, ‘Hate’ etc. are Rashid Jahan’s unique plays and acts. Rashid Jahan did journalism in addition to writing short stories, acts and plays. He not only co-edited the leading English daily ‘The Indian Literature’ and the political monthly magazine ‘Chingari’ of the Progressive Writers’ Association, but also contributed creatively to them. Rashid Jahan wrote most of his articles for ‘Chingari’. In which ‘Adab and Awam’, ‘In Urdu Adab’, ‘Need for Inquilab’, ‘Premchand’, ‘Our Meeting with Munshi Premchand’, ‘Woman Away from Home’, ‘Chandra Singh Garhwali’ and ‘Our freedom’ etc. huh By reading these articles, you can tell what his mental plan was.

Like other advanced people, Rashid Jahan’s struggle was not limited to the independence of the country, after independence there were different kinds of questions and he also fought fiercely with these questions. Social and political movements were carried out to achieve real Swaraj. Fight with the government for the rights of farmers, laborers and workers. In 1948, Rashid Jahan was arrested for participating in a similar strike by the Railway Union.

He was a cancer patient, despite this he went on a 16-day hunger strike in prison. In this situation, his marriage became even more serious, but he did not give up. The body weakened, but the mind remained strong. Even more, Rashid Jahan’s activism remained the same. Wherever there was injustice or oppression, she opposed it. Regardless of his health, he worked continuously. As a result, his illness worsened. This time he was sent to the Soviet Union for treatment. But once his health deteriorated due to this deadly disease, he never recovered.

He died in Moscow on July 29, 1952, fighting an illness. Rashid Jahan, this Jahan may have died, but his adoration Jahan will always live on and remind us what kind of socio-politician he wanted to be. One that is based on equality, equity and justice. Where there is no distinction between human beings by religion, caste, creed, class, color, sex, language, colour, race.

(The author is a freelance journalist. Opinions are personal.)

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