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The ‘Shahabnama’, a memoir of Qudratullah Shahab, is a sweet and real story that touches the heart. Invaluable lessons on life are on offer. Shahab teaches us that life is fragile and should be treated as such where every moment needs to be cherished and every relationship savored. For those of us who sometimes get too busy in the riches and neglect the simple, more meaningful things in life, ‘Shahabnama’, would prove to be a wake up call.
This collection of Qudrat-ullah Shahab’s experiences includes anecdotes from the times gone by and associations with some unique and some very notable people. The first chapter itself, contains a record of Shahabs last meeting with Ibn- e –Insha, a noted humorist. As we read on, we meet Lala Din from Shahab’s school days, the caretaker of the school who admonishes Shahab for manually handling a mouse, which he considers to be a “plague ka chuha”.
Shahab’s posting at Barhampur brings us to a place, as yet unheard of, hidden from the world. With a major contingency of Hindus, the influences of Hinduism on Islam are a cause of both concern and confusion. Safdar Pandey and Kulsoom Devi, two locals, when disclosed as Muslims give an indication of the sort of influence mentioned above. It comes as a shock to learn that prayers were not considered obligatory among the Muslims in that part of the world. The only Islamic practice observed was to gather in numbers on every Thursday and kiss the fastening on the door of a Mosque, which was normally kept locked.
The insights, the author presents on various political issues is also a reason why one should get the book. Shahab encompasses the feelings of the nation as he summarizes Ayub Khan and Sikandar Mirza’s position in Pakistan’s politics. His visit to Makkah for Haj also makes for enlightening reading as every place, every incident accompanies some interesting commentary.
The ‘Shahabnama’ is a most wonderful book in its simplicity. In the main, a memoir of Qudrat-ullah Shahab, this book allows one to contemplate and think about what should be important in our lives and to relish those things before it is to late. His words and insights have a simple clarity, which would live on in the hearts of the readers.
The ‘Shahabnama’ is in effect, a candid, moving and entertaining memoir.