Thursday, February 4, 2016

What Intizar Husain said 23 years ago about himself and literature

The WIRE has published a 1993 interview with Intizar Husain, the great Pakistani writer, who died on Feb 2, 2016. How relevant even today after long 23 years!

I like to see myself as part of the great tradition to which Amir Khusro, Nizamuddin Aulia, and Dara Shukoh as much as Rahim, Raskhan and Jayasi belong. This tradition is as much Hindu as it is Muslim. My stories are a struggle against religious fundamentalism, against mullahism.
This trend of attacking culture in the name of religion may be a recent trend in India but we have had to suffer it for a long time in Pakistan. Our serious writers and artists have been fighting precisely against such forces. Because, you see, if we purged our heritage all un-Islamic or Hindu influences, what would remain of our music, our painting, our poetry, or our architecture? After all, our culture is made up of a very wide and complex range of historic influences. Muslim intellectuals are facing such fundamentalist attacks even in countries like Egypt and Algeria. In Egypt, when a new edition of Alif Laila (Thousand and One Nights) was released, the fundamentalists burnt down the entire edition in Cairo because the ancient popular narrative was “un-Islamic.”

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