Urdu research journals in Pakistani universities

Urdu research journals published by our universities
Islamabad, All over the world, universities are known for and take pride in their research activities and research publications. Another factor that determines the ranking of a university is its faculty, or the teaching and research staff.

When it comes to Urdu departments at Pakistani universities, it is heartening to note that a great many number of well-known scholars and critics of Urdu have been and still are associated with our public-sector universities.

When we look at the research publications, Urdu departments at these universities not only have published worthwhile research works but almost all of them publish research journals. For instance, Peshawar University’s Urdu department publishes ‘Khayaban’. From Punjab University Oriental College’s Urdu department, we have ‘Bazyaft’. Khaipur’s Shah Abdul Latif University’s Urdu department publishes ‘Almas’. National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, publishes two research journals on Urdu language and literature: ‘Daryaft’ and ‘Takhleeqi Adab’. Research journal published by the department of Urdu at Multan’s Bahauddin Zakariya University is named ‘Journal of Research’. The department of Urdu at the recently established university in Faisalabad, named Government College University, has launched ‘Zaban-o-adab’. The International Islamic University was established decades ago but until recently it did not have an Urdu department. It was set up a few years ago and with in a short span of time it brought out its research journal ‘Meyar’. Urdu department at the newly established Sargodha University is planning to launch its research journal and scholars of Urdu around the world have been asked to contribute research papers. A letter from Dr Nauman-ul-Haq of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) informing this writer that LUMS too is coming up with an Urdu research journal was music to ears (or rather eyes). Not to be forgotten is ‘Tehqeeq’, the research journal of Jamshoro’s Sindh University’s Urdu department.

In fact, ‘Tehqeeq’ is the trend setter and soon after it appeared in 1988, it became the standard to conform to. The moving spirit behind it was Prof Dr Najm-ul-Islam, its editor and the then head of Sindh University’s Urdu department. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it was ‘Tehqeeq’ that showed the departments of Urdu at our universities what a research journal should be like and what research methodology was to be followed in a research journal.

This apparently does not seem to be a big deal but it is a sad fact (known by scholars of Urdu all along) that there has always been a lack of an agreed upon style sheet for Urdu. Research techniques and methodology were not given a serious thought in Urdu and for long scholars usually decided for themselves how to annotate a research work or how to cite a reference. As for bibliography (now known more commonly as ‘sources’ instead of bibliography in the modern research works), there was no standard and for long scholars debated how to enlist the works cited. Some favoured the western style of ‘last-name-first’ technique while others thought it was not suitable for Urdu as eastern names had an altogether different cultural background. For instance, if a woman writes by the name of ‘Yasmeen Aslam’, her work would be referred to as ‘Aslam, Yasmeen’. But her name is not Aslam and it is probably her father’s or husband’s name. When seen with the local culture, it would sound ridiculous when during an article or interview she is referred to as ‘Aslam says’ because it would tell what her father or husband, as the case may be, says and to refer to what ‘she’ says one will have to write ‘Yasmeen says’. But then, according to western style, it is against the norms to call someone by her or his first name on such occasions. In such cases, a family name may solve the problem. But for some, the issue still stands unresolved.

Similarly, some believe that while citing the works in a research paper or dissertation, one should write first name first and last name last but should avoid titles such as Syed, Haji and Nawab etc. For example, Muhammad Hussain Azad would be referred to as ‘Muhammad Hussain Azad’ but Nawab Syed Muhammad Azad, a nineteenth century writer, would be listed as ‘Muhammad Azad, Nawab Syed’. Still some other feel both should be referred to as ‘Azad’; one as ‘Azad, Muhammad Hussain’ and the other as ‘Azad, Nawab Syed Muhammad’.

Other such issues of Urdu research methodology were first discussed by a few scholars notable among them are Dr Moinuddin Aqeel and Dr Najm-ul-Islam. Later, many scholars wrote on these issues. Dr Moinuddin Aqeel’s book on modern techniques of research articles and thesis-writing, named ‘Rasmiyat-i-maqala nigari'(published by Pakistan Study Centre, Karachi University, 2009), sums up such debatable issues and gives some useful suggestions, too. Of late, there has been an effort by others too and Dr Atash Durrani wrote a paper on ‘Urdu style sheet’.

What I intend to highlight here is that the basic question of how to present your research work in a way that is scientific and logical and conforms to international standards while keeping in view our local environment too was initiated in Urdu by ‘Tehqeeq’ and by sheer efforts of its first editor, Dr Najm-ul-Islam. Many of his rules now have become a yardstick to go by. The present editor of the journal, Dr Syed Javed Iqbal, had been his student and has now successfully been running the show.

The latest issue of ‘Tehqeeq’ carries some useful articles on research and its methodology along with some other research papers. While we appreciate all these research journals published by the universities, what worries many is the tardiness of these journals. Almost all research journals of the universities have been running behind the schedules. The trend is becoming increasingly annoying and of late some of them have been as late as by two years. Some insiders informed this writer that the reason behind this lateness is the paucity of funds and since many of these research journals depend solely on funds specially granted for the purpose by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), no journal can see light of day unless HEC loosens the strings of its purse. Blaming HEC would definitely be not justified because it is the ministry of finance that releases funds and the country is passing through an economic crunch. Dawn

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