How to get rid of fundamentalism? M. H. Panhwar had asked Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo once during the informal gathering of two scholars several years back. Both had agreed that books and publications could play part in supporting progressive ideas. The writer, who was present in that meeting, shares the ideas and discussion of two scholars.
One day, M.H. Panhwar invited Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo and me for lunch. I was made bound to pick Joyo Sahib from his Journalists’ Colony Residence (Near Central Jail) Hyderabad. I reached there around 12:30 pm, picked Joyo and took National Highway. We crossed Gora Qaburstan, it was on our right side and the opposite was Hyderabad Cantonment. Joyo Sahib looked out and sadly uttered, ‘all is changed, just like we are passing through others’ land, it all happened due to our leaders’ blind following to Jinnah and religious temptation’. I silently listened to him and carefully drove the car. In silence, we reached Wadhu Wah and crossed Shahbaz Building’s Chowk, and railway underpass. Meanwhile, he asked me what the agenda of today’s meeting is. I told him, ‘I do not know. Perhaps, there is a mango party’. He smiled and said let us see, what agenda Muhammad Hussain floats.’ In a short period, we were in front of MH Panhwar’s bungalow. Chokidar opened the door, and Madam Farzana welcomed us. She led and we followed her, and soon we were in Panhwar Sahib’s study room. Immediately, a discussion happened, ‘how to get rid of this fundamentalism?’ Joyo asked, ‘Muhammad Hussain, what do you suggest’. On that day lot of points were discussed, but both agreed that books and publications could play part in supporting progressive ideas. Both highly praised Thinkers Library and ‘The Living Thoughts Library’s contribution in pre-partition Sindh. In addition to that, it was also discussed that how Sindh’s history should be written, what should be the role of Sindhology, Sindhi Adabi Board, and Sindhi Language Authority in furthering national ideas.
I became more interested in publications. Therefore, I wanted to know more about the ‘Thinkers Library’ and ‘Living Thoughts Library’. I requested them it would be a helping document for the young readers, if you write something about ‘The Thinkers Library’ and ‘The Living Thoughts Library’. Both agreed. Next week M. H. Panhwar gave his article on The Thinkers Library. It was published in News and Opinion with the title of ‘In the Praise of Thinkers Library’. However, Rozina and I interviewed Muhammad Ibrahim Joyo about both book series. He spoke in detail about Thinkers Library, and it was published in daily Dawn. However, I could not publish his conversation about ‘The Living Thoughts Library’. Please allow me to present Joyo Sahibs’ conversation in the brief write up form. Rozina Junejo also accompanied me in the interview. This interview was held in 2002, at Journalist Colony, Hyderabad.
Joyo Sahib told that the difference between ‘The Thinkers Library’ and ‘The Living Thoughts Library’ was that latter’s books were commissioned and edited. However, Thinkers Library’s books were of the authors. He added, ‘The Living Thoughts Library’s editors were globally selected, and titles started with words, ‘The Living Thoughts’ and immediately these followed with the name of a person. In this way, in 1939 three titled were published. These were The Living Thoughts of Schopenhauer (Editor Thomas Mann), The Living Thoughts of Mazzini (Editor Ignazio Silone), and The Living Thoughts of Montaigne (Editor Andre Gide). However he couldn’t recall correctly that which one was the first publication. He fondly recalled that Dr. Najam Abbasi was a regular reader of the series and he punctually traced books in Karachi. Next year John Dos Passos’ edited The Living Thoughts of Tom Paine came out. In 1941, Francois Mauriac’s edited The Living Thoughts of Pascal and Jacques Maritain’s edited The Living Thoughts of Saint Paul were published. In the same year, The Living Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson edited by John Dewey also was published. He fondly recalled that Saeen GM Syed and Shaikh Ayaz also took interest in the series. However, both had different mindsets and priorities. Therefore, they could not follow the series.
Joyo Sahib told Dr. Najam Abbasi, MH Panhwar and he were regular readers. “We used to exchange the books of Thinkers Library and books of The Living Thoughts Library among themselves”, he told. He recalled that sometimes they used to wonder that when the books on their favorite authors would come. He smilingly told that he longed that when a book on Roseau will be published. Joyo told that he could not remember what the feelings of other group members were, but he was happy when the book on The Living Thoughts of Karl Marx, appeared in 1942 under the editorship of Leon Trotsky. He considered it one of the best books on the life and ideas of Karl Marx, and the next books of the same year were The Living Thoughts of Machiavelli and its editor was Count Carlo Sforza. Other titles of that year were The Living Thoughts of Darwin, and its editor was Julian Huxley. The other two titles were The Living Thoughts of Freud (Editor Robert Waelder).
Dr. Najam Abassi became very happy when the book on Darwin was published under the series. Likewise, Muhammad Hussain was happy because of Freud. The series continued, and in 1943, The Living Thoughts of Thoreau (Editor Theodore Dreiser) was out. Next year The Living Thoughts of Swedenborg (Editor Eric A. Sutton) was published. In 1945, The Living Thoughts of Clausewitz, (Editor Lt.-Col. Joseph I Greene), The Living Thoughts of Confucius (Editor Alfred Doeblin) was published. Likewise in 1946, Heinrich Mann’s edited The Living Thoughts of Nietzsche and The Living Thoughts of Rousseau, (Editor Romain Rolland) came out, and another title in that year was The Living Thoughts of Spinoza (Editor Arnold Zweig), and the last one was The Living Thoughts of Voltaire (editor Andre Maurois & Barrows Mussey). However, in 1947 Muhammad Ali’s edited The Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad came out. He told that book on Rousseau also cherished him.
But, in those days’ politics became the priority, so he could not follow the upcoming titles. “And our readers’ group could not continue the meetings. In those times, there was another type of emergency, we were confused. Nothing was clear before us, we were gloomy. Instantly, we realized Sindhi’s were cheated on bigger ideas and brotherhood,” Joyo Sahib’s voice became heavy but continued that ‘no one could feel or even visualize that what we have lost. No one could understand our pain because the majority had not seen Sindh of those days. Sindh was following Calcutta (Now Kolkata), and Karachi was ready to shoulder Bombay, Madras, and Pone, but all went into the drain. It is not even found in history that a nation became alien on its land. It had only happened in Sindh’. I stopped taking notes,
Rozina whispered something, I looked at Joyo Sahib, I saw two tears tangled in his eyes, and then rolled on his cheeks; he sobbed. ‘Sometimes,’ he continued, ‘I feel lonely, because most of my friends had died, occasionally I feel very difficult to communicate because the majority could not understand the context of my conversations or pain of my words’. Silently, we listened to him. He smiled and said: ‘We must fight.” We beg pardon from him to leave. He suggested some of the titles of the series should be translated in Sindhi and published.
P.S. The Living Thoughts Library also published books till 1948. Recently, Ruba & Company, India has published some titles of The Living Thought Library in paperback.