Date of Issue (January 14, 2005)
PROFESSOR AHMED ALI was born in Delhi in 1910, and educated at Aligarh and Lucknow universities, standing first-class and first in the order of merit in both B.A. (Honours), 1930 and M.A. English, 1931.
Professor Ahmed Ali taught at leading Indian universities including
Professor Ahmed Ali started his literary career at a very young age and became co-founder of the All-India Progressive Writers' Movement and Association with the publication of Angare in 1932, a collection of short stories by four young friends, which was later banned by the British Government of India in March of 1933. Shortly afterwards Ahmed Ali and Mahmud-uz-Zaffar announced the formation of a "League of Progressive Authors", which was later to expand and become the All-India Progressive Writers' Association. Ahmed Ali presented his paper Art ka Taraqqi-Pasand Nazariya in its lnaugural Conference in 1936. A pioneer of the modem Urdu short story, Ahmed Ali's works include collections of short stories: Sholay (1934); Hamari Gali (1940); Qaid Khana (1942); and Maut Se Pahle (1945).
Ahmed Ali achieved international fame with his novel Twilight in
Ahmed Ali's other works include two novels, Ocean of Night and Of Rats and Diplomats; The Prison-House; Purple Gold Mountain; Selected Poems; Mr. Eliot's Penny-world of Dreams; Muslim China; Ghalib: Selected Poems, The Problem of Style and Technique in Ghalib; and The Flaming Earth. Professor Ahmed Ali translated from Urdu, Persian, Indonesian, Chinese and Arabic. His translation of classical Urdu poetry, The Golden Tradition (Columbia University Press, 1973), makes an important contribution to the study of comparative literatures, and surveys in depth the literary and philosophical background of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries.
AI-Qur'an, A Contemporary Translation (Princeton University Press, Oxford University Press & Akrash) is Professor Ahmed Ali's most outstanding contribution in the field of translation. Approved by eminent Islamic scholars, it has come to be recognised as the best of existing translations of the holy Qur'an. In the words of Dr. F. E. Peters of
Professor Ahmed Ali was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Humanities at
A distinguished gentleman of refined taste and manners, Professor Ahmed Ali had a deep interest in sufism and a passion for Ghalib. His writings voiced concern over the decay of Muslim culture and the injustices of colonial powers. Proficient in several languages including French, Chinese, Persian and Qur'anic Arabic, he captivated audiences by his eloquent speech and expression. Steeped in tradition but progressive at heart, he was equally at home in the East and the West. Professor Ahmed Ali had travelled widely, and was an avid collector of Chinese porcelain and paintings, Gandhara art and other antiques. He rubbed shoulders with kings and dignitaries and among his circle of friends were E. M. Forster, George Orwell, Virginia Wolf and the Bloomsbury Group, Han Su Yin, Tien Chen, Sarojini Naidu, Laxmi Pandit, Raja Rao, Jamni Roy, Kunwar Natwar Singh and the Surahwardy family; Mohsin Abdullah and Laurence Brander from Aligarh and Lucknow were his dear friends to the end.
Professor Ahmed Ali's career spanned the better part of the 20th century and he put us in touch with both our past and our present. His renderings of literatures of South Asia, Southeast Asia and the