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Judge the Nations by the Way They Look at Their Women

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Societies pride in different strengths: Some give importance to bravery, some to democracy, and some nations think that freedom of expressions, development and or education are the hallmarks for their long-term sustenance. “The nations should be judged on how they look at their women,” writes Abbas Khan, the author of Urdu novel Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada, his eleventh.

There is a famous saying that every thing in fiction is true except dates. But in the novel written by Abbas Khan even dates are true because he has based his novel in the back ground of five very famous women in the history: Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Qura tul Ain Tahira (Iran), Mughal Princess Noor Jehan and Umrao Jan Ada.

Helen of Troy was the daughter of Zeus and Leda and wife of Menelaus, considered to be the most beautiful woman in the world. Her abduction by Paris caused the Trojan War and made thousand ships drown.

Cleopatra (actually Cleopatra VII) was the last of the Ptolemies, the Macedonian-descended pharaohs who ruled Egypt beginning in 304 B.C. Cleopatra has come down through history less for her administrative skills than for her beguiling ways, which she used in an attempt to keep Egypt free from Roman domination. Among those whom she charmed was Julius Caesar, with whom she had a son, Caesarion. After Caesar's death, Cleopatra joined forces with Caesar's colleague Marc Antony; they became lovers and political allies against Antony's rival Octavian. Octavian's forces finally defeated those of Antony and Cleopatra in the naval battle of Actium in 31 B.C. The two lovers fled to Alexandria and, faced with defeat by Octavian, committed suicide. Legend has it that Cleopatra died by the self-inflicted bite of a poisonous snake called an asp, though no firm evidence exists to support that claim.

Qura tul Ain Tahira created waves in the history of Iran in 1848. Princess Noor Jehan was a Mughal princess who helped King Jehangir rule Mughal Empire. And Umrao Jan Ada, whose poignant tale of misadventure of a little girl, forced into prostitution; and the saga of 1857 at the center of this tragedy as a testimony are famous in history.

Umrao Jan Ada was a dancer girl of Lakhnow (India) and her fame was at the peak from 1896 to 1899. In 1899, Mirza Hadi Ruswa wrote a novel titled Umrao Jan Ada that was published by Maha Dev Parshad Publishers Lakhnow. In turn, Umrao Jan Ada published a novel titled Fasan-e-Ruswa, which describes the love story of Mirza Hadi Ruswa and a French woman Sophia Augustan.

These women are at the background in which Abbas Khan has set his novel. With the help of today’s characters, the author weaves a web around modern world’s family -- a basic unit of the society and tells us how that is being disintegrated.

The theme of the novel has been defined by the first sentence which reads, “Family is the bases of society. Both male and female should refrain from every type of waywardness to save the society.” Abbas Khan portrays nineteenth century character (Umrao Jan Ada) living in twenty first century in his lucid style.

Abbas Khan writes on societal issues in the daily Nawa-e-Waqat and his other published work includes three novels, seven short story books and a compilation of his observation: [Zakham Gawah Hain, Tu Aur Tu (novels), Dharti Binam Akash, Tensikh-e-Insan, Qalam, Kursi Aur Wardi, Us Adalat Men, Jism Ka Johar (short story books), Reza Reza Keenat and Pal Pal (afsancha -- shortest storybook) and Din Mein Charagh] and now Mein Aur Umrao Jan Ada (novel).Books have been bringing changes in human relationships and making difference in the lives of people. The power of worlds has caused people to loose their existence or to better them. This is what this novel is expected to do. My recommendation: Read the novel.

PS: Novel is available at The Classic, 42, the Mall, Lahore, Pakistan. Ph” 042-7312977, Email:


posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, February 16, 2017,


At 20:45, Blogger Karen said...

Interesting... now that I think about it, some countries have been shaped to some degree by the women, those who made a differnce and who held power. The women who worked tirelessly to get rights and make things better. Is that what you were asking or am I off?

At 21:31, Blogger Karen said...

OK, so I was off...

No, women are not treated equally. Some countries like U.S., Canada, England, some of Europe are better than the other countries. We have come a long way but still are not treated equally in salaries and "duties" or traditions that have been passed from generation to generation. Wife, mother must come first. Its changing, and has a lot.

At 02:59, Blogger VonAurum said...

If this is the criteria of judging then none of the nations of the world will do well on their marksheet overall. :|

At 05:17, Anonymous Brad said...

Mate, I have a simple philosphy.

Behind every man there is an even greater woman. Why? Well, you look at professional sportsman, politicians, people of high state, and the everyday working hero. All have wives, who I might add, have babies, help raise the kids, and most often these days go to work as well. All this, and yet still have time for her man. That’s strength.

What I have said above is not ment to taken or read as one-sided, but rather, the women of today and in history are our assets like no other in life and history.

As always Shirazi, you provoke thinking...thanks.

At 05:39, Blogger RaY-ZoR said...

Very informative. Thanks for sharing. I've got to read that novel.

At 06:27, Anonymous crude said...

since u recommend it my freind ;)

At 06:28, Blogger Brian said...

I would expand it beyond women even though that is of great importance. I think nations should be judged by how they treat their minorities and most vulnerable citizens.

We have made great advances in the equality of women in the past century, but there is still much to be done.

At 07:14, Blogger Teresa said...

Thanks for the recommendation on the novel. I happen to agree with Brian, but I can also tell you that I am thankful beyond words to have been born in the USA. I can't even imagine what women in other parts of the world go through to get what I expect. It doesn't seem quite fair, does it?

At 16:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how did I miss Abbas Khan earlier? Thanks for bringing him up.

At 16:06, Anonymous ~Attu~ said...

Can you translate it Shi? For my sack. Ok, give me a little more details.

At 05:23, Anonymous knicq said...

The Fasana-e-Ruswa part is such news to me...are there copies of this book, Ada's Fasana-e-Ruswa available anywhere?

Oh, and of course Ada being an actual person is news to me...

Guess I am not as ignorant as I think, but lots more....:)

At 00:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read this. Good book.

Kamal Morza

At 13:47, Blogger Alina said...

An interesting way to look at a culture.

At 21:51, Anonymous Raza Rumi said...

Thanks for alerting..can't wait to read - what an interesting range of characters..

At 02:27, Blogger Sidhusaaheb said...

Sounds like an interesting book...

At 14:48, Anonymous Kausar Bilal said...

The tragedy is a women's love and her services are taken for granted in society. People don't try to be benefited of the capabilities of their ladies. whatever she does for her family has never been acknowledged, though it is expected from them to do their best. And, they are supposed to do the best. But if they are loved, respected and acknowledged, they can do even more. Still, in our society, men never try to build a life together with their wives, not only on personal levels but also in intellectual and professional levels as their strength. It will take time to move towards it.

At 22:56, Anonymous Saima Ashraf said...

main zindagi ka hun aadha chehra....

But I am not taken as the 50% face of life...I am a woman! Just a woman!! What has been written in books is only a display dummy on a boutique. No onw knows the inherest secrets within me. No one has the eye to recognize the half face of life.


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