Times of India
AHMEDABAD: The father of Urdu ghazal and one of the country’s greatest poets, Shah Muhammad Waliullah or Wali Gujarati, seems to be the subject of an unusual identity crisis. Urdu scholars are embroiled in a scholarly duel, arguing that Wali Gujarati is actually Wali Aurangabadi.
A Wali expert, Dr Aslam Mirza of Aurangabad, has questioned the Gujarati origin of Wali Gujarati in his research. Mirza’s forthcoming book will advocate the Aurangabadi assertion. Understandably, scholars in Gujarat are aghast. For his part, after 25-year research, Mirza is making his case with 200-year-old documents belonging to Wali’s children.
The 295-year-old grave of Wali — located just opposite the Shahibaugh police stadium — his only vestige on the earth, was razed by a frenzied mob during the communal riots on February 28, 2002. Hot tar was poured on the spot the same night and a road laid.
While scholars were still disputing Wali’s origin, another writer from Aurangabad, Mujahid Ali claimed that Wali was born and buried in Aurangabad. Ali even said that Wali owned properties in the Maharashtra town. Akhtar Shuttari — the caretaker of the Shah Miyan Gujarati’s graveyard — immediately moved the Wakf tribunal challenging Ali’s claims. “The tribunal later restrained any more debate on the issue,” Mirza says.
“Most scholars agree that Wali was buried in Ahmedabad. It is his native place that is being questioned,” Mirza says. “Wali spoke a dialect that belongs to the Deccan region, and not Gujarat. That is evident in his works.”
Professor Mohidduin Bombaywala, another Wali expert, of the Hazrat Pir Mohammed Shah Library says: “There are 12 major scholars of Persian and Urdu who have said that Wali was from Gujarat. The books include Khwaja Khan Hamid Aurangabadi’s Gulshan-e-Guftar, written in the mid-1700s soon after Wali’s death.” Bombaywala also cited present-day scholars like Z A Desai who have written that Wali was a Gujarati. “He was a descendant of the Sufi saint Hazrat Shah Wajihuddin Alvi from Ahmedabad,” says Bombaywala.
A Malegaon-based Wali scholar, Salim Shehzad, says: “The problem is that Wali’s personal life has not been recorded properly. No one knows the complete details of where he lived, who his family members were, and how he died.”
Times of India, “Wali by any other name spurs thorny debate,” in Times of India, July 4, 2015. Accessed on July 9, 2015, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Wali-by-any-other-name-spurs-thorny-debate/articleshow/47941613.cms
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