Literature has always played a synthesizing role in the history of Islam. The same can be said for the Urdu language and literature. Urdu was produced as a result of the mingling of Arabo-Persian-Turkish language with the indigenous languages and cultures primarily of north India. However, the Urdu language became politicized in British India first by the colonizers and then by the nationalists who insisted on giving it a specific Muslim identity distinct from Hindi. More complicated was the position of Urdu within the unity of Indian literature. After the creation of Pakistan, the dilemma for Urdu writers was how to construct a Pakistani literature that would be different from Indian Urdu. Farooqi’s essay asks the following questions: How would cultural identities be reflected in the new literature? Would Urdu in Pakistan shed the Indic part of its identity and become simply a language of Islam? Muhammad Hasan Askari, Urdu’s premier literary critic, maintained that there was a difference between Islamic and Muslim culture: Muslim culture was Islam plus local culture.

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