Even though I’ve read more Urdu books than English but ironically this is my first review of any book written in the language in which I talk, listen, feel, think and dream.
About the Book, Raam Deen
Raam Deen is a famous (and of course my favorite) work of Mumtaz Mufti divided into 21 sections/chapters. These are short stories and essays in which writer has shared some of his personal experinces which are both inspirational and didactic at the same time.
Still I couldn’t reach to a conclusion whether its a complete fiction or the author has stated some exaggerated facts which is quite normal for the writers in order to come up with more inspiring and interesting output.
“Ram Deen” can be truly regarded as a book which played a great role in changing my views about Pakistan. In fact, I’d always thought that the creation of Pakistan is not for without any purpose and one day for sure it will achieve its destiny even though it still seems to be a long way through.
Raam Deen, being the very first chapter of the book, seems like a gibe to all those people especially those Muslims, though very few in number, believe that they would have been in a position, much better off, had there been no separation in 1947.
What does the name, “Raam Deen” mean?
If you have even a faintest idea of the names of the people used in the South East Asian part, or to be more precise, in the sub continent, then you would easily figure out the weirdness in the name Ram Deen. It’s a mixture of both Hindu and Muslim names and these two names are not referring to two persons but a single character. A Muslim, who, with a passage of time has amalgamated his name with a Hindu name as a result of the cultural and religious influence.
Metaphorically speaking, the name of the person also depicts the culture, life style and therefore, the religious views of the Muslims especially living in the Hindu dominated regions during pre-partition era.
The main title of the book, Raam Deen is also the name of the book’s very first chapter. which also reflect the overall them of the rest of the book.
Not entirely though, but still the rest of the chapters seems to be following the same mood set by the first chapter.
Although there are few chapters on relatively different topics but the book mainly revolves around the concept of the spiritual necessity of the Muslims of the sub continent in striving for Pakistan and that was why the creation of Pakistan was necessary for the Muslims. Politically, religiously, socially and economically.
I would love to go further in detail about this but this would sway us away from the book. So coming back to the writing style of the book, the overall tone is fairly simple which of course typical to Mumtaz Mufti as he doesn’t like to make the lives of the readers hard. Secondly, the writer has metaphorically characterized the people and as I said that even after reading the entire book, I’m not quite sure that whether the incidents explained are fictional or actual but yet you’d find them interesting to read.
The last five chapters are a travelogue about a journey that the writer had with his bunch of friends in the Northern and other areas of Pakistan.
The most interesting thing about these travelogue are the names of the characters that Mumtaz Mufti has used to refer to the people (his friends actually) in the whole journey. Some of them are, “Dastaan Go” which means “Story Teller” in English, “Leader”, “Engineer”, “Poet” e.t.c. So these are the interesting (nick) names of the characters in the last five chapters of “Ram Deen”.
There’s even a homage paid through this book to a folk singer, Tufail Niazi and besides this, there are two chapters that I believe to be worth reading. These are, “Pakistan” and “Jae Panah Se Jae Imtiaz Tak”. These two has got some really inspirational incidents which are surely going to electrify you.
You can easily read the entire book in just one go as the volume is not so great and secondly, Raam Deen is so interesting that you will hardly want to do anything else other than reading it.
The single book is a cocktail of different flavors. Its philosophical, slightly humorous and didactic as well at the same time.
So if you are looking forward to have a good read this weekend, Ram Deen can be an awesome choice. It’s also available online but I wouldn’t recommend it until you have a good, portable, hand size e-book reader as I’ve my own reservations with reading through the monitor screen.