Forwarding written by Prof. Mehboob Desai
A man who enriches the Medieval History of India : Dr. Z. A. Desai
Prof. Mehboob Desai
Late Dr. Ziyaud-Din A. Desai more well-known as Dr. Z.A. Desai (1925 to 2002), is again in the news for his new book "Triumphalism". "Triumphalism" means the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, Culture, or Social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. This kind of work is not simple and easy. Nowadays its very difficult to find scholars like Dr. Desai.
My acquaintance with Dr. Desai goes back to the year 1979, when he visited Bhavnagar to see the oldest mosque at Gogha. At that time my father Usmanbhai Desai and Dr. Desai visited Gogha. I have heard the name of Dr. Ziyaud-Din Desai from my father who was a friend of him. In the first meeting I was quite impressed with his scholarly personality and knowledge. After this, I knew more about his work and writings.
He was a scholar who never believed in canvassing for the portrayal of his image as a scholar. He always rendered silent, selfless and sincere service to the study and appreciation of the various Islamic Arts and Persian Literature in general and Perso-Arabic Epigraphy in particular. He was a dedicated researcher and a perfectionist by nature who always strived hard to reach to the core of the thing. He was a great teacher too who always encouraged fellow-scholars and young researchers to take-up the studies seriously and extended a helping hand to them. That is why a band of his admirers is to be found in different institutions across the country and abroad as well. A great scholar of Arabic and Persian of this country Dr. Desai should have been rewarded amply when he was in the Service or immediately after retirement from service. But Archaeological Survey of India utterly missed the chance. This habit in the Survey is even now eating away the backbone of the Survey.
After his retirement, Dr. Desai was quite active in his field of research and writing. A glance of his literary achievements and contribution would hold anyone in awe. Diligence, tenacity and stamina for hard work always ran through his veins. He had a facile pen in English, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Gujarati too, and contributed research articles in all the above languages. His knowledge on the subject is as deep as the ocean. He dedicated his life to the cause of Perso-Arabic Epigraphy and remained an academician throughout. The list of publications continues endeavors in the field and display his erudition and depth of knowledge. He remained active despite his advancing age, and unfortunate accidents, he continue to keep himself engaged in academic activities with the verve and vigor of a person, totally dedicated to his profession till death. His books are widely used by the students and scholars all over the world.
He participated in more than a dozen national and international seminars/conference /symposia, etc. , and till his last days he was being invited to expert lectures in national, international seminars, conferences. But unfortunately, bad health prevented him from going out of his home.
In the area of publication, he ensured the publication of the "Epiographia Indica Arabic & Persian Supplement (EIAPS), up to the issue of 1975. The major portion of the articles contained in this Journal was contributed by him. There are so many authentic books on his account like Arabic, Persian and Urdu Inscriptions of West India (2002), Mosques Of India (1979), Nobility Under the Great Mughals: Based on Dhakhiratul Khawanin of Shaikh Farid Bhakkari (Translator) (2003), Life And Works Of Faidi (1964), Malfuz literature as a source of political, social & cultural history of Gujarat & Rajasthan (1991), Centres of Islamic learning in India (1982), Persian and Arabic epigraphy of Gujarat: Their historical significance (Special Assistance Programme lecturer series) (1982), A topographical list of Arabic, Persian, and Urdu inscriptions of South India (1989). etc.
His latest book "Triumphalism" is a collection of forty inscriptions of various places of Gujarat and eight research articles on History and Archaeology. Most of the research articles are like primary Source for furthering the research in the History of Gujarat. As per example first article "Malfuz Literature" we get a fairly good idea of the daily routine of the saintly household and the servants and the people of medieval society. In short all the research articles are primary sources of political. Social & cultural History of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Inscriptions are a basic source of Historical Research. They highlight the Political, Social, Economical, Cultural and Religious condition and belief of the people of medieval period. Without such primary sources, historical writings never be an authentic. Dr. Desai sheds new light on a view of the history of Gujarat through this authentic book.
Recently , on the marriage of my daughter Karishma the whole family of Dr. Desai came to the reception, at that time I met Mrs. Sahida Aapa Desai., wife of Dr. Desai after a long time. She is very kind hearted, simple and sober lady, who took care and gave support throughout the life to such a great scholar. I respect her devotion. And conclude with a tribute to this great scholar of international
3 March 2014Ahmadabad