Mahmood Alam, a versatile short story writer, novelist and critic, research scholar and poet of Urdu language died in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on March 24. He was 55.
Born in Sitamarhi, Bihar, on July 14, 1952, Mahmood completed his religious education from Madarsa Shamsul Huda, Patna, and continued his education passing matriculation examination in first division in 1966, completing Bachelor of Arts examination with Honours in Economics in 1972 and masters in the subject in 1977, further acquiring masters degrees in Persian in 1978 and Arabic in 1979. Finally, he did Bachelor of Library Science from the University of Calcutta in 1980. He served as Assistant Editor in the Urdu children monthly Noor, from 1970 to 1972 and then was associated with Maktaba Al-Hasnat, Rampur, taught for a short period in Shamsul Huda, was appointed Library Assistant and then Assistant Librarian in Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library, Patna. He rendered his services as honorary editor Rafeeque, the organ of Students Islamic Organisation of India, from 1983 to 1987, and later as Chief Editor Naqueeb, the weekly magazine of Imarat Shariah, Bihar. Mahmood shifted to Saudi Arabia to work as a Librarian of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY). Later, he left WAMY and joined a publishing house based in Riyadh where he served till he breathed his last. The least description about Mahmood Alam will be enough to say that he was a versatile genius. He possessed a powerful pen that could adjust at ease to the type of writing he chose. As a storyteller for children he had practised writing full length stories with sentences written in three to five words without using any difficult word, a trait he learnt from Abu Saleem Mohammad Abdul Hai, Editor Al-Hasnat, Rampur. As a short story writer Mahmood Alam dealt with a variety of subjects, from sheer romanticism to character portrayals to constructive sarcasm. As a literary critic he has written serious literary appraisals in most of the cases while opting for comments in lighter veins at times. As a research scholar he did deep and intense researches on a variety of subjects.
As a matter of hobby he used to compile materials on different subjects and keep on filing the same in the libraries he worked, Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library and WAMY’s library, or post the same to web sites so that those materials may be useful to future research scholars. He had become computer savvy at an early stage and this came handy in his research work. His particular area of interest was research on traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace to him). Like his varied interest on subjects he had very good equations with scholars of different schools of thought. In fact, he never bothered about the school of thought of any scholar. He himself benefited from all the sources without the least concerned about their respective positions on different subjects. His personal stand was, perhaps, to respect all and absorb best from all and sundry. That is why, despite his very closeness with the elders of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and his association with its activities, he maintained a close liaison with Imarat Sharia, Bihar, and further became Mureed (religious disciple) of late Syed Shah Amanullah Quadri, then sajjadanasheen of Khanquah Mujeebia Phulwari Sharif. Despite being an ardent admirer of Maulana Asharaf Ali Thanvi he had a good rapport with Allama Arshadul Quadri, the Bareilwi Alim. Similarly, he was attracted towards the persona of Dr. Syed Ziaul Huda, the simplicity and character of Shams Naved Usmani, religiosity and steadfastness of Maulana Abdul Khabbir. He had no qualm with any of them simply because they were all men of high character and knowledge. He could in the same breath align the position of Indian Barailwees and Saudi salafis. As a researcher he was always in search of virtues, wherever found, so that he could imbibe the best of all.
He is survived by his wife, seven daughters and four sons. May Allah accept the virtues of Mahmood Alam and place him in high places. Ameen!