"I certainly never write a review about a book I don't think worth reviewing, a flat-out bad book, unless it's an enormously fashionable bad book." --
says, John Gardner in Conversations with John Gardner
Quoted from 'Dictionary of Library and Information Science Quotations'     Edited by Mohamed Taher & L S Ramaiah. ISBN: 8185689423 (New Delhi , Aditya, 1994) p.150. Available @ Amazon.com

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Iṣṭalāḥāt-i Sūfiyah by Khwaja ʻAbduṣṣamad, A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms in Urdu

PREFACE: Librarians continue to play an important role in creating consistent bibliographic records and in dealing with cataloguing issues, on an on-going basis. To be consistent the cataloguers and indexers need re-education of the trends, problems and alternative ways to resolve the problems. One great help comes from the big libraries, such as, Library of Congress, British Library, etc. in setting up working standards and best practice guidelines. Ask me for more on this. 

Istalahaat-E-Sufia  By Hazrat Khawaja Shah Muhammad Abdul Samad. Lahore, Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2011.

My review of this 2011 print: This glossary is a useful reference book in Urdu on Sufism. It helps a beginner as well an advanced student to know the esoteric and exoteric meaning of Sufi terminology. The value of the book is it makes use of Hadith / Quran or other sources to explain some of the important terms. However, it lacks an index (that helps find synonyms, or contextually related words). In addition wherever it mentions Quran, Hadith, etc., a full citation is missing. A future revision may restore the attribution of ownership, as well as improve its user-friendliness.  One may also see A Glossary of Sufi Technical Terms  by Abd al-Razzaq al-Qashani ("This is the first accessible English translation from the Arabic of a book that has been required reading in Sufi circles for more than six centuries").

The consistency of transliteration as an example, here, is in ISTALAHAAT as found in the verso of the book. According to the Practical Standard Twentieth Century Dictionary: Urdu  into English, istilah (N.F), istilahat (plural) p. 58, 1980; Library of Congress is same; but Toronto Public Library uses Iṣṭalāḥāt. So much about the inconsistency in data entry. The resulting data search success or failure is dependent on a semantic search enginge (such as Google) or a literal search box (as most libraries have).
This post is also about the importance of attributing the ownership, systematizing bibliographic work and tackling cataloguing Issues, based on the case of an Urdu book on Sufi Terminology: 
(a) issues in transliteration (or Romanization) of Urdu Books,
(b) dealing with a Market that is more open / competitive / irresponsive and
(c) how to troubleshoot/avoid all related problems (esp., in dealing with rare/reprinted books, conducting proper search in library catalogs, retaining consistency in title, author name, searchability, findability and access).
The Urdu title that brings forth the above concerns, here is, ISTALAHAAT-E-SUFIA (اصطلا حاتِ صو فیا). While the book did not track down the original source, the catalogers too did not indicate that this a reprint of either a 1983 work (printed in Lahore, Pakistan) or 1929 (printed in Delhi, India). Compare the three prints of the same title, here:

2011 print  (note the changes in transliteration of the title, in each print):
1983 print:
  • ʻAbduṣṣamad, Shāh Muḥammad. Iṣt̤ilāḥāt-i Ṣūfiyah / Shāh Muḥammad ʻAbduṣṣamad. Lāhaur : Makkah Buks, [1983?] 172 p. ; 22 cm. Note: First published in Delhi, India.  Library of Congress record
1929 print  (probably* the original work):
  • Iṣṭalāḥāt-i Sūfiyah, Shāh Muḥammad ʻAbduṣṣamad, Dihlī : Dillī Printṭing Varks, 1929, 176 p. World Cat Record -- (*reviewer's note: According to the J Royal Asiatic Society dated 1847 ... paid Hafiz Ahmad Kabir for printing 500 copies of Istalahat Sufia. Based on this information, a future researcher has to ascertain the name of the actual  author who was definitely an adult in 1847, and thence track the date of its first publication???)
PS. The reading list, below, helps in understanding the crux of the problems as listed above (a, b & c).

Transliteration issues: 

Urdu Book Market, Media reports:

No comments: