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Author and poet Muhammad Umar Memon passes away

Photo: Courtesy The Punch Magazine

Muhammad Umar Memon, an Urdu scholar, translator, poet, short-story writer and the editor of The Annual of Urdu Studies, passed away on Monday.

He was a retired professor of Urdu Literature and Arabic Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison. He taught Urdu, Islamic Studies, Arabic and Persian at the university. He retired after serving the institute for 38 years. After his retirement, he continued working as a scholar.

Memon was born in Aligarh, India in 1939 – the youngest of his parents’ six children. “It was a pretty lonely childhood and quite uneventful,” he said in one interview.

His family shifted to Karachi in 1954, where he completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He taught at Sachal Sarmast College and Sindh University. He went to the US in 1964 on a Fulbright scholarship and did his Master’s at Harvard University. He did his PhD in Islamic Studies from UCLA.

His favourite poets were Mir, Ghalib, Rumi and Ibn alArabi.

In 1989, he published a collection of short stories, Tareek Galee. Memon translated the work of Urdu giants such as Intizar Husain and Naiyer Masud into English.

Do You Suppose it’s the East Wind?, The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told, An Unwritten Epic: and Other Stories and Ibn Taimiya’s Struggle Against Popular Religion: With an Annotated Translation of His Kitab Iqtida As-sirat Al-mustaqim Mukhalafat Ashab Al-jahim (Religion and Society) are some of his works.



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