Author, Librarian, Archivist and Translator Salim Al-Din Quraishi passes away

Salim Quraishi By Ayub Aulia

Salim Al-Din Quraishi, was educated at the Government Degree College, Rawalpindi, and the University of the Punjab, Lahore. Quraishi was born in Ambala, India on April 19, 1938. During Partition in 1947 the family migrated to Pakistan.

He moved to London in 1965 where he joined Ealing Technical College (later a part of the University of Uxbridge) for post-graduate studies in Librarianship leading to an Associateship of the Library Association and became a chartered librarian. This was followed by a Master’s degree in South Asian Bibliography and Information Studies at University College, London, and subsequently a part-time course in Sanskrit at the School of Oriental and African  Studies, University of London. He was appointed Secretary of the South Asia Library Group of Great Britain and a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.

He was married at Kensington and Chelsea register office on 1st April 1, 1967 to Maria Margarita Maura-Gamero who hailed from a distinguished Spanish family. After working nearly eight years as a branch librarian in Newham Public Libraries, London, in 1974 he joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a Research Assistant in the India Office Library and Records, later to become curator of Islamic Languages Collections from South Asia.

He retired as head of Modern South Asian Languages Collections of the Oriental (the old Department of Oriental Manuscripts and Printed Books of the British Museum) and  the India Office  (India Office Library and Records) of the British Library in 1998. He also worked as a UNDP consultant to the National Documentation Centre, Government of Pakistan as well as external examiner of PhD Courses. He represented the British Library at various national and international conferences and published over fifty research articles on various aspects of South Asian history in leading research journals of Great Britain and South Asia.

He was also the author/compiler of over thirty works on South Asian and Islamic history, biography, bibliography, literature etc., including such acclaimed works as The British Raj in India: an historical review; Quaid- e- Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah: his personality and politics (both with the eminent Professor Samuel Martin Burke, a retired member of the Indian Civil Service); Cry for Freedom: Proclamations of Muslim revolutionaries of 1857; and the Correspondence of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and his contemporaries.

His latest works included, Persian Correspondence of Lord Clive (Aberystwyth, National Library of Wales, 2009); Eminent Muslims of South Asia,(Islamabad, 2007); Dehli ke akhbarat wa rasa’il (Islamabad, 2009); The Dreams of Tipu Sultan (Islamabad); Autobiographical Memoirs of Tipu Sultan (Islamabad, 2010 ) Authentic Memoirs of Tipu Sultan, (Editor)  and Two eye-witness accounts of the Mutiny of 1857 by Hakim Ahsanullah Khan (Islamabad, 2010).

He is survived by his wife, his two children and grandchildren.

His dedication and contribution to the unveiling of Islamic history to the world, otherwise lost, was an inspiration as was his gentle wisdom, care and the unconditional love for his family and friends. He will be sorely missed.                                                                                                                 

Ayub Aulia is an authority on North Indian music and son-in-law of Ustad Alla Rakha, the great tabla maestro who was Ravi Shankar’s partner for many years.