‘’No one is more hated than he who speaks the truth’’ (Plato)
When we hear the word criticism, a lot of negative thoughts come to our minds, but if we take into account other aspects and try to draw positive lessons from the criticism, then this criticism will be called constructive criticism. It is criticism that reminds a person, group, or a government, not to ignore the fact that they are being held accountable for every step they take.
In Urdu literature the word criticism (Tanqeed) is actually a translation of the English word Criticism, which means Appreciation, Estimation, Assessment, Judgement, Evaluation, etc. It is used in all these senses. Similarly, in Urdu literature, the literal meaning of the word criticism is to examine a piece of literature from every angle/aspect and draw any conclusion only after examination or investigation without any prejudice.
From childhood we have all observed that whenever our parents find us guilty of any shortcomings, they tell us to learn or take advantage from the virtues of another friend, relative or acquaintance. This criticism is also constructive, but if this practice becomes a daily routine, it paves the way for negative criticism because each person has different abilities, different strengths and weakness, and it’s this unique quality that makes the personality of every human being. Comparison is fine as long as it’s done within limitations, or else children may suffer from inferiority complex. Not only this, but it has been observed that doing so creates a gap between parents and children that sometimes take decades to fill.
In the same way, when a writer picks up a pen to write, he also has to keep in mind many aspects. The effect of literature on society is profound. The writer is the interpreter of the society. If a writer ignores flaws and highlights only the good then it will be the death of literature. Similarly, if he only highlights the flaws, then it will be considered the bitterness of the writer.
So we can say that the writer’s scales must adhere to the principles of balance, for example when Altaf Hussain Hali, a famous Urdu poet and writer (1837-1914) saw a shortcoming in the famous and favourite genre of Urdu literature, Ghazal, at a time when many writers considered it as a semi-savage genre, Hali came out in favour of the Urdu ghazal in his book, ‘Muqadma Sher-o-Shairi’. It’s the result of Hali’s efforts that today the ghazal sits at the forefront of Urdu literature. If Hali had also accepted the negative criticism and ignored the positive aspects, the ghazal genre would not be alive today and Hali would not be so famous.
If the mind of a writer is full of enmity, hatred, resentment, then he cannot be faithful to criticism. Remember, the critic must know the art of writing above personal criticism, otherwise the critic’s criticism is nothing but a personal exercise. The critic must be aware of the fact that personal criticism is the death of literature.
The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism (Wole Soyinka)
According to Plato, “If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then they are doomed to live under the rule of fools.”
Prof Ale-Ahmad Suroor (1911 to 2002), a Padma Bhushan awardee, had an influential role in introducing criticism to Urdu literature. See an excerpt from one of his articles on criticism:
“I take criticism seriously; I consider it an important and difficult task and I don’t know how to enjoy it, but I know how to value it – so I demand seriousness, seriousness and consideration from the readers as well. ”
Accept both compliments and criticism; it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow.