Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem by Dr. Shahzad Rizvi

Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem by Dr. Shahzad Rizvi


It is time that the great literary works of Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem were introduced on national and international levels. Hence I decided, by means this introduction, to make a small contribution for the benefit of international readers. My hope is that Dr. Saleem’s place in literature will be restored posthumously to the pantheon of literary giants, as it deserves to be. — Dr. Shahzad Rizvi:


Urdu literature, this verdant and lush garden, is an expression of the grace of thought and strength of pen of hundreds of litterateurs, poets, and writers. These stalwarts have spent their energies as silent workers in the embellishment and raising of its standard. Among these workers was Dr. Saleem (1921-1981), who rendered a great service to Urdu literature in silence. Dr. Saleem’s father, Khalifa Abdul Wahid, an Indian of Kashmiri descent, was General Manager of the Bank of Tehran. During this period he was married to a Qajari princess, Her Highness Fakhrus Sadaat. From this union, Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem, Ms. Akhtar Malik, and Ms. Shamsi were born. When Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem was eleven, his family came to India. The climate of India did not suit Begum Fakhrus Sadaat, and she soon passed away. Thereafter, the responsibility of raising the three children was taken over by relatives.

Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem’s support and educational expenses were undertaken by the founding Principal of Aligarh Muslim University’s Tibbya College, Dr. Ata Ullah Butt, who also took Dr. Saleem into his home, “Butt Kada.”  Dr. Saleem received his BUMS degree from Aligarh, and later he received an MRAS degree from London. While in London, he worked as a Persian announcer for the BBC. Because of his early eleven years in Iran, Persian was Dr. Saleem’s mother tongue; and, since French instruction was prevalent in Iranian schools, like English in India, he became quite proficient in these languages. He learned Urdu, English, Arabic, and Hindi on his arrival in India.
Dr. Saleem Wahid’s early life was shaped by the mirthful and romantic atmosphere of Iran, and his later years were formed by the rich literary climates of Lahore and Aligarh, with their long Urdu traditions. His world view was nourished by England’s intoxicating and dazzling culture.

Prior to Indian Independence, Dr. Saleem’s works were regularly published in literary journals. And when he had to move to Pakistan because of certain imperatives, his great creations graced Pakistani literary journals. In 1970 he became a recluse, and in obscurity immersed himself in study and writing.
Dr. Saleem Wahid Saleem possessed an innate ability to create poetry, but in addition he demonstrated an unusual ability and talent in translating verse. A most prominent example is “Khayyam-e-Nau,” a translation of 176 rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. According to such experts as Tufail Ahmed, this translation is a great contribution to Urdu literature as well.  Dr. Saleem also translated “Tuzke Jehangiri,” which was very well received. In addition, he translated some of the works of other foreign literary luminaries, such as  Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, W. H.  Auden and Mao.