Prominent Urdu writer and scholar Jamil Jalibi passed away today after a long illness. He was 89.

While he enjoyed a diverse career, Jalibi is most known for his contribution to the Urdu language through his research and literary works.

Jalibi’s literary works spread over numerous fields and span about 70 years, but his Tareekh-i-adab-i-Urdu, or the history of Urdu literature, in four volumes, is the kind of work that has eclipsed almost all other literary histories of Urdu and has made Jalibi a legendary figure in the history of Urdu literature.

His research on the earliest literary pieces of Urdu, especially the ones written in Deccan in the 15th and 16th century, has pushed back the history of Urdu literature by one-and-a-half century. His discovery of Urdu’s first literary work, Masnavi Kudam Rao Padam Rao and some other classical works, such as Divan-i-Hasan Shauqi and Divan-i-Nusrati, have earned him the reputation as one of the most celebrated research scholars of Urdu.

His other books include Janveristan (an Urdu translation of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm), Eliot Ke Mazameen (an Urdu translation of essays by T.S. Eliot), Pakistani Culture, Qadeem Urdu Ki Lughat, Arastu Se Eliot Tak, The Changing World of Islam, Tanqeed Aur Tajraba, Qaumi Angrezi Urdu Lughat, Adabi Tehqeeq and many others. He also edited Naya daur, a prestigious Urdu literary journal.

Born Mohammad Jameel Khan into a Yousufzai family on June 12, 1929, in Aligarh, UP, India, Jalibi received his early education at Aligarh and attended university in Meerut. In 1947, Jalibi migrated to Pakistan and did his MA (English) from Sindh University in 1949. In 1950 he did his LLB, in 1971 PhD (under the supervision of Dr Ghulam Mustafa Khan), and in 1973 DLitt.

In 1949, Jalibi worked as assistant editor for about six months for Payam-i-mashriq, an Urdu weekly published from Karachi. Between 1950 and 1953 he served as headmaster at Karachi’s Bahadur Yar Jang School. In 1953, he passed Central Superior Service (CSS) exams and became an official at the income tax department.

While busy with his official duties, Jalibi kept on doing his research work and writing articles and books. This earned him his position as Karachi University’s vice chancellor that he held from 1983 to 1987. He also headed the National Language Authority and served as the president of Urdu Dictionary Board.

For his services he has been awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz, Hilal-i-Imtiaz, Dawood Literary Award (four times), Baba-i-Urdu Award and Mohammad Tufail Award.