MA Nayeem: The historian now becomes history himself

Though he was 84 years old, age sat lightly on him as far as his passion for writing goes. A voracious reader, he authored more than 25 books on various aspects of Mughal administration, Qutb Shahi and Asif Jahi dynasties.

By J.S. Ifthekhar  Published on  14 Jun 2022 10:33 AM GMT
MA Nayeem: The historian now becomes history himself

Hyderabad: The man who wrote history all his life became part of history himself. A chronicler par excellence and the last word on Deccan history particularly, Dr. M.A Nayeem's death brings the curtain down on the finest of historians who are methodical in narrative and meticulous in research. As a historian, he was a breed apart. Whatever he wrote, he backed it with archival records, maps, and archaeological and architectural data. He undertook long journeys all over the Deccan to collect minute details. No wonder his books fill not just the lacuna in history but recaptures the sublime spirit of life and times bygone.

Though he was 84 years old, age sat lightly on him as far as his passion for writing goes. A voracious reader, he authored more than 25 books on various aspects of Mughal administration, Qutb Shahi and Asif Jahi dynasties. He single-handedly managed the whole thing – writing, proofreading, taking pictures, and publishing the books. Nayeem was a ready-reckoner of sorts. And he came in handy for press men to check historical details and dates.

Unfortunately, Nayeem was a loner most of his life. With his doctor wife, Fouzia Nayeem, having predeceased him some two decades ago, he lived all by himself in his well-furnished house in AC Guards. His three sons are all abroad and come home once a year for their mother's death anniversary. A stickler for discipline, Nayeem was regular in his prayers and indulged in minimalist foods that are simple but wholesome. But he had an insatiable appetite for books.

Having done his postgraduation in History from Aligarh Muslim University and Ph.D and D. Litt in History from the University of Poona, Nayeem worked as a research officer at the Andhra Pradesh State Archives. While in service, he compiled and edited two volumes of Mughal documents and catalogue of Aurangzeb's reign. They contain English translations of nearly 6,000 Persian documents. He was a member of the editorial board of Islamic Culture and co-editor of Modern Deccan History sponsored by the government of Andhra Pradesh. He also edited Itihas, the Archives' journal, including the special issue on temples of Andhra Pradesh.

In his illustrious career spanning three decades, Nayeem published six books on Arabian history while working at the department of archaeology and museology, College of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh. His book, Hyderabad Philatelic History, won gold medals at Delhi, Tokyo, Paris, Norway, London, and Melbourne. The book on The Heritage of the Bahmanis and the Baridis of the Deccan published in 2012 marked the completion of the heritage series – The Splendour of Hyderabad, The Heritage of Qutb Shahis of Golconda and Hyderabad, The Heritage of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, and The Royal Palaces of the Nizam. He also published Miniature Paintings of Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah II. One can glean the life and times of contemporary Deccan from these paintings. In the book Safavid Iran and the Deccan Sultanates, he brought out the diplomatic and cultural relations between them.

For connoisseurs of history, these volumes are a treasure trove of information. They cover 600 years of the medieval Deccan and give a peep into the socio, economic, cultural, art, architecture, religion, numismatics, and foreign relations with west Asia. In recognition of his contributions, a book on Nayeem was brought out by friends and admirers to mark his 77th year.

Those who knew Nayeem expected him to come up with yet another book. But he surprised everyone with his untimely death. Well, one can't live on forever but one can leave behind something that will. Nayeem has done just that with his innumerable books.

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