Book Review: ALIF by Umera Ahmed

Alif is a fictional family novel by Umera Ahmed. This novel explores the connection of spirituality and fiction. For those who have read or know about Umera Ahmed’s work like Aab e Hayat and Peer E Kamil, Alif is a treat to read. It was a welcome surprise for Umera Ahmed fans and non-fans alike. 

Umera Ahmed is one of the most well-known Urdu fiction novelists and screenplay writers of her generation.

Murray College in Sialkot awarded her a Master’s degree in English Literature. Later, she worked at Army Public College in Sialkot as an English language lecturer for O and A level students. She did, however, leave the position a few years ago in order to focus solely on writing. She began her literary career at an early age, in 1998. Her first stories were published in monthly Urdu digests before being turned into novels. She has published approximately 16 books, including entire novels and anthologies of short tales. She, however, was praised for her novel “Peer-e-Kaamil”, which also is one of the most remarkable works of her career. Several of her novels were turned into drama serials in Pakistan, like Meri Zaat Zarra e Benishaan, Sheher e Zaat, Kankar, Durr e Shehwaar etc.

Umera Ahmed has done a brilliant job in penning down this novel, exploring spirituality, religion and glamour by interconnecting them. And as the story unfolds it is a brilliant piece of art. The author is known for gracing up her writing with a spiritual touch. Like her previous two novels “Aab e Hayat” and “Peer Kaamil” she has not failed in writing “Alif” as well. The novel is written in the Urdu language. The author has beautifully penned down a world of spirituality we all will love to explore. This story is chiefly about the six main characters Qalb e Momin, Momina Sultan, Husn Jahan, Taha – Abdul Aala, Abdul Aala and Sultan. This story is beautifully interlinked. Taha is the son of Abdul Aala, and he married Husn Jahan. Qalb-e-Momin is the son of Husn Jahan and Taha-Abdul Aala. Momina is Sultan’s daughter. Alif is about how these characters are linked with each other and how these characters help each other both spiritually and materialistically to find and recognise their relationship with Allah. As stated in one of the lines/ dialogues by Abdul Aala ” Alif ek seedhi lakeer hai, Jiskay ek sirray pai Allah hai aur doosray sirray pai insaan.”

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So basically this whole story is about the relationship between Allah and humans with a twist of complex stories between the characters.

This book is a beautiful piece of literature. While reading this book I could literally imagine those characters in my imagination, and it was so heartwarming. And since the book is written in Urdu it is very easy to connect with the characters and the theme of this story. This story is about the journey from “Ishq-e-Majazi” to “Ishq-e-Haqeeqi”, from the “materialistic desires” to the “spirituality”.

I personally loved reading this novel. It is beautifully written with a great ease in understanding the words and vocabulary. The characters are well defined and I absolutely fell in love with the characters. The story is full of surprises and emotional moments that actually made me cry. The author has done justice to every character. And a drama adaptation of this novel has already been made, with the same name.

I will recommend every Urdu reader to read this book because it is worth reading. It helps you in introspecting yourself and your life. There are many beautiful relationships in this story and they actually prompt you to think about what you are doing. The dialogues are powerful enough to be used as quotations. The story is relatable and easily imaginable. It is a faith-strengthening, faith-building story. So do read this book you will not ever regret reading it.

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