Dr. Mubarak Ali: Biographical data, Books, Articles etc.

Dr. Mubarak Ali

{This info is the result of research by Syed Imtiaz Bokhari}

Mubarak Ali

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Mubarak Ali
مبارک علی

Born April 1941
Tonk, British India

Dr. Mubarak Ali (Urdu: مبارک علی) is an eminent historian, activist and scholar of Pakistan.[1]

Ali was born in Tonk, British India in April 1941. He wrote in one of his books (Dar Dar Thokar Khaaey) that he made up his birth date because his parents did not know it accurately.



Ali obtained an M.A. in History from Sindh University, Hyderabad in 1963. In 1972, he went first to London and then to Germany for higher studies and attained a PhD (on the Mughal Period of India) at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany in 1976. Later he became head of the History department at the University of Sindh. He was the director of the Goethe Institute in Lahore until 1996. He is also the editor of the quarterly journal Taarikh (“History”). He has been widely interviewed by electronic and print media in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East.

In 1999, while speaking at a seminar in Mumbai organized by the NGO Khoj, Ali referred to fundamentalism’s effects on historical scholarship in his country. He described how after 1965, ancient history stopped being taught in Pakistan, barring a mention of the Indus Valley Civilization. The official line is that anything outside of the syllabus “is not part of our history”. He further stated that official historiography in Pakistan is committed to the two-nation theory. Questioning it can lead to imprisonment for ten years under the Pakistan Ideology Act of 1991.[2]

Speaking at the “National Seminar on Rani Kot”, he called for reading and writing history from a different angle, in which invaders should not be acclaimed as “great”. He said that archaeological sites do have their own significance and referred to the discovery of Mohenjo-daro, reflecting a great civilization of the region which played a dominant role in the independence movement of the subcontinent, because until its discovery, people of this part of the world were not considered literate or civilised.[3]

He has written a number of books and articles on Indo-Pak history, and has been widely acclaimed as an anti-establishment thinker and historian. He stated in an interview that “No authentic history has yet been written about Pakistan and its independence. There is a lot of confusion among the so-called pro-Establishment historians and educationists. Whatever has been written so far is distortion of history and entirely unbalanced.”[4]

Dr Mubarak Ali has called for the rewriting of the subcontinent’s history and correction of what he called “historical aberrations”, so that the hatred and misunderstanding prevailing between the people of India and Pakistan could come to an end. He said textbooks in the two countries had been systematically distorted and that the time had come to reverse the trend.[5]

Ali has said that “any system based on oppression, coercion and authoritarianism [is] the first problem in the way of writing history”. Pakistan’s history has been dictated, he said, by politics and the personal ideologies of autocratic rulers. He also reiterated his call for “history to be analysed and rewritten from the perspective of the masses instead of the viewpoint of rulers”.[6]

In 2005 Ali claimed that police were harassing him and investigating him to “verify his learning”, and that he was considering leaving Pakistan forever.[1] Four First Information Reports were lodged against him in Lahore.[1]

In 2007, three of his books were launched: Qadeem Hindustan (“Ancient India”), Ahd-i-Wusta ka Hindustan (“India of the Middle Ages”) and Bartanvi Hindustan (“British India”), published jointly by the NGO ActionAid and the Fiction House. These books were geared towards young readers. Speaking at the launch, Ali also stated that the Pakistani curricula did not contain any citation about Ashoka the Great, whose reign witnessed peace and religious harmony. According to Ali, “it was the British who destroyed the harmony and sowed the seeds of hatred among Hindus and Muslims as the Mughals’ policy of religious harmony continued to be applied despite all sorts of hiccups”.[7]

According to Ali, textbook reform in Pakistan began with the introduction of Pakistan Studies and Islamic studies by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1971 into the national curriculum as a compulsory subject. Former military dictator Gen Zia-ul-Haq, as part of a general drive towards Islamization, started the process of historical revisionism in earnest and exploited this initiative. “The Pakistani establishment taught their children right from the beginning that this state was built on the basis of religion — that’s why they don’t have tolerance for other religions and want to wipe out all of them.”[8]

Speaking at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office in May 2009, Mubarak Ali said, “democracy in Pakistan had an imprint of martial laws and what we were witnessing today could at best be described as ‘feudal democracy’. It’s the third generation of feudals who are ruling Pakistan,” he remarked. He said although Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) lost the elections, religiosity has grown in Pakistan to such an extent that “every political party in the National Assembly is an MMA and it’s the assembly that approved Nizam-e-Adl regulation.”[9]

His most recent comprehensive book in Urdu, Taareekh Ki Daryafat is considered his most concise work. The first part of the book deals with heroism and society, historiography in the 20th century, how we should write history, and autobiography, while the second part comprises a large number of topics. These interpretations are like revival of some controversies, for example about Mughal Muslim India, relation between Ottoman and Mughal, religion and its political use, Islamic Scholars and modernism, French revolution, Indus Civilization, imperialism and fundamentalism, history of coil and coffee, honour killing, forgetful men and the latest trends in historiography.


  • Taareekh ki Daryafat, Dost Publications-wordmate, Islamabad, 2009
  • Mulhid ka Overcoat, Fiction House, Lahore, 2nd Ed. 2004
  • In the Shadow of History, Nigarshat, Lahore
  • History on Trial, Fiction House, Lahore, 1999
  • Tareekh Aur Nisabi Kutub, Fiction House, Lahore, 2003.
  • Shaahi Mahal (Royal Palace), Fiction House, Lahore, 1992, Pages 232.
  • Taarikh kee Roshnee (Light of History), Fiction House, Lahore, 3rd Ed. 2005, pages 160.
  • Aakhri Ehad Mugliah kaa Hindostaan (India in Last Mughal Rule), Fiction House, Lahore, 6th Ed. 2005.
  • Gumshudah Taareekh (Lost History) Fiction House, Lahore, 2005
  • Taareekh aur Daanishver (History and Intlectual), Fiction House, Lahore, 1995.
  • Taareekh aur Sisaayset (History and Politics), Fiction House, Lahore, 4th Edition 2005.
  • Taareekh aur Aaj Kee Duniyaa (History and Today’s world, Fiction House, Lahore, 2005.
  • Dar Dar Thokar Khaaey, Autobiography, Fiction House, 18-Muzang, Lahore, 5th Ed. 2005
  • Taareekh, Thug aur Daacu (History, Thug and Bandit), Fiction House, Lahore, 1997
  • Bartaanvi Raaj (British Era), Fiction House, Lahore, 2nd Edition 2005
  • Gulaami aur Nasel Parasti (Slavery and Racism), Fiction House, Lahore, 1998
  • Taarikh aur Falsfa-e-Taarikh (History and Philosophy of History, Fiction House, Lahore, 4th Ed. 2005
  • Mughal Darbaaar (Mughal Court), Fiction House, Lahore, 2004
  • Achoot Logoun Kaa Adab (Literature of Untouchables) Co-written by Razi Abdi, Fiction House, Lahore, 1994
  • Bar-e Sagheer Mein Mulsmaan Muashrey kaa Almeya, Fiction House, Lahore, 6th Ed. 2005
  • Niji Zindgi Ki Tarrekh (History of Private Life), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Traikh Shinaasi, Fiction House, Lahore
  • Tarikh Kay Badaltey Nazriaat, Fiction House, Lahore
  • Tarikh aur Mazhabi Tehreekein, Fiction House, Lahore
  • Akbar kaa Hindostan, translated by Dr. Mubarak Ali
  • Europe kaa Arooj (Rise of Europe), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Jadeed Taarikh (Modern History), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Taarikh aur Tehqeeq (History and Research), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Pather kaa Zamaanah (Stone Age), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Kaansi Kaa Zammanah (Bronze Age), Fiction House, Lahore
  • Lohey Kaa Zamanah (Iron Age), Fiction House, Lahore


1.                              ^ a b c Dr Mubarak Ali says police harassing and humiliating him, Daily Times (Pakistan), 2005-10-24

2.                              ^ Our History, their history, Daily Excelsior, 1999-11-11

3.                              ^ Committee formed to explore history of Sindh, Dawn (newspaper), 2006-12-01

4.                              ^ History is different from farce: Dr Mubarak, Dawn (newspaper), 2008-07-09

5.                              ^ Can history be rewritten?, Dawn (newspaper), 2007-09-26

6.                              ^ A distorted history, Dawn (newspaper), 2008-07-10

7.                              ^ Unbiased record of history must for enlightenment: Dr Mubarak Ali’s books launched, Dawn (newspaper), 2007-05-29

8.                              ^ The threat of Pakistan’s revisionist texts, The Guardian, 2009-05-18

9.                              ^ ‘Interior ministry greatest violator of human rights’, The News International, 2009-05-06

External links


Name Ali, Mubarak
Alternative names  
Short description Historian, activist, scholar
Date of birth 1941
Place of birth Tonk, British India
Date of death  
Place of death  

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mubarak_Ali&oldid=472979061





Myths gradually have lost their appeal in those societies where intellectuals produced new ideas, thoughts, and concepts to guide people. Myths flourish in those societies which are stagnant and rely on the out dated ideas. Therefore, in absence of new ideas, myths attract people

“Myths are promoted by despotic government in the past to protect their property and privilege” says Dr. Mubarak Ali. Dr. Mubarak Ali is an eminent historian, activist and scholar. He obtained his masters in History in 1963 and attained a PhD (on the Mughal Period of India) at Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany in 1976. He was the director of the Goethe Institute in Lahore until 1996 and currently editor of the quarterly journal Taarikh (“History”). He has been widely interviewed by electronic and print media in India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. In the following interview with Viewpoint, he talks about general myths prevailing in our society. Excerpts:

What are the historical basis for certain myths that take hold of mass mind in a certain society? In other words, how certain myths become part of common sense? 

The definition of a myth is that something which happened in far of past. Coming generations add their own vision and change it according to their need. It has become romantic to people and they believe its authenticity. Historians make attempt to demystify myths and, after deconstruction, try to make it historical but they fail and the romance of myths holds people in its tight grip. If we study the, myths of Greek or India, we find that gods and deities are important part in shaping this world. In these myths you also find some moral lessons

At present we have expanded the meaning of myth and include in it the customs, traditions and beliefs which are produce by society under certain milieu and as they are not challenged, people believe in these traditions as absolute truth. Myths and traditions are irrational. People attach to them romantically without analyzing them. Myths that are prevalent in our society are not like the old myths of Greek or India but product of our own time to protect the vested interest of the ruling classes.

There are certain myths or clichés, like ‘do char ko latka do, sub theek ho jaiy ga’ (harsh punishments will set it all right) or ‘women are less capable’, or ‘Hindus and Jews keep conspiring against us Muslims’. Is Pakistani society unique in subscribing to certain such myths or if myths rule every society? 

People derive this perception about myths and traditions from their milieu and by reading wrong history books. In which are written form the elitists’ point of view. Such myths are promoted by despotic government in the past to protect their property and privilege.

As far as the concept of punishment is, the best policy to protect private property is to punish people severely as warning and as prevention of committing crime without understanding the social, economic or political causes. History tells us that exemplary punishment has failed to check crimes. Why people do not demand to reform and change the society and demand to eliminate the causes of injustice and inequality? Neither our intellectual nor ruling classes are interested to change the structure of the society which provides them privileges and power…

Conspiracy theory is deep rooted in our society. It is easy to blame other for our problems and be satisfied. It shows that society is not ready to analyze its own weaknesses and faults. Again, it helps the ruling classes who are absolved from all sins by accusing the Jews, the Hindus, the West, and the Communists. Rulers fully exploit these beliefs in order to save their power.

Myths are part of every society but those who are historically conscious they are not misled by emotions and by romance of myths.

Could it be the case that certain societies are more driven by myths and others are more rational? If so, what leads to this difference: the level of literacy, influence of religion, empowerment (or disempowerment) or what? 

Those societies who are educationally and scientifically are advanced; the process of myth making is also weak. Rational thinking demystifies myths. Myths gradually have lost their appeal in those societies where intellectuals produced new ideas, thoughts, and concepts to guide people. Myths flourish in those societies which are stagnant and rely on the out dated ideas. Therefore, in absence of new ideas, myths attract people.

What role do you think mosque, media and educational system are playing in perpetuating certain myths that help curb critical thinking and inquiry? 

In a traditional society which does not accept new ideas, its media and its educational system, instead of creating critical mind, exhort people to believe in continuity rather than change. Media further strengthens the out dated system.

How the myths that are holding Pakistani society back can be challenged and how ordinary people be motivated to develop critical attitude? 

Pakistani society is fully under the grip of old and conservative traditions and customs. Religion as well as its intellectuals is supporting it. There is no space for a liberal and critical voice. As media and technology are used by conservative forces, religious extremism and fundamentalism are becoming stronger and stronger. In absence of any alternative ideology, people are Turing to religion as a solution of their problem.

Riaz ul Hassan has been actively involved in Social Media studies since 2006. He has held diverse editorial positions in different literary magazines including Ravi and Patras. Currently studying in Sweden and plans to pursue his PhD in the field of Social Media. Riaz graduated from Government College Lahore and has worked at the same institute for about one year as lecturer. He has keen interest and involvement in arts, theater and Social Media studies.





One thought on “Dr. Mubarak Ali: Biographical data, Books, Articles etc.

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