The Adventures of Amir Hamza

داستان امير حمزہ صاحبقران
مصنفين : غالب لکھنوي، عبداللہ بلگرامی
مترجم : مشرف علی فاروقی

By Ghalib Lakhnavi & Abdullah Bilgrami
A complete and unabridged translation by Musharraf Ali Farooqi
ISBN: 978-0812977431
992p, Random House Modern Library

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The Adventures of Amir Hamza or the Dastan-e Amir Hamza is a grand epic from the Islamic cultures of the Middle East and beyond. Rooted in the legends of valour of prophet Muhammad's uncle, Amir Hamza, the narrative attracted legends of greater and lesser heroes and became a compendium of exploits of the fictional character Amir Hamza and his companions. For the first time Western readers have a complete text from the Urdu language which cultivated this essentially oral narrative to introduce enchanted kingdoms and extra-terrestrial realms. This is the first major translation of an Urdu classic in 300 years.

Published in Annual of Urdu Studies, Vol 15, 2000.

Bahasa Indonesian (Indonesia)


TIME International—Nov 26, 2007
"It's hard to think of an epic more dazzlingly splendid….Farooqi has given world literature a gift….Non-Urdu-speaking readers can at last appreciate an epic on par with anything in the Western canon. And, with luck, the classical pantheon populated by indomitable Achilles, cunning Odysseus and righteous King Arthur will now be joined by a new beloved hero: mercurial, mighty Amir Hamza, astride his winged demon steed, soaring to the heavens." –Ishaan Tharoor (

THE NEW YORK TIMES—Jan 6, 2008 - Editors' Choice
"Even in translation, The Adventures of Amir Hamza is a wonder and a revelation - a classic of epic literature in an interpretation so fluent that it is a pleasure to sit down and lose oneself in it. The story line itself is endlessly diverting and inventive, and the prose of the translation is beautifully rendered...For the modern reader, The Adventures of Amir Hamza has importance beyond mere aesthetic enjoyment...At this perilous moment in history, the Hamza epic, with its mixed Hindu and Muslim idiom, its tales of love and seduction, its anti-clericalism (mullahs are a running joke throughout the book), its stories of powerful and resourceful women, and its mocking of male misogyny, is a reminder of an Islamic world the West seems to have forgotten: one that is imaginative and heterodox and as far as can be from the puritanical Wahhabi Islam that the Saudis have succeeded in spreading throughout much of the modern Middle East. - William Dalrymple (

This sensitive new translation by Musharraf Ali Farooqi is filled with lyrical resonance, reflecting the fluidity of the spoken word...The Adventures of Amir Hamza represents a marvelous dovetailing of fantasy, history and religion. This book demonstrates the ways that colorful storytelling can be an important part of both religious texts and adventure yarns, and the way a charismatic figure may become something very like public property, capturing the popular imagination and giving storytellers a vessel for their ideas...These stories offer a glimpse into the complexities of an older world, in which blood feuds, auguries, dreams and their intricate interpretations determine motive and actions. It's a literal yet magical world, meant to instruct through diversion and history, serving up Islamic esoterica and funny old bits of wisdom...A true marvel of literary and intellectual engineering, The Adventures of Amir Hamza marks the passage of oral narrative into print and synthesizes translation, varying editions and genres into one coherent work. - Diana Abu-Jaber (

A New Statesman BOOK OF THE YEAR
"I was bowled over by a remarkable new translation of The Adventures of Amir Hamza, the Iliad and Odyssey of the medieval Persian world: a rollicking, magic-filled heroic saga, full of myth and imagination. It is the first time it has been translated into English and it is as close as is now possible to the world of the Mughal campfire - those night gatherings of soldiers, Sufis, musicians and camp followers one sees in Mughal miniatures - a storyteller beginning his tale in the clearing of a forest as the embers of the blaze glow red and eager, firelit faces crowd around." - William Dalrymple

Library Journal—Oct 15, 2007
Slap on your scimitar and join the adventure! The Indo-Islamic Dastan-e Amir Hamza is a rip-roaring, bawdy, magical journey into the fantastic life and exploits of Amir Hamza, the paternal uncle of the prophet Muhammad...Farooqi's unexpurgated and unabridged English translation from the Urdu is masterful, incorporating the elements and rhythms of the oral tradition and maintaining the wit and verbal style of the original. Destined to become a classic! - Amanda Sprochi, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia

Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction—Feb 2008
"What a find it is! For classic reference points, imagine a more exotic, populous, Eastern variant on Le Morte d'Arthur or Orlando Furioso…one is continually seduced by Hamza's story. Farooqi's translation is both elegant and earthy…One is tempted to think that only a malevolent enchantress of great power could have kept The Adventures of Amir Hamza from a mainstream American audience for so long. But now, thanks to the powerful enchantments of Musharraf Ali Farooqi (and the support of Random House, publishers of the Modern Library), we can all sit, transfixed, as this most enthralling and ancient tale unfolds." - Elizabeth Hand (

Buffalo News—Nov 4, 2007
"A spectacular and literally marvelous Islamic epic that ought to be almost as often spoken of as the Tales of the 1,001 Nights…By the time you're well into this world of battles, mythical creatures, beautiful royal daughters, tricksters, demons, deities, erotic encounters, slaughters and poems, you are aware, again, of the seemingly endless miracle of narrative in the world….unequivocally an amazing piece of publishing history." - Jeff Simon

LOCUS Magazine—November 2007
"Possibly one of the most important fantasy events of the year…the first readily available and coherent presentation of one of the major wellsprings of Islamic narrative...The Adventures of Amir Hamza turns out to be a terrific series of adventures that sometimes recall Don Quixote, sometimes The Arabian Nights , sometimes the great medieval romances….Farooqi's energetic and stylish translation…captures brilliantly the insouciant delights of the story teller's voice, and gives us a highly readable version of a major work of world literature that few of us even knew about. The Modern Library has done us a big favor. - Gary K. Wolfe

The Austin Chronicle—Dec 14, 2007
Students of world literature and Eastern languages will absolutely swoon if they are fortunate enough to receive this new translation of The Adventures of Amir Hamza...With prose as embroidered as the tales themselves, the book should be savored under the covers like a secret lover. - Belinda Acosta (
Homeric in its scope and relentless in its pace, The Adventures of Amir Hamza is one of the world’s great fables, and it is presented here in muscular and ornate form. Admittedly, those who resist the geometric incantations of Islamic art and music will have an equally hard time with the Hyderabad-born linguist Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s translation. He is not interested in compiling a Coles Notes version of this story; instead, plot is piled upon plot and battle upon battle, many of the latter won by the supernatural strength and valour of the title character....Given recent geopolitical events, however, academics are already picking through Amir Hamza’s entrails for clues to the Pakistani national psyche, and good luck to them. Trying to make sense of the modern world through this ancient lens is like trying to tie George W. Bush’s world-view to the troll-haunted horror that is Beowulf. - Alexander Varty (

The Millions Blog—Dec 13, 2007
Of all the books I've read this year, regardless of publication date, genre, or form, The Adventures of Amir Hamza is the best. - Bret Anthony Johnston, Author of Corpus Christi: Stories & Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University (

BOOKLIST—Oct 15, 2007
A must-have for serious Near Eastern collections and fans of epic literature from any culture. - Brendan Driscoll

India Today (India)—Feb 21, 2008
The characters of these stories have all the major faults and merits of humankind but the dastaan imagination cannot be contained within the narrow pot of realism. It is a credit to theliterary genius of India that the dastaan of Amir Hamza, which the Emperor Akbar must have heard in Persian, reached its zenith here in Urdu, an Indian language. [Musharraf Ali Farooqi's] heroic effort has been rewarded in a work which gives Hamza a place in American literature too. -Gillian Wright (

The Hindu (India)—March 02, 2008
Adventures is a kind of world literature that draws its mimetic power from its ability to mimic history: historical experiences totally transformed and performed through suspenseful story-telling and the interplay of its ordinary and outlandish plots. The cumulative effect of the intermeshing of cultures and bizarre weaving of one splendid romance after another in a narrative of seeming frivolity results in a kind of magic realism that blurs the distinction between the real and the imaginary....Read these stories because you could spin out one yarn after another on your own. -Ravi Vyas (

Indian Express (India)—March 04, 2008
Centuries before the tales of Don Quixote’s derring-do made a splash in the 16th century, there was Amir Hamza...The tales known for the linguistic flourishes have a host of supernatural characters, angels, djinns, giants, sorcerers and dragons. Their exploits are enriched by the surfeit of imagination and sub-plots that centuries of storytelling has brought in. -Alaka Sahani (

Calcutta Telegraph (India)—April 04, 2008
Perhaps there is something to be said for the planetary conjunction that has brought about this momentous work. It was a severe persecution complex, set off by British reformism in 19th-century Bengal, which caused the flowering of the Bengal Renaissance — a period of intense intellectual activity that had profound effects on Bengal’s society and its psyche. Does the rediscovery of Amir Hamza mark a similar starting point for the Islamic world, wracked by self-doubt and threats of a rupture from within? Are the elephant-eared lady’s exhortations to the translator, Musharraf Ali Farooqi, in his dream — that “everyone was counting” on him — of more significance than Farooqi is willing to accord them? For, quite obviously, the sniggering horse-headed gent and the lady, coming from the magical world of Hamza, Buzurjmehr and Amar Ayyar, given their unique foresight, seem to know more than we do.(

Business Standard (India)—March 1, 2008 (Article1)
Portentous phrases like “important book” or “one of the year’s biggest publishing events” are usually best reserved for jacket descriptions written by the marketing divisions of publishing houses. However, these are phrases that sit well on Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s The Adventures of Amir Hamza, an outstanding rendition of the Indo-Islamic epic Dastan-e Amir Hamza.-Jai Arjun Singh (

Business Standard (India)—March 4, 2008 (Article2)
Farooqi’s translation is extraordinary, in part because of the way in which he handles the language...And yet, his translation is fast-paced and refreshingly readable, taking the reader across the daunting landscape of 960 pages like a friendly, knowledgeable guide. -Nilanjana S. Roy (
READ COMPLETE ARTICLE) (India)—March 01, 2008
If you’re a lover of the world’s epics, then make room this season for a new book to place alongside the Ramayan and the Mahabharat, The Iliad and The Odyssey, the Shahnameh and The Tale of Genji. Urdu scholar Musharraf Ali Farooqi’s new translation of the Dastan-e Amir Hamza (also known as the Hamzanama), for the first time, brings into English a collection of colourful oral narratives of adventure, trickery and fantasy much beloved in the Persian, Arabic and Urdu-speaking worlds, and passed down over the centuries and across civilizations by professional storytellers called dastangos. -Chandrahas Choudhury (

Muslim Observer—February 21, 2008
Farooqi has succeeded in translating the epic in a highly readable manner while remaining faithful to the original Urdu...The fantastic tales coupled with the textual deftness of the translator, The Adventures of the Amir Hamza, Lord of the Auspicious Planetary Conjunction, keeps the reader fixated from start to the finish. -Ayub Khan (

The Hindustan Times—March 17 , 2008
The translation by Musharraf Ali Farooqi is a bravura performance for more than one reason. It is difficult to translate prose imbued with the tropes of high literary conventions metaphors, similes and abstruse imagery. The original text is full of descriptions of objects - ornaments, arms, food, clothes - that run into long lists and are highly unfamiliar to us poor moderns. The prose is sometimes rhymed and its aural characteristics are prominent. Translating what is meant first to be listened to in a textual form requires exceptional skills. On all these counts Farooqii has been sterling...Nothing that readers in India, or elsewhere, have read would have prepared them for its lightness, deftness and frothiness. -Mahmood Farooqui (

Jabberwock Blog—February 28, 2008
As the first complete English translation of a medieval classic that has been in danger of neglect, this is a landmark work in its very conception – invaluable to students of Islamic heritage and Arabic literature – but the excellence of its execution makes it a fantasy-adventure that can be relished by readers from all backgrounds.-Jai Arjun Singh(

DAWN: Column by Irfan Husain —April 12 , 2008
I was in Pakistan again late last year when I came across a review of the English translation of the epic. I immediately ordered it from Amazon, and have been reading it slowly, enjoying the fine translation and the sheer wonder of the tale. Amazingly, this is the first modern translation of the complete Dastan into English, and is based on two 19th century Urdu versions. A labour of love, it was rendered into English by Musharraf Ali Farooqi over seven years in Canada. We have much to be grateful to this scholar: he has not only made the epic accessible to a wider audience, but has done so with great verve and panache, while remaining faithful to the original texts.(

DAWN: Reviewed by Bilal Tanweer —April 06 , 2008
This translation is a success on many levels. It brings to the world literary arena a major Indo-Islamic epic, which parallels Alif Layla Wa Layla (One Thousand and One Nights) in its scope and inventiveness, and reclaims for us one of the crown jewels of our literary heritage. Two, it is of immense creative potential for artists who employ Indo-Islamic mythologies in their work. Like the Odyssey continues to inspire 20th-century western literature and characters from Greek mythology make appearances in visual arts, here we have another treasure trove set squared in mainstream literature up for exploration and excavation. Three, this work sets a high standard for translation from Urdu, one that we could assume to be a benchmark, if not the benchmark.(

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حمزہ نامہ
Adventures of Hamza