In this era of newspapers, sitting in this 2020, if you hear that handwritten newspapers are still being published in some part of the world, is it not normal to eat vermicelli? In this era The Musalman is the world only handwritten newspaper!
When a newspaper item was invented, it was hand written on white paper and delivered. When the first newspaper newspaper appeared in this bungalow, it was also a handwritten newspaper, because the printing press had not yet been discovered. Then hundreds of years have passed, how far technology has advanced this time!
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The press is now being printed in the latest press, yet experts are arguing that the day of the paper is coming to an end, because of course electronic and online media. With the Internet at hand, people are slowly losing interest in buying magazines. Once upon a time, paper newspapers would disappear altogether.
But in this era of newspapers, sitting in this 2020, if you hear that handwritten newspapers are still being published in some part of the world, is it not normal to eat vermicelli? Weird but the truth is. Urdu daily ‘The Musalman’ has been published continuously from Chennai, India for the past nineteen years. It is the only handwritten newspaper in the world. This magazine is still regularly published as it was when it was first published in 1927. A lot has changed in this nineteen years, not even the people involved with the magazine have left it. But ‘The Musalman’ has not changed, not removed from its ancient position.
In 1927, India was still under English rule. The sun of freedom is barely rising. A Muslim named Sayyid Azatullah lived in Chennai, South India. Newspapers have not yet become very accessible, but the middle class has begun to boil in the drawing room. Azatullah was an educated man, he had great skills in Hindi, Urdu and Persian. He felt first that there was a need for Muslims to have a separate magazine, where the demands of Muslims would come up, their deprivation would be written, where scholars would write about religion and religious issues.
That thought began as a handwritten newspaper for the year, The Musalman. The magazine has maintained the same trend for the past nineteen years. The descendants of the Sayyid are the ones who are responsible for the completion of this magazine. After the death of Syed Aztullah, his son Sayyed Fazlullah took over as editor. When Fazalullah died in 2008, his only child and Syed Azifullah’s grandson, Syed Arifullah, became the editor. He has been doing this for the last ten years.
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The highlight of ‘The Musalman’ is its extraordinary calligraphy. In addition to the news, the three ‘katib’ work to produce different calligraphy in color, cotton variety. According to the editor-
Calligraphy is one of the attractions of ‘The Musalman’. Calligraphy is the soul of the magazine. And if you end your life, this magazine will be nothing more.
Captions of titles and pictures are written with colors and different pens and cotton. But there is no news byline. The first page of the four-page paper contains news from home and abroad. The second page is editorial only. Local news and ads on the next page. Editor Syed Arifullah said breaking news is not usually published in the daily. Because it takes a lot of time, effort and manpower to rewrite the details. This newspaper mainly focuses on various aspects of society. Although Islam based news is the first choice, news is prepared for all readers.
According to Anand Bazar, a popular Kolkata newspaper, the first work started on The Musalman in two small, two-room houses on Triplicane High Road in Chennai. Arifullah arranged all the news on the four-sheet paper. After this, the main ‘katib’ Rahman Hossaini started doing calligraphy with color, cotton. He joined the magazine in 1980, still working relentlessly. His monthly salary is 2,500 rupees. Shabana and Khurshid Begum are in charge of writing the news. They get paid 60 rupees a day for each page.
Daily work starts at 10am. Two translators write the news in Urdu. The translation works for a couple of hours. Then started doing calligraphy and writing three ‘katib’. Then the ads are added. If the advertiser company provides digital advertising files, then the calligraphers also attach them to the magazine. Once the original copy is made, the remaining copies are made through print at 1pm. In the evening the newspaper reached about 22,000 readers. Besides Chennai, there are subscribers to this magazine in various places in India. Many are subscribed to the magazine for traditional reasons only. The magazine is delivered by the call of distant readers.
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The four-page newspaper costs only 75 paisa (75 cent), which is equivalent to one rupee. Handwritten newspaper ‘The Musalman’ is not published for any commercial purpose, the main source of income for the Syed family is the press business. Besides, the advertisement in the newspaper also earns some income. The descendants of the grandfather Sayyid Aztullah started the process of initiating a separate Muslim newspaper. They do not want to reconcile business with tradition. The current editor Sayyed Arifullah said –
“The Musalman will never stop. The tradition of this paper will remain the same from generation to generation. The only purpose of this daily is to convey the news to readers all over the country. “
The Musalman is moving forward with the promise of delivering the news to everyone. In this age of technological excellence, where print media is about to disappear, there is a newspaper in a two-room gutter holding a newspaper written in the office for the last twenty-nine years, it is strange to think!
References – The Hindu, Anandbazar, Feature Image: Andrew Whitehead