Maulvi Muhammaduddin Awan who was born and educated in the Jalapur Jattan, area of tehsil Gujrat. The editor-proprietor of this once prestigious magazine of the subcontinent, Malik Ahmaddin was born in August, 1881, in a prominent family. His great grandfather Ghulam Rasul and grandfather Allah Bukhsh had held responsible offices in Ranjit Singh’s court.
In the village Mahuna, since swept away by the river Chenab, Muhammaduddin lost his father and mother at a very young age. He was educated at Chakwal and Jalalpur and somehow developed an interest in history. While at school, he wrote two brief biographies of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Abdur Rahman Khan, the king of Kabul. The young author sold the rights to the manager of Akhbar-i-Aam for Rs30 and when Muhammaduddin himself became the editor-publisher of Sufi he paid proper royalties to his contributors among whom some of the prominent names were: Akbar Allahabadi, Khwaja Hasan Nizami, Allama Iqbal, Altaf Husain Hali, Syed Suleman Nadvi, Niaz Fatehpuri, Khaleeq Dehlavi, Ghulam Qadir Girami, Seemab Akbarabadi, Mirza Sultan Ahmad, Abdul Haleem Sharar and Nadir Kakaurvi.
Malik Muhammaduddin was a brilliant student and after the middle examination he was offered financial support and he joined the Islamia School of the Lahore Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam where he developed into a poet and recited his poems at the annual sessions of the anjuman. In Lahore, he unsuccessfully tried to publish a monthly magazine. He then joined the revenue department in Gujrat where the vast areas in Mandi Bahauddin were being brought under the plough after the opening of the canals from Mangla and Rasul. headworks. He came close to the famous sufi of the area, Syed Ghulam Hyder Shah of JalaIpur Sharif. Muhammaduddin was much impressed by Syed Hyder Shah and with his blessings Muhammaduddin Awan wanted to start the publication of the magazine. In the meantime, the Pir died in 1908 and the first issue of Sufi under the name of Syed Hyder Shah appeared in January 1909. The pirs of Jalalpur Sharif supported Muhammaddin in his religious and literary publications.
The circulation of the Sufi had crossed the 8,000 mark in 1937 and it was claimed that it had surpassed the circulation of any of the Urdu and English monthlies of its time. This claim was certified by the department concerned which had in the past (1919) blacklisted the magazine for its leanings towards the Muslim cause. The Sufi was neither a religious magazine nor a literary one. It published articles from people like Swami Teerath Ram and many other Hindu writers on mystic, social and philosophical themes.
Politically, the magazine supported parties and personalities struggling for independence. In its earlier stages, the Muslim League was not taken seriously by the magazine. For a long time, it supported the Congress but at a later stages, it opposed Gandhi’s policies. It also published articles in which stress was laid on the fact that the Sikhs were not a part of the Hindu nationality.
The Sufi played a significant role from 1909 to the fifties when the editor could not pay sufficient attention to the magazine. But what is strange is that in the history of monthly journalism it hardly finds a place and perhaps that is the reason Sibgha has taken pains to write this book about the magazine and its founder-editor who had for a very long time served the cause of the Muslims of the sub-continent. This book consists of two chapters of Sibgha’s thesis for M.Phil which is basically about Allama Iqbal. She has conducted research with special reference to Allama Iqbal.