Sadia Dehlvi, celebrated author, activist and columnist, passed away on the night of August 5, 2020. Dehlvi had been battling cancer for a long time.
A devotee of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz of Ajmer and Nizamuddin Auliya, Dehlvi openly criticised radical interpretations of Islam and advocated its plural understanding instead. Her take on Islam as an insider came to the fore through her book titled Sufism: The heart of Islam that was published by Harper Collins in 2009. The book details Islam’s Sufi traditions, highlighting the importance of love, tolerance and brotherhood through an in-depth study of Muslim texts and traditions. The book covers the lives of early Sufis, their literature and philosophies.
In her second book The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs of Delhi, Dehlvi focusses on Delhi’s Sufi heritage. Published in 2012 by Harper Collins, the book takes you through the lives and teachings of the capital city’s Sufi saints while traversing through its lesser-known dargahs. In a way, the book is as much about Delhi as it is about Sufism.
The author also edited Urdu women’s journal Bano for the Shama Group — founded by her grandfather Hafiz Yusuf Dehlvi — that published an iconic Urdu film and literary monthly.
Dehlvi took a lot of interest in food too. Talking to indianexpress.com, activist John Dayal said, “She popularised Mughal cuisine with her writing.” In 2017, she penned a book on Delhi’s culinary history titled Jasmine & Jinns: Memories and Recipes of My Delhi. Recounting stories from her childhood, Dehlvi gives us a glimpse of Delhi’s tryst with cuisines through the book. She takes us through the kitchens of Dilliwalas and shares origin stories and recipes of classic dishes. The book was published by Harper Collins.
The well-known food connoisseur also founded Al Kauser in 1979, a restaurant in Chanakyapuri.
Besides, she also scripted several documentaries and television programmes of which TV series Amma and Family, starring Zohra Sehgal deserves special mention.
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