Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

January 31, 2012

Syed Ibne Hasan 1954 – 2012

Filed under: obituary,pakistan — louisproyect @ 8:52 pm

Syed Ibne Hasan: In Memoriam

Ibne Hasan
1954 – 2012

Syed  Ibne Hasan was a true inspiration in the continuing struggle for a better world. Hasan was an Associate Professor at Government Postgraduate Islamia College  in Gujranwala, Pakistan as well as an integral member of the Marxists Internet Archive Collective, building and directing a number of non-English Archives as well many English-language sections.

With the assistance of Imtiaz Hussain, Ibne Hasan published the first-ever Urdu translation of Marx’s Capital in 2006. Unlike any other previous translation of Marx in any language, this translation was first published free to the public domain in electronic form on the Internet. The same year, I was fortunate to work closely with Hasan in creating the Bhagat Singh Internet Archive for MIA.When I informed him that an online source was unwilling to provide me with permission to include Singh’s seminal work “Why I am an Atheist” in our fledgling archive, Hasan arranged for a new,original translation of the work from the original Gurmukhi text to Urdu, the latter of which was then translated to English by Hasan himself. With his indispensable help, we ultimately created a new edition of this important work which we subsequently shared on the Internet, copyright free for all to reproduce and share. Hasan also distributed books, CDs, and DVDs to students and workers throughout South Asia. In 2008, the administrators of MIA honored Hasan with a special award.

Hasan was an expert on the music of South Asia. We shared an appreciation for the Golden Age of Bollywood and provided me with hundreds of songs that he painstakingly transferred from his collection of rare 78 RPM records. He would often translate names or lyrics from Hindi movie songs at my request, sharing his perspective and interpretations on the words and melodies.

Farewell, dear friend. Though the world would benefit from many, many men like you, there will never be another Syed Ibne Hasan. Μάιος η μνήμη του είναι αιώνιος.

– Mike Bessler, 27 January 2012

Below are some articles and comments by Ibne Hasan that were posted on our old website. Despite the fact that he wrote perfect English, he always asked me to proofread his work for errors since the language was not his mother tongue. In the passages below, I have made only a handful of very minor changes.

An open letter from Pakistan   18 October 2005

Written in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated parts of northern Pakistan in late 2005, I was one of a handful of original recipients of this “open letter” from Hasan. He later permitted me to share it on the Internet through my blog.

I went to ‘Baagh’, a city 60 miles from Muzaffar Abad to visit a colleague who lost 130 members of his family. The city is reduced to rubble. A pungent smell of human corpses is felt all around. The people say that at least 50 thousand people have died in one city alone. The total number must be well above 200, 000. Thousands of trucks with relief goods are arriving here from all over Pakistan. In fact in every street and on every road common people are collecting these items and then bringing them to the quake hit areas by themselves. No one believes the government. No common man is contributing to the “President’s Relief Fund”. In spite of this huge effort on the part of the public, relief has not reached far-flung areas. Everywhere there are looters who stop the trucks and take away everything. I observed that all those who have survived are haunted by death; many have died; many are dying every moment. They cannot weep at any death that occurs for tears have dried in their eyes. Many have lost their senses. I met an educated man who has lost many relatives. He would go to the place where dead bodies are kept and lie down among decaying corpses. His friends had to drag him back every time. He recites this poem again and again:

Let me move to a place where I have no friend, no, nor any companion
No one who is kind; no one who says sympatric words to me.
Let me make a house which has no walls,
No neighbour, no one who speaks my language.
And if I fall ill, there is no one to comfort me in distress,
And if I die, there is no one to shed tears over my dead body!

At first I could not understand this cynical attitude and extreme depression. Soon I realised that all feel humiliated. A bureaucratic system of distributing relief goods has been evolved to reduce the people to a kind of beggary. One has to be either a looter or a beggar in order to get food or clothing. Nobody from the government or army reached them on the first two days. They were busy in “Margala Towers”, one of the most expensive residential areas in the capital. It is the only building that collapsed in Islamabad because substandard material had been used in the construction of it. Thanks to common people who are trying to reach everyone.

Many will squeeze money and prosperity out of it. The bus owners charge as much fares as they will. The truck fares have risen many times. When shopkeepers observe that you are purchasing clothes or blankets for the quake victims, they rob you. And our generals and bureaucrats and ministers etc, they will be earning millions. Only a tiny part of the aid that is being received from the international community will go to the people. Our Lions will receive the Lion’s share. Only yesterday a brigadier was caught red-handed selling 4 relief trucks. The government is quick to deny it. What a pity! What shame! These traders of religion; the sellers of human shrouds! Deaths of thousands of human beings will bring them billions of money.

This is the tragedy of Pakistan, or perhaps of all under-developed countries. This is, as Marx has commented somewhere, like France of Balzac’s novels, or perhaps worse than that. We are carrying the stinking carcass of feudal ages with all its decadence, moral decay, self-indulgence, corruption, depravity on our shoulders; added to it is all the greed, an intense, inordinate longing for wealth; a covetous desire for money that always comes with the bourgeois society.

This is Pakistan with its culture and civilization which is the fittest place for dictators to rule.

– I.H.


  1. The 2005 earthquake in Pakistan was very big, and very deadly. I recall that the Pakistani military was in the process of buying fighter planes and/or radars (for deployment in Kashmir) from Sweden at that time, and there was some questioning in the media if the Pakistani government had its priorities right, given the disaster and their pleas for international assistance. I made comments of a general nature on this, also remembering hurricane Katrina. A few weeks later, Pakistan cancelled its Swedish order.

    Disasters Are Us

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — February 1, 2012 @ 7:16 am

  2. Thank you for posting this information about Syed Ibne Hasan. His open letter has great literary quality, made all the more striking given the horror he was describing.

    There are so many talented activists, some doing literary work, who remain unknown to most of us. So thank you, Louis, for introducing us to this man. And the biggest thank you is to Syed Ibne Hasan.

    Comment by Calum — February 1, 2012 @ 10:02 am

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