Shahbaz, Dr. Imam-ud-deen (1845 – 1921)

Shahbaz, Dr. Imam-ud-deen (1845 – 1921)

Padri Imam-ud-Deen Shahbaz, popularly known as ID Shahbaz, was born in 1845 in a small village Zafarwal near Narowal (now in Pakistan). He was born in a Muslim family and was attracted to the message of Christianity from the tender age of about ten years. As an adult he joined the Church Missionary Society (Anglican Church) School in Amritsar, India, as a teacher, and it was here that he was baptized by Padri Robert Clark in 1866. Between 1866 and 1875 he taught in various schools and then worked as an evangelist between 1875 and 1880. In 1880 the United Presbyterian (UP) Church announced a poetry competition in the magazine, Noor Afshan. Many scholars and linguists took part in it, but ID Shahabz was declared the winner and was invited to help the Church with the work of translating the Psalms into Punjabi language. This turned out to be landmark moment of his life and this opportunity became his lifelong passion and a source of untold blessing to the millions of Urdu/Punjabi speaking Christians. He was trusted with the responsibility of nurturing the UP Church in Gurdaspur.

I D Zhahbaz

His lasting contribution to Christianity in the Sub-continent was his poetic rendition of Psalms into Punjabi. In the later part of his life, his eyesight gradually failed until around 1908 he became virtually (according to some sources completely) blind. However, his efforts did not stop with this misfortune. With the help of another Christian minister, Babu Sadiq Masih, who used to read the Psalms for him, ID Shahbaz continued rendering them into Punjabi and setting them to tunes. This monumental contribution to the Christian worship was appreciated around the world and ID Shahbaz was presented with the prestigious award, Doctor of Divinity (DD) by an American University.

ID Shahbaz was also one of the founders of the Sailkot Convention. He served as a teacher and pastor for the Presbyterian Church, but the Punjabi Zaburs, which he translated and set to tunes, are sung by Christians of all denominations throughout Pakistan and India, indeed everywhere where Urdu or Punjabi Christians congregate to worship their Lord.

DR. ID Shahbaz died in Bulwal, District Sargodha in 1921.

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