There are very few publishers in India who are not out to make money. Almost every publisher, big or small is launched with an intention to make as much money as possible and get highest possible return on the investment.
MMI Publishers or Markazi Maktaba Islami (MMI is its abbreviation), the famed publishing company is completely different from other publishing houses churning books on different topics and in different languages. It is not that it doesn’t make money, it does, but then it doesn’t run behind money and money alone.
It is probably the only publishing company in the whole of India that publishes books with an intention to create social amity and harmony in the society and prepares literature aimed at improving the character of the young and old alike.
One of the biggest publishers of Islamic literature not just in India, but in the entire Indian Subcontinent, the MMI Publishers has the distinction of publishing the translation of Holy Qur’an in almost all the major Indian languages. From Malayalam to Punjabi and from Bengali to Assamese, the MMI has published the Islam’s holy book’s translation in almost every major Indian language. If it doesn’t directly publish in those books, one of its regional arms does.
Its ambit is not just limited to publishing translation of the Holy Qur’an alone. MMI Publishers has published books on as varied topics including Islamic history, Islamic philosophy, jurisprudence or fiqh, contemporary Islamic thoughts, education, children literature, self improvement and almost every topic under the sun.
An important field where the MMI has done wonders is the creation of an alternative syllabus taught in different schools across the country. There are many publishers of syllabus and course books across India, but MMI is probably the only publishing company that has tried to present history, political science and even natural sciences with an emphasis on moral education. This is the reason that while majority of books on science taught even in class six or seven have unnecessary emphasis on sex education, the books published by MMI have tried to avoid this emphasis while ensuring that kids get necessary knowledge about growing up and the changes they feel due to physical change as they grow physically and emotionally.
While the graphic content that has become a hallmark of most of the publishers, giving much more than merely information, but also creating awareness and self consciousness among young kids, the course books from MMI are like a breeze of fresh air.
Launched in the year 1948, almost a year after the country’s independence, in the land of mangoes, Malihabad, near Lucknown in Uttar Pradesh, MMI publishers have come a long way since then. They have a huge office in South Delhi’s Abul Fazal Enclave.
Atiqur Rab, the affable manager of MMI Publishers when asked as to what sort of books are in highest demand, says Islamic literature remains the most sought after genre. Besides, translations of Qur’an in different languages and Tafheemul Qur’an, the commentary of Qur’an by legendary Islamic scholar Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi remains in highest demand.
When asked as to who are the bestselling authors of MMI Publishers, pat came the answer that Maulana Mauddoodi, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri and Khurram Murad remain the bestselling authors.
MMI has published some good books for young children and teenagers. It has also published a few books in collaboration with some foreign publishers. But as the literature for teenagers has become a super specialized genre with thousands and thousands of titles being published annually for kids of 12 to 15 years and 16-17 years, there doesn’t seem to be much progress in this field here. When asked about the reason, MMI manager Atiqur Rab says that after a few unsuccessful experiments, they are going slow on it. ‘We tried to launch quality books in association with top publishers from other parts of the world and were ready to launch much more, but the experiment didn’t pay off, as people’s response was very discouraging. We have put it on backburner for the time being.”
“We haven’t given up on it as yet, and we will redouble our efforts if and when we see a positive change in our patrons’ attitude towards such books. We know that literature developed for new age kids is an important aspect and a responsibility, but we cannot continue spending money on something that doesn’t give us any return” says Atiqur Rab.
When asked as to what are his priorities right now, he says, revision of the text books is high on MMI Publishers’ schemes of things right now as it is something that needs to be revised and improved almost every year. “We don’t want to be left behind” says he and goes on to add that “we have to focus on our next generation and we are doing it in the best possible manner”. (SUR)