Padri Imam-ud-Din Shahbaz:The Man Behind Punjabi Zaboor

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Padri Imam- ud-Din Shahbaz
Padri Imam- ud-Din Shahbaz

Padri Imam-ud-Deen Shahbaz, who is widely 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 but was attracted to Christianity from the tender age of about ten years. Later on in his adulthood, he joined the Church Missionary Society (Anglican Church) School in Amratsar, 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 a Christian evangelist from 1875 till 1880. Later in 1880 the United Presbytarian (UP) Church announced a poetry competition in a magazine titled “Noor Afshan.” ID Shahbaz took part in this competition along with many Biblical scholars and linguists of that time, he was judged the winner and was invited to help the Church with the work of translating the Psalms into Punjabi language. This proved to be a milestone in his Christian life and this opportunity later developed into his lifelong passion. He turned this opportunity into a great blessing for countless Urdu and Pujabi speaking Christians. He was also trusted with the responsibility of looking after the UP Church in Gurdaspur.

Padri ID Shahbaz’s enduring service for Christianity in the Sub-continent was his poetic interpretation of Psalms into Punjabi. However, in the older age, his eyesight slowly failed until around 1908 he became nearly blind. Nevertheless, his love for the Lord and his labours for His service did not end with the loss of his eyesight. He continued his ministry with the help of a fellow Christian minister, Babu Sadiq Masih, who used to read the Psalms to him while Padri ID Shahbaz continued interpreting them into Punjabi along with their soul touching compositions. This is an epic service for Christianity in South-Asia and was appreciated around the world. His interpreted Punjabi Psalms and their compositions are still sung during worship in our churches.

As an acknowledgment of his great service to the Church, ID Shahbaz was presented with the prestigious award, Doctor of Divinity (DD) by an American University. Note worthily, ID Shahbaz was also one of the founders of the Sailkot Convention. He served as a Bible teacher and pastor for the Presbyterian Church. Dr. ID Shahbaz, the great man of God went to be home with the Lord forever, in Bulwal District Sargodha in 1921.