An internationally renowned Urdu author and journalist has died at the age of 89. 

Dr Maqsood Ellahie Sheikh, a prolific author of short stories in the Urdu language, died peacefully on Wednesday, surrounded by four generations of his family. 

Dr Sheikh, who came to Britain from Pakistan in 1962, lived in Bradford with his wife Farida for over 50 years. 

Together they shared five children, 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Dr Sheikh was a passionate builder of bridges between different communities in the city. 

This was cleverly depicted on the cover of the 10th and final book in his Makhzan series – the distance between Pakistan and Britain spanned by a ‘bridge’ of his books.

In 2013, the University of Bradford honoured Dr Sheikh’s impressive contribution to Urdu literature by making him an Honorary Doctor of Letters. 

In his acceptance speech Dr Sheikh recalled his personal journey between Pakistan and his adopted home.

He was born in 1934 in the Gujrat District of the Punjab and went to school in Delhi and Shimla.

But in 1947, aged just 13 years old and only one month before Partition, he fled north with his mother into territory which was to become Pakistan. 

It was a time of terrible trauma and upheaval for his family – causing enduring sadness that he continued to reflect on years later.

His long literary career began when he edited his school magazine, Fanoos. 

After school he worked as a clerk for the Indian Army in Rawalpindi and established a monthly magazine Naghmat (Lyrics), to promote the Urdu language and Pakistani culture.

Asian Image: Dr Maqsood Ellahie Sheikh with his new book

Keen to improve his education, he began a degree in Islamic History and Psychology in Karachi. 

This meant closing down the magazine and putting his journalistic ambitions on hold.

After graduating he worked first in a testing laboratory in Karachi and then in public relations for an oil company.

By then he was married with three young children. When his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 1962, they moved to the UK for treatment. Three months after their arrival, she sadly died. 

He went on to work for the Bank of Pakistan in London, before moving with the bank to Bradford in 1965. 

In 1971, Dr Sheikh remarried, to his wife Farida, and the couple had two children.

In the years that followed, he became a representative of the London-based Urdu language newspaper, the Daily Jang and later founded Urdu newspaper, the Daily Millat (Meeting Point). 

In 1975 he became editor-manager and subsequently managing director of RAVI (The Narrator), the only Urdu language newspaper published in the north of England. 

Together Dr Sheikh and his wife Farida published RAVI, which had a wide circulation here and in the Indian sub-continent, for 25 years until retirement in 1999.

Dr Sheikh published 10 books of collections of his stories in Urdu. 

One book was translated into Punjabi and another, Leaves in a Storm, is an English adaptation of eight of his stories. He also wrote two novelettes.

His collection of stories, Pop Kahaniyan, introduced the then-new genre of popular mini-stories to the Urdu world.  

His stories provide insight into the challenges of migration and life in new cultures, and the meeting of traditional Asian values with Western lifestyles. 

Dr Sheikh became an important commentator on the changing world around him.

He drew from his own experiences and observations of Pakistani people living in Bradford.

His short stories would go on to attract international readership and support other Urdu writers across the globe.

Dr Sheikh was rewarded by the President of Pakistan’s Tamgha-I-Imtiaz (Medal of Distinction) for Excellence in Literature.

This was announced on Pakistan’s Independence Day in August 2008 - Dr Sheikh became the first Urdu writer living outside Pakistan to receive the accolade. 

Other awards to his name include the Best Journalist of 1992 (Islamabad), Best Short Story Writer of 1993 (Lahore) and Best Urdu Stories 2002, for his book Man Darpen (Los Angeles).  He frequently travelled the world, attending conferences and book launches for his own work and literary colleagues. 

Dr Sheikh often described his beloved Urdu as a link language, his family say, born out of interaction.

It inspired his life long work as a writer and his efforts to enrich the lives of people living in Bradford through good community relations.

Beyond being a wordsmith, Dr Sheikh is connected to a number of ‘firsts’. 

In 1965, he became the first President of the Bradford Pakistan Society, the first Pakistan Society in the UK. Three years later, he became the first Pakistani member of the Bradford Lions Club and, in 1970, Bradford’s first Pakistani magistrate.

He served in local courts for 24 years, until his retirement in 1994.

He also established a popular monthly lunch club, which encouraged cross-cultural business interaction.