Tuesday, December 20, 2005

DoorDarshan Urdu Update

We'd talked about DoorDarshan staring an Urdu channel:


Here's an update:


It's taken almost three generations, but it is good to see Urdu increasingly getting its props in India. We need to get to the point where the culture that the language represents really rises above the divide between India and Pakistan. Yes, I know we cherish poets across the border and give them great honors when they visit; but that's my point. We need to get to the point where it is not mentionable that a poet is Indian or Pakistani. When a poet from Britain visits the US or Australia, or vice versa, it is not a big deal which country he or she is from; he is a great poet in the language spoken in both places. That's how it should be.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Azad Karachi Radio Program 003, October 31, 2005

Program 3 of Azad Karachi Radio continues discussion of the earthquake in South Asia and discusses issues of democracy, civilization and the role of the World Bank and the Military.

You can hear the program, or get information on how to subscribe to the Podcast here.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Siasat Group: A Vanguard for Urdu

Siasat, an Urdu daily published from Hyderabad, has been a vanguard in the world of Urdu media and journalism. It was also the market leader in terms of readership, till one Munsif Daily made a heroic comeback - after it was taken over by a Chicago based businessman - and gave Siasat a tough competition.

Siasat was founded by a philanthropist and educationist - Abid Ali Khan, the man who dedicated his life for the welfare of the masses. Mr. Khan had the vision of promoting social welfare and harmony, and for the purpose Siasat Daily was very much instrumental. For his contribution to his community and the country, he was awarded with one of the prestigious civilian award by the Govt. of India - "Padmashree."

Among other remarkable things that the Siasat Group is involved in, one of their works is highly commendable i.e., the education of Urdu. Today, the group is, in itself, an institution of Urdu. It's not only involved in promoting Urdu education, but is also involved in organizing related cultural activities, like "Mushairas" - a gathering of poets.

To my knowledge, the Group runs Abid Ali Khan Educational Trust Urdu Classes, where tremendous effort are made for educating students in Urdu. Things like Urdu Calligraphy, Urdu Software, etc is taught to the students interested in the language.

Other than Urdu, the Siasat Group continues its good work on many social fronts. Visit the webpage below to read a note from Siasat's current Editor in Chief: Mr. Zahid Ali Khan.


Siasat's online edition: http://www.siasat.com/

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Azad Karachi Radio Program 002 now available

The second program of Azad Karachi Radio (I mentioned it last week) has just been uploaded. Please take a look and provide feedback:

Azad Karachi Radio is an Urdu language audio program available on the web. Published under the Azad South Asia banner, this program covers, politics, poetry, and life. The first two programs are now available at:


You can subscribe using podcasting software using the address:


Azad Karachi Radio is also available for online listening via Yahoo!s new (Beta) Podcasting service at:



iFaqeer on Sahir Ludhianvi; Now in Audio

As a pilot for podcasting on my personal blog, I took the speech I gave a little while ago on Sahir Ludhianvi (see this and this), stuck an English introduction at the beginning and uploaded it. You can hear it here.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Urdu Blogs on the 'Quake

As some readers will know, there's now an extensive section about the quake-related information on WikiPakistan. (See my post on my personal blog.) One of the pages there collects personal accounts from the ground:


Wouldn't it be a good idea to collect links there to Urdu (and English) blogs of people on the ground, both affectees and those involved in relief work, fundraising, etc.? It would give Urdu-speakers (and other people) around the world a chance to get a first hand view.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Azad Karachi Radio; a New Urdu Language Podcast

We've launched a new Urdu Language Podcast with the title "Azad Karachi Radio". Check it out at:


You can subscribe to the RSS feed using the following address:


Please let us know what you think.

For Azad South Asia,


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"Installing Urdu" on Windows XP

This blogger, in particular, has made a lot of noise about blogging in Urdu and I promised instructions on how to install Urdu as a language that your Windows XP machine can handle. Here are the instructions, from the website of the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing in Pakistan:


Once you have followed those instructions, you can use Urdu not just for blogging, but for pretty much anything you now use English and the English script for on your computer. And as I have said before, no, it is not the same as using InPage or some other editor to write Urdu, but using Urdu all the time. With the InPage solution (which is wonderful for "kitaabath" and page layout), what you have to do is convert your text in to a graphic and put it on your website or page, etc. But with this procedure, you can actually write directly in your HTML file, or Word document--or even while chatting with people over Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger or other IM client!


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Urdu Tech News - A New Blog

I have been invited to join a new blog in Urdu about technical topics. It's at:


Please check in once in a while to see what's happening.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Early Urdu Literary Culture and History

Someone just brought to my attention Shamsur Rahman Faruqi's Early Urdu Literary Culture and History

The first chapter, "History, Faith, Politics: Origin Myths of Urdu and Hindi" is available at the following page: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00fwp/srf/srf_early_urdu_ch1.html


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Is Urdu Ready for the Information Superhighway?

July's cover story in Spider magazine (the Dawn Group's Internet Magazine) is titled "Sifting Scripts: Is Urdu ready for the information superhighway?". One of the stories, by yours truly, covers how the blogosphere is evolving:


It mentions this blog rather prominently.

Highlights of the whole edition, including the full articles on Urdu on the 'Net are available off the Spider web page. The other stories in that package actually do a good job of rounding up what's been going on with the Internet and Urdu. And mine gives you a flavour of how Urdu is starting to transcend borders for a new generation.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

20th Volume of Urdu Lughath (Dictionary) Released

It seems the Urdu Dictionary Board has released Volume 20 of the dictionary they are compiling. They are halfway through "Noon", I think. This volume covers from "Nashaath" to "Nh. So I guess we will now know precisely what Faiz Saahab was talking about when he said "Chandh kaliyaaN Nishaath kee chun kar..."...or was it Sahir? But I wonder what "Nh" means? Is that just the "Nah", as in No?

I don't want to just steal a story from a news site and post it here, so please read the story on the sites that published them. I will post any other information I can get. For now, I just remember that back when I was in High School (late 80s), a friend of my father's, Professor Ikhlaque Akhtar Hamidi, mentioned contributing to the discussion. I am not even sure whether it was as a formal part of the Urdu Dictionary Board or not. Anyway, here are the stories:

* Story at "PakPositive" that quotes and links to a Gulf Times story.
* Story in Dawn.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Urdu News Channel by Prasar Bharti

India shall soon have a dedicated TV news channel in Urdu. This channel shall be a good source of news and information for the Urdu speaking populace of India. Besides, I believe this step shall also be instrumental in keeping the language more agile.

In India, most of the regional Doordarshan channels broadcast news in Urdu. Some private channels like Sahara TV runs Urdu news bulletin, as well. But having a complete channel for Urdu news would add great value to the Urdu media, and I believe, would to an extent conjugate Urdu and Urdu speaking people to the mainstream national life.

Talking about Urdu channels, Hyderabad based Enadu TV launched the first 24 hours Urdu channel: E TV Urdu. This is essentially a channel that has current affairs programs, news, and family entertainment. The channel is gradually gaining popularity among the masses.

Media has always been instrumental in creating and establishing cultures. So, with channels like E TV Urdu and to-be-launched Urdu channel from Prasar Bharthi, Urdu as a language is bound to become relatively more commonplace. And, this way, Urdu shall not be wrongly associated with any particular community or religion, and shall gain more reorganization as the language of India and all Indians - something that it always has been.

Following is the news about the channel.

Courtsey: deepikaglobal.com

Prasar Bharati to launch Urdu TV Channel in January next

New Delhi, June 24 (UNI): A new Urdu television channel is to be started by Prasar Bharati from January one next year, which Information and Broadcasting Minister S Jaipal Reddy said would be a new year gift to 100 million viewers in the country.

An amount of Rs 65.7 crore had been set aside to prepare the software for the new channel, Mr Reddy said at a press meet here.

He said that Prasar Bharati had accepted a request to this effect made by the Central Government.

The channel will beam at lest seven hours of programme every day to begin with, he said.
The Minister said there was no dearth of Urdu journalists in the country to help develop the channel.

While the channel was not being started keeping commercial viability in view, attempts would be made to earn revenue

Friday, June 24, 2005

Urdu Adab - New Magazine from Toronto

From Munir Saami Saahab in Toronto:
Hello Friends,

It is with great pleasure that I advise you about the launch of Urdu Adab, a distinguished literary magazine from Canada.

We are committed to promote Urdu writers of quality in Diaspora, and to provide interaction with the mainstream literature both in the west and the Urdu speaking world.

The editorial committee consists of:

Editor In charge : Abid Jafri, Editor : Munir Saami, Managing editor Anis Farooqui, and members of editorial committee , Nuzhat Siddiqui, Muslim Hasany, and Kaleem Zafar.

We have dedicated the maiden issue of our magazine to the memory of distinguished Urdu poet, Jon Elia.

The contributors to first issue include, Jon Elia, Asif Farrukhi, Kaleem Zafar, Anis Farooqui, Muneeb ur Rehman, Irfana Aziz, Javed Yusf, Shaheen, Syed Taqi Abdi, Khalid Sohail, Ishrat Afreen, Humera Rehman, Shehla Naqvi, Nuzhat Siddiqui, Javed Danish, Zamir Ahmad, Iftikhar Hyder, Abida Karamat, Muslim Hasany, Munir Saami, Karamt Ghori, Rahim Anjan, and Abid Jafri, Dr. Baidar Bakht, and Peerzada Salman.

The magazine also carries a painting by Javed Yusuf depicting a verse from Sauda, and its translation by Hifzul Kabir Qureshi. Title of books by Nuzaira Azam, Jon Elia, and Zamir Ahmad are also displayed.

The editorial committee acknowledges the financial support of, Afsar Naqvi, Bashir Abdul Samad, Dr, Baidar Bakht, Pavneet Arora, Javed danish, Javed Yusuf, Rais Iftikhar, Syed Hussain Rizvi, Zamir Ahmad, Dr, Tahir Qazi, Arif Raza, Abbas Syed, Qazi Irfan Ashraf, and Mansoora Qazi.

In launching this magazine we promise the same standards that we have delivered to you in the management of the Writers Forum group.

To obtain your personal copy you may contact me and we will appreciate if you could also send a money order of C$ 5 only to cover the postage and handling.

We also invite contributions of high standards.

Thanks and best regards. Munir Saami

Here are the cover and Urdu announcement (click on either to see a larger version):

Urdu Adab Cover

Urdu Adab Announcement


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Experiences with Urdu

Urdu language may never die but Urdu script is definitely facing a threat in India. People have already been writing Urdu in Hindi script and now among the English-knowing Urdu-speaking population, there's this new trend of writing Urdu in Roman script. Ironically enough, i am a part of such group, myself.

It isn't that i don't love or like writing in Urdu script but the fact is i don't have that skill of writing in it faster than i write in Hindi or English. The reason was the insignificant need of Urdu in our daily lives. Hindi became the National language and English - the professionally official language. In light of these facts, Urdu script lost to other languages despite the love I have for the language I call my mother tongue. Well, the only advantage that Urdu got in my life is that i used to write letters to my mother in Urdu when i was studying at Aligarh. They were short but sweet. I used to get my mother's reply with all the corrections. This is how i learned to write whatever Urdu I can. Once we got telephones and mobile phones, the practice of letter writing was also taken away from me.

But I haven't lost on it yet. I am still trying to read every bit of Urdu text that catches my eye and attention. I try to visualize writing words, phrases, song lyrics and shers in Urdu. This is what takes me closer to writing Urdu. And I have this small but beautiful dream that one day I will blog in Urdu and bring it back in my life.

In India, I get to read Urdu on the Railway stations of the states which have Urdu as one of their official languages. I get to read it on signboards, notice boards of Masjids, Madrasas, Hospitals backed by Muslim institutions and on posters of seminars and conferences conducted by institutions like SIO, IRF etc. Another example of Urdu reading material is promotional pamphlets of new establishments and shops in the city, distributed outside Masjids after Friday prayers.

I also remember my mother trying to get us to read a children's Urdu publication called "Khilona" which we didn't like much because of its poor printing quality and unattractive graphics.

I think, this is most of what i could recall from my personal experience with Urdu.

~ Qais

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A commentary on Allama Iqbal's Nazm - Himalay

For lovers of Urdu script, this is a commentary on Allama Iqbal's nazm - Himalay, by Dr. Ludmila Vassilyeva -


Dr. Ludmila is a reasearher of Indian Literature in Institue of Oriental Studies, Moscow.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Post about "Urdu Blossoming on the Internet"

I am pretty hyped about all that is going on in this community of ours that seems to be developing around blogging in and about Urdu and the affiliated Wikis, etc. So I decided to tell the world. (Bear with me, I am not being pretentious--well, maybe a little.) I have posted the following on my own blog (iFaqeer.blogspot.com) and will be talking to a magazine/newspaper or three about publishing articles on this, and am also working on presenting the process of how to do all this and engage with this phenomenon (or just write e-mail to your mother in Urdu) at some Urdu classes and as part of a technical lecture series here in the Bay Area.

And now that I am doing or planning to do all that, I thought I would come back here and report back to those that are actually making all this happen. (I know this is being picked up by Urdu Planet and suchlike, so folks will see it. And y'all are using Firefox's RSS Feed live linking feature, right? right?) Now to the post.

----[First published on iFaqeer's blog.]

For those not familiar with it, Urdu is the language associated with the Muslims of South Asia--fully almost half of the world's Muslims. It is the language in which the madrassas of Pakistan and India operate. The official language of Pakistan, a country that needs no introduction to most readers in this day and age, it is also the language in which a great volume of literature, especially poetry, has been written--a lot of it with Sufistic content or undertones.

On the Internet, Urdu has had a presence for a while. But up to now, it has been in the form of content created using specialized software (like the ubiquitous "InPage") and then converted to a graphic format (like GIF or JPG) and then placed on a website. The content itself has usually been in the form of poetry, literature, or news and current affairs that has been created for another medium--or in another time-- and "re-purposed" for the Web. Original content creation specifically for the Internet has been very tentative; though we have had some poets use the Web as their first or main outlet and some news sites, etc. have come up.

But all that is changing. In the last few months or so, I am tracking a blossoming of Urdu language for blogging and other live discussions, and original content being developed for, and often on the web.

Blogs, of course, are where everything "is at" nowadays. And blogging in Urdu seems to have been triggered by the direct support for Urdu script that is available in Windows XP and the phonetic keyboard developed by the CRULP (the Center for Research in Urdu Language Processing at the National University of Science and Technology in Pakistan). A follow-up piece to this one will lay out the how-tos of this. Please watch this space and feel free to get in touch with the author/editor of this piece.

By way of background, this phenomenon has been preceded by the explosion of blogging in Farsi. And yes, I use that word advisedly; if what is happening in Urdu now is a "blossoming", then what has happened in Farsi is an "explosion". Farsi is reputedly now the third most popular language for online journals, and Farsi blogs are to the political scene in Iran what printed pamphlets were to revolutions in the early 20th century. But I digress. You can follow the links earlier in this paragraph to catch up on that discussion. Back to Urdu.

Here's a short round-up of things that will provide you a lay of the land, so to speak.

There is now a list of Urdu blogs:


The above link is to a post is from "Urdu ke Naam", a collaborative blog that includes contributions by the current author, and announces that blog's being included in the list. A closer look at that blog entry will also point to a page--on, what else? a blog--that describes how to start blogging in Urdu. And one that provides templates for setting one up.

The comments on that post above also mention "Urdu Planet", a site that aggregates the content of a lot of Urdu and Urdu-related blogs in one place:


The list of blogs that page points to is hosted on the "Urdu Wiki":


For readers not familiar with them, "wikis" are a wondeful new class of websites which are great for colloboratively creating content and gathering infromation. The "Urdu Wiki" has become a good place for the community forming around this whole phenomenon of Urdu on the Web. Among other things, it has pages where the community is starting to do some of the work on developing and fine-tuning the terminology for computer usage, for example. To use another link from Urdu ke Naam, see:


South Asian readers will remember that, till very recently, this kind of list was sent around as a joke, with satirical translations of Windows features into Urdu, Punjabi, or what-have-you. Now we are working on the real thing. And I do mean "we"--anyone can participate. I wish everybody would.

Which brings us to the next topic. A real encyclopedia in the language. The Wikipedia community has set up an encyclopedia in Urdu. Everyone can and should participate; it is a wonderful way to engage the Urdu-speaking community and Urdu lovers with the Internet, while helping the collection and growth of knowledge in Urdu. The address to get to it directly is:


By way of background, here's a link to an earlier post by the current author on this topic:


One could see a conflict, or redundancy between the above two projects--but I dont. Here's why: One is a place for collaboratively developing content about Urdu and related topics, while the other is a real encyclopedia about anything and everything (or aims to be, anyhow) in Urdu. A project that, to my knowledge has not successfully been carried out since before colonial times.

To give you an example of the kind of discussions that are starting to happen as the use of the language starts to mature in its use on this medium, see the following posts on "Urdu ke Naam":


Before I close, a few specific observations:

The community I am talking about spans India and Pakistan. Which, IMHO (in my humble opinion), is a good thing. It is good for the health of the language and intellectual strength of the community using it, as well as for world peace. The interesting thing is, the only tensions that arise in this online community do not arise out of national differences, but about things like the strong feeling amongst some users that the Urdu script should be the only one used for such discussion. (See the comments under the main post at http://urdu-ke-naam.blogspot.com/2005/05/genres-of-urdu-poetry.html and then the current author's own post at: http://urdu-ke-naam.blogspot.com/2005/05/blog-post_11.html)

Secondly, from where I sit, the discussion of just a couple of years ago about whether Urdu is on its way out in India (see, for example, the 2003 article on Chowk that has been making the rounds on e-mail again recently) is moot. Some of the most passionate members of this community are currently based in Hyderabad, one of the historical "homes" of the language.

Another interesting thing is that the diaspora of Urdu speakers and lovers around the rest of the world is the furthest behind in this regard. Most people one talks to around Silicon Valley, for example, start the discussion with a "but I can write Urdu now, in InPage (a software for desktop publishing in Urdu)". When, after a few minutes of explaining that what is being talked about is exactly that one now does not need specialised DTP software and can employ the Urdu script anywhere in their day-to-day computer use, you can practically see the lightbulb go off above people's heads. What follows is requests for "how to" and so on.

And lastly, an expression of humility. I write this piece not to take credit for any of this, but to pay homage. The people in the trenches, doing the real work, are people like Asif Iqbal, father of the Urdu Wiki mentioned above; Danial, a blogger in Karachi; Umair Salaam, who makes a rather credible claim to have started the first blog in Urdu; Qais Mujeeb and Manzoor Khan, founders of "Urdu ke Naam"; Qadeer Ahmad Rana, the 19-year old student in Multan, Pakistan who finally scolded and shamed the current author into learning how to write in Urdu. (Wish him luck, he's in the middle of exams now.) Heartfelt khiraaj-e-thehseen and nazrana-e-aqeedhath to them. For these are the "Asathaza", the founding fathers, as "hamaari zubaan" moves into a new medium.

PS: Shapar86, my apologies for writing another piece in English, but I really wanted to reach an audience outside those that are already set up to read and write in Urdu.

On Being "Saahib-e-ZubaaN"

I posted the following:


after I created a tag on the English Wikipedia to identify users who are "Native Speakers" of Urdu. That drew at least one very appropriate comment, one that leads to a very interesting discussion about the phrase I used in Urdu for native speakers: "Saahib-e-Zubaan-e-Urdu". Here's what I replied to a comment on that post:

This is ... only specifically for users of the English-language edition of the Wikipedia, (a free and open encyclopedia). Just that one version of that one project.

Secondly, we need to get out of the ethnic designation and all the chauvinism associated with it. The purpose of this label and all the others like it that are listed at the link I proivded is to help identify the level of competency of various users with the languages they know. But even if you do want to address the wider issue, and this is as good a time and as good a forum as any to do that, the most appropriate meaning of "Saahib-e-Zabaan" (and, when you think about it, the literal meaning) is about the same as the meaning that the Wikpedia itself has for a "Native Speaker" of any language (not just Urdu, any language):

"if you're a native speaker or have a grasp of the language comparable to a native speaker".

For example, I consider myself just such a native speaker of English. In fact, if you really got down to brass tacks, my competency with English is higher my skill with Urdu. On the other hand, if you stayed with the chauvinistic ethnic classification, I could very well be smug in my links to Lucknow and Allahabad and call myself much more Saahib-e-Zabaan than say, Faiz Ahmed Faiz or Ahmed Faraz--or even Iqbal. (Allah mu'aaf karay for even entertaining the thought!)


PS: Please see: http://ifaqeer.blogspot.com/2005/02/wikis-and-encyclopedia-in-urdu.html for a discussion of the actual Wikipedia project in Urdu.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Delve into the Diwan-e-Ghalib

A colleague mailed me the following link: http://users.adelphia.net/~asghar/.

This site apparently has translation and commentary of Ghalib's verses from his famed Diwaan-e-Ghalib. The interesting part is the explanation of the verses that is provided, along with the meaning of Urdu words used.

A very good resource for Urdu lovers, and particularly for all Deewaaney of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib.

~~Manzoor Khan

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Urdu-Speaking Wikipedia Users

Urdu-speaking users of the English Wikipedia can now identify themselves with a "Babel tag", a User language template that puts standard text on their user page saying:

urThis user is a native speaker of Urdu.
یہ شخص صاحِبِ زبانِ اردو ہے

All you have to do is put the following text on your User Page:

{{user ur}}

See the following page for details:


and my own user page for an example:


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"آپ اردو میں کیوں نہیں لِکھتے؟"

یہ سوال بار بار آتا ہے.

اگر سارے جہاں میں دھوم ہونی ہے تو سب اردو یی میں تو نہیں ہو گی؟ بھٔیّا امریکا میں مُقیم ہوں اور رومی کا زِکر سُن سُن کے کان کُچ پک سے گیٔے ہیں،گوروں کو غالِب و اِقبال و میر و داغ سے شناسأی دلوانا بھی مقصود ہے

اور پھِر ہر اِنسان آپکے طرحا مملِکتِ خُداداد میں نہیں پلا بڑھا یے ۔ ہم میں سے کُچ لوگوں کو خاسے چنے چبانے پڑے ہیں اردو لِکھنا پڑھنا سیکھنے کے لیٔے!


وُہ تیرے نصیب کی باریشیں۔۔۔

I apologise to English readers for the pure Urdu heading, but this is too profound...

Often because of the role they have played in one's life at some stage, some pieces of literature, especially poetry, have such strong resonance in one's life, that whenever they reappear, they have a very strong effect. This just happened to me when I realized that just such a "musalsal ghazal" is now available as an e-card:

You can go to http://www.urdulife.com/ecard/ to send e-cards in Urdu—including this one.

I will try to do a translation as soon as I can. Just let me recover from finding this online. I have forgotten the poet; who is it?

PS, May 12: The ghazal is from Amjad Islam Amjad.

Genres of Urdu Poetry

The popularity of Urdu owes to Urdu poetry because of which it became the language which rules over hearts of multitudes of people in past and present generation. Urdu poetry has a lot of forms. The major genres of poetry found in Urdu are Ghazal, Nazm, Qaseeda, Sehra, Rubai, Masnavi, Hamd, Naat, Manqabat, Noha, Shehr Aashob, Qata and Doha.

Here, I would like to talk about "Ghazal"

Ghazal is one of the most popular forms of Urdu poetry. The word "ghazal" is derived from, Arabic word, "taghazzul" which means - conversation with ladies or expression of love for women. The literal meaning of the term "ghazal" is to talk to women or to talk about them or to express love to them through the description of the state of one's heart.

A Ghazal is nothing but a small number of Urdu couplets put together. These couplets may be independent poems or may concentrate on a single topic. Another binding feature of a Ghazal is that there should be something which should connect all the couplets. This connection is ensured by Beher, Kafiyaa and Radif. In short, Beher means the meter of the couplets which should be equal in all the couplets. Kafiyaa and Radif ensure the rhyme towards the end of every line of a ghazal.

Technically speaking, Ghazal is a collection of Urdu couplets, in which there is atleast one Matla , one Maqta and all the couplets are of same Beher and have the same Kaafiyaa and Radif. Matla is the opening couplet whereas Maqta is closing couplet which ideally has the poet's "Takhallus" (pseudonym or nom de plume).

An example of a Ghazal:

koi ummid bar nahin aati
koi surat nazar nahin aati

aage aati thi haale dil par hasi
ab kisi baat par nahin aati

hum wahan hain, jahan se humko bhi
kucch hamaari khabar nahin aati

kaabaa kis muh se jaaoge 'Ghalib'
sharm tumko magar nahin aati

In this ghazal, the words "nahi aati" form the Radif which should be present in both lines of opening couplet (Matla) and second line of all the following couplets. The words "nazar", "par", "khabar" and "magar" represent Kafiyaa. The meter (Beher) of this ghazal is small or single. The last couplet (Maqta) has the pseudonym "Ghalib" as this ghazal is one of the masterpieces of Mirza AsadUllah Khan 'Ghalib'.

P.S. The above ghazal may not be called a perfect example of a ghazal as I learnt that a perfect ghazal should have a minimum of 5 couplets (ashaar). I wish Mirza Ghalib would have added one more couplet (sher) somewhere to make it a perfect example of a ghazal. :-)

~ Qais

Monday, May 09, 2005

Technical Terminology in Urdu

Just noticed that the Urdu Wiki has put together a list of Urdu translations/equivalents of the words we use in the course of our interaction with technology
(انگریزی اصطلاحات کا اردو ترجمہ)

A must-read! I hope Asif Iqbal (father of the Urdu Wiki) will keep this keep this live and evolving. And take input.

Listed at Urdu Blogs Directory

We are now listed at the Urdu Wiki's list of Urdu Blogs:


Thanks Urdu Wiki team!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Iqbal's Patriotic Anthem Completes a Century

When Rakesh Sharma, the first Indian to travel to space, was asked by the then Indian Prime Minister - Mrs. Indira Gandhi: "Upar se Bharat kaisa dikhta hain" (How does India look from the space), the astronaut was quick to reply "Saare jahan se achcha, Hindustaan hamara" (India is best among all the nations).

This was the fantastic appeal and widespread popularity of Tarana-I-Hind, an anthem composed by the great poet Muhammad Iqbal. For decades, it has been successfully igniting the patriotic zeal among millions of Indian, the world over.

And, recently, the anthem completed 100 years. For the whole century, this anthem has instilled the sense of confidence and belief among Indians about their motherland. I am sure the anthem has enough auras for keeping the enthusiastic devotion among Indians for the country in high spirits for the next 1000 years, and even more.

An immortal anthem from an extraordinary poet!

The following piece appeared in the Islamic Voice, Bangalore:

Saare Jahan Se Achcha turns 100

Mumbai: Saare Jahan Se Achcha, Dr Allama Iqbal’s unique tribute to India, which is today an inseparable part of the national consciousness, has turned 100. On April 21, Iqbal’s death anniversary, Mumbai-based Urdu scholar Abdus Sattar Dalvi and his associates had organized special centenary celebrations for the song at the V P Naik Bhavan at Mumbai University’s Kalina campus.

In 1904, Iqbal, then a young lecturer at the Government College, Lahore, was invited by his favorite student Lala Hardayal - a patriot who established the Gadar Party in the US. Iqbal sang Saare Jahan Se Achcha with gusto. When poet Dr Allama Iqbal sang Saare Jahan Se Achchha, the audience was stunned; no one had heard anything like it before. Simple and alluring, the song became a rallying point for freedom fighters.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Good Dictionary

This one seems good:


I saw another one the other day which was pretty lame...

From the Mother's Heart

"Sub kuch Khuda se maang liye, tujh ko maang karr;
Phir haath mere utth na sake, eis dua ke baad!"

Don't know if the poet had his mother's love for him in mind, when he composed these lines; but, I have heard the most loving mother reciting this for her son.

A blessed son indeed, to find such a mother!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Yes, that's the label for "Google Search" button in the Urdu Google page.

It's really wonderful. Check out Google in Urdu: http://www.google.com/intl/ur/.

The other button on the home page: "Main Khush-kismat hoon" for "I'm Feeling Lucky" :-).

Go Google in Urdu!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

NCPUL: Serving the Cause

Though I have mentioned it before – in one of the earlier articles, I believe NCPUL deserves more visibility and attention, for the good work it’s doing in the cause of Urdu.

National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, or NCUPL, is a government body under Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India.

The Council is involved in various activities like: Seminars, Book-fairs, Grants, Urdu education, etc. It is doing a good amount of Research and Development, too. And, it also has big names with it as its Resource Personnel, including scholars and govt. officials.

Keeping up with the technological advances, the Council is taking pains in making Urdu an IT-compatible and IT-friendly language. The program is called Urdu Technological Mission. This effort, I am sure, will go a long way in keeping the language popular and active in the coming days, when a good amount of communication would take place electronically. Also, the language will gain more visibility over the ubiquitous Internet.

All this, just for Urdu – we call it Urdu ke naam :-).

For more information, check out the website: http://www.urducouncil.nic.in/.

Monday, May 02, 2005

زندگی سے ڈر تے ہیں - ٓAfraid to live ...

I was at a "ghazal" session with Habib Wali Muhammad Saturday night and the following couplet from Khumaar Barabankvi (I think it is) is still ringing in my mind, especially in a Silicon Valley context:
عِلم و فن کے دیوانے عاشِقی سے ڈرتے ہیں
زنداگی کے خواحاں ہیں اور زندگی سے ڈرتے ہیں

ilm-o-fun kay dheewanay, aashiqee say darthay haiN
zindhagee kay khwahaaN haiN, aur zindhagee say darthay haiN


(these) lovers of knowledge and art, are afeared of (passionate) love
they desire life; but are afraid of life (or afraid to live?)

Not a literal translation, yes; more how I understood it.

Friday, April 29, 2005

The Urdu University

A few days back, I happened to visit Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU), the first Urdu university of the Indian Sub-continent. The University is located on the outskirts of Hyderabad - Deccan, and is spread over a huge campus.

Hosted by Putfile.com

Though the University didn’t seem to be crowded with students, as you’d see in any other university in India, a bunch of veil-clad ladies (Hyderabad, man!) around their respective classrooms, and another bunch of them approaching the University in an over occupied auto-rickshaw, gives you the sense of warmth and encouragement – for these are the people coming here with the spirit of eruditeness, to gain knowledge in their beleaguered mother tongue. Also, the fact that with all their conservative and modest appearance and background, they are here to learn, to educate themselves in the language they love and know best.

In the University, I met Rehana Sultana, a lecturer. She talked about the various coursed being offered. Among all the one that I found interesting, and also quite noble, was Diploma in Women’s Social Affairs. This course, she told me, deals with the women’s affair - be it personal or social - of the contemporary world. It would be both classroom training as well as some fieldwork – essentially going and attending to some problems women are facing, and working with NGOs etc. She told me that the focus of this program would essentially be the women from the Urdu speaking populace.

Another course that really made me happy was an MBA in Urdu – yes, Masters of Business Administration. This, I thought, was a good development. In the future, I believe the University should have courses like Fashion Designing, too.

All this development in the Urdu education reminds me of the once Urdu-rich Osmania University (another Hyderabad offering!). Osmania, I’d like to remind, pioneered the system of imparting education in Urdu in India. It was the only University to impart education in a native Indian language i.e. Urdu, during the time of British hegemony over the Indian education system.

Now we have another University that has Urdu as its medium of learning. MANUU carries hopes of millions. It is an institution that has to shoulder the responsibility for the development and betterment of Urdu as a whole. It has to repeat the Osmania’s feat of the yester years. In fact, the circumstances demands that it does it all the more better.

MANUU: A Long Road Ahead!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

مظحب تو بس۔۔۔ - The Only True Creed...

مظحب تو بس مظحبِ دل ہے
باقی سب گُمراحی ہے
mazhab thoe buss mazhab-e-dhil hai
baaqee sub gumraahee hai
the only (true) creed is the creed of the heart
all else is heresy

بناکر فقیرون کا ہم بھیس ٖالِب - The Spectacle of Power and Pelf

بنا کر فقیروں کا ہم بھیس غالِب
تماشأے اہلِ کرم دیکھتے ہیں
banaa kar faqeeroN ka hum bhais Ghalib
thamaasha-e-ehl-e-karam dhaikthay haiN
Taking the guise of the poor, the dervishes, we, O Ghalib,
Watch the spectacle of the blessed; of power and pelf
—Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

صنم - The Poet's Object of Devotion

The word (or trope, or concept) Sanam (صنم) is often used in Urdu and Persian poetry and is some times translated to "idol". In the humble opinion of this فعیر (Faqeer, if you will), just by itself and with no elaboration, that is a rather basic translation of the concept.

"Object of complete and utter devotion and allegiance" comes much closer. The poetry of Sufism, of course, in its inimitably paradigm-subverting way, keeps the question of whether the Sanam being addressed is made of flesh, stone, or is a Higher Being open--and often fluidly shifting in the mind of the reader/listener. If you keep that in your mind (that the Sanam could be the Ultimate Cosmic Force, or an idol of stone, or your ..er ... fleshy...beloved) you start to scratch the surface of the worlds Sufi poetry opens up to your mind...


Tuesday, April 26, 2005

دُعا - A Prayer for the Creative from Iqbal

ٓA post on the blog by one of our co-contributors here drew my attention to a prayer from Iqbal that seems like it is for people like us, striving to be creative despite our mainly pedestrian, vanilla lives:


I thought I would attempt my own translation:
خُدا تُجھے کسی طوفاں سے آشنا کردے
کے تیرے باحر کی موجوں مین اِزطیراب نہیں

Khuda tujhey kisee toofan se ashna kar dey,
Key terey baahar ki maujon me iztirab nahin.

(May) God make your acquaintance with a storm;
For the waves on the surface of your existence are devoid of tumult.

Friday, April 15, 2005

کھتے ھین اگلے زمانے مین کؤی میر بھی تھا - Acknowledging the Shoulders We Stand On

I included the following in the article on Urdu in the Wikipedia; thought I would share it here:
ریختھ کے ایک تٔم ھی اُستاد نھین غالِب
کھتے ھین اگلے زمانے مین کؤی میر بھی تھا
''Raikhtha kai aik thum hee ustadh nahee Ghalib
Kehthay hain aglay zamaanay main ko'ee Mir bhee thhaa
You, alone, are not the master of 'Raikhta', Ghalib
They say that in days of yore, there was one called Mir
—Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Thursday, April 14, 2005

اسلام علیکم

..اردو مین کوشس حے

For the record; between 8 and 10 pm (Pacific Standard Time), I finally learnt--for the first time in my life, I kid you not!--how to write Urdu properly. Thank you, QadeerAhmed Rana aka "shahpar86"!


Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Urdu Blogs

Here's a list of blogs in Urdu:


I have mentioned the site itself before. It is a Wiki in Urdu.

I will post more on blogging and wikis in Urdu as I find it...


Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Sahir Ludhianvi Remembered on His 83rd birthday

Speakers at Yaum-e-Sahir in Milpitas California
Originally uploaded by iFaqeer.
Yaum-e-Sahir, an event rememberring Sahir Ludhianvi, a major poet and lyricist from South Asia, was held at the India Community Center in Milpitas, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. The event, which fell close to the 83rd anniversary of Sahir's birth on March 8, was attended by over 200 people and the two hours that it lasted were educational as well as being pure entertainment for the attendees. Yaum-e-Sahir was the latest in a series of successful literary evenings arranged in tribute to the masters of Urdu literature by Hamida Chopra, who has taught Urdu at the University of California, Berekely, and is a relentless patron of the Urdu language and literature. Previous events have included "Jahaan-e-Ghalib" and "Darbar-e-Zafar", the latter devoted to the major poets associated with the last Mughal court in Delhi.

The proceedings started with Ms. Chopra's recitation of a poem in which Sahir describes his writing and the moving spirit behind it:

Dunya nay tajurbat aur havadis kee shakl mein
Jo kuchh mujhay diya hai, lota raho hoon mein

She then introduced Dr Tariq Rahman, a linguist who holds the Quaid-e-Azam Chair in Pakistan Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who presided over the evening. The microphone then passed to local writer and multimedia artist, Ali Hasan Cemendtaur, to emcee the program. Cemendtaur has seven books in Urdu and English to his credit and is currently working on an animation film and a documentary.

The evening proceeded with a recounting of Sahir's life and achievements, and recitations of his poetry.

Prem Joshi, a retired Engineer originally from Allahbad, sang,

Pyar per bas to nahin hain mera laikin phir bhee
Tu bata daay tujhay pyar karoun ya na karoun

in a melliflous voice that appeared to be much appreciated by the audience.

Rajni Dubey, who originally hails from Delhi and who has sung on radio and TV in India, sang "Havis naseeb nazar ko kahin qarar nahi".

Sulekha Choudhary, a scientist by profession and introduced as Bulbul-e-San Jose, sang "Khuda kaay wastay ab bay rukhee saay kam nah lay". Her beautiful rendition visibly moved the audience.

Anil Chopra, a professor at UC Berkeley, in his presentation, said that sentimentalism and a desire for revolution were the two important themes of Sahir’s poetry. He read Sahir’s "Teri Awaz" to illustrate the sentimental side of Sahir’s poetry:

Raat sunsan thee bojhal thee fiza kee sansain
Rooh peh chhaaay thaay bay-nam ghamon kay saay

Mr Chopra then read Sahir's famous poem on the "Taj Mahal" as an example of a poem soaked with a desire for revolution:

Yeh chaman zar yeh jamna ka kinara yeh mahal
Yeh munaqqash dar-o-deevar yeh mehrab yeh taaq
Aik shahanshah nay daulat ka sahara lay ker
Hum ghareebon kee mohabbat ka uraya hai mazaaq

Sudha Jauhar, born in Gujarat, Pakistan, sang "Tang aa chukay hain kash makash e zandagi saay hum".

Rajni Dubey, in her second appearance on the stage sang Sahir’s famous poem, "Chuklay" (Brothels). This poem is not for the faint-hearted. Sahir packs more than a few powerful punches in it. He challenges the "eulogizers of the sanctity of the East", or "Sanaakhwaan-e-thaqdhees-e-mashriq" (who are often also the strongest critics of the West’s immorality) to go and see for themselves the exploited women in the brothels of our Eastern lands:

Yeh koochay yeh neelaAm ghar dil-kashee kay
Yeh lut-thay hoay karvan zindagi kay
Kahan hain kahan hain muhafiz khudee kay?
Sana-khwan-e-taqdees-e-mushraq kahan hain?

It is hard to read or listen to Sahir’s ‘Chuklay’ without a stream of tears flowing down your cheeks.

Madad chahtee hai yeh Hawa kee bai tee
Paighambar kee ummat, zulekha kee baitee

In the prose-section of Yaum-e-Sahir, running in parallel to the recitations, the poet's life, his achievements and peculiarities were noted by Cemendtaur, Hamida Chopra, U. V. Ravindra (Ravi), Sabahat Ashraf (iFaqeer), and Tariq Rahman.

Cemendtaur presented a rather interesting comparison between Sahir and Saadat Hasan Manto. He said that writers and poets are supported by their pen only when these creative artists are able to be compensated for their toils, and the market for their writing is directly dependent on the literacy level in a country. “Because of the overall low literacy in South Asia, people who live by their pen, in general, don’t seem to live a comfortable life. But writers and poets are supposed to be proud of their creativity, so how come these creative artists of our lands don’t find creative ways to be financially strong?” Cemendtaur said that Sahir and Manto took diametrically different paths. While Sahir moved from Lahore to Bombay, Saadat Hasan Manto moved from Bombay, where he was pursuing a successful career in writing, to Lahore to ultimately die in poverty. In Cemendtaur’s view Sahir made the right choice by creatively finding a way to live off his pen. “When the general population in our region is not reading books and instead watching movies, then our creative artists should fit in somewhere in the production of the movies.”

Hamida Chopra read an informative paper on Sahir. Her paper delineated the life history of the man who was born as Abdul Hai in a landed family in Ludhiana, now in the Indian part of the Punjab; saw poverty in his childhood as his mother decided to move out of his father’s house when the father married a second wife; his unrequited love in the college; the move to Lahore during the Partition of the Subcontinent; finding out a few years later that an arrest warrant had been issued for him for his ‘rebellious’ writings in the newspaper ‘Sawera’ moving back to India and then ultimately ending up in Bombay and working for the film industry. Chopra peppered her paper with interesting anecdotes that gave a glimpse into the idiosyncracies and private life of the great poet. She said that Sahir was not happy writing film songs because he didn’t believe this was what a true poet should do. However, Sahir never hesitated to fight for his own or other peoples' rights, among other things serving as the President of the Film Workers' Union.

Mr U.V. Ravindra, usually known as "Ravi", read a paper that focused on Sahir's career in the film industry. Ravi chronologically described most of the films Sahir wrote songs for, informing the audience that the first film Sahir wrote for was "Azadee kee rah peh", released in 1948, before he moved to Bombay. He said that whereas Sahir spent quite some time in Lahore his longest stay was in Bombay where the film industry made great use of Sahir's talent in poetry. "Sahir's first superhit movie was 'Bazee.' The last film Sahir wrote songs for was 'Jio aur Jeenay do' posthumously released in 1982 (Sahir died in 1980)", along the way forming very productive partnerships with such musical greats as SD Burman, OP Nayyar, Roshan, and others.

Sabahat Ashraf, a Silicon Valley writer and activist who blogs extensively under the name "iFaqeer" (his blog is at http://ifaqeer.blogspot.com) paid his homage to Sahir from the point of view a person that grew up in the 70s, when such movies as "Kabhi Kabhie", named after a poem by Sahir, were popular. In his homage to Sahir, Sabahat said that the poets give people the words and sentences that people use to express themselves. Mr. Ashraf said that everybody is affected by things around them but only the poets and the writers have the skills to portray their experiences in words, and the rest of the community uses these descriptions to help others--and sometimes, themselves--understand the experiences and feelings that they go through. He said that for several generations of South Asians, the first exposure to Sahir, and often to Urdu literature itself was through the movie lyrics that Sahir wrote. He said that because of the fact that Sahir did not compromise the standards of language or depth of thought that is usually associated with Urdu poetry, he served as a bridge between pop culture and the world of Urdu literature. His closing thought was that that this bridge is a very important one, serving to raise the level of discourse in pop culture while at the same time providing the community that identifies itself with the Urdu language a seat at the table in the 21st century's media-dominated society. [His speech is available in full, as written, on this blog at: http://urdu-ke-naam.blogspot.com/2005/03/address-at-yaum-e-sahir-in-milpitas.html]

Tariq Rahman, the president of the literary evening, acknowledged his ignorance about Urdu literature itself, but said that he had studied Sahir and his poetry from the point of view of its importance in development of political movements and political thought in South Asia.. Dr. Rahman said that whereas Sahir himself was not a philosopher, his poetry was often used by the philosophers, especially by the thinkers of the Left. For example, the quatrain quoted above from Sahir’s famous poem "Taj Mahal" were often quoted in progressive and communist circles in the context not only of the imperialism the Mughals, but as a powerful statement about all kinds of imperialism.

Tariq Rahman said that whereas at one time he had thought that it was a great loss for Pakistan to have driven Sahir Ludhianvi away, his thinking had evovled to where he understood that poets and artists do not belong to any particular country their work enriches the life of all who are reacched by their art. Even though Sahir left for Bombay what he produced is now enjoyed by and edifies Pakistanis just as much as it would if he lived in Pakistan itself. To that this writer adds that had Sahir not left Lahore, he probably would not have become the part of the popular culture the way he did become, and consequently would not have reached the multitudes he now reaches.

The evening ended with Hamida Chopra thanking the audience and annoucning about the next program in the series--an evening on Jigar Muradabadi and Asghar Goandvi, to be held on June 25 at the India Cultural Center (www.indiacc.org). She ended the evening by reciting Sahir's poem "Hiras".

Teray honton peh wo-h tabassum kee halkee see lakeer
Mairay takhayul mein reh reh ker jhalak uththee hai

It was not only the sweet memories that the attendees were able to take home with themselves. An audio CD of Hamida Chopra reciting Sahir's poetry from his book "Parchahian" was available for sale at the event.

[Pictures, papers read, and other information about Yaum-e-Sahir will be presented at www.AzadSouthAsia.org/events/Sahir.]

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Ghost of Urdu?

A rather dated article from Chowk is making the rounds on discussion lists of South Asian writers. It is titled "The Ghost of Urdu" and was written in 2003. Here's a link to the original piece:


Anyone care to comment? I am working on a response myself; will post it when I can.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Address at Yaum-e-Sahir in Milpitas California

I had the honor of speaking at an event in memory of Sahir Ludhianvi last weekend. Reproduced below is my paper as written. (I apologize for posting this in English/Roman script.) The Press Release will be posted here soon.

Audio of the speech is here, with an English introduction included for a pilot podcast for the iFaqeer blog.

Sub say pehlay thoe shukriya adhaa karna chaahtha hooN Hamida Saaheba ka, aisee mehfil munaqqidh karnay kay liyay. Yahaan pay maujoodh ka'ee naujawaanoN kee thar-haa, main un logon main say hoon jin hoon nay yay zabaan apnay waaldhain kay g-hutnoan kay aas paas seek-hee aur jin ka Urdu zabaan say tha'aalluq aur laga'o aisee hee mehaafil kay zariyay banaa hai. Yay thaqreeban pehla aisaa mauqaa hai kay maiN Urdu main main aik adbee mehfil say, yaa ithnay logon say bayak-waqth mukhaathib hoe rahaa hooN. Kuch lazim saa lagtha hai kay peshgee mu'afee maang loN. Agar mairee ko'ee baath, ya mairee zabaan, adbee mayaar par pooree naa uthray, thoe mu'aaf kar dhijiyay ga.

Thoe Sadr Saahab kee ijaazath say, baath shoroo kar thay hain.

Aaj, hum sub yahaaN Saahir Ludhhianvi naamee aik shahyar koe yaadh karnay jamaa huway haiN. Aur uss say bhee zyaadha, Saahir nay shaayaree ka joe khazaana bakhksha hai humaiN, uss main tatolnay jamaa huway haiN kay humay, yay Sha'eir, yay adeeb, yay mufakkir, kyaa asbaaq muha'eeyaa kar sakthee hai, kay jin say hamaaree zindhagee ka safar kuch sehel, yaa kum-az-kum bardhashth kay la'eq hoe jayay.

Kyoon kay, ch-hota-moo' baRee baath; yahaaN buzurg bat-hai haiN, magar mairay nazdheek insaanee zindhagee aur mu'ashray maiN, adab aur adeeb ka sub say ehem kirdhar yehee hai. Adeeb, ya ko'ee bhee funkaar, humaiN upnay adab, upnay funpaaroN kay zaryay zindhagee guzaarnay kay liyay samaan mu'hiyaa kar thay haiN. Aur jiss fun koe hum "Sha'eree" keHthay haiN, woe iss kaam kay liyay khaas thoar pay mauzoo hai. KyooN kay sha'eree ka auzaar alfaaz hothay haiN. Aur rangon-bharee naqshnigaaree kay zaryay baath har insaan pay asar-andhaaz nahee hoe pathee. Magar alfaaz aik aisaa zaryaa haiN joe har insaan--yaa thaqreeban har insaan, kyooN jaisay buzurgoN nay humaiN bathaayaa hai, khaalis laathoN kay b-hooth b-hee paayay jaathay haiN-- Alfaaz thaqreeban har insaan thak rasaa'ee rakthay haiN.

Ijaazath dhaiN thoe iss silsilay maiN aik waqeyaa suna'oN.

Kaalij maiN humaaray aik buzurg th-hay joe kamaal kee sha'eree karthay th-hay. Aur jaisay kay kaalij kay sha'eroN kais saath aksar hoe tha hai; un kee sha'eree maiN aksariyath romaanee sha'eree kee th-hee. Aik thaizaabee saa unsar hoe thaa th-haa unkee sha'eree main. Aik dhin aik dhoast nay pooch-haa, kay "Woe kaun shakhsiyuth haiN jin kee badhaulath Bhai aisee ghazab kee sha'eree keh thay haiN. Bahoth azeem ko'ee husthee lagthee haiN." Iss baath pay main th-hoRee soch main paRh gayaa. Kyaa waqa'ee ko'ee bay-nazeer shakhsiyath th-heeN jin pay bhai nay dheewaan kay dheewaan lik-h diyay? Kyaa aur Bhaiyon pay jub ishq tharee huwaa, kyaa unka ishq uthna gehraa, uthna sachcha nahee th-haa jithna kay in bhai ka? Kyaa unkay mashooq uthnay "azeem" nahee th-hay? Bahoth izzath karthay th-hay hum apnay sha'er bhai kee, un kay ehsaasaath aur jazbay kee, magar ka'ee aik aashiq bhee hum nay aisay dhaik-hay th-hay kay jin kay ehsaasaath kee gehRaa'ee aur shidhdhath kee baraabree nahee kee jaa sakthee th-hee--aur in aashiqoN nay ko'ee sha'eree nahee lik-hee. Balkay, jaisay kay kaalij main aksar hoe thaa hai, aik dhoe thoe hamaaray bhai sha'er say kuch lik-hwaa kay bhee lay gayay th-hay.

Yay sub soachnay kay baadh, main nay uss dhoast say kahaa, kay mairay khayaal say sha'eree jiss shakhsiyath kay baaray main, yaa p-hir jiss thajarboobay kay natheejay maiN kahee jaathee hai, uss say uss sha'eree ka mayaar nahee bantha hai. Balkay, lik-hnay waalay kee, sha'er kee apnay thajurbaath, khayaalaath, aur ehsaasaath koe lafzoN maiN dhaalnay kee salaahiyath; uss ka zoar-e-qalam kehlijiyay, ya khoobee-e-qalam ka mazhar hoe tha hai hai uss kee sha'eree ka mayaar.

Thoe jaisay main keh rahaa th-haa, yay samaan joe adeeb, sha'er, humai farahum kar thaa hai, yay is soorath ka bhee hoe saktha hai kay humain woe aanay walay marhaloN kay baaray khabardhaar karay. Aur yay iss soorath ka bhee hoe saktha hai kay jub kisee waqeyay, kisee haadhsay say hum dho-chaar hoN, thoe humai jin thajurbaath, khayaalaath, aur ehsaasaath say aashnaa'ee hoe jayay, un koe aik manthaqee shakal maiN d-haalnay main madhadh karay. Iss la'eq karthee hai kay hum un thajurbaath, khayaalaath, aur ehsaasaath ka dhoosroN say izhaar kar sakaiN; ya p-hir kabhee kabhee thoe apnay aap samajnay kay qaabil hoe ja'ein.

Ab is hawaalay say, aaj ki iss mehfil main madh-hoo kar nay kay liyay joe "eVite" milaa th-haa, us kay oopar joe Sahir ka shair darj hai, (yehee shair un kee kitaab "TalkhiyaaN" kay sar-waraq pay bhee darj hai) uss pay ab agar hum thawajjay daalaiN...woe shair kuch yooN hai, kai:

“Dunya Nai Trajurbat-O Hawadis Ki Shakal Main
Jo Kuch Mujhai Diya Hai Woh Lota Raha Hon Main”

Hur insaan ka liyay tajurbaath-o-hawaadhis ka yay silsila chaltha reHtha hai, zindhagee b-har chalthaa reHthaa hai; aur Saahir jaisay adeeb, in koe apnay fun, apnee sha'eree kay zaryay qalam-bandh kar kay paish karthay haiN, thaakay, hum sub, joe sha'er nahee hain, ya kum-az-kum uss pa'ey kay sha'er naheeN haiN (kyooN kay sha'er hona ka gumaaN thoe hum mai say khaasay logoN koe hai--ya rahaa hai); hum aam insaan, p-hir, ain us hee thar-haa say kay jaisay humaaray kaalij kay saath-hee humaaray sha'er bhai say rujoo kar thay th-hay, uss hee thar-haa say hum loag azeem sha'eroN ka; azeem sha'eree ka sahaara laithay hain apnay thajurbaath aur ehsaasaath koe samajnay aur samj-haanay kay liyay.

Thoe is silsilay maiN, iss hawaalay say Saahir aur humaara saath poorana hai. Main un logon mai say hooN jin kaa bachpan 70 kee dhahaa'ee maiN guzraa'. Zindhagee kay hawaadis aksar bay-saakhtha Saahir kee sha'eree koe humaaree zubaan, qalam aur keyboard pay lay aathay haiN. Woe kabhee kabhee humaray dhil maiN khayaal aayay kay zindhagee kisee kee narm ch-haa'on maiN guzarnay paathee thoe shadhaab hoe bhee sakthee th-hee; ya Taj Mahal kee kisee thasweer koe dhaikh kay bay-saakthaa uss dharya kay kinaaray; uss munaqqash dhar-o-dheewaar; uss mihraab; aur uss thaaq, kay jiss ka zikr Saahir nay kiyaa hia, un ka khayaal aatha hai. Ya p-hir zidh kay aalam maiN yay baath zehen goonjay kay "lay dhay kay apnay paas, faQath aik nazar thoe hai; KYOON dhaik-haiN zindhagee koe kisee kee nazar sai hum?!"

Magar humaaray hum-asar shakhsiyaath kee Saahir say aashna'ee sub say pehlay kisee aur tharhaa say hu'ee th-hee..aur yay baath adbee mahaul maiN hoe sakthaa hai giraan guzray, guzray thoe mu'aaf kijiyay ga, magar Urdu sha'eree kay iss azeem suthoon say, balkay hum mai say khaasay logon kay liyay thoe mayaaree Urdu sha'eree say hee hamaaree pehlee waqfiyath filmoN main Saahir geeth aur gaanoN kee shakal hu'ee.

Magar filmaiN, gaanay, aur geeth thoe humairee Urdu aur Hindi boalnay waalee dhuniya mai kasrath say payay jaathay haiN. Geeth, gaanay, ghazal, qawwaliyaN kay railay hain ab "Paap Culture" main. Aur bahoth sha'eroN nay--jiss maiN har simf kay Urdu kay sha'er aur Urdu aur Hindi kay geethnigaar, aur kavi shaamil haiN-- bahoth saar lafzi qalabaziyoN kay namoonay aur moseeqee pay thakyaa karnay waalay hazaaroN shahkaar hamaree samaa'at kay liyay paish kiyay haiN. Aur uss main aksar Urdu kay saqeel alfaaz, aur hadh thaa kay Ghalib kee sha'eree kay "tukRay" ya "tota" bhee shaamil kiyay haiN.

Magar yay soachiyay, kay abhee bhee, yehee paanch maheenay peHlay, jub mairay kunbay pay ba-thor-e-rehmath aik saahabzaadhee kee wilaadhath hu'ee, thoe main nai aik bahoth mukhthasar saa barqee paighaam, yanee "e-mail", lik-haa jiss main unka naam, thareekh aur waqth-e-paida'ish darj kiyaa aur bhaijnay say peHlay, jub computer nay unwaan, yanee "Subject" pooch-haa, thoe baisaaktha theen lafz ungliyoN say keyboard aur keyboard say screen pay uthray...buss ithnaa likh dhiyaa kay "Mairay ghar ayee..." aur "Send" ka "button" dhabaa dhiyaa. [Aap logon kay radh-e-amal say pathaa chal rahaa hai, aap koe bhee bathaanay kee zaroorath nahee hai, kay mairaa ishaara kiss misray aur nazm kee tharaf hai.]

Aaj-kal kee dhuniya aisee hai kay kuch hee ghanton main aik azeez dhoasth ka Karachi kay jawaabee paighaam aaya (yay khudh bhee achchay khaasay shaa'eir haiN), jiss maiN iss andhayshay ka izhaar th-haa kay aglee nasal apnay buzurgoN say aashna'ee paa sagay ge ya nahee, toe p-hir baghair kisee zeHnee mashaqqath kay, bay-saakhthaa thoe dhoe sathray lik-h kay jawaab arsaal kiyaa, kay:

Thoo apnee ada'ein baksh inhay; main apnee wafaa'eiN dhaythaa hooN
Joe apnay liyay sochee th-heeN th-hee kabhee woe saaree du'aiNn dhaythay haiN

Jaisay humaaray aik aur dhoast keHthay th-hay, humairee poadh kay liyay zindhagee ka safar uss jagaa say shoroo hoe tha hai jahaan dhil mai khayaal yehee hoe thaa hai, kay "Main pal-dhoe pal ka sha'er hooN; pal-dhoe pal mairee kahaanee hai" aur wahaan thak jaatha hai jahaaN yay baath samaj aathee hai "Main har ik-pal ka sha'er hooN; har aik pal mairee kahaanee hai".

Hawaadhis kee iss qathaar main, jiss koe hum zindhagee kehthay hain, jub hum sha'eree sunthay ya paRhthay haiN thoe woe humaray zehnen main aksar un thajurbaath say munsalik hoe jaathee hai jin say hum guzar rahay haiN aur jin ka woe bahoth khoobee say izhar kar thee hai. Magar baqaul sakhsay, sirf wohee sha'eree iss gehree say humaree hasthee main rach-buss jaathee hai, joe thajurbaath aur aap-beethee kee bh-hatee main seenchee gayee hoe, aur p-hir khoobee-i-qalam aur zoar-e-bayaan say ehsaasaath kee aik ka'enaath koe alfaaz kay koozay main uthaar layay. Saahir ka kamaal yay hai kay un hoo nay "Paap Culture" kay mangal bazaar mai hissaa lay thay huway b-hee Urdu sha'eree kay adbee ma'yaar aur khayaalaath kee geHra'ee ka dhaaman nahee ch-hoRaa. Aur iss zaryay say, woe hamaree adbee saqaafath aur nayay dhaur kay "Paap Culture" kay dharmiyaan aik pul ka kaam dhaythay hain. Aur yay raabtha, mairee haqeer ra'ey maiN bahoth ehem hai. Hum Urdu kay sheh-da'iyoN kay liyay bhee; aur hamaaray khittay kee aam zindhagee, hamaaray "Paap Culture", kee sehath kay liyay bhee. Iss say aik tharaf humaaray hum-asar aur hum say agay aur p-heech-hay kee k'ee podh kay logon kay liyay Urdu Urdu Adab kee pooree adbee ka'eynaath thak rasa'ee ka dharwaaza k-hulthaa; aur dhoosree tharaf ek-keesweeN sadhee main "MTV" aur "Satellite" kee rangeen mehfil maiN Urdu adab aur Urdu boalnay waalon kee "microphone" thak dhastharass yaqeenee hoe thee hai.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Urdu in Guyana

The history of Urdu in Guyana begins in the mid nineteenth century when Urdu-speaking villagers from India were brought to Guyana, by the British, to work as labourers. Until the late 1960s, Urdu and Hindi were the main languages spoken by these people and their descendents.

Two main developments led to the decline of the Urdu language. Urdu started to be perceived as the language of the minority community - Muslims, though it was spoken by both Hindus and Muslims of Guyana in the past. Though, now many people have moved to English as their primary language. Another factor in decline of Urdu is the reduced contact between the Guyanese people of south asian extraction and between Indians and Pakistanis.The second blow came when the Muslim community gradually moved fromits Indianess towards Arabness and as a result, Urdu suffered. However, Urdu is still taught at many a madrasas along with Arabic, for religious instruction.

Qasida is popular among the Urdu speaking Guyanese population, though its popularity is rapidly declining. Sad'r Islamic Anjuman offers programmes for teaching qasida and even country-wide qasida competitions are held in Guyana.

Contributed by:
Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad

Friday, February 18, 2005

Role of Urdu in Indian Freedom Struggle

Urdu played a very important role in the freedom struggle of India. The electrifying speeches delivered by some of our prominet leaders like Gandhiji, Pandit Nehru and Maulana Azad, were in Urdu. The slogan that used to echo in the whole country - "Inquilab - Zindabad" has nothing but two words in Urdu. These two simple words were enough to bring about a powerful "revolution".

The sher,

"Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamarey dil mein hai
Dekhna hai zor kitna bazu-e-qaatil mei hai "

was recited by our martyrs like Ram Prasad Bismil and Ashfaq Ullah Khan while they happily welcomed their death sentence.

Urdu journalism was the basic media that used to regulate the struggle for independence. The sheer number of Urdu publications during the Indian Freedom struggle can speak for it. Following newspapers and magazines were started to support the freedom struggle- Khilafat, Siasat, Ujala, Taj, Roznama-e-Hind, Ajmal, Hilal, Milap, Partap, Tej, Qaumi Awaz, Jung, Anjam, Inqualab, Nawa-e-Waqt, Hindustan, Aftab, Jumhuriat, Nadeem, Iqbal, Asr-e-Jadeed, Azad-e-Hind, Sandesh, Vakeel, Khidmat, Musalman, Azad, Paswan Weer Bharat and Al-Jamiath. Even Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru started Qaumi Awaz from Lucknow in 1945. The reason would surely been his awareness of the fact that Urdu was a language of the masses of the country. The names like Milap, Partap, Tej and Sandesh tell a lot about the universal acceptance of Urdu as a language of all, irrespective of community. It was not considered a language of Muslims. Urdu was born in the army barracks of the Mughals. Urdu means lashkar (a conglomeration of people from various backgrounds).

Post-Independence, a lot of these Urdu newspapers ceased to exist. The reasons were -

  • The Primary Objective i.e. Freedom from British rule, was achieved
  • The Partition
  • Urdu being branded as a language of Muslims
  • Call for suppressing Urdu and Urdu Press

  • Even after that, Urdu didn't disappear from the country. It continued to give pleasure of expression to those who sought it. Urdu newspapers in the Post-Independence era are - Siasat, Inquelab, Salar, Urdu Times, Munsif, Rehnuma-e-Deccan, Awam, Azad Hind, Akhbar-e-Mashriq, Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), Nai Duniya weekly/ Awam daily, Qaumi Awaz and Akhbar-e-Nau.

    Some prominent dailies that closed down after the Independence were Qaumi Jung, Nazim and Aeilan (Rampur), Mazdoor Vahini (Kanpur), Noor-e-Bareilly (Kanpur), Dukhti Rag (Kanpur), Subh-e-Awadh (Gorakhpur), Alas-Subh (Lucknow), Ghazi Sandesh (Bahraich), Garaj, Aina-e-Alam and Moonis (Moradabad), Mishal-e-Azadi (Aligarh), Sardar Times (Azamgarh), Safeer (Etawah) and Siyasat Doot (in Farrukhabad).

    During my childhood, we used to get Qaumi Awaz in our home in Lucknow. But now, it has disappeared from the scene. Perhaps, in those days , it must have been continuing to be published from Lucknow. Maulana Abdul Waheed Siddiqui started ‘Nai Duniya’, which is still publishing under the editorship of his son Shahid Siddiqui. Today, it is one of the famous Urdu weekly in India. Sahara Group also publishes ‘Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu)’ which is the most popular Urdu daily of North India published from Delhi, Lucknow and Gorakhpur. Recently they have also started a weekly called ‘Aalmi Sahara’.

    The possible reasons behind the closure of so many Urdu Newspapers and also the reasons for their poor performance could be -

  • Low wages

  • Low Income through Print Advertisements

  • Costly set-up for Urdu Printing Press

  • Lack of computer skilled man power in Urdu

  • Escalation of per unit cost, resulting from low circulation

  • Last but most important: Diminishing number of Readers
  • The Panacea for Revival
    Now-a-days, children aren't taught to read Urdu until quite late, even in muslim families in India. When they learn Urdu at a higher age, they aren't as comfortable reading as they are with English and Hindi. Therefore, the ultimate remedy for revival is that Urdu, as a language, be introduced in the curricula of all Urdu-speaking states of India. Urdu should also be introduced as an optional language in CBSE schools following NCERT syllabus so that children have an option or a choice to choose a language. Let's give them an option and leave the rest of it on the Shireeni (sweetness) of Urdu.

    ~ Qais

    Thursday, February 17, 2005

    "Urdu belongs to us"

    "Out of prejudice, we should not attach the language to any religion. Urdu is an Indian language; it is born in India. It’s not even a Pakistani language; it belongs to us. It’s not a language of Muslims, but of Indians."

    How very factual. Urdu couldn’t have been defended any better, as by its avid lover: renowned lyrists and filmmaker, Gulzar.

    This is an extract from the piece published sometime back in Milli Gazette. The article also speaks about National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), a goverment body dedicated for the revival and promotion of the language.

    "In the aftermath of partition, it was felt that Urdu was the language of a religious minority and would not survive. That has not happened", says Dr M Hamidullah Bhat, director NCPUL.

    You can read the complete article at: http://www.milligazette.com/Archives/2004/01-15Feb04-Print-Edition/011502200473.htm.
    It’s an informative article; and, among other things, it also speaks about the way Internet is helping in making the langauge popular.

    ~ Manzoor Khan

    The Resolute

    Actually, a good many Urdu dailies are alive ‘n kicking in India, today:

    Rashtriya Sahara (Delhi, Lucknow, Gorakhpur)
    Qaumi Awaz (Delhi)
    Urdu Times (Bombay)
    Inqualab (Bombay)
    The Siasat Daily (Hyderabad)
    The Munsif Daily (Hyderabad)
    Hamara Awaam (Hyderabad)
    Qaumi Tanzeem (Patna)
    Nadeem (Bhopal)
    Salar (Bangalore)
    Azad Hind (Kolkata)
    Akhbar–e-Mashriq (Kolkata)
    Hind Samachar (Punjab)
    Aalmi Sahara (Delhi)
    Afkar-e-Milli (Delhi)

    And, never to leave out the eminent BBC Urdu; though, it's not an Urdu daily, but nevertheless a vast source of Urdu news on the web.

    ~ Manzoor Khan

    Wednesday, February 16, 2005

    Urdu Dailies: the Indian Edition

    India has several thousands Urdu speaking people; but, relatively, the Urdu press isn’t that ubiquitous. Still, several Urdu dailies are existent in cities all across the country, where you have people understanding and appreciating the language.

    Hyderabad, as you’d expect, has a strong presence of Urdu press. Leading from the front is the city based Siasat and Munsif, with a decent circulation. Siasat Daily was founded by Late Mr. Abid Ali Khan, who was also an active social worker. Today, Abid Ali Khan Educational Trust is doing a commendable job of education and promotion of Urdu.

    Siasat Daily’s close competitor, The Munsif Daily, was acquired, and now being run by Chicago based industrialist: Khan-Lateef-Khan, also its current editor-in-chief. These two occupy the major mind and market share in the city. Besides the duo, other known dailies are Hamara Awam and Rehnuma E Deccan.

    Going westwards to Bombay, Inqalab from the house of Mid-Day, and Urdu Times Daily are suppose to be the leading Urdu dailies of the city.

    Though my knowledge about Urdu Press is confined mostly to Hyderabad, I must mention that in many cities like Delhi, Lukhnow, Indore, Calcutta, etc, Urdu newspapers are being published, though may not be in the grand scale as of those mentioned above; but their presence, howsoever humble, helps in keeping the avid followers of Urdu closely associated to the language; all the more as for many, the language is part of their identity, too.

    However, this is not to deny the fact that the condition of Urdu newspapers in not very encouraging in the country, as you can read here: http://www.tippusultan.net/news_index47.html.

    ~ Manzoor Khan

    A Soulful Prayer

    Lab pe aati hai dua...

    lab pe aatii hai duaa banke tamannaa merii
    zindagii shammaa kii surat ho Khudaayaa merii

    duur duniyaa kaa mere dam a.Ndheraa ho jaaye
    har jagah mere chamakne se ujaalaa ho jaaye

    ho mere dam se yuu.N hii mere watan kii ziinat
    jis tarah phuul se hotii hai chaman kii ziinat

    zindagii ho merii parwaane kii surat yaa rab
    ilm kii shammaa se ho mujhko mohabbat yaa rab

    ho meraa kaam Ghariibo.n kii himaayat karnaa
    dard-ma.ndo.n se zaiifo.n se mohabbat karnaa

    mere allaah buraaii se bachaanaa mujhko
    neyk jo raah ho us raah pe chalaanaa mujhko

    One of the masterpieces by Allama Iqbal includes the nazm which goes - "Lab pe aati hai dua ..." It is a kind of dua (prayer) which asks God to bless us with some beautiful things like love for the entire world, love for one's country, love for knowledge that becomes a blessing for the entire mankind and lastly, compassion for all human beings.
    No reason why this nazm can't be adopted by a reputed school like Doon School , Dehradun, India, for the morning prayer. Have a look at the web site of The Doon School which also has the English interpretation of this nazm.
    This soulful nazm has been sung by melodious but a little unheard singer - Siza Roy. It is a part of famous ghazal singer Jagjit Singh's album - Cry for Cry.

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Urdu Reseach Center: A Rare Library

    The Urdu Research Center, Hyderabad, is a rare and finest collection of early Urdu periodicals and printed books.

    The Centre was founded by Abdus Samad Khan. Mr. Khan was a mechanic by profession. His formal education is only limited to high school. But, since childhood, he was passionate about collecting books; and this ardor let to one of the finest collection of Urdu books, periodicals, etc.

    The University of Chicago recognized and acquired his collection. The University based Urdu Research Library Consortium program is involved in preserving his books. All the materials acquired by Abdus Samad Khan over nearly 40 years were purchased by the Urdu Research Library Consortium in 1996, and moved to the Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, in Hyderabad.

    The following link has the interview that Mr. Khan gave to BBC Radio, in 1975:

    You can read more about the library at:

    History of Urdu

    I found the following item on a mailing list populated mainly by South Asian writers. i am assuming the documentary is on Discovery Channel in India. Can someone follow up and tell us what they think of it? Where can we get copies to see?

    A two hour documentary on the HISTORY OF URDU,
    made by Sohail Hashmi (Concept Research and
    Script), Subhash Kapoor (Direction) and Kaamna
    Prasad (Producer) is going to be telecast on
    Discovery Channel on 19th of February (1 hour)
    and 26th of February (1 hour) between 8.00 pm
    -9.00 pm (IST).

    In case you get Discovery in Hindi please ask
    your cable operator to give you the English Feed.
    Discovery took the English version from us and
    got it dubbed in Hindi, the Hindi version is
    most likely to destroy the series, because their
    Hindi Dubbing department is the pits. We had
    offered them the Hindustaani version but they
    took the English version and the dubbing
    department has, in all probability, killed the

    Please watch the two one hours and send me your
    reactions. This is something that has been a
    labour of love and I would dearly like to have
    your reactions.

    Sohail Hashmi
    Delhi 110 092


    The Last Mughal Emperor - The Memorable Poet

    Lagtaa nahii.n hai jii meraa uja.De dayaar me.n
    kis kii banii hai aalam-e-naa_paayedaar me.n

    Kah do in hasarato.n se kahii.n aur jaa base.n
    itnii jagah kahaa.N hai dil-e-daaG_daar me.n

    Umr-e-daraaz maa.Ng kar laaye the chaar din
    do arazuu me.n kat gaye do intazaar me.n

    Kitnaa hai bad_nasiib "Zafar" dafn ke liye
    do gaz zamiin bhii na milii kuu-e-yaar me.n

    Bahadur Shah "Zafar" - the last mughal emperor, wrote this ghazal after he was deported to Rangoon (Burma) after the revolt of 1857. He knew he would never be able to go back to his Homeland. He was buried in Rangoon itself after his death. His tomb still stands in Rangoon.

    This ghazal tells a lot about his love for his kingdom, birthplace and motherland. It clearly speaks about his helplessness, wish to get back what he lost, longing and hope for independence.

    Lastly, he expresses his misfortune that he couldn't get the honour to be buried in his own country. Such was the love of India for a descendant of "Babur".