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Today marks the birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, who popularly known as ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ or ‘Poet of the Revolution’.

Today marks the birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, who popularly known as ‘Shayar-e-Inquilab’ or ‘Poet of the Revolution’.

An Indian-born poet


Josh Malihabadi, born as Shabbir Hasan Khan, was born in Malihabad, a town in Lucknow district of Uttar Pradesh, British India. At first, he received his education in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and English at his home only, and later on Malihabadi studied at St. Peter's College in Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in the year 1914. Thereafter, he studied Arabic and Persian languages, and in the year 1918, Malihabadi spent six months at Tagore’s University in Shantiniketan, West Bengal.


Josh Malihabadi, Pablo Neruda, and Young Ali Sardar Jafri. Josh Malihabadi (centre) along with Pablo Neruda (left) and Young Ali Sardar Jafri (right). Photo by Flickr


Family of poets

Interestingly, Malihabadi’s family produced many poets; be it his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan ‘Goya', grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan, and even his father Basheer Ahmad Khan. Each one of them had numerous works including poetry collections, translations, and essays published in their name. Perhaps, this was the reason why Josh Malihabadi is considered as one of the finest poets of the British India era.

Outset of writing career

Malihabadi's career in the field of writing and poetry began when in 1925, he started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. After sometime, he founded the magazine ‘Kaleem’ (meaning, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favor of independence from the British rule in India. In fact, his poem ‘Hussain aur Inquilab’ won him the title of Shayar-e-Inquilab’ (Poet of the Revolution). Moreover, over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.


Jawaharlal Nehru with Josh Malihabadi Over the passage of time, Malihabadi became more involved in the freedom struggle and even became close to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.Photo by Flickr


Migration to Pakistan

After the British rule ended in India, in the year 1956, Malihabadi migrated to Pakistan because of his concern regarding the future of himself as a poet and Urdu language. This decision of Malihabadi moving to Pakistan was highly opposed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. After moving to Pakistan, Malihabadi was consistently involved in the process of writing poetry and holding literary conferences. In fact, a noted scholar and literary critic, Pervez Hoodbhoy, quoted once about Malihabadi’s writing. He said, "Poetry flowed from Josh's pen like water from a bubbling spring."

Shayar-e-Inquilab breathed his last on February 22, 1982 in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Today, on the 123rd birth anniversary of Josh Malihabadi, let us remember his contribution in the freedom struggle of India and in the field of poetry!

(Keywords: India, Pakistan, Josh Malihabadi, Birth Anniversary, Jawaharlal Nehru, Literature, Writing, Poetry)


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