New Age Islam - Read About Islam, Islamic Religion and Muslims, Terrorism and Jihad
   Urdu Section
   Hindi Section
   Bangla Section
   Assamese Section
   Tamil Section
   Kannada Section
   Malayalam Section
   Arabic Section
   Persian Section
   French Section
   Debating Islam
   Islamic Q and A
   Books and Documents
   Islamic World News
   Radical Islamism and Jihad
   Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
   War on Terror
   Islam and the West
   Interfaith Dialogue
   The War Within Islam
   Islam and Sectarianism
   Islam and Politics
   Islam and Spiritualism
   Current Affairs
   Muslims and Islamophobia
   Spiritual Meditations
   Islamic Ideology
   Islam, Women and Feminism
   Islam and Human Rights
   Islamic Society
   Islam and Pluralism
   Islamic Sharia Laws
   Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
   Islam and Tolerance
   Islamic History
   Islamic Personalities
   Islam and Science
   Islam and Environment
   Islamic Culture
   Islam and the Media
   Letter to the Editor
   From the Desk of Editor
   Indian Press
   Pakistan Press
   Middle East Press
   World Press
Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
Biography, Audio
More Videos.. 
The Quran: A New Translation - The eternal present tense
Preface: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam By Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
Lecture 1: Knowledge and Religious Experience
Focus on Islam, Jihad and Terrorism
Condemning "Islamist" terrorist attack on Mumbai in harshest terms
Can Ulema save Muslims from Radical Islamism?
Indian Ulema have no time to lose, must call warlike Quranic surahs obsolete.
Jihadism gets sustenance from verses of war in the Quran
Dr. Zakir Naik on Yazeed and Osama bin Laden - A New Age Islam Debate
Unveiling Zakir Naik: Terror cannot be fought with Terror
Comments - 148
On Televangelist Zakir Naik: Don't give in to pretenders
Comments - 31
Beware of the Kafir-manufacturing factories: Maulana Nadeem-ul-Wajidi responds to the Fatawahs of Kufr against Dr. Zakir Naik
Comments - 41
Unity among Muslims and Dr. Zakir Naik's Evil: A Point of View
Comments - 163
This Islamic website offers facts about Islam and Muslims, Islam way and Islamic ideology. Online Islam - Latest Islamic World News, Articles on Radical Islamism & Jihad and Islam, Terrorism and Jihad
Books and Documents
14 Sep 2011, NewAgeIslam.Com
The Return of Mirza Ghalib

By Adab Nawaz

March 2011

One hundred and forty-two years after his death, India's greatest Urdu poet is now remembered with the richly deserved awe and admiration that eluded him in his lifetime. Adab Nawaz explores the phenomenon of Ghalib

Not accorded due acknowledgement in his lifetime, maverick Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869) had predicted that people would hail his poetry posthumously. Seeing the kind of interest the poet generates among the literati and the spell he casts over connoisseurs, one can safely say Ghalib was not off the mark when he predicted his immortality. Recently one more chapter in the lengthening memory of Ghalib was added when a bust of the poet—commissioned by renowned poet Gulzar—was instituted at Ghalib's haveli in old Delhi. Holding candles in the cold Delhi afternoon, lovers of Ghalib marched from Chandni Chowk to Balli Maran to install the bust at the restored haveli, which will also house a library soon. Carved by Solapur-based sculptor Bhagwan Rampure, the marble bust is a reminder that the world has not forgotten one of the greatest Urdu poets.

Poetry, both in Urdu and Persian, and a new style of letter-writing are two major areas where Ghalib excelled. He stood head and shoulders above most of his contemporaries in the craft but was not taken too seriously by many of them in his lifetime. However, today, perhaps no Urdu poet has evoked as much interest among scholars as him. Why does this fascination continue even now?

Scholar-poet Shamim Tariq—whose book on Ghalib's era and India's first war of independence (1857), Ghalib Aur Hamari Tehrik-e-Azadi (Ghalib and Our Freedom Struggle) had generated much debate in Urdu circles a couple of years ago—calls Ghalib a "supremely fortunate poet. In his lifetime, he was considered secondary to his two contemporaries, Zauq and Momin. After his death, biographies were written by authors like Altaf Husain Haali and Abdur Rehman Bijnori. They rediscovered him, putting the poet on a pedestal no other poet could reach."

Remarkably, Bijnori heaped laurels on Ghalib when he said that there are only two divine books in India: the Veda and Diwan-e-Ghalib, Ghalib's collection of poems. And renowned essayist Rashid Ahmed Siddiqui writes that Ghalib is among the few personalities about whom "I feel I should have been born in his time and befriended him.... There are two enduring legacies of the Mughals, the Taj Mahal and Ghalib."

Gulzar, who brought the poet to millions at home through his serial Mirza Ghalib in 1988, says he always wanted to pay homage to the poet who also brought him laurels. After the Delhi government permitted him to commission a bust of Ghalib, he asked Rampure to sculpt it, even sending him some rare photographs of Ghalib, sourced by former president Dr Zakir Hussain (another diehard fan of the poet) from Germany.

Apart from his huge poetic oeuvre (11,000 couplets in Urdu, 6,600 in Persian), Ghalib has left behind a great body of letters. He is justified when he congratulates himself on inventing a new style of letter-writing in Urdu. Simple, direct and conversational, Ghalib's letters mirror the poet's personal angst; his taste for the good life; and the "travesty" of the times he lived in. Addressed to his countless friends and pupils in far-flung areas, his letters contributed immensely to the evolution of modern Urdu prose.

Mumbai-based Mir Jaffar Imam's book Mirza Ghalib & the Mirs of Gujarat, testifies to this. Based on his letters, the book focuses on Ghalib's "lesser-known relationship" with Gujarat. Comprising 61 letters—many of them addressed to the Imam's ancestors (the Nawabs of Kamadhia) and dated between 1859 and 1869—the book shows how Ghalib loved Gujarat and its people. Spending his entire life in northern India (Delhi, Agra) and Calcutta, Ghalib never visited Gujarat. And yet the poet comments on various fascinating aspects of life in the state. "Most people think Ghalib is the poet of north India as he remained confined to Delhi," says Imam. "When I stumbled upon his letters to his admirers in Gujarat, I immediately thought of bringing out a book. Ghalib's letters make for delightful reading. As you read them, you feel you're in a dialogue with him." When Imam's great grandfather Nawab Mir Jafur Alee Khan of Surat invited Ghalib to visit his city, an ailing Ghalib, with characteristic humour, replied: "Kisi surat main Surat nahin aa sakta." (By no means can I come to Surat.)

It is Ghalib's universal appeal that inspired theatre director Salim Arif to undertake Ghalibnama, a play-reading of Ghalib's letters, interspersed with rendering of some of his ghazal: "His letters talk about the seasons, his mood swings, his perennial poverty, and his fight for pension," he says. "From trivialities to profound thoughts, his letters speak eloquently for him and his era. I am enchanted with his style. The ghazal we have included have some contextual connection with the letters we read out."

Another well-known admirer is Delhi-based cultural and social commentator Firoz Bhakt Ahmed, who is also Maulana Abul Kalam Azad's grandnephew. In fact, it was his public interest litigation filed in Delhi High Court that initiated the restoration of Ghalib's haveli. "Ghalib's verses reflect that life is a collage of indefinite human expressions—sometimes the beloved, sometimes the observer, sometimes the follower bowing before the Lord, and at times cynical and withdrawn," he explains. "Often, he would bear the biggest hurt, and surprisingly break down over the smallest of accusations. Like him, his poetry was intriguing. Restless by nature, his writing told of his torment. All that he experienced and observed was nakedly poured on paper."

Bakht is aghast that some people are wrongly claiming credit for the restoration of Ghalib's haveli in Chandni Chowk but he leaves it to the poet himself who said: "Gham-e hastii ka Asad kis se ho juz marg ilaj/Shama har rang mein jaltii hei sahar honey tak." (The suffering that is life, Asad, knows no cure but death/All through the night must the candle burn, without taking the breath.)

Through his ghazal and letters, Ghalib continues to enrapture his faithful readers. A much misunderstood man in his lifetime, he nonchalantly made fun of his own defeats, and laughed at his failing health. Mocking his advancing years, he wrote: "Go haath mein jumbish nahin aankhon mein to dum hai/Rahne do abhi saagar-o-meena mere aage." (My hands may not be working but my eyes are still strong/Let the liquor flow before my eyes.) When Ghalib sat down to pen his Aapbeeti (autobiography), he couldn't help but ask: "Poochchte hain woh ke Ghalib kaun hai/Koi batlao ke hum batlain kya?" (They ask who Ghalib is/Can anyone tell me what I should say?). Ghalib may have failed to fathom his own unparalleled greatness, but the world continues to discover his genius.

Source: Harmony Magazine


Forward to a friend | Print
Total Comments: 0
     Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Strike Through
Left Align
Right Align
Change Text Direction
Ordered List
Unordered List
Decrease Indent
Increase Indent
Font Color
Background Color
Insert Link
Remove Link
Horizontal Rule
Please use the browser Internet Explorer to post your comments.
In case of difficulty, please post your comments to:
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily reflect that of
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to promote Co-Existence and Dialogue of Religions and Civilisations, and advance understanding of Islam and Democracy, Pluralism, Terrorism, Human Rights, Islamic Laws and Ideology, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. New Age Islam has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor is New Age Islam endorsed or sponsored by the originator of these articles. For more information go to:
Copyright 2008 - 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com All Rights Reserved.
Site best viewed in 1200 x 900 pixels or higher display resolution.
Editor and Publisher: Sultan Shahin, E-22, Indra Prastha Apts., 114, I. P. Extension, New Delhi – 110092
Phone No. (+91-11) 222 44 868 E-mail:
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Donate | Submit Articles | Privacy Policy