Waheed Akhtar

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Urdu Poet and Muslim Philosopher
Syed Waheed Akhtar
Syed Waheed Akhtar.jpg
Waheed Akhtar
Title Waheed
Born (1934-08-12)12 August 1934
Era contemporary
Region India
Notable work(s) Paththaron Ka Mughanni, Shab Ka Razmiyah, Zanjeer ka Naghma, Karbala Ta Karbala, Early Imamiyah Shia Thinkers, etc
Signature WaheedAkhtar.jpg

Syed Waheed Akhtar (Urdu: سید وحید اختر ‎) (12 August 1934, Aurangabad (Deccan) — 13 December 1996) was an Urdu poet, writer, critic, orator, and a Muslim scholar and philosopher.


Waheed Akhtar was born in Aurangabad in what was then the Hyderabad State of Nizam (present day Maharashtra), to a family which had migrated from Jais, the birthplace of poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi), in the district of Uttar Pradesh.

His father was Syed Nazr-e Abbas and his mother was Syeda Aliya Begum. They had seven children. Waheed Akhtar was the second child among six sons and one daughter. After spending his childhood in Aurangabad, and completing his early education, he went to Hyderabad to enroll at Osmania University.

He was in Hyderabad for eight years until he completed his PhD and was then appointed lecturer at Aligarh Muslim University. It is thought[by whom?] that his years in Hyderabad were crucial for moulding his personality as a poet and writer.

Waheed Akhtar wrote prolifically in Urdu from a very early age and during his initial years he adopted the pen name "Barq". He married Syeda Mahliqa Qarai in Hyderabad in 1962. They had four sons: Hasan, Husain, Haider (who died in the fifth month of his birth)[vague] and Mohsin.

Mrs Mahliqa Qarai was killed in the USS Vincennes attack on Iran Air Flight 655, the civilian airliner shot down on 3 July 1988, over the Persian Gulf.[citation needed] Waheed Akhtar died on 13 December in 1996 at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi at the age of 61.[citation needed]


His early education took place at Chelipura High School, a government school in Aurangabad.[citation needed] He passed all examinations at the Osmania University, Hyderabad, gaining first class results. He gained his B.A. in 1954, his M.A. (Philosophy) in 1956 and his PhD in 1960, with a dissertation titled "Khwaja Mir Dard’s Contribution to Sufism".[citation needed] He was appointed lecturer of philosophy at Aligarh Muslim University and went on to settle in Aligarh for the rest of his life, where he retired in 1995.[citation needed]

Academic positions held[edit]

He was appointed Lecturer in General Education in 1960 at Aligarh Muslim University and Lecturer in Philosophy in 1962.[citation needed] He became Reader in Humanities in 1970, Reader in Philosophy in 1975 and Professor in 1979.[citation needed] He headed the Department of Philosophy at AMU from 1987 to 1990 and 1992 until 1995. He also served the University as Dean of the Faculty of Arts from 1990 to 1992.[citation needed]

Academic and scholarly contributions[edit]

He specialised in Sufism, existentialism, aesthetics, literary criticism and Muslim philosophy and Shi’ite thought. He has published more than two hundred articles and eight books in Urdu and English.[citation needed]

His research and creative work has been quoted and referred to by a number of scholars in philosophy, Islamic studies and literature, such as Annemarie Schimmel, Abid Husain, Aale Ahmad Suroor, Ehtisham Husain, Majnun Gorakhpuri, Ali Sardar Jafri, Muhi-al-din Qadri Zor, A.Q. Sarwari, Vazir Agha, Khaleel-Ur-Rehman Azmi, Mumtaz Husain, Qamar Raees, Mohammad Hasan, and Gopi Chand Narang.[citation needed]


His published collections of poetry comprise mainly ghazals and nazms, but wrote other forms of poetry, like Marsia (elegy) in the musaddas format; Qasida (Panegyric), Hajv (lampoon), Manqibat, Salaam, Rubai (quatrain).[citation needed] He wrote independently of the "tarraqipasand tehreek" (Progressive Writers' Movement) and questioned revolutionary ideals of the progressive movement, when most of the writers of the subcontinent were looking towards communist Soviet Union for inspiration and guidance.[citation needed] He argued that a system which is devoid of individual, political and creative freedom is bound to fail. In the 1950s[when?] he expressed these ideas in an article in Saba an Urdu-language literary journal edited and published by Sulaiman Areeb from Hyderabad.[citation needed] This article evoked a harsh criticism from founder of the Progressive Writers' Movement, Sajjad Zaheer. Controversy over the article continued for years in the literary journals of the sub-continent.[citation needed] The following verses from one of his ghazal is a satire on that era:

"Jisko mana tha khuda khak ka paiker nikla, Haath aya jo yaqeen waham sarasar nikla."[citation needed]

Waheed Akhtar was a strong proponent of freedom, and stressed for the commitment to ideals rather than adopting them as "fashion" or a "cliché" for creativity.[citation needed] His poetry is classical as well as modern. His poetry has elements of Islamic mysticism or Tasawwuf, existentialism and contemporary issues related to the problems of man and politics.[citation needed] Another couplet from the same ghazal is an example of this,

"Kal jahan zulm ne kati theen saron ki faslein, nam hui hai to usi khak se lashkar nikla"[citation needed]

According to Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, "Wahid Akhtar, regarded by many as a Modernist and by many others as Progressive, wrote that Modernism was really an extension of Progressivism".[1] Akhtar is also considered by at least one writer to be among the few successful modern Urdu poets who took Marsia to new heights and gave it new direction this age.[2]

Poetry: ghazals and nazms[edit]

His following collections of poetry consist mostly of nazms and ghazals

  • Patthron Ka Mughanni
  • Shab Ka Razmiyyah
  • Zanjir Ka Naghma


Karbala Ta Karbala (collection of Elegies on martyrs of Karbala– Urdu) –1991- consists of eight marasi (plural of marsia)

  • Mariam se bhi siwa hai fazilat Batul ki: Chadar-e-Tatheer, Marsia on Hazrat Fatima, has 168 bunds.
  • Qale tameer kiye daste havaskari ne: Qala Kusha, Marsia on Hazrat Ali ibne Abi Talib-135 bunds in total.
  • Barsi nahi naghmon ki ghatayen kai din se: Shaheed-e-Atash, Marsia Hazrat Ali Asghar ibn al-Husain-107 bunds.
  • Ai saqi e hayat o masiha e kainat: Alamdar-e-Amn, Marsia on Hazrat Abul Fazl al-Abbas, 134 bunds in toal.
  • Hai qafila e jara'at e raftar safar mein: Salaar-e-Qafila-e-Shauq, Saiyid al-Shohada Hazrat Imam Husain ibne Ali, 143 bunds.
  • Raat yeh haq ke chiraghon pe bahot bhari hai: Tegh-e-Zaban e Zainab, Marsia Hazrat Zainab, 188 bunds in all.
  • Ya Rabmeri zuban ko qudrat bayan ki de: Shahadat-e-Nutq, marsia Ali Akbar ibn al-Husain, 192 bunds.
  • Karbala! ai Karbala! Ai Karbala! ai Karbala!: Karbala ai Karbala, marsia matlooban-e-shahadat (Zuhayr ibne Qayn, Habeeb ibne Mazahir, Hur ibne Yazid Riyahee and Musayyab khuzayee), 191 bunds.


His writings in prose are literary criticism, philosophical writings, book reviews, columns and talks. Collection of his writings in Urdu prose have been published by National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language http://www.urducouncil.nic.in/ in six volumes as Kulliyat-e-Waheed Akhtar which is edited and compiled by Sarwarul Huda. Three volumes have already been published and the other three remain to be published.

Published books[edit]

Books in Urdu[edit]

Besides his collections of Urdu poetry Shab Ka Razmiyah, Paththaron ka Mughanni, and Zanjeer ka Naghma. He has published a collection of Elegies (Marsia) of the martyrs of Karbala by the name of Karbala Ta Karbala. He contributed to numerous talks, discussions, and poetry recitations at All India Radio Stations.[citation needed]

  • Patthron Ka Mughanni (1966).
  • Shab Ka Razmiyyah (1973).
  • Zanjir Ka Naghma (1982) (dedicated to his brother in-law—Syed Ali Quli Qarai and publisher Hasan Waheed).
  • Karbala Ta Karbala (1991) (collection of Elegies on martyrs of Karbala - Urdu).


  • Khwaja Mir Dard-Tasawwuf aur Shairi; published by Anjuman Tarraqi-e-Urdu Hind–1971
  • Falsafa aur Adabi Tanqid (Literary Criticism in Urdu) – 1972

Books and other scholarly articles in English[edit]

In English, in addition to The Early Shiite Imamiyyah Thinkers and Iqbal in Modern Perspective, he wrote numerous articles on various philosophical subjects, besides several translations from Persian to English, and book reviews. His later work was mostly published in Al-Tawhid, a journal for Islamic thought published in Iran, Aligarh Journal of Islamic thought (a journal published by the department of philosophy, of Aligarh Muslim University, which was revived during his chairmanship of the department with him as its editor) and Message of Thaqalayn, another English journal published in Iran.[citation needed]

  • Iqbal in Modern Perspective (English) – 1987. (Also translated into Arabic)
  • Early Imamiyyah Shi’ite Thinkers (English) – 1988


He has published more than five hundred articles, reviews and write-ups published in journals of India and Pakistan, including Saba (Hyderabad), Sabras (Hyderabad), Chiragh (Hyderabad), Gajar (Hyderabad), Shi’r wa Hikmat (Hyderabad), Ham Qalam (Karachi), Mashrab (Karachi), Adab-e-Latif (Lahore), Awraq (Lahore), Adabi Dunya (Lahore), Sha’ur (Delhi), Shabkhoon (Allahabad), Sha’ir (Bombay), Ahang (Gaya), Sharah & Atkar (Delhi), Ajkal (Delhi), Indo-Iranica (Calcutta), Mankind (Hyderabad), Fikr-o-Nazar (Aligarh), Islam aur A’sr-e-Jadid (Islam and Modern Age) (Delhi), Funun (Lahore), Iqbaliyyat (Lahore), Fikr-o-Nazar (Lahore), Guftugu (Bombay) and Urdu International (Canada).


  • Four quartets by T. S. Eliot (Burnt Norton), Urdu Adab, Aligarh, and Shabkhoon, Allahbad.
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. AIR, Hyderabad.
  • Letter on Aesthetics by Schiller.
  • Mutual Services of Islam and Iran, by Murtada Motahhari, (Published in instalments in Al-Tawhid, Tehran).

Foreign assignment[edit]

Editor of Al-Tawhid (English) a journal of philosophy and culture, Islamic Propagation Organization, Tehran, Iran – May 1984-April 1987.

Awards and honours[edit]

1960: Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy Award

1967: Ghalib Award of the Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy – for the best Urdu Book

1972: Uttar Pradesh & Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy Awards on Khwaja Mir Dard’s Sufi Doctrines and Poetry.

1973: Uttar Pradesh & Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy Awards, on Philosophy and Literary Criticism

1974: Uttar Pradesh & Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy Awards

1983: 'Makhdoom Award'-the Highest National Award in India for Literary Criticism in Urdu by Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy Hyderabad

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Shamsur Rahman Faruqi "Images in a Darkened Mirror: Issues and Ideas in Modern Urdu Literature", The Annual of Urdu Studies, 1987, Volume 6, page 54.
  2. ^ Syed Akbar Hyder Reliving Karbala: Martyrdom in South Asian Memory, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006, p. ?

External links[edit]

  • [1] a brief portrayal of Waheed Akhtar by his friend Awaz Sayeed from Hyderabad.
  • [2] Lineage of al-Radi and his Life
  • [3] Sources of Nahj al Balaghah
  • [4] The Contents of Nahj al Balaghah
  • [5] The Commentaries on Nahj al Balaghah
  • [6] Misconceptions about Nahj al Balaghah
  • [7] Right to Acquire Knowledge: Nahj al-Balaghah's Approach
  • [8] Freedom, Human Destiny, and the World in the Nahj al-Balaghah
  • [9] The Concept of Freedom in the Nahj al-Balaghah
  • [10] Taken from "The Early Imamiyah Shi'ite Thinkers"-discusses Kulayni's work and contribution.
  • [11] Freedom in the Islamic Framework of Human Rights, With Special Reference to the Nahj al-Balaghah
  • [12] Al-Tawhid
  • [13] Karbala', an Enduring Paradigm of Islamic Revivalism
  • [14] The Islamic Concept of Knowledge
  • [15] An Introduction to Imamiyyah Scholars Major Shi'i Thinkers of the Fifth/Eleventh Century
  • [16] Islam and Iran: A Historical Study of Mutual Services
  • [17] Alleged Book Burnings in Iran and Egypt: A Study of Related Facts and Fiction
  • [18] Western Nationalism and Islamic Nationhood
  • [19] Book Review: Modern Political Islamic Thought
  • [20] A Review Article by Dr. Waheed Akhtar on 'Occidentosis: A Plague From the West' by Jalal Ale Ahmad-translated by . R. Campbell; edited by Hamid Algar
  • Prof. Waheed Akhtar in a Mushairah at Muscat in 1994 part I on YouTube
  • Mushairah - Dr. Waheed Akhtar, part II on YouTube
  • [21] Reliving Karbala Martyrdom in South Asian Memory By Syed Akbar Hyder, Inc NetLibrary
  • [22] - Indian Muslim Philosopher Commemorated
  • [23] - Late Indian Muslim philosopher commemorated in one-day seminar
  • [24] Late Indian Muslim philosopher commemorated in one-day seminar
  • [25] Urdu Poetry-Mushaira
  • [26] Poetry by Waheed Akhtar
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