Ali Jawad Zaidi

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For other people with the same name, see Ali Zaidi.

Syed Ali Jawad Zaidi (Urdu: سید علی جواد زیدی ) (10 March 1916 – 6 December 2004) is a much feted Urdu poet, scholar, and author of over 80 books in many languages.[citation needed]He was also a freedom fighter, lawyer and later, bureaucrat. However, he is primarily known as one of the most prominent figures in Urdu Literature.

Internationally renowned as a poet-scholar-critic of repute, an authority on marsiyago of Uttar Pradesh,[1] Mir Anis and Mirza Ghalib,[2] and has written on as diverse subjects as poetry to plain prose, and from research works to analytical works.

He has received many awards for his contributions to Literature and other diverse fields.

Ali jawad Zaidi.jpg


Early life[edit]

Syed Ali Jawad Zaidi was born in village Karhan, Uttar Pradesh, in the then Azamgarh district (now Mau) of eastern Uttar Pradesh on 10 March 1916, the eldest of six children. Hailing from a prominent zamindar family of Mohammadabad-Gohna, Azamgarh, Ali Jawad Zaidi was born at his maternal grandfather’s home in Karhan. Belonging to a Saiyid family and being the eldest son in his family, he was sent to the local Arabic madarsa to gain education and proficiency in Islamic theology and religious matters. Had it not been for one of his uncles who took him under his wing, the world of Urdu and society in general would have been deprived of his genius and knowledge.

Ali Jawad’s father died young, and at the time, Ali Jawad was only 11 years old. His early formal education took place in Mahmudabad Mahmudabad, India, the princely state. He then proceeded to Lucknow for his pre-university, graduation, (Jubilee College, Lucknow) and Post-Graduation in law, (LLB from Lucknow University). It was in Lucknow that Ali Jawad grew and blossomed. Although his genius was noticed during his early years as a child in his hometown itself, it was in Lucknow that Ali Jawad came into his own as an orator, poet, student leader, and organiser.


Ali Jawad Zaidi married Shahnaz (earlier Safdari) Zaidi. Always the modernist, he coaxed her away from the burqa and encouraged her to live free of it. Together they raised seven well educated & accomplished children who went into diverse fields, although none followed him into the arts. That legacy is being carried forward by his granddaughter, the journalist, author and playwright Annie Zaidi. His youngest son, Anwar Zaidi (Annie's maternal uncle) is, like him, a Government employee who also dabbles in poetry on his blog.

His eldest son Syed Waqar Amjad Zaidi lives in Hyderabad while the younger son, Syed Siraj Amjad Zaidi lives in Dubai. Youngest son Syed Anwar Zaidi lives in Mumbai.

His eldest daughter Yasmin Zaidi lives in Mumbai. Tabassum Hussain lives in USA, Parveen Kazmi in Dubai and Shabnam Rizvi in Bhopal.

His grandson, Syed Zaheer Abbas Zaidi lives in the US.

Other Grandsons include Syed Firoze Amjad Zaidi who lives in the Middle East with his family; Shaista Zaidi who also lives in the Middle East with her family. Sidra Zaidi who currently resides in Dubai, and Aman Zaidi, who lives in Pune.

Freedom fighter[edit]

During his graduation and later while doing his LLB, he came into contact with leaders of the national freedom movement. His conscience saw him take a plunge into the freedom movement in the late 1930s. His poems inspired the revolutionaries of the time while he himself led the student's movement along with other able student leaders such as Shankar Dayal Sharma who later went on to become the President of India. His talent, charisma, and dynamism saw his stirring poetry draw praise from Sarojini Naidu and him being elected as the Secretary-General of the All India Student’s Federation. He remained the Secretary-General of the All India Student’s Federation during the hectic and stormy days of the Quit India Movement (1942) launched by Mahatma Gandhi.

His poems got proscribed by the British Government for inciting rebellion against the British Raj. The British government got so frustrated by his political activities that they issued an arrest warrant in order to stop him from organising student rallies and mobilising the student power against the Raj. But he was not one to give in easily. He continued his work underground. He kept on organising and inspiring students throughout the length and breadth of India. Ultimately, he was arrested at Nagpur. He was sentenced to jail for anti-British activity and sent to serve his term at the Nagpur Central Prison and later transferred to the Banares Central Jail.

With India’s independence, Ali Jawad bid goodbye to active politics, although he could have encashed on his popularity and contribution to the freedom struggle. His view was that he fought the British to free India from the yoke of the British Raj, and now that India had gained its independence, it was time for him to move onto other things. He joined the Information Department of the Uttar Pradesh Government and was a Deputy Director there when he was inducted into the Information Service of the Central Government and posted to Srinagar.


Although he had taken up Government Service for a full-time job, and chosen that as a career, he was never away from the Arts and Cultural activities, which were his calling from the heart. He soon found himself getting involved in the Arts and Cultural activities in Jammu & Kashmir and found himself being thrust with the responsibility of organising and conducting the Kashmir festival during the summer months on an annual basis. He was appointed as the Secretary General of the Society of Arts and Culture, Government of Jammu & Kashmir.

In the early sixties, he was transferred to Delhi and posted with the Press Information Bureau. His postings with the Press Information Bureau saw him in Mumbai and then back in Delhi. His final posting was in Tehran and he retired from active Government service as Jt. Director, News Services, AIR in August, 1978.

Being a secularist and nationalist to the core, religion had always taken a back seat in his life although he was religious is his own way. For him, religion was a personal matter and the nation, its culture and heritage had always been more important. He was a member of the Inder Kumar Gujral Committee for promotion of Urdu.[3]

He had been a regular contributor to magazines and newspapers. Thousands of his articles have found place in the print media over the years. He had also worked as the Editor of "Naya Daur", an Udru monthly digest and "Al-Ilm", a monthly published from Mumbai. In the recent past, Naya Daur ran a series on his memoirs on a monthly basis. Naya Daur also took a special Number dedicated to the memory of Ali Jawad Zaidi (Nov/Dec issue, 2004) after his death. He had also done some translation work (into English) for the Sahitya Akademi (Gandhi).

The nature of his job took him around the world and he travelled extensively in India. He brushed shoulders with Heads of State, Prime Ministers, Governors, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Ministers, Ministers in State Governments, and other high-ranking officials[4] on the world stage, yet he was a man with his feet firmly set to the ground, humble and simple. Some of the relationships he forged stood the test of time, for example his friendship with Darshan Singh[5] of the Sawan Kirpal Ruhani Mission.[6]

His writing career[edit]

During all his years with the government, he did not stop writing.[7] More than half a dozen of his books have won State Government Awards. The Government of India conferred on him the Padmashri[8] (1988),[9][8] in recognition of his contribution to Urdu literature. Amongst the various awards and honours that have been conferred on him are, the Tamra Patra for his role in the freedom movement, the Ghalib award[10] and the Mir Anis award. He has authored over 80 books in Urdu, English, Hindi and Persian. Many of his works are now reference material for research students. He has been the subject of research scholars and Doctor of Philosophy Degree’s have been awarded to four students for research done on his life and works.

He has served as the President of the Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy, Lucknow and as the President of the Zainabbiya Institute of Islamic Studies, Mumbai, apart from stints on the Board of Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi and the Sangeet & Natya Akademi, New Delhi and many other social, literary and cultural organizations. He has also served as an Advisor to the Government of Uttar Pradesh.

His books can be found in libraries around the world such as the U. S. Library of Congress[11] and Columbia University Libraries[12]

Being a man of letters, despite failing sight, he continued to write till his very end. Confined to his home in Lucknow during his last years, as time and age took their toll on him, he wrote employing a person who transcribed all that was dictated. Ali Jawad could hardly see, but the spirit was still very much alive with so much in that head on those fragile shoulders. His deteriorating health had added urgency to his approach towards his works. He used to say that there was so much more he had to give to the world, yet time was running out for him.

Amongst his various works are Naath Nigaran-e-Uttar Pradesh (in 2 Volumes), Uttar Pradesh ke Marsiyago (in 2 Volumes) & Do Adabi School, which have been published in Urdu-speaking neighbour Pakistan as well. These books along with his History of Urdu Literature[13][14] (English),[15] Mirza Ghalib – Ek Parichay (Hindi), Mir Anis, are unique in their approaches to their subjects.

People reference Books published on Ali Jawad Zaidi[16]


Ali Jawad Zaidi was one of the leading lights of progressive Urdu Literature movement.[17] This movement had other luminaries as well such as Ali Sardar Jafri, Kaifi Azmi etc. Zaidi's poetic contemporaries were Majaz, Faiz, Qurratulain Hyder etc.


Saiyid Ali Jawad Zaidi

From: Mohammedabad-Gohna, Dist. Azamgarh (Now - Mau), Uttar Pradesh, India.

Date of Birth: 10 March 1916

Date of Death: 6 December 2004[18]

Education: BA Lucknow University, LLB (Lucknow University)

Career: Government Service (Retired as Joint Director, News Services, AIR)

Other Positions Held:
Advisor, Government of Uttar Pradesh
General Secretary, Dept of Arts & Culture, Govt. of J&K, Srinagar
Secretary to the Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Srinagar
Secretary General, All India Students Federation (during his freedom fighter student days)
Member of the Board, Sahitya Academy, New Delhi
Member of the Board, Anjum Tarraqqi Urdu, New Delhi
Member of the Board, Sangeet & Natak Academy, New Delhi
Member of the Board, Lalit Kala Niketan, New Delhi
Member, Board of Trustees, Shia Degree College, Lucknow
President, Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy, Lucknow
President, Zainabiya Institute of Islamic Studies, Mumbai
Member, The Committee for Promotion of Urdu (appointed by the Government of India Resolution No. F. 15-25/72-L. 1 dated 5 May 1972)[19]

Awards received[edit]

- Padma Shri for contribution to Urdu Literature[20]
- Tamra Patra for contribution to India’s Freedom Struggle
- Anis Award in recognition of Expertise on Mir Anis
- Ghalib Award in recognition of Expertise on Mirza Ghalib
- Certificate of Honour presented by The Rotary Club, Lucknow
- Awards presented to his various books by Governments and Literary Organizations are marked in the list of his Books below. Since 1987, Ali Jawad Zaidi, asked Government Bodies and Literary Organizations, not to consider his works, for awards.

List of published books[edit]

(Books marked by an ‘*’ are award winning books) authored by Saiyid Ali Jawad Zaidi

1. Meri Gazalain 1959 * Poetry
2. Teesha-e-Awaaz 1985 Poetry
3. Uttar Pradesh Ke Marsiyago Research
4. Do Adbi School 1970 * Crictical Analysis
5. Naath Nigari Uttar Pradesh mein Research & analysis
6. Zabt Shuda Nazmein Collection of Proscribed Poems
7. Urdu Main Qaumi Shairi Ke Sau Saal 1957 Criticism & analysis
8. History of Urdu Literature 1993 Research & Analysis
9. Mir Anis (Tr. English) 1986 Biography
10. Rang-e-sang 1944 Poetry
11. Dayar-e-Sahar 1960 Poetry
12. Naseem-e-Dasht-e-Arzoo 1980 * Poetry
13. Inteqhab Ali Jawad Zaidi 1971 Poetry
14. Silsila (Inteqhab) 1990 Poetry
15. Warq Warq Zanjeer 1990 Poetry
16. Dhoop Chaaon 1994 Poetry
17. Urdu Main Shairi Ke Sau Saal (Afsaane ke saath) 1981 Criticism & analysis
18. Hamari Quami Shairi Criticism & analysis
19. Taamiri Adab 1959 * Criticism & analysis
20. Anwaar-e-Abu Al Kalaam 1959
21. Hindustan Mein Islami Uloom Ke Marakaz 1972
22. Fikr-o-Riyaz 1975 * Collection of Muqalaat
23. Tareekh-e-Adab Urdu Ki Tadween 1976 Research
24. Qasida Nigaran-e-Uttar Pradesh 1978 Research
25. Tarrek Adab Ki Tadween (Vol II) 1983 Research
26. Do Aadabi Ischool (Revised Edition) 1980 Critical Analysis
27. Qasida Nigaran-e-Uttar Pradesh (Vol II) 1983 Research & analysis
28. Masnavi Nigari 1985 Research & analysis
29. Diwan-e-Ghani 1964 Research & analysis
30. Zikr-o-Fikr Ghani 1966 Silsila Muqalaat
31. Nasr Nigari Uttar Pradesh Mein Research & analysis
32. Do aadabi Ischool (Pakistan edition) 1988 Critical Analysis
33. Hindustan Mein Arabi Ki Taweej Research & analysis
34. Kamal-e-Abu Kalam 1989 Collection of articles
35. Mir Anis (Hindi) Biography
36. Ghalib – Ek Parichay (Hindi) 1969 Biography
37. Tareek-e-Mushaira[21] 1992 Research
38. Malik Ram Ek Mutaalah 1987 Biography
39. Islami Taraki Pasandi[22][23]
40. Dehalvi Marsiyago – Vol I 1982 * Research & Analysis
41. Dehalvi Marsiyago – Vol II 1987 * Research & Analysis
42. Anis Ke Salaam 1981 Collection
43. Rubiyaat-e-Anis 1985 Collection
44. Mir Anis[24] 1991 Collection & Short biography
45. Jadeed Marsiye Ka Baani – Mir Zamir Laknawi
46. Adbiyaat Kashmiri 1994
47. Mahatma Gandhi (Urdu) 1986 Translation from English
48. Diwan Shams Tabraizi Ki Seer (Urdu) Translation from Persian
49. Islami Para Para
50. Aap Se Miliye 1963 * Sketches
51. ____ Humsaaya 1985 Sketches
52. Hum Qaabila 1990 Sketches
53. Ehl-e-Qaabila Sketches
54. Yaadon Ke Rahguzar Memoirs
55. _____ Nazr Collection of articles
56. Inteqaab-e-Rind 1983
57. Payaam-e-Aazadi 1947
58. Naghma-e-aazadi (Urdu) 1957 Collection of Poems
59. Naghma-e-aazadi (Hindi) 1957 Collection of Poems
60. Zaidi ke Tafsare Collection
61. Zaidi Ke Muqadmaat Collection
62. An Experiment in Communication Planning 1970 Research & Analysi
63. Human Interest Stories 1970
64. Malik Ram Felicitation Volume 1972
65. The Prophet’s Daughter Historical Research (Ready but Unpublished)
66. Urdu Press in Bihar & Bengal 1978 Research & Analysis
67. Mortality & Growth in Urdu Press 1978 Research & Analysis
68. All India Students Conference
Golden Jubilee Celebrations 1986
69. A Short History of Student Movement Historical Research
70. Paro 2005 Long Poem Published by Anwar Zaidi's efforts
71. Annual Report (1961–62) J&K
Academy of Arts, Culture & Languages 1962 Report
72. Report of the I K Gujral Committee for
The Promotion of Urdu (In 2 Vols.) 1975 Report

His books can be found in various university and public libraries around the world. The US congress library alone houses 27 different titles.


  1. ^ "Archive News". The Hindu. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  2. ^ "English bibliography - A Desertful of Roses". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-23. 
  4. ^ "Diplomatic Musings". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "SOS - Science of Spirituality". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ a b "This website is for sale! - indianmuslims Resources and Information". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-21. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  11. ^ "Library of Congress Online Catalog - Legacy Catalog Retired". 2015-12-01. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  12. ^ "Columbia University Authentication". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  13. ^ [2][dead link]
  14. ^ "Ali Jawad Zaidi". Open Library. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Columbia University Authentication". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ The Milli Gazette, OPI, Pharos Media (2005-01-15). "Obituary, The Milli Gazette, Vol.6 No.01, MG119 (1-15 Jan 05)". Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 April 2009. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  21. ^ Nov 18, 2008 12:00am (2008-11-18). "DAWN - Features; November 18, 2008 - Newspaper". Dawn.Com. Retrieved 2016-12-01. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^

External links[edit]

Internet searches should also include "Ali Javad Zaidi" as some people mistakenly spell the Jawad as Javad.