Lucknow, Post-Mughal India
|Died||13 October 1900 (aged 71–72)|
Hyderabad Deccan, British India
|Occupation||Poet, writer, lexicographer and linguist|
|Genre||Ghazal, Nazm, Na`at, Hamd|
|Subject||Love, philosophy, mysticism|
Ameer Minai or Amir Meenai (Urdu: امیر مینا ئی ) (1829 – 13 October 1900) was a 19th-century Indian poet. He was respected by several contemporary poets including Ghalib and Daagh Dehalvi and by Muhammad Iqbal. He wrote in Urdu, Persian and Arabic.
Ameer Ahmad Minai, who wrote under the pen name 'Ameer' or 'Amir', was born in 1829 in Lucknow into a family of religious scholars. His father, Karam Muhammad Minai, was a religious scholar in Lucknow. The family was descended from Makhdoom Shah Mina, whose tomb is in Lucknow. The Minai family had lived in Lucknow for centuries in the area around Shah Mina's tomb, known as "Mina Bazaar" or "Mohalla-e Minaian" (The Quarter of the Minais). Ameer was educated at Farangi Mahal, Lucknow`s primary educational institute.
Meenai joined the royal court of Nawab of Awadh and was appointed to a position of responsibility in the judiciary. However, in the British attack on Lucknow in 1856 and the subsequent First war of independence in 1857, the family's homes were all destroyed and Meenai was forced to flee with his family, first to the nearby town of Kakori where he found refuge with the poet Mohsin Kakorvi, and eventually to the state of Rampur, where he found favor at the court of the ruler, Nawab of Rampur Yusef Ali Khan Bahadur.
He served in the judiciary, was appointed head of Rampur's magnificent library, and became the official poetic mentor (ustad) of the ruler, succeeding the great Urdu poet, Ghalib, in this position. Meenai lived in Rampur until 1900 when he decided to go to Hyderabad Deccan to seek financial support for the publication of his Urdu dictionary, "Ameer-ul-Lughaat" — but that was not to be, and he died there on 13 October 1900, barely a month after his arrival. He is buried in Hyderabad, India.
Meenai had five sons (Muhammad Ahmad Meenai, Khursheed Ahmad Meenai, Lateef Ahmad Meenai, Mumtaz Ahmad Meenai and Masood Ahmad Meenai), and three daughters (Ma'soom-un-Nisa, Ehtishaam-un-Nisa and Fatima).
Meenai was a poet of Urdu and Persian. He is also known as a lexicographer, Sufi, scholar, editor, prose writer, translator, and connoisseur of language. He had studied logic, law, geography, mathematics, medicine, history, religion, music, philosophy and wrote some 50 books in Urdu and Persian—many of which remain unpublished.
In poetry, Meenai is best known for his ghazals, and for the na`at genre—poems in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, which he helped popularize in Urdu poetry. In accordance with the tradition of his time, Meenai began his poetic career by selecting a mentor from among the established poets of his time. In Meenai's case, this mentor was Muzaffar Ali Aseer, one of the leading poets in Lucknow who was himself the pupil of Ghulam Hamadani Mashafi (Mashafi). As such, Meenai considered himself as a member of Mashafi's school of poetry.
Meenai also developed friendships with other poets and writers. Ghalib, though twenty years older than Meenai, counted the latter among his friends — presumably because both were associated with the court at Rampur. Meenai had a personal friendship — and a fierce poetic rivalry — with his contemporary, Daagh Dehalvi.
Meenai was mentor to several poets, including Riaz Khairabadi, Jalil Manakpuri, Dil Shahjahanpuri and Muztar Khairabadi. Ameer Minai published two collections of ghazals. The first was Mir'at-ul Ghaeb and the second Sanamkhana-e-Ishq. He also published collections of devotional prose and poetry called Khayaabaan-e Aafreenish and Mahaamid-e Khaatam-un-Nabiyyeen.
Meenai led the project to produce a comprehensive, multi-volume Urdu dictionary called Ameer-ul-Lughaat. Members of his team included Riaz Khairabadi, Jalil Manakpuri, Waseem Khairabadi and Mumtaz Ali Aah.
The project had the patronage of the Nawab of Rampur and the Lieutenant Governor of the Northwest Provinces, Alfred Comyn Lyall. However, the Nawab's death and the departure of Lyall for another assignment set the project back, and most of Meenai's last two decades were spent looking for new patrons for this project, which he considered to be his primary achievement.
Reports indicate that the manuscript was completed, though only two volumes for the letters "alif mamdooda" ( آ ) and "alif" ( ا ) were, in fact, published in 1891 and 1892 respectively. The manuscript for a third volume, for the letter "bay" (ب), has remained in the family and was recently published through the efforts of Meenai's grandson Israil Ahmed Meenai. It was edited by Rauf Parekh. The remaining volumes appear to have been lost, and even their number remains uncertain.
Israil Meenai has also re-issued the divans as Mir'at-ul-ghaib and Sanamkhana-e 'Ishq, and recently published two more book in one volume. The first is Khayaabaan-i-Aafreenish, a prose account of the Prophet Muhammad's early life base on extant sources. The other is Mahaamid-i-Khaatam-un-Nabiyyeen, a collection of Meenai's naat poetry.
Popular naat poetry
- Halke Mein Rasoolon ke Woh Mahay Madani Hai, Sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, naat lyrics by Amir Meenai
- Tera karam jo shah-e-zee-vaqaar ho jaaye Naat qawwali by Amir Meenai, sung by Qawwal Bahauddin Khan
- Tum par mein laakh jaan se qurbaan Ya Rasool Naat lyrics by Amir Meenai, sung by Umme Habiba
- Uss karam ka karun shukr kaisay ada, jo karam mujh pe meray Nabi kar diyya Naat qawwali written by Amir Meenai, sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Popular ghazal songs
- 'Sarakatee jaayey hai rukh se naqab aahista, aahista...' Lyrics by Amir Meenai, sung and popularised by ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh and later also featured in a film starring Rishi Kapoor and Tina Munim.
- 'Jab se bulbul too ne do tinkay liye / loTtee haeN bijliyaaN in kay liye', sung by K.L. Saigal, Ghulam Ali, M. Kalim and others
- 'Naavak-e naaz se mushkil hae bachaana dil kaa / dard uTh uTh ke bataataa nae Thikaana dil kaa', sung by Ustad Barkat Ali Khan
- 'Zaahir meiN ham faryfta husn-e butaaN ke haeN / par kyaa kahayN nigaah meN jalvay kahaaN ke haeN', sung by Farida Khanum
Amir Meenai wrote over 40 books in his lifetime, some of which are unpublished.
- Divan-e-Farsi ( Persian poetry), edited by Tehseen Firaqi, published in 2016
- Sanam khana-i-ishq
- Khayaban-i-Aafrinish (Prophet Muhammad's life in easy prose)
- Rauf Parekh (11 October 2010). "Amir Meenai and naat poetry in Urdu (article includes his profile)". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Amir Meenai, an Eminent Urdu Poet on urduadab.com website Published 8 August 2011, Retrieved 18 May 2018
- Parekh, Rauf (4 September 2016). "Poetry in Persian". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 18 May 2018.
- Eulogies on Prophet Muhammad: Selections from Armoghan-e-Naat, compiled and edited by Shafiq Barelvi, published by Royal Book Company in 1987
- A history of Urdu literature by Ram Babu Saksena published by Ram Narain lal, Allahabad, in 1940 ps.139&182
- The Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature (Vol.One) by Amresh Datta.p.152. https://books.google.com/books?isbn=8126018038
- Amir Meenai's naat qawwali on dailymotion.com website Retrieved 19 May 2018
- Amir Meenai's ghazal song sung by Jagjit Singh on rediff.com website Published 10 October 2011, Retrieved 19 May 2018
- Poetry of Amir Meenai on rekhta.org website Retrieved 19 May 2018