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Jaun Elia

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Jaun Elia
Elia in 1967
Elia in 1967
Native name
جون ایلیا
BornSyed Sibt-e-Asghar Naqvi
(1931-12-14)14 December 1931
Amroha, United Provinces, British India
Died8 November 2002(2002-11-08) (aged 70)
Karachi, Pakistan
Notable worksShayad, Yani, Lekin, Gumman, Goya, Farnood
Notable awardsPride of Performance
(m. 1970; div. 1992)

Syed Sibt-e-Asghar Naqvi,[1] commonly known by his pen-name Jaun Elia (Urdu: جون ایلیا, 14 December 1931 – 8 November 2002), was a Pakistani poet, philosopher, biographer and scholar.

One of the most prominent modern Urdu poets, popular for his unconventional ways, he "acquired knowledge of philosophy, logic, Islamic history, the Muslim Sufi tradition, Muslim religious sciences, Western literature, and Kabbala".[2] He was fluent in Urdu, Arabic, Sindhi,[3] English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Jaun Elia was born as Syed Sibt-e-Asghar Naqvi on 14 December 1931 in Amroha, British India.[4][5] He belonged to a very educated and influential Shia family. His father, Shafiq Elia, was a Shia Muslim and a scholar of literature and astronomy well-versed in the Arabic, English, Persian, Hebrew and Sanskrit languages, and who corresponded with leading intellectuals like Bertrand Russell.[6] He was the youngest of his siblings. Rais Amrohvi was his elder brother. Indian film director Kamal Amrohi was his first cousin.[7] Another relative in Pakistan is actor Munawar Saeed, famous for his roles as a villain.[8]

Described as a child prodigy, although he was Shia Muslim he was initially educated at the Syed-ul-Madaris in Amroha, a madrasa affiliated with the Darul Uloom Deoband.[9]

He married writer Zahida Hina in the year 1970.[10] They got separated in the year 1992.[11]

Writing career[edit]

He began writing poetry when he was 8 but published his first collection, Shayad, when he was 60.[12]

Political views[edit]

Partition and migration to Pakistan[edit]

Being a communist, Elia opposed the partition of India.[13] Elia once remarked on the creation of Pakistan that "this was the mischief of boys from Aligarh".[14][15][16] However, he eventually migrated to Pakistan in 1957, and decided to live in Karachi.


In his poems, he supported communism in Pakistan.[17] References to class consciousness are also seen in his poems. He also was described as "An anarchist, a nihilist, and a poet" by dunyanews.tv.


Poet Pirzada Qasim said:

Jaun was very particular about language. While his diction is rooted in the classical tradition, he touches on new subjects. He remained in quest of an ideal all his life. Unable to find the ideal eventually, he became angry and frustrated. He felt, perhaps with reason, that he had squandered his talent.[18]

In 2020, Punjabi rapper Kay Kap's album Rough Rhymes for Tough Times featured a song entitled Bulaava which had couplets from the poem Pehnaayi Ka Makaan written and recited by Jaun Elia.[19]

In 2020, Pakistani rock-fusion band Nishtar Park released a single Purane Aur Naye Sawal which was based on Elia's ghazal Umr Guzaregi Imtihan Mein Kya.

In 2023, Urdu rapper Talha Anjum’s album Open Letter featured a song entitled Secrets which was strongly influenced by Jaun Elia’s poem Be-dilli Kya Yuhin Din Guzar Jaenge. Talha Anjum’s other works are also greatly inspired by Jaun Elia’s poetry.


Poetry collections[edit]

  • Sukhan Meri Udasee Hai
  • Zakham-e-Umeed
  • Mubada
  • Tumharey Aur Mere Darmiyan
  • Daricha Haye Kheyal
  • Qitaat
  • Jaun Elia Ki Tamam Ghazlain (parts I-III)
  • Inshaye aur Mazaameen
  • Farnood
  • Is Rang Ke Tufaan
  • Shayad
  • firaaq

Prose work (mainly translations)[edit]

Elia was not just a poet but was also an editor and a translator, especially of old Sufi, Mutazili and Ismaili treatises.

Above are some of his translations from Arabic and Persian. Not only did he translate these books but also introduced several new words in the Urdu language.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jaun Eliya - Profile & Biography". Rekhta. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Urdu poet Jaun Elia remembered on 10th death anniversary". The Express Tribune. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2016.
  3. ^ Pakistan: alternative imag(in)ings of the nation state (First ed.). Karachi: Oxford University Press. 2020. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-19-070131-4. When Rais Amrohvi and Syed Muhammad Tagi fuelled the flames of the Sindhi-Muhajir linguistic controversies of the early 1970s, Elia proclaimed himself a Sindhi-speaker as much as an Urdu-speaker, while committing to raise his voice for the rights of all the denizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste, creed, or language
  4. ^ "In search of Jaun Elia". The Tribune. 26 August 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  5. ^ Alam, Iftikhar (9 November 2016). "Jani! kya aaj meri barsi hai–Yani kya aaj mar gya tha main?". The Nation. Archived from the original on 26 October 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  6. ^ Altaf, Salman (5 November 2017). "Essay: The Elia Paradox". Dawn. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  7. ^ Kureshi, Manzoor (4 April 2014). "In the name of father". Dawn. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  8. ^ Suhayb, Muhammad (22 June 2021). "Good to be Bad: The Villains of Pakistani Cinema". Youlin Magazine. Retrieved 25 March 2023. Related to famous poets like Raees Amrohvi and Jaun Elia, Munawwar Saeed often had trouble with the Punjabi language, and often reverted back to Urdu in his dialogue.
  9. ^ "KARACHI: Jon knew how to enthral audience". Dawn News. 10 November 2002.
  10. ^ "Zahida Hina - Profile & Biography". Rekhta. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  11. ^ "KARACHI: Jon knew how to enthral audience". Dawn. 10 November 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  12. ^ "Jaun Elia remembered". The Nation. 15 December 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  13. ^ "Master of loneliness and frenzy | Pakistan Today". Pakistan Today. 5 November 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  14. ^ Naqvi, Sibtain (20 November 2016). "History: The city of lost dreams". Dawn. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  15. ^ "Life and politics in South Asia (Part 1)". Jamhoor. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  16. ^ "All writings of Jaun Eliya". Rekhta. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  17. ^ Salim, Saquib (29 June 2018). "Jaun Elia: A Communist Poet Who Found Religion and Marxism Compatible". The Wire. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  18. ^ Samiuddin, Abida (2007). Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Urdu Literature (2 Vols. Set). Global Vision Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 9788182201910.
  19. ^ Kay Kap (Ft. Jaun Elia) – Bulaava, retrieved 23 August 2022
  20. ^ "Jaun Elia - An anarchist, a nihilist, and a poet - Pakistan". Dunya News. 8 November 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2022.

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