Josh Malihabadi

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Josh Malihabadi
Josh Malihabadi.jpg
Josh (1949)
Shabbir Hasan Khan

5 December 1898
Died22 February 1982(1982-02-22) (aged 83)
NationalityIndian (till 1956)
Other namesShayar-e-Inquilab
EducationSt. Peter's College
Visva-Bharati University
OccupationPoet, Thinker, Visionary, Linguist
MovementProgressive Writers' Movement
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1954)
Hilal-e-Imtiaz (2013)

Josh Malihabadi (Urdu: جوش ملیح آبادی‎) (born as Shabbir Hasan Khan; شبیر حسن خان) (5 December 1898 – 22 February 1982) popularly known as Shayar-e-Inqalab (poet of revolution) is regarded as one of the finest Urdu poets of the era of British India. Josh always challenged the established order and stood for liberal values. He was loud, brave who never compromised on principles. He wrote over 100,000 beautiful couplets and more than 1,000 rubaiyat in his lifetime. His autobiography “Yaadon ki Barat” is considered one of the best so far in Urdu as it is written in frank and candid manner. The first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru held him in high esteem and hardly missed a chance to attend the mushaira at Lala Kishan Lal Kalra’s United Coffee House where Josh used to be the star attraction.[1] [2][3] He was an Indian citizen until 1956, when he emigrated to Pakistan and became a Pakistani citizen. Some of his works were translated to English like The Unity of Mankind elegies by Josh Malihabadi by Syed Akbar Pasha Tirmizi who was a Pakistani citizen and a high court advocate.[4]

Early life[edit]

Josh was born to an Urdu-speaking Muslim family of Afridi Pathan origin in Malihabad, United Provinces, British India. He received early education in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English at his home.[5] He studied at St Peter's College, Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in 1914. Subsequently, he studied Arabic and Persian and, in 1918, spent six months at Tagore's university at Shantiniketan. The death of his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan, in 1916, prevented him from undertaking a college education.

His family had a long tradition of producing men of letters. Indeed, his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan'Goya', grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan and father Basheer Ahmad Khan were all poets with numerous works (poetry collections, translations, and essays) to their name.[6] Another of his relative was the journalist, scholar and Abul Kalam Azad's confident, Abdur Razzaq Malihabadi.[7]


In 1925, Josh started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. However, his stay there ended when he found himself exiled for writing a nazm against the Nizam of Hyderabad, the then ruler of the state.

Soon thereafter, he founded the magazine Kaleem (literally, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favour of independence from the British Raj in India. His poem Hussain aur Inquilab (Hussain and Revolution)won him the title of Shaair-e-Inquilaab (Poet of the Revolution). Subsequently, he became more actively involved in the freedom struggle (albeit, in an intellectual capacity) and became close to some of the political leaders of that era, especially Jawaharlal Nehru (later to be the first Prime Minister of independent India). After the end of the British Raj in India in 1947, Josh became the editor of the publication Aaj-Kal.[8]

Josh in Pakistan[edit]

Josh In Pakistan
Josh In Pakistan

Josh migrated to Pakistan in 1956 - despite Jawaharlal Nehru's insistence against it - over what is generally believed to be his concern regarding the future of Josh and Urdu language in India,[9] where he thought the Hindu majority would encourage the use of Hindi rather than Urdu. After migration, Josh settled in Karachi and worked for Anjuman-i-Tarraqi-i-Urdu .[10]

He remained in Pakistan until he died on 22 February 1982 in Islamabad. Mustafa Zaidi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Syed Fakhruddin Balley both were the closest companions and friends of Josh and Sajjad Hyder Kharosh (son of Josh). Faiz Ahmad Faiz visited Islamabad during his illness and Syed Fakhruddin Balley remained entirely engaged with Hazrat Josh and Sajjad Hyder Kharosh.[11]. Renowned poet Faiz, who coincidently landed in Pakistan on February 22nd, 1982 after a long self-imposed exile to meet General Zia Ul Haq, the then military ruler of Pakistan, and complained to him for not attending Josh’s funeral, and after listening to Zia’s lame-duck excuse he retorted, No Bigger person will be buried in this land ever again.

Prof. Ehtesham Hussain was the first eminent figure who started working onJosh’s Biography, with his implied consent. He was in the early stages of his work when suddenly Josh migrated to Pakistan. Its evident that The eminent scholar lost his passion and never completed the work. Prof. Mohammad Hassan an prominent scholar of Ehtesham’s lineage then wrote a nearly 100 page epilogue on Josh in 1987, that will soon be published by JLSC, Calgary. Dr. Hilal Naqvi, eminent poet and researcher almost Devoted his entire life in gathering and publishing Josh’s work. The list of Josh’s admirers are so long and over a span of nearly 100 years, but the most prominent contributors and writers amongst them include, prof. Ehtesham Hussain, Janab Raees Amrohvi, Mustafa Zaidi, Sheba Luckhnavi, Prof. Qamar Raes, Janab Ali Sardar, Prof. Mumtaz Hussain, Dr. Ali Ahmed Fatmi, Janab Shahid Mahuli of Ghalib Institute, Delhi, India, Prof. Sahar Ansari, Janab Rahat Saeed, Janab Jaun Aliya, Dr. Mohammad Ali Siddiqi, Prof. Hasan Abid, Dr. Jaffar Ahmed, Parvin Shakir, Iqbal Haider, Shaista Rizvi.

Moreover, Josh’s Grandson Farrakhan’s Jamal, Josh Malihabadi's granddaughter Tabassum Akhlaq has also carried over the legacy of his poetry. Presently, Famous Artist Fahim Hamid Ali is working on a unique and contemporary presentation of Josh.

Josh Literary Society of Canada (JLSC)was formed by Iqbal Haider, Arshad Vasti, Shaista Rizvi, Naheed Kazmi, Nighat Haider, Hasan Zaheer, Dr. Aqeel Athar, Janab Alim Ghaznvi , Dr. Abdul Qvi Zia and others in February 1983 in Calgary , Canada.

JLSC convened its first literary conference in Calgary in February 1986 under the title of Josh - The Poet of the Century, with a keynote article by eminent Prof. Mumtaz Hussain.

Then Josh Society and Irteqa Foundation of Karachi together commemorated Josh Centennial a 3-day, mega literary event in Karachi, followed up by other one day programs in Delhi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Lahore, Hyderabad and Dubai. Josh Literary Society has published and reprinted 14 books on Josh. JLSC has also convened and celebrated many other Centennials or seminars like Firaq, Majaz, Mustafa Zaidi, Juan Ailiya, Munto, Rashid, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ismat Chughtai, Jaun Ailiya, Mustafa Zaidi, Dr. Abdur Salam

The Josh Memorial Committee was formed in 1986 by Tabassum Akhlaq and she is the current chairperson. The committee organises seminars on Josh Malihabadi's personality, history and literary work. These seminars are usually held on his birthday and death anniversary (on 5 December and 22 February respectively).[12]

In August 2012, the Government of Pakistan announced Hilal-i-Imtiaz for Josh Malihabadi. This award was presented to his granddaughter and founding chairperson of Josh Memorial Committee, Tabassum Akhlaq by the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari in a ceremony held in the Presidency on Pakistan Day 23 March 2013.

The lifelong mission of Josh can be summed up in his own words:

Kaam hai mera taghayyur, Naam hai mera shabaab
Mera naara: inquilab-o-inquilab-o-inquilab

My task is change, my name is youth!
My slogan: revolution, revolution and revolution!



These include:

  • Shola-o-Shabnam
  • Junoon-o-Hikmat
  • Fikr-o-Nishaat
  • Sunbal-o-Salaasal
  • Harf-o-Hikaayat
  • Sarod-o-Kharosh
  • Rooh-e-Adab
  • Aayat-o-Naghmaat
  • Arsh-o-Farsh
  • Saif-o-Subu
  • Sumoom-o-Saba
  • Tulu-e-fikr
  • Qatra-o-Qulzum
  • Nujoom-o-Jawahar
  • Mauja-e-Fikr
  • Auraaq-e-Sahar
  • Ilhaam-o-Maqalaat-e-zarreen
  • Nawaredaat-e-Josh
  • Irfaniyat-e-Josh
  • Yaadon Ki Baraat (autobiography)
Song Singers Song lyrics by Film and year
Ae Watan Hum Hain Teri Shama Ke Parwanaun Mein Masood Rana and Ahmed Rushdi Josh Malihabadi film Aag Ka Darya (1966)
Hawa Ke Moti Noor Jehan Josh Malihabadi film Aag Ka Darya (1966)

On the advice of film director W. Z. Ahmed, Malihabadi also wrote songs for Shalimar Pictures. One of the films is Aag Ka Darya (1966) with music by Ghulam Nabi Abdul Latif.[citation needed]



  1. ^
  2. ^, published 7 November 2009, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  3. ^ "Josh in Old Delhi..." The Hindu newspaper. Chennai, India. 6 March 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "A Biblical Connection". Times of India. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  6. ^ "Malihabad: An Oasis of Poets" by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Azad Academy Journal, XIX, 3
  7. ^ Ghulam Akbar, He was not hanged, Midas (1989), p. 109
  8. ^, Biography of Josh Malihabadi on website, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  9. ^ "Partition's unresolved business". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 6 March 2016.
  10. ^, Retrieved 7 March 2016
  11. ^, Biography of Josh Malihabadi on Dawn newspaper, Karachi, published 19 Feb 2011, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  12. ^, Tributes paid to Josh Malihabadi, published 23 Feb 2014, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  13. ^ "Malihabad set for a 'power'ful poll battle – The Times of India, Retrieved 6 March 2016". The Times of India.
  14. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  15. ^, Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award conferred on Josh, The Nation newspaper, published 24 March 2013, Retrieved 6 March 2016

External links[edit]