Masud Husain Khan

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Masud Husain Khan
Native name
بابائے اردو لسانیات
Born(1919-01-28)28 January 1919
Died16 October 2010(2010-10-16) (aged 91)
OrganizationZakir Husain Delhi College
Aligarh Muslim University,
Jamia Millia Islamia,
Osmania University,
Kashmir University,
University of California, Berkeley,
Anjuman-i Taraqqi-i Urdu,
All India Muslim Education Conference,
Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library
Notable work
Iqbal Ki Nazari-o-Amali Sheriyat,
Urdu Zaban-o-Adab,
Do Neem,[1]
Roop Bengal,
Urdu Lafz ka Sautiyati aur Tajz-e-Sautiyati Mutala,[2]
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah,[3]
Yusuf Husain Khan,[4]
Spouse(s)Najma Begum
RelativesZakir Hussain,
Yousuf Hussain Khan,
Mahmud Hussain,
Gulam Rabbani Taban,
Khurshed Alam Khan,
Salman Khurshid,
Anusha Rizvi,
General Rahimuddin Khan,
Mahmood Farooqui,
Haroon Khan Sherwani,
Rahil Begum Sherwani
AwardsSahitya Akademi Award,
Kul Hind Bahadur Shah Zafar Award,
Ghalib Award,
Karachi Niaz Fatehpuri Award

Masud Husain Khan (28 January 1919 – 16 October 2010) was a linguist, the first Professor Emeritus in Social Sciences at Aligarh Muslim University and the fifth Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, a Central University in New Delhi.

On 16 October 2010 Masud Husain Khan died in Aligarh from Parkinson's disease.[6]


Masud Husain Khan was born in Qaimganj, district Farrukhabad, into an Afridi Pashtun family of Uttar Pradesh. His family is sometimes referred to as the Family of Vice-Chancellors, having provided Vice-Chancellors to four different universities across the Indian subcontinent.

Masud Husain's father Muzaffar Husain Khan (1893–1921) completed his education from Islamia High School Etawah and Mohammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O.) College, Aligarh. He started his judicial career in Hyderabad but died of tuberculosis at the early age of twenty-eight. Masud Husain was just two years old when he lost his father. Muzaffar Husain Khan was eldest brother of[7]-

Masud Husain's mother, Fatima Begum was eldest sister of-


After finishing primary education from Jamia Millia Islamia, Husain studied in Dhaka for a while. He completed his BA from Zakir Husain College, Delhi University and MA from Aligarh Muslim University. He did his PhD under the guidance of Professor Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui and wrote his magnum opus Muqaddama-e-tareekh-e-zaban-e-Urdu which was later published as a book and became a landmark work. He also studied Hindi and Sanskrit literature and was familiar with Bengali, Persian and French too. Later on, in 1953 he finished his DLitt from University of Paris in Linguistics.


Husain served as Visiting Professor at Department of South Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA. In 1962, he became chairman at Osmania University's Urdu department where he served till 1968 when he was made the head of the linguistics department at Aligarh Muslim University. He was Anjuman-i Taraqqi-i Urdu Hind's acting general secretary during 1969–1970. From 3 November 1973 to 15 August 1978 he served Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia as Vice-Chancellor. After his retirement, Husain was appointed as Visiting Professor at Iqbal Institute, Kashmir University, Srinagar and used to teach research methodology. Masud Husain was also the Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Urdu Aligarh until the mid-1990s. Jamia Urdu, Aligarh was established as a distance education institution in 1939 for imparting Urdu education. He was the President of All India Muslim Educational Conference until his death in 2010. He was a member of the Executive Board of Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library.


  • Husain's magnum opus, Muqaddama-e-tareekh-e-zaban-e-Urdu, describes in detail the history of Urdu's origin and development. On account of coherence and plausibility, the book is considered to offer one of the most acceptable theories on the genesis and development of Urdu. He proved his theory with historical evidence, taking into account the formation of Indo-Aryan languages. Keeping in view the theories of historical linguistics and ancient sources, he proved that Urdu was born in and around Delhi. According to him, four vernacular dialects, namely Braj Bhasha, Mewati, Haryanvi and Khariboli, exerted their influences on Urdu during its long formative phases and among them Haryanvi and Khariboli were the ones that proved to be more decisive. Later, the same language reached Deccan in the 13th and 14th centuries AD with the Muslim armies and slowly gained refinement over the centuries and a standard Urdu language emerged. Before Masud Husain, Muhammad Husain Azad, Hafiz Mehmood Khan Shirani, Sayyid Shamsullah Qadri, Mohiuddin Qadri Zore, Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, T. Grahame Bailey and some other scholars had presented their theories on Urdu's origin but none found favour with Masud Husain. In his opinion, the emergence of these modern Indo-Aryan dialects could not have begun earlier than 1000 AD and, therefore, Hafiz Mehmood Shirani's theory that saw the Punjab region as the cradle of Urdu and premised that Urdu was a language that was brought to Delhi by Muslim armies after the conquest of Punjab, was not plausible. First published in 1948, the book, originally his PhD dissertation, has run into many editions in India and Pakistan.
  • His second book Urdu Zaban-o-Adab written in 1954 was equally popular.
  • Husain was the first to analyse the words of Urdu from the phonetic and phonological point of view. During his stay in London, Husain had a chance to benefit from the insights of Professor J. R. Firth who was the first to introduce the concept of 'Prosodic Phonology'. Basing his D.Litt. thesis A phonetic and phonological study of the word in Urdu on Firth's theory, he carried out research that was published in 1954. It was translated into Urdu by Professor Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg under the title Urdu Lafz ka Sautiyati aur Tajz-sautiyati Mutalia, and was published by the Department of Linguistics, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1984.
  • Another sphere of Husain's scholarly interest was Literary criticism but at the beginning of his literary career, he used to scoff at the then prevalent trend of criticism that indulged in flowery language and had become too rhetoric. The so-called 'impressionistic school of literary criticism' used to eulogise literary works in a way that reeked of romanticism and based evaluation on subjectivity rather than on any literary theory. Stylistics (field of study), in Urdu called Uslubiyat, is a significant branch of Applied linguistics. During his stay in the US, he was inspired by the theory of stylistics presented by Professor Archibald A. Hill. He then began applying linguistics to Urdu literary criticism and wrote many articles on Ghalib, Muhammad Iqbal and Fani Badayuni, not only presenting the linguistic critical analysis of their poetry but also laying the foundations for what came to be known as Linguistic Criticism in Urdu which later served as a launching pad for other well-known Urdu critics such as Gopi Chand Narang, Mughni Tabassum and Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg.
  • His assertion that Prem Chand's Urdu novel Godaan is not Prem Chand's original work in Urdu but a translation of Prem Chand's Hindi novel by the same title and that it was rendered into Urdu by Iqbal Bahadur Varma Sahar took the literary world by storm. Many doubted Husain's intentions. Manik Toula, a Prem Chand scholar, said Husain was trying to 'disown' Chand as an Urdu writer. Even a scholar of Gian Chand Jain's stature accused Husain of 'literary Jihad'. But the evidence brought to light by Husain was so genuine that it had to be accepted that the Urdu rendering of Godaan began only after Prem Chand's death.
  • Husain commands respect of Urdu researchers when it comes to editing classical Urdu texts. Aside from other rare manuscripts discovered and edited by Husain, Qissa-e-Mahr Afroz-o-Dilbar, edited and annotated by him, is a work that brought to light an important rare 'daastaan'.
  • He had a rare insight into Dakhini and Dakhiniyat. He calls the Dakhini Dialect of Urdu 'the Old Urdu'. A work of his on Dakhini is the compilation and publication of a Dakhini Urdu dictionary that has been compiled on the basis of a large number of rare and unpublished manuscripts, citing the couplets of Dakhini along with the words and meanings.
  • In his monograph on Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, Husain re-evaluated the poetry of Quli Qutb Shah for the benefit of the Urdu readers.
  • He has a large number of books to his credit, including his autobiography Wurood-e-Masood and the collection of his poetry Do Neem, all of which are considered as valuable contribution to Urdu prose and linguistics.
  • In his brief stay of almost one and a quarter-year at Iqbal Institute, he published several papers of Allama Iqbal and his poetry in different journals including Iqbaaliyaat, the journal of Iqbal Institute Kashmir University.
  • He was also the Chief Editor of Urdu-Urdu Lughat.
  • When he came to Pakistan in the early 1980s, the Urdu Dictionary Board consulted him on their flagship dictionary.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • It was at Iqbal Institute where he finished his book Iqbal Ki Nazari-o-Amali Sheriyat (Criticism) for which Husain received Sahitya Akademi award in 1984.[8]
  • He was conferred with Delhi Urdu Academy's highest honour – Kul Hind Bahadur Shah Zafar Award—in recognition of his contribution to the study of Urdu language and literature in March 2010.[14]
  • In February 2010 Ghalib Institute, New Delhi felicitated him in a grand function for his yeoman contribution to Urdu language and literature.[15]
  • He was granted the designation of "Professor Emeritus" by the Aligarh Muslim University in 1987, the first in Social Sciences.
  • He was also awarded the Karachi Niaz Fatehpuri Award in 1986.
  • Besides, he was given Uttar Pradesh Urdu Academy Award on his book Urdu ka Alamia in 1974. This book was edited by Professor Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg.
  • A felicitation volume Nazr-e-Masud[16] (edited by Professor Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg) was presented to him on his 70th Birth Anniversary in 1989 in a function held at Jamia Urdu, Aligarh.
  • After his death (16 October 2010), Professor Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg wrote a book titled Masud Husain Khan: ahwal-o-aasar to commemorate his 5th death anniversary. This book was published by Educational Publishing House, Delhi in 2015.


  1. ^ "Do Neem by Masud Husain Khan". Rekhta.
  2. ^ "Urdu Lafz Ka Sautiyati Aur Tajz-e-Sautiyati Mutala by Masud Husain Khan". Rekhta.
  3. ^ K̲h̲ān̲, Masʻūd Ḥusain (12 April 1996). "Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah". Sahitya Akademi – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Yusuf Husain Khan
  5. ^ "Wurood-e-Masood by Masud Husain Khan". Rekhta.
  6. ^ "Ex-Jamia VC Prof. Masood Husain Khan passes away -".
  7. ^ Zia-ul-Hasan Faruqi (1999) Dr. Zakir Hussain: Quest for Truth APH Publishing, India
  8. ^ a b c "Sahitya Akademi Award winners". Sahitya Akademi Award. 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  9. ^ Khan, Muazzam Hussain (2012). "Khan, Mahmud Husain". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 30 January 2008.
  10. ^ "Statistical Report on General Election, 1951 to the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 October 2010.
  11. ^ "Statistical Report on General Election, 1957 to the Legislative Assembly of Uttar Pradesh" (PDF). Election Commission of India. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 October 2010.
  12. ^ "Padma Shri" (PDF). Padma Shri. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  13. ^ "DAWN - Features; February 03, 2009". DAWN.COM. 3 February 2009.
  14. ^ "Masood Husain honoured by Delhi Urdu Academy's highest Award".
  15. ^ Urdu Scholar Professor Masood Husain Khan felicitated Archived 8 February 2014 at
  16. ^ "Nazr-e-Masud (Felicitation Volume presented to Masud Husain Khan on his 70th Birth Anniversary in 1989) edited by Professor Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg".

External links[edit]