Altaf Hussain Hali

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Altaf Hussain Hali
BornAltaf Hussain
Panipat, North-Western Provinces, British India[1]
Died30 September 1914(1914-09-30) (aged 76–77)[1]
Panipat, British India
OccupationWriter, biographer and poet
Notable worksMusaddas-e-Hali[2]
Years active1860–1914

Altaf Hussain Hali (1837–30 September 1914) (Urdu: الطاف حسین حاؔلی‎ – Alṭāf Ḥusain Ḥālī), also known as Maulana Khawaja Hali, was an Urdu poet and a writer.[1][4]


The Indian rebellion of 1857 was an armed uprising in British India against the oppressive and destructive British colonial rule and was also popularly remembered as the 'First War of Independence'. This was a turning point in his life because he was an eyewitness to the catastrophe. Hali drifted from job to job for several years, arriving eventually in Lahore, where he came to be a personal servant of Chayanne Mehdi in the mid-1870s, where he began to compose his epic poem, the Musaddas e-Madd o-Jazr e-Islam ("An elegiac poem on the Ebb and Tide of Islam"), at the request of Syed Ahmed Khan, under the new pseudonym of Hali ("The Contemporary").[2][not in citation given] Hali also wrote one of the earliest works of literary criticism in Urdu, Muqaddamah-i Shay'r-o-Sha'iri. "Above all, its critical Preface 'the Muqaddima-i-Sher-o-Shairi' gave a new and purposeful trend to Urdu poetry and led the way to literary criticism in Urdu literature."[4][5]

Some scholars of Pakistani nationalism also consider the Mussadas an important text for the articulation of a future Muslim nation, Pakistan, which eventually was created in 1947.[6]


  • A biography of Ghalib, Yaadgar-e-Ghalib - life and works of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib (1797-1869), a legendary Urdu language poet of the 19th-century[7]
  • A biography of Saadi Shirazi, Hayat-e-Saadi - life and works of celebrated Persian language scholar and poet 'Saadi Shirazi' (1210-1292) of the 13th-century[7]
  • A biography of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Hayat-e-Javed - life and works of a renowned educationist, scholar and social reformer 'Sir Syed Ahmed Khan' (1817-1898) of the 19th-century[3][7]
  • Hali also wrote a poem "Barkha Rut"
  • "Woh Nabiyon Mein Rahmat Laqab Paanaywala", a naat written by Altaf Hussain Hali[8]
Hayat-i-Javed, a biography of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Death and legacy[edit]

Altaf Hussain Hali died in 1914. Pakistan Post issued a commemorative postage stamp in his honor on 23 March 1979 in its 'Pioneers of Freedom' series. "His great 'Musaddas' is one of the most inspiring poems in Urdu literature and had a lasting influence on the minds and attitudes of the Muslims in the sub-continent and continues to inspire them to this day."[5]

According to a major Pakistani English-language newspaper, Altaf Hussain Hali and Maulana Shibli Nomani played key roles in rescuing Urdu language poetry in the 19th century, "Hali and Shibli rescued Urdu poetry. They re-conceived Urdu poetry and took it towards a transformation that was the need of the hour."[4]

In the same above-mentioned newspaper article, Baba-e-Urdu (Father of Urdu) Maulvi Abdul Haq is quoted as saying, "Outstanding poetry happens when there is poetic departure and a poet is able to take universal meaning out of immediate events."[4]


  1. ^ a b c Profile of Altaf Hussain Hali on website Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b Musaddas-e-Hali by Altaf Hussain Hali. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b Hayat-e-Javed by Altaf Hussain Hali, digitized on Academy of the Punjab in North America (APNA) website. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Maleeha Hamid Siddiqui (28 December 2014). "'Hali and Shibli rescued Urdu poetry'". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Pioneers of Freedom March 23, 1979". Profile and image of commemorative postage stamp issued on 23 March 1979 by Pakistan Post in honor of Altaf Hussain Hali. Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  6. ^ Raja, Masood Ashraf (2010). Constructing Pakistan: Foundational Texts and the Rise of Muslim National Identity, 1857–1947. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195478112
  7. ^ a b c Hayat-e-Javed and other e-books by Altaf Hussain Hali first published in the year 1900, digitized on website Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Woh Nabiyon Mein Rahmat Laqab Paanaywala", a Naat written by Altaf Hussain Hali, recited by Junaid Jamshed on YouTube. Retrieved 15 August 2018.

External links[edit]