Sajjad Zaheer

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Sajjad Zaheer
Born(1899-11-05)5 November 1899
Lucknow, United Provinces, India
Died11 September 1973(1973-09-11) (aged 73)
Alma Ata, Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (then in USSR, now Kazakhstan)
OccupationMarxist ideologue, writer and poet in Urdu
NationalityIndian, Pakistani (briefly)
CitizenshipIndian, Pakistani (briefly)
GenreGhazal, Drama
Literary movementProgressive Writers' Movement
Notable worksAngaaray
SpouseRazia Sajjad Zaheer
Children4, including Nadira Babbar

Syed Sajjad Zaheer (Urdu: سید سجاد ظہیر ‎) ( 5 November 1899 – 13 September 1973) was an Urdu writer, Marxist ideologue and radical revolutionary who worked in both India and Pakistan. In the pre-independence era, he was a member of the Communist Party of India. Upon independence and partition, he moved to the newly created Pakistan and became a founding member of the Communist Party of Pakistan.

Background and family[edit]

Zaheer was born in Lucknow, India, into a Muslim family.[citation needed] His forebears, who had come to India as from Iran, had received an estate in Avadh (Oudh). Zaheer's father, Syed Wazir Hasan, had received an English education and become a barrister. He later became a judge and retired as Chief Justice of Oudh, receiving a knighthood.[citation needed] Zaheer's mother was Sakina-tul-Fatima. Zaheer was one of their seven children (five sons and two daughters).[citation needed] One of his brothers, Syed Ali Zaheer, was the India's Ambassador to Iran.[citation needed] Zaheer was the uncle of Nurul Hasan, a Congress Minister in the Union Government and later a Governor.[citation needed]


After initial education in India, Zaheer studied law in England and became a barrister.[citation needed] He never practiced law and never earned a regular living.[citation needed] He was one of the founding members of the Progressive Writers Association and remained an full-time member of the Communist Party of India throughout his life.[citation needed]

Revolutionary writer[edit]

A collection of short stories, Angaaray (embers), which had stories by Sajjad Zaheer, Ahmed Ali, Rashid Jahan and Mahmud-uz-Zafar was published in 1932 and banned in 1933 by the British Government of India "for hurting the religious susceptibilities of a section of the community."[1] This gave rise to the All-India Progressive Writers' Movement & Association of which both Sajjad Zaheer and Ahmed Ali were co-founders.[2] The first official conference of the Association was held in Lucknow in 1936, which was presided over by Munshi Premchand.[citation needed]

Emigration to Pakistan and jail[edit]

In 1947, the British departed from India after partitioning the country and creating Pakistan.[citation needed] The landlords of Oudh, led by Mohammad Amir Ahmad Khan, had supported and financially backed the Muslim League.[citation needed] Zaheer, who was a leading member of the Communist Party of India, now became one of the founding members of the Communist Party of Pakistan, which he founded along with Faiz Ahmad Faiz in 1948.[citation needed]

Zaheer and Faiz Ahmad Faiz were convicted and jailed in Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case along with Mohammad Husain Ata, Zafarullah Poshni, and others.[citation needed] Major General Akbar Khan was allegedly the main conspirator.[citation needed] The Rawalpindi conspiracy was a Soviet-backed plot, hatched by the recently founded Communist Party of Pakistan (co-founded by Zaheer), to seize power in Pakistan and establish a communist state.[citation needed]

Return to India[edit]

Sajjad Zaheer was extradited to India in 1954 by the Government of Pakistan, and revived his activities in India through Progressive Writers' Association, Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and Afro-Asian Writers' Association.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Sajjad and his wife Razia Sajjad Zaheer had four daughters, including Naseem Bhatia, who holds a PhD in History (ancient history) from a Russian university.[3] She became vice-chancellor of Jai Narain Vyas University.[citation needed]


Zaheer died aged 68 on 13 September 1973 while attending a conference of Afro-Asian writers at Alma Ata, Kazakhstan, which at that time was a Soviet republic.[citation needed]

Published writings[edit]

  • London Ki Ek Raat لندن کی ایک رات - a novel.
  • Roshnai روشنائی, a collection of essays on the progressive writers movement and its objectives.
  • Zikr-e-Hafiz زکرِخافظ, his research based book on the Persian poet Hafez.
  • Pighla Nilamپِگھلا نیلم , his last book,a collection of his poetry.
  • A translation of Shakespeare's Othello
  • A translation of Candide
  • A translation of Gora (novel written by Tagore)
  • A translation of The Prophet (written by Khalil Gibran)


  1. ^ "Angaaray". Penguin Books India.
  2. ^ 1961-, Ali, Kamran Asdar,. Communism in Pakistan : politics and class activism 1947-1972. London. p. 83. ISBN 9781784532000. OCLC 913850929.
  3. ^ [1]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]