Urdu Ghazal, the Amazing Evolution

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Iran
by $ALEH

Ghazal, one of the corner stone of Urdu poetry, has a greatly diverse and colorful history and legacy. It is now the shining star over the forehead of Urdu poetry in particular and Urdu literature in general. To begin with, let us get started with the fact that birth place of “Ghazal” is ancient Iran; to be a bit more precise, in the 10th century AD.

It basically spurred its roots from the Persian “qasida”, which is also a verse form that came to Iran from Arabia. Basically “Qasida” was a panegyric penned down in praise of the emperor, great warriors or other national heroes. The distinctive part of the “qasida” called as “tashbib” got detached and developed in due course of time into a newer form now known to us as Ghazal.

While the “qasida” more often than expanded to as many as 100 couplets or more in mono rhyme, the Ghazal seldom exceeded twelve couplets, and settled down to an average of seven to eight. Because of its subtleness, comparative brevity and concentration, thematic diversity and wider scope, the Ghazal soon eclipsed the “qasida” and set feet as the most popular poetic form in Iran.

The Ghazal spanned its wings to Indian subcontinent with the dawn and extension of the Muslim influence from the 12th century onwards and marked its place as a poetic form of Urdu since the Moguls bore with them Iranian culture and civilization, including Iranian poetry and literature, so Urdu poetry was also influenced accordingly . When the Moguls gave way to Urdu as the language of poetry and culture in Indian subcontinent, the Ghazal, the amalgam of Indo-Iranian culture, found room to grow and develop into an essential element of Urdu poetry and Urdu literature.

Although Urdu Ghazal is said to have commenced with Amir Khusro (1253-1325) in Northern Indian subcontinent, Deccan in the South was its real home for nourishment in the early stages. Urdu Ghazal was nurtured and refined in the courts of Golconda and Bijapur under the patronage of Muslim rulers.

Originally Urdu Ghazal evolved with the brilliant efforts of Quli Qutab Shah, Wajhi, Hashmi, Nusrati and Wali as its pioneers who helped it withstand the tests of time and mass popularity. Then the great legacy was led to the pinnacle with the brilliance of 16th and 17th century A.D poets with the likes of Meer Dard, Zoauk, Sauda, all the way to the literary brilliance of all time great Urdu Ghazal poets like Mirza Ghalib. It was Ghalib whose peculiar but amazingly appealing style of Ghazal made it a common house hold name for Urdu literature lovers and it became amazingly popular form of Urdu poetry exceeding other forms and narrations of Urdu poetry by a huge margin, so much so that a huge majority of contemporary Urdu lovers know of Urdu poetry just because of Ghalib’s Ghazals.

Prior to Ghalib’s unique intervention, Urdu Ghazal’s scope was a bit limited mainly concerned with love and hatred but Ghalib added an array of new dimensions of daily lives, though love still being the most important phenomenon.

Thus, we can surmise that Urdu Ghazal has evolved and developed into an amazing lyrical form of Urdu poetry that can touch the hearts and souls of millions, making it one of the most read medium of Urdu poetry and literature.

Asad have keen interest in Urdu poetry and Urdu literature. Asad have read many books on Urdu literature which forced him to continue studying and exploring Urdu. Feel free to contact Asad at asad_asrar@yahoo.com

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